Keira Knightley jumped at the chance to work with director David Cronenberg on "A Dangerous Method," which sees her playing a mental patient.
"I think everything about the story appealed to me," Knightley told OnTheRedCarpet.com in a recent satellite interview. "I knew nothing about it. I knew nothing about psychoanalysis. I'd obviously heard of Freud and Jung, but I'd never read any of their work and I didn't really know anything about them."
"I'd never heard of Sabina Spielrein, who is the character I play and I was just fascinated by the relationships between them, the ideas that they came up with and the story as a whole," she said. "The script came through the door and I was instantly riveted."
"A Dangerous Method" follows the relationship between Carl Jung, played by Michael Fassbender, and Sigmund Freud, portrayed by Viggo Mortensen of "Lord of the Rings" fame, and how their treatment of a patient named Sabina Spielrein help give birth to psychoanalysis.
"The character I play is the patient that brought them together," Knightley explained. "So, she was first treated by Jung, but it was Jung using Freud's method and because of that, they started corresponding and then met. They worked together for about six years before they finally split up and never spoke to each other again, again because of a possible relationship between the character that I play, Sabina and Jung. It was very much a bit of a tangled mess but it was something that incredibly positive things came out of, as well as incredibly destructive aspects to the relationship."
Though her character was ready to give up all together in life, Knightley found her ability to rebound inspiring.
"I think her story is kind of about a woman who's completely lost within herself and has given up hope of ever being functional within society or well and through this therapy, she's not only brought out of herself, but is able to function within society and create ideas that inspire minds like Freud and Jung, so I found her story just incredibly inspiring."
The 26-year-old actress spoke highly of Cronenberg, her director but she was also happy to star opposite Fassbender and Mortensen.
"They're both extraordinary," Knightley said of Fassbender and Mortensen. "This is an incredibly dark film and I feel incredibly lucky that I was working with, first of all, two such incredibly talented people, but two people who were just so warm and lovely and funny, 'cause it would have been completely miserable, I think, if they hadn't been as incredibly funny as they are. They're totally wonderful."
The film is more than an educational period piece, as Knightley explains, it also humanizes psychological heavyweights like Freud and Jung and proves they were not without their own imperfections.
"I think you can only judge it by your own taste," Knightley said when asked what she thought the audience reception would be. "I found it fascinating and it was something that I knew nothing about. It's such a dramatic story, but also one that really confronted me and made me think about things and made me think about the world. And really, I think it's about the human condition. It's about human failure and the fact that you can be a genius, in the case of Freud and Jung arguably, but they were geniuses but also they were taken down by the most human part of them -- by ambition, by jealousy. They were still suffering from those things that we all suffer from."
Knightley rose to fame after appearing in "Bend It Like Beckham" and the "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise. She has also appeared in films like "Love Actually," "Pride & Prejudice," "Atonement," "The Duchess" and "Never Let Me Go."
Knightley is set to star in "Anna Karenina" as a woman bound in a loveless marriage who lusts after a soldier. Jude Law is set to star as her husband, while "Kick-Ass" star Aaron Johnson will portray her lover, Count Vronsky.
"A Dangerous Method" opened in theaters in New York and Los Angeles on November 23. Watch a trailer below.Reporting by Chris Balish, co-host of KABC Television's entertainment show "On The Red Carpet" (check for local TV listings).