How did you inform your portrayal of Anna Karenina?
I approached it just using the book. It was weird because I had read the book when I was in my early 20’s and I remembered it as being this amazing, sweeping romance and really wonderful. I read it last summer just before we started shooting and (said), “Oh God! This is completely other than I remembered it!” I think that’s why the story is so extraordinary. You can come at it from different points of your life and see it in a completely different way.
Sometimes I thought – and I could be completely wrong – that Tolstoy hated her. He is not portraying her as innocent. At some points he writes her as the whore of Babylon. She is everything that is awful and yet he also falls in love with her and understands her. You don’t want to simplify what this is.
When Tolstoy actually first started writing the novel, Karenina was meant to be the hero. It was about this outstanding wonderful man who had a wife who committed a crime against him. As he went on writing the novel, he fell in love with Anna and started seeing it from her point of view. I think when you really read it you can kind of see that within it. That was something that was really interesting for both me and for Joe (Wright) – the idea of her being a heroine and the anti-heroine at the same time.