Zurich Fest: Keira Knightley Calls Working Title's Tim Bevan 'The Real Mr. Darcy'

Andrew Macpherson
Tim Bevan

Director Stephen Frears also pays tribute to the British producer of “Pride and Prejudice” and “Les Miserables."

ZURICH – Speaking via a message recorded on her smartphone's camera, Keira Knightley paid British producer Tim Bevan what, for British men, is the ultimate compliment.

“You are the one and only, the real Mr. Darcy” the Oscar-nominated actress told Bevan and the crowd at the Zurich Film Festival, where the Working Title topper was being honored with a lifetime career achievement award.

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Knightley compared the veteran producer, whose credits span some 100 films representing billions in worldwide gross, to the po-faced but ultimately loveable hero of Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice. Bevan produced the 2005 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice that starred Knightley as Mr. Darcy's love interest Elizabeth Bennet.

“I remember when we, all the Bennet girls, were working on the film and we were all scared of you because you were so gruff,” Knightley recalled. “Then, one day we saw you giggle. From that moment on, we all fancied you because we realized, you are the real Mr. Darcy. So here's to the one and only, the real Mr. Darcy.”

Oscar-nominated director Stephen Frears (Philomena), who directed The Beautiful Laundrette (1985), Working Title's first-ever feature, presented Bevan with his career achievement honor, crediting him, and Working Title partner Eric Fellner, with reviving and transforming the British film industry.

“Tim is more powerful than anyone has ever been in the British film industry,” Frears said, adding that despite his incredible success, Bevan has continued to make mature, character-driven dramas such as Billy Elliot and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. “He hasn't lost his intelligence and all the other things I admire about him,” said Frears. The director will be teaming up again with Bevan and Working Title for his next film, a biopic on disgraced cycling champion Lance Armstrong.

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Taking the stage, Bevan paid tribute to Fellner: “We could never have achieved apart what we have managed to achieve together” and to Working Title's studio backer, Universal. “They have given us huge creative freedom to make our movies ... so long as they make money,” Bevan quipped.

Reflecting on his astounding career, Bevan said that perhaps his and Working Title's main contribution was to “set up an network where British directors thought they had a home in Britain” and didn't have to go to Hollywood to make it big.

Working Title's string of success stories -- involving Brit directing talents such as Joe Wright, Tom Hooper, Edgar Wright and Richard Curtis -- gives credence to that claim. Bevan singled out Curtis for praise, saying the writer/director, who was key in many of Working Title's biggest films, from 4 Weddings and a Funeral to Love ... Actually and as a co-writer on the Bridget Jones franchise, had been more important to the development and success of the company than any other filmmaker.

Appropriately, then, the Zurich ceremony ended with a screening of Curtis' latest for Working Title, the Brit romantic comedy About Time.