Keira Knightley / Tony Scott Interview

The director and his actress sit down to discuss their latest film with MovieWeb

Domino is based on the life and times of omnipresent bounty hunter Domino Harvey, a Hollywood heiress that decided to buck her rich lifestyle for a more gritty pursuit in Bail Bond Retrieval. The movie smartly purports to be only half-based on truths, all of the advertisements declaring a mix of fiction and non-fiction. It’s a story Director Tony Scott has wanted to tell for a long while, himself having been an acutance of the real Domino Harvey for almost ten years. The film was fast-tracked due to tight scheduling, which allowed a window of opportunity for Keira Knightly to take the lead role (between Pride & Prejudice and the two Pirate Sequels). I recently sat down with the Director and the Actress together to discuss the film and its real life inspiration…

Keira, what did you have to do to prepare yourself physically for this role?

Keira Knightly: I had four days off between finishing Pride & Prejudice and starting Domino, so I didn’t get the psychical preparation that I would have liked. I did, however, have a trainer that would get up and go jogging with me at four in the morning while I was doing Pride & Prejudice. And I did have a couple of lessons doing Nunchucks. So, I was there, towards the end of Pride & Prejudice, in my bullforcks, doing Nunchucks on the side of the set. That was kind of fun. Once I got to LA, we had two days of Bounty Hunter training school. We went out into the middle of the desert and shot shotguns. That was kind of interesting.

What did you learn from the real Domino?

Keira Knightly: The real person I met twice before we started filming. Partly because I was doing another film, I didn’t get to spend the time with her I would have needed too to do a direct characterization. That’s why I’ve based the character on my best mate. Because she was around a lot. I could look at her and go, that’s it. That’s great. The real Domino was actually around the set quite a bit. Tony gave me these great interviews of Domino to listen too, just to understand some of that kind of experience. He also gave me a lot of pictures to study that inspired him.

Tony, because you knew Domino, what was the commitment you made to her personally about making this film?

Tony Scott: It took twelve years to get this movie made. For a long time, it was, “Me, me, me, me!” But then, towards the end, she was like, “Just make the fucking movie.” I warned her. The first couple of scripts were straight bio-pics. And I told her they weren’t good. That they were boring. Everybody in the script, now, is a real person. But the story is manufactured. And she was aboard. She loved it because it was funny and dark. A lot of the sequences are stolen from her life.

What was the hardest thing for you to reveal about her on-screen as a person?

Tony Scott: That’s an odd question. I don’t know. I’m stumbling on that question. Domino was someone that loved to test the dark side. And she was an adrenalin junky. I think I’ve always been attractive to people like her in my life. I’ve always gravitated towards people like that, who are extreme. Whether its drugs, or kicking down doors. Normally, the people in my life had to escape to get back, you know? So, I was fascinated with her. She was my inspiration to chase this movie for twelve years. That’s a long period of time. She did touch the dark side. I always said, “One day, you’re going to kick down too many doors, and the guy on the other side is going to have a bigger gun than you, and you’re going to end up dead. I was trying to guide her through her life. She was always up and down. Towards the very end, she was the most stable and happiest I’d ever seen her. And then she died. She was an unfinished product.

Were you surprised that she died?

Tony Scott: No, she led a hard life in terms of what she did. And what she had done. In the end, it’s like Richard Beckinsale. He was thirty-five. He didn’t die from drugs; he just had a heart attack. He’d led a hard, long life. So, no…It didn’t surprise me. Whether it was going to be taken out by a gun, or taken out by drugs, it wasn’t a surprise to me. Same with Don Simpson. It wasn’t a surprise when he died. I knew him for fifteen years. Its part and parcel to your expectations of how long their life is going to be.

Keira, you worked with real gang members. Were they scary?

Keira Knightly: You know what? They were great. They were really sweet guys. They were really respectful, great to my mom. They had great conversations.

Tony Scott: That’s right, your mom was sitting outside talking with them.

Keira Knightly: My mom was like, “What’s this tattoo? And what’s this one?” They’d explain the significance of all their tattoos. They were great. Even in doing the scene. Because it was a hard scene to do. It was in the first week of filming. And I’ve got to give this guy a lap dance. And I haven’t got a clue. They were really nice to me. It was interesting for me. Maybe it comes from being an English Actress, but I take the script as the absolute bible, and whatever the words are, I don’t change them. It’s my job to say them, and make them as believable as possible. But these guys weren’t sticking to the script. They were going off on their own tangents. I was standing there, going, “Oh, God! Improvisation?” It really set the tone for the whole movie.

Did you guys ever discuss the nude scene before hand, about it going as far as it did?

Keira Knightly: You know, I’m European, so as far as showing as much as I did, I don’t have that conservative conscience on my tit-vibe. I found it extremely liberating to be topless in the desert. It was marvelous. I just put on some sunscreen and I was ready to go.

The tattoo on your neck, was that from one of Ridley Scott’s movies?

Keira Knightly: Yes. It’s an inaccurate quote. What it says on my neck is, “Tears in the Rain.” The actual quote is “Like Tears in Rain.” That’s from Blade Runner.

What was the biggest challenge for you as an actress?

Keira Knightly: The guns were the biggest challenge. I enjoy doing an action scene. I’m not a purist as far as films go. If you want to do sex, great. As long as you do it well. If you want to do violence, great. The guns…I was surprised at how freaked out I was. The shotgun I was alright with, I got a big bruise on my arm, it felt rock hard, it was great. The semi-automatic I was kind of fine with. But the machine gun? The first time I shot it I burst into tears. It absolutely crippled me. I was in pieces. Everybody asked if I wanted another go, but I told them that if I practiced it again, I wouldn’t be able to go in the other scene. Let’s just shoot it. I was supposed to jump up and start shooting. But he calls action, and my knees locked up, because I was so frightened. I was shacking. He told me to scream while shooting, and I’d make my way through it. And he was absolutely right. But it freaked the Hell out of me.

What challenges face you in the Pirate sequels?

Keira Knightly: Just getting through it. I can’t tell you, because then I’d give it away. And I’m not giving anything away. Nope. It’s the first time I’ve replayed the same character, and that’s very weird. I’ve never had to worry about continuity as far as coming back to a character. The character has grown as much as me, I hope.

What was your favorite Domino takedown?

Keira Knightly: Nothing against Brian Austin Green, but I love that punch. I really enjoyed that.

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