Keira Knightley, who is best known for her work in costume dramas, makes a surprising turn as Jack’s contemporary American love interest in the film.
“I find her an adventurous and ambitious actress,” Branagh said. “She brings this feisty, fiery passionate intelligence to the role. She can play a full-blooded passionate woman.”
Branagh points out that Cathy is more than just a placid love interest in the film. “She could go out and be in a movie on her own where she’s the heroine, you know? Be an action hero herself.”
In addition to his work on stage and screen, Branagh is also something of a star-maker. He cast then unknowns Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston in Thor. He says that the benefit to working with younger actors is that “they’re still very open and prepared to listen.”
Branagh was actually knighted during production of the film, and by “during production,” that is in the middle of an actual shoot day. He shot one scene in the morning at Pinewood Studios, got knighted, and then returned for more work.
“When I came on set, I did show [the cast and crew] the actual award itself and everybody gave a round of applause. After that, I was just plain old Ken as I’d ever been.”
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit opens in theaters today.