Keira Knightley Says She Wants More Female Directors, But Not Her
The 'Colette' star said she has no plans to transition into the director's chair, though she supports other women who aspire to work behind the camera.
Colette star Keira Knightley is all for more women in the director's chair — but she won't be one of them. At Friday's Los Angeles premiere of the indie period drama, the actress voiced her support for women behind the screen, though she said the transition isn't an aspiration of her own.
"No, no," Knightley told The Hollywood Reporter at the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater of the idea of becoming a helmer. "But there’s a lot of talented female directors. I think that they need to be supported. I think that female point of view is very important. I think we need more [directors of photography], more producers, and we need more writers, so I think we really need to push for representation."
Women empowerment was the focus of the pink carpet for the film, which is based on the true story of Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, one of the most celebrated writers in French history whose husband took credit for her work until she divorced him and fought for sole authorship later in her life.
Colette director Wash Westmoreland said he didn't originally envision Knightley in the role, as he and his team penned the script in 2001 when the now-period-drama veteran was in her early teens. Years later, however, Westmoreland was happy to offer the actress the part — though he joked that her acceptance call came at an inconvenient time.
"As soon as she read the script, she was really into it, and I was at Shanghai Film Festival, and I got a message: Keira Knightley wants to FaceTime you," the director told THR. "It came through a few hours later, and I had like 15 percent on my phone, so it was the fastest conversation that’s ever happened. We got down to 2 percent, and the battery was red, and I said, ‘Keira, no one can do this role as well as you,’ and she goes, ‘Oh, go on, let’s do it!’ And the phone died."
Inside the screening, Westmoreland offered more insight into the film's 17-year journey — one on which he embarked with his partner Richard Glatzer but completed without. Glatzer died in 2015 while ill with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, but not before he and Westmoreland smuggled champagne into the ICU at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center to celebrate Julianne Moore's best actress Oscar win for their film Still Alice.
"We cheered so loud that, actually, some medical [personnel] thought there was an emergency," Westmoreland said ahead of the Colette screening. "It was a great night, and afterwards I asked him what he wanted to do next, and though he was almost completely paralyzed, and he was typing with his big toe on a special machine, he typed C-O-L-E-T-T-E. It was Colette. A few days later, he passed, and so I knew what I had to do."
The audience cheered as the words "For Richard" appeared on the screen at the end of the film in Colette-style penmanship — a style that pervaded not only the film itself, but much of the night's festivities. The French-themed afterparty staff sported short and curly Colette wigs while serving food at the buffet, which was decorated with red paper fans and rose-filled bouquets.
Colette is set to hit select theaters on Sept. 21.