This past week, director John Carney's latest movie, “Begin Again,” opened in select theaters. Starring Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, and Adam Levine amongst others, it is set to expand on July 11th.
Knightley is at the center of the tale which sees her as a musician named Greta trying to make her way in New York City and record an album. Helping her in this goal is Mark Ruffalo's Dan, a record producer and executive who has fallen on hard times and who has issues of his own. Greta is something of a fish out of water here as she only has left her native England at the behest of boyfriend and budding rock star, Dave (Adam Levine). That relationship, however, quickly falls apart, leaving Greta nearly alone and upset in the great big city.
Just prior to the limited theatrical opening, Knightley, Ruffalo, and Levine sat down to talk about the film and their relationship to music. As with Carney's Oscar-winning “Once,” music is at the film's center and relationships are made during the recording of an album. In this case, that album is a group of songs recorded at various locales in New York.
“Begin Again” marks Adam Levine's first time as an actor on the big screen, but he and Knightley both agreed that while they stepped outside of their comfort zones for the film, it wasn't necessarily a terribly difficult transition. Actually, in point of fact, they jokingly said that it was hard until Ruffalo called them on it, “It wasn't hard for either of you.” Ruffalo did allow that Knightley's fingers did bleed a bit when she was practicing her guitar and Levine said he was moderately scared of it all, but that is as far as it went.
Music is seen in the film as an intensely personal experience, a way one opens up to someone else and reveals who they are on the inside. One scene in the film has Greta and Dan listening to the music on her phone and exploring the city. It is, despite the hustle and bustle of New York, an intimate scene where these two truly get to know one another.
All three of the actors agreed with the idea that you can get to know someone by knowing the music they like. Perhaps not surprisingly, Levine, a musician, best described it as akin to wearing clothing.
As Levine explained it, even if we just throw on any old bit of clothing, “This communicates something about who we are,” and maybe even the clothes someone wears relates back to the music to which they listen.
Due to the fact that they all view the music they listen to as revealing about themselves, all three were reticent to talk about what's on their playlists. It is one thing to have a playlist as a character in a film, but another to actually give out your true playlist.
“Oh god, I can never admit that to anybody.” Levine said, bluntly. He added, “It's mine. It's personal.” All three, eventually, were willing to give a little glimpse behind the curtain, but not a big one.
A Weinstein Company release, “Begin Again” is now playing in select theaters and expands on July 11th.