From spring of 2003 until my graduation in May 2006, I wrote many articles for several sections of my college newspaper, the Los Angeles Loyolan. Here's one of my Arts & Entertainment articles.
Not Since Jesus Has Someone Been So Perfect
Interview with Keira Knightley

Mark J. Lehman
A & E Editor

Originally Published: Friday, October 14, 2005

Some say that it takes two years to know if you really love someone. I knew within five minutes.

I am in love with Keira Knightley. If she was to ask me to drop out of school and run away with her to a remote island in the South Pacific tomorrow, I likely would.

Moments after walking into the press room for her interview for "Domino," an upcoming film very loosely based on the life of bounty hunter Domino Harvey, she shares an anecdote. Her story is about swordfighting, swashbuckling and performing various dangerous feats during the filming of "Pirates of the Caribbean III" the day before, only to hurt herself that morning while getting out of her car. She is candid and charming, and even slightly loopy from not having slept at all and running on adrenaline and coffee.

At first glance, her persona does not quite fit the character of Domino Harvey, a young girl who is jaded by life and decides to become a bounty hunter for the fun of it. Knightley admits that she realized this as well.

After playing Elizabeth Bennet in the upcoming "Pride and Prejudice," she said, "I was having a really hard time getting my head into the character, and I haven't really had the problem of getting my head into a character before. And one day I was passing a hairdresser's, and I just decided I would cut Elizabeth Bennet out of my hair, and after that I could look at a page and go 'Right, I can see it.'"

In keeping with her strong female character trend a la Guinevere in "King Arthur" and Elizabeth Swann in "Pirates of the Caribbean," Knightley steps into the bad girl role, at first with trepidation.

"Talk about a wake up call--my first couple days of shooting, I did the lap dance scene with the gangsters, and that really helped put me into character."

If that was not enough to entice Knightley to play the role, director Tony Scott offered further incentive--he let her pick her own body double.

"Tony calls me up and says, 'Come into the office, I think you need to see something.' I walk into his office, and there were three naked women standing in his office, and he goes, 'Which one do you want?' So I picked my bum.

"They were three lovely bottoms, really," she continues. "I tried to pick one that could be as close to mine as possible if mine were the perfect bottom."

No buts (or butts) about it, Keira Knightley keeps things in perspective while still bringing every ounce of herself to her character. Still, she encountered her share of problems, particularly with the sheer complexity of the plot of "Domino," which involves a large host of intriguing characters in situations ranging from intense showdowns to satire on reality TV programming.

Not only that, the script, written by Richard Kelly (writer-director of the cult classic "Donnie Darko"), was in a state of constant change.

"On the plane from London before rehearsal," reminisces Knightley, "I was reading and breaking down all the details of the script to get my head around it, and then when I got to L.A., I was handed a brand new script that was completely different. So, there was a kind of feel that you didn't know what was going to happen next, and I think that's the right kind of vibe for the film. I felt a little bit like I was flying by the seat of my pants."

From the way the film turned out, it sounds like there are worse ways to fly.

Though Knightley puts on a performance that is severe yet exciting, and even displaying a fiendish side, none of the other actors should be overlooked. Mickey Rourke plays Ed, Domino's mentor and father figure--another character in his niche of grim and gruff roles. Venezuelan actor Edgar Ramirez has an amazing screen presence as Choco, the third in the bounty hunter trio and the man who pines quietly in a stoic, rugged, attractively-foreign way. Some of the best dialogue stems from Choco's use of Spanish, and as it turns out, much of that was improvised anyway. Christopher Walken brings his usual offbeat humor to the project, and Brian Austin Green and Ian Ziering of "Beverly Hills, 90210" fame provide some wonderful comic moments playing caricatures of themselves.

As fun as the characters and the story can be, don't look too hard for character development, because it's just not there. The film spends so much time bouncing around from all of its various characters that it hardly has time to build motivation and meaning for some of the main players. Luckily, Scott is a master of the mindless but fun action film, having directed some classics like "Top Gun" and "Days of Thunder" as well as more modern action flicks like "Spy Game" and "Enemy of the State." "Domino" is no different in that Scott's frantic and borderline schizophrenic energy keeps audiences either entertained, epileptically seized or both. And if one can't be entertained by seizures, then there is more to worry about in life than poor character development.

With all its flaws, "Domino" will not fail to divert, and if nothing else, see it for Keira Knightley so she can make some money and eat something. Just kidding, she's healthy and beautiful and will forever have my heart.
[via Los Angeles Loyolan:]
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