It’s hard to impress a Tony-winning Broadway veteran like Judith Light—but Keira Knightley has managed to do just that. Since October, the pair has been starring in Broadway’s dark period drama Thérèse Raquin, in which Knightley plays an unhappily married woman controlled by her aunt (portrayed by Light). The play ends its run on Jan. 3, but Light has given nothing but glowing reviews for her co-star since day one.
“She is extraordinary,” Light recently told InStyle when we caught up with the star to discuss her role in another major project, Amazon’s award-winning series Transparent. “She is funny and so smart, and I just adore her as a person.”
It’s Knightley’s work ethic that truly caught the attention of Light, who has won two Tony Awards in the past for her roles in Other Desert Cities and The Assembled Parties. “She’s worked so hard on this,” said Light. “Even before we started rehearsal, she came with all kinds of ideas—and she is open to everything.” Knightley’s full commitment to the production was clear. “She is a team player, and she’s never off the stage,” said Light. “I love working with her, because she is completely and fully there.”
Knightley’s role as an intensely unhappy woman who engages in a passionate extramarital affair “is incredibly challenging,” according to Light. But the Oscar-nominated Knightley hasn’t let it show. “She never comes from a place of ‘This is too hard,’ or anything like that,” said Light. “She always has this really wonderful context of getting out there and working, and that is what she does.” It’s time-consuming for Knightley to perfect her character, just as it is for the rest of the cast. “Kiera is a hard worker like we all are,” said Light. “And when you’re a hard worker, you are always working on the part—you’re always looking deeper for more substance.”
Light, Knightley, and their co-stars bonded over their long hours and hard work. “We’re all there for each other, and that makes such a difference,” she said. “We have people who support us, and we support them.” Still, that doesn’t mean Knightley and Light exchange theater pointers backstage. “This is not a gal who needs advice,” said Light. “She’s a stage-worthy performer who has done London West End.” Over time, Light’s respect for Knightley only grew. “I have learned so much just from watching her,” said Light. “She’s remarkable.”