Welcome to Keira Knightley Fan,
an up-to-date and in-depth fan resource for the talented actress. Serving fans since 2004, we are now the longest running fansite dedicated to Keira. Nominated for two Academy Awards, Keira is recogised worldwide for her memorable big screen roles that include 'Pride & Prejudice', 'Atonement', 'The Imitation Game' and Disney's 'Pirates of the Caribbean' franchise. Our aim is to bring you all the latest news, articles, and photos relating to Keira's career, and strive to remain 100% gossip-and-paparazzi-free. Thank you for visiting!.
Quoting Keira
"All through my life what I've loved doing is watching movies. I love the escapism of film, I love stories. So it is incredible to be able to be in them as much as I am, to see them from the first stitch in a costume to the end product."
The Duchess
Home » Career » Filmography | 2000-2009

Tagline: There were three people in her marriage.
Keira as: Georgiana Cavendish
Genre: Drama
Duration: 109 minutes
Written by: Jeffrey Hatcher, Saul Dibb, Anders Thomas Jensen, Amanda Foreman (book)
Directed by: Saul Dibb
Other cast: Ralph Fiennes, Hayley Atwell, Dominic Cooper, Charlotte Rampling
Release date: October 10, 2008
Production budget: £13.5m
Total worldwide gross: $43.3m
Filming locations: Twickenham Film Studios, Twickenham, Middlesex, England, UK

Based on the remarkable, true story of the beautiful, powerful and notoriously scandalous Duchess of Devonshire, THE DUCHESS unfolds the tale of a woman who became one of the world’s first celebrities, who was adored by all the people of England, save one: her husband, the Duke. Once she marries him, she will attain the very heights of society. Whatever she wears will become the fashion of the day. Whatever party she throws will be the place to be at the moment. And whoever desires political office will seek out her influential endorsement. Yet, for all her power and notoriety, for all the affection she receives from the masses, she will have to break all of society’s rules, and sacrifice everything, to set her own passionate heart free.

If this story sounds decidedly contemporary, that might be in part because the Duchess of Devonshire, Georgiana Spencer, seems to have shared a twin destiny of fame and adoration, as well as adultery and controversy, with an ancestor who lived 200 years later: Lady Diana, the Princess of Wales. The similarities between the two are striking. For though Georgiana was born in a time of rigid social rules and extraordinary aristocratic power, she was, like Diana, a vivacious, bright, alluring woman who transcended the constraints of the world around her, and a series of gossip-sparking affairs, to become a fiercely beloved icon – and a woman who, when it was all threatened, revealed remarkable inner strength.

Production Info
  • The decision was made early on not to create soundstage sets, but rather to shoot in real, historical houses to create a more naturalistic feeling that defies the period setting. Ultimately, a number of magnificent 18th Century country houses were used to reconstruct the Devonshire houses and other sets, including Kedleston Hall in Derbyshire, the Bristol Old Vic theatre, the Bath Assembly Rooms, Holkham Hall in Norfolk, Osterley Park, Greenwich Naval College and Somerset House in London. The production also shot at the massive Chatsworth House, the authentic seat of the Dukes of Devonshire, where Georgiana Spencer and William Cavendish once roamed the halls.
  • Diving more deeply into the role, Knightley pored through the Duchess’ preserved letters and analyzed the numerous famous portraits of Georgiana from the period. The more she learned, the more she became fascinated by the great gap between Georgiana’s private and public lives.
  • The film was heavily marketed with links to Princess Diana (who is a direct descendant of Georgiana’s family, The Spencers), using her image in the trailers, and with a tagline (“There were three people in her marriage”) which is a play upon a quote attributed to the late Royal. Keira Knightley came out and denied the film had any links at all, stating that her character was interesting enough without any comparisons.
  • In the background of the location used for Georgiana and Charles Grey’s first kiss is the same building used in Pride & Prejudice (also starring Keira Knightley) for Mr. Darcy’s first proposal.
  • Costume designer Michael O’Connor based the blue “Fox uniform” ensemble worn by Keira Knightley in the Whig political rally scene on portraits and political cartoons of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, that were made in the late 18th century.
  • The Tuscan red zone-front gown worn by Keira Knightley (known as the “Drunken Dress”) had to be made in triplicate due to a stunt scripted for the scene. The costume required 36 meters of silk total for the three gowns, with green and gold lace applied by hand to each one.
  • Susanne Bier wrote an early draft of the script and was originally attached to direct the film.
  • Paramount Vantage bought the film for $7 million before production even began.
  • Despite the 23 year age difference between Keira Knightley and Ralph Fiennes, the real Duke and Duchess of Devonshire were 25 and 17 when they married.
  • Character Quotes
  • You’d better not let me down, Charles Grey. I’ve got 20 guineas riding on you.
  • How foolish of me to think that I should be able to converse with my husband.
  • We come away to Bath to get away from London, and all of London has come away to Bath. Somebody did, indeed, ask me what kind of feather it is that I’m wearing. Well, there are only two specimens of this rare bird known to man. One of them has clearly ended up on top of my head. And the other, rumor has it, is running for office in the Tory party.
  • I have many faults, as you well know. Not least among them is my ability to draw attention. Perhaps we could use that to our advantage.
  • Of all the women in England, you had to throw yourself on her. I have never once objected to any of your affairs. I have accepted whatever arrangement you have proposed. I have raised Charlotte as my own daughter. But this… I have one single thing of my own! Why couldn’t you let me keep Elizabeth for myself? What kind of man are you? She is my sole comfort in our marriage! You have robbed me of my only friend!
  • I fear I’ve done some things in life too late, and others too early.
  • What follows now? Are you going to tear my clothes off and force yourself upon me again?
  • The Duke: For the life of me, I could never understand why women’s clothes must be so damned complicated.
    Georgiana: It’s just our way of expressing ourselves, I suppose.
    The Duke: Whatever do you mean?
    Georgiana: Well, that… you have so many ways of expressing yourselves, whereas we must make do with our hats and our dresses.
  • Georgiana: I must confess, I am not yet at ease with political speeches. Their very form tends to obstruct my view of their actual meaning, if such there be.
    Charles Fox: In which particular section of the speech did the message elude Your Grace?
    Georgiana: Well, I have great sympathy with your sentiments in general, but I fail to fully comprehend how far we, the Whig Party, that is, are fully committed to the concept of freedom.
    Charles Fox: We intend to extend the vote.
    Georgiana: To all men?
    Charles Fox: Heavens, no, but certainly to more men. Freedom in moderation.
    Georgiana: “Freedom in moderation”?
    Charles Fox: Precisely.
    Georgiana: I’m sure you are full of the best intentions, Mr Fox, but I dare say I would not spend my vote, if I had it, of course, on so vague as statement. One is either free or one is not. The concept of freedom is an absolute. After all, one cannot be moderately dead, or moderately loved, or moderately free. It must always remain a matter of either or.
  • Bess: Your girls are lovely.
    Georgiana: Thank you. Do you have any children?
    Bess: I do. Three boys.
    Georgiana: Three boys. What the Duke wouldn’t give for one of them.
  • Georgiana: Do you think of me when we’re not together?
    Charles Grey: You ought to know I do.
    Georgiana: You hesitated before you replied.
  • Georgiana: I may not have the authority to remove you from my house, but I can, at least, order you out of my room.
    Bess: Won’t you please let me explain?
    Georgiana: There is nothing to explain.
    Bess: This is my only chance of ever seeing my children again. The Duke is the most powerful peer in England. He is my only chance.
    Georgiana: There are limits to the sacrifices one makes for one’s children.
    Bess: No, there aren’t. No limits whatsoever.
    Georgiana: Get out. We have nothing more to say to one another.
  • Charles Grey: You don’t have to please others all the time.
    Georgiana: It’s what I’ve been brought up to do. A difficult lesson to unlearn.
    Charles Grey: Would you permit me an observation? I believe you do it so that people will love you.
    Georgiana: What makes you say that?
    Charles Grey: From what I’ve seen… with your husband, your friends. Especially Lady Bess. Even the public.
    Georgiana: I never thought of it that way before. You make me sound so pitiable.
  • The Duke: You don’t know me in the least, do you?
    Georgiana: Yes, I do. We’re a bad match.
    The Duke: I asked but two things when we wed: loyalty and a male heir.
    Georgiana: The same as your dogs!
  • The Duke: Is Grey here? By which I mean Mr Charles Grey. Rumor has it that he is.
    Georgiana: I won’t give him up!
    Lady Spencer: Georgiana!
    Georgiana: Everyone has a lover. Bess is the lover of my husband.
    The Duke: If you had shown some discretion, it might have been different.
    Georgiana: Different?
    The Duke: The only good fortune is it hasn’t yet made it to the papers.
    Lady Spencer: My dead, Grey is unmarried. He has no wealth, no rank. He risks nothing with this affair. The hazard is all yours.
    Georgiana: Grey loves me.
    Lady Spencer: So does William.
    The Duke: Yes… I love you.
    Georgiana: How?
    The Duke: In the way I understand love.
    Lady Spencer: Georgiana, this has gone much too far. It is beneath our dignity. All London is talking!
    Georgiana: Let them talk. Grey makes me a fallen woman, well and good. Now William may divorce me and Bess becomes Duchess of Devonshire.
  • The Duke: This will be the mistake of your life.
    Georgiana: No. I made that many years ago.
  • The Duke: You must know how greatly pleased I am that we have come to an arrangement. It’s not good for little ones to be without their mother for so long.
    Georgiana: My life for theirs.
    The Duke: That’s one way of putting it. Your mother called it common decency before personal gratification, or some such thing, the exact words escape me.
    Georgiana: How about “imprisoned in my own house”?
  • Quoting: Keira Knightley

    on her character: She’s a wonderfully strong female role, an extraordinary and very alive woman, and I think any actress would relish playing Georgiana. She’s a dreamer and an idealist who is suddenly stuck in a marriage with a husband who is the very opposite of that. The Duke is someone who shows no emotions. Georgiana is an incredibly emotional, passionate woman, and it seems there’s no clear way out of this complicated relationship. But, for everything Georgiana goes through, she actually finds a way to eventually triumph over things and regain power in a time when women had so little. What’s interesting is that the less attention she gets from her husband, the more she craves attention from the entire world. I think a part of her loved being the center of attention, having her every move commented upon, but then it turned quite nasty.

    on Georgiana’s relationship with Charles Grey: I love the storyline of Charles Grey – it’s heartbreaking and completely fascinating. Georgiana was a woman who had never experienced love until she met Grey. Suddenly, here is this man who is right for her in every way – he’s passionate for politics, for life, for Georgiana–and yet she can’t be with him. Dominic was fantastic in the role.

    on Georgiana’s relationship with Bess: I was fascinated by the relationship between them. When I read the script the first thing about Georgiana that struck me was how incredibly lonely this woman was–constantly surrounded by so many people and yet entirely alone. She was, I decided, very much somebody who just tried to grab on to any kind of love and attention that she could possibly get. And the friendship with Bess comes at a point where she’s been living with this man who doesn’t talk to her, they have had no relationship basically for a number of years. All of a sudden this woman comes in who is interested in her, who wants to talk to her, who wants to teach her things and who shows her love. I thought the sexual part of it was very much Bess teaching Georgiana that there is enjoyment in an act that I think she never realized there was any pleasure in whatsoever. I thought it was a really interesting turn within the relationship, and I decided that Georgiana did love her very much. Which is why the betrayal of Bess sleeping with the Duke is so absolute.

    on researching the role: It was a wonderful opportunity to find out about 18th Century culture and society, which I didn’t know a lot about. We also had Amanda Foreman (writer of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire) on set, which was fantastic, because she was always there to answer questions. And she was incredibly supportive as well. It’s sometimes quite terrifying to have the writer there but she was great. We had an etiquette person come in as well. I think it’s always important when you’re doing films like this to know the parameters that you’re working in, to know the rules. Then you can choose to break them but as long as the knowledge is there in the first place, you can choose what you take and what you don’t.

    on the wardrobe: I’ve done period before but nothing could have fully prepared me for this. Some of the wigs were so heavy, I couldn’t even lift my head! People kept shouting ‘timber!’ as I walked past. The wigs were difficult, but it kept me in mind of these extraordinary times in fashion and culture, so very extreme and daring – and that Georgiana loved being at the center of it.

    on Georgiana’s involvement in politics: I think Georgiana is one of the first examples of a women using celebrity for political gain. She knew if she threw a party or turned up at a rally, there would be people writing about it and gossiping about it. It’s quite fascinating because you can draw huge links to today’s celebrity culture, which we think is a modern phenomenon, yet it was actually going on in the 1780s.

    on the filming locations: It makes a huge difference actually being in the houses, and it’s very different than being in the studio. You really get a sense of where these people were, of the scale that they lived in and the feeling of their reality – not to mention that they are absolutely stunning.

    on working with co-star Ralph Fiennes: Ralph was just wonderful and the thing we both wanted to do was to make sure no one looked like the villain in this. The way we looked at it is that it was a case of two personalities that really didn’t mix. In the beginning neither of them knew if the marriage was going to work, but it soon became clear they were two people who just kept missing one another.

    Quoting: Cast and Crew

    Director Saul Dibb: Keira embodies quite a lot of the same characteristics as Georgiana. She’s incredibly bright, she’s beautiful and I think she has a unique insight into this woman who was one of the first celebrities. There’s a vulnerability to Keira, but also an open and passionate side. She’s very well read and really understood the political concepts that the Duchess was arguing for. We knew it would be quite hard to find someone who’s got all those things rolled into one, but Keira does. The main challenge of the film was: how do you get the audience to engage with a very wealthy, beautiful young woman from the English upper class of 200 years ago? How do you get them to let go of their preconceptions about people like that and begin to identify with a life that seems, at least on the surface, so different from their own? I think that Keira does that brilliantly.

    Co-star Ralph Fiennes: I’m very impressed by her spirit and how present she is and her dedication and her discipline. She combines her sweet nature as a person with a focus, discipline and a wonderful emotional interior range. She was a pleasure to work with.

    Co-star Charlotte Rampling: Keira was a wonderful collaborator and there was a real feeling of camaraderie with her. As Keira portrays her, Georgiana is a free-thinking, brave woman who simply will not give in.

    Co-star Hayley Atwell: Keira and I were constantly exploding into fits of giggles and at the same time, her work ethic and her focus are extraordinary. She’s a woman of great integrity and she’s a great laugh.

    Costume designer Michael O’Connor: Keira was amazing to dress, there’s no two ways about it. She works with you and there’s almost a kind of revelation from her, something even more than you imagined when you created the costume.

    Critical Reception

    Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times:

    In almost every scene, having to deal with hair as big as the Ritz (“People kept shouting ‘timber!’ as I walked past,” the actress reports) as well as 30 costumes so elaborate that her trailer had to be enlarged to contain them, Knightley manages all her challenges with admirable aplomb.

    David Edelstein, New York Times:

    Every turn is telegraphed, but Fiennes’s duke is a fascinating stiff—uneasy with his privilege but ruthless in using it. Not only is Knightley most excellent, her starved-supermodel look adds an affecting subtext: that the economic impact of male disapproval still inhibits women’s freedom.

    Peter Travers, Rolling Stone:

    Based on Amanda Foreman’s biography of the Duchess, the film, directed perfunctorily by Saul Dibb, underlines every parallel it can find between Georgiana and Princess Diana, starting with the Duke’s affair with Bess Foster (Hayley Atwell). Knightley meets every challenge of the role as the Duchess becomes a devoted mother, an infamous fashion plate and a favorite of the common people. She too takes a lover, in the person of Charles Grey (Dominic Cooper), with whom she has a bastard child. She even finagles a truce with the Duke. Fiennes gives a quietly devastating performance in a part that could have been played for pure villainy, especially in a scene of marital rape. Instead, this consummate actor finds the details that help us understand the forces, noble and ignoble, that forged the Duke’s character. Make no mistake, the film belongs to Knightley. There’s a fire in her eyes that won’t be extinguished, and it keeps us in her corner despite, or more likely because of, the mischief she sparks. It’s Knightley who makes The Duchess a royal treat.

    Ruthe Stein, San Francisco Chronicle:

    Dibb leads Knightley to give her most sensuous performance to date. She makes Georgiana’s desire for Grey palpable. The camera comes in close on her face, revealing the best set of cheekbones since Katharine Hepburn’s. Knightley’s scenes with Fiennes up the ante. You can almost sense her attempting to do better to match his mesmerizing performance.

    Kirk Honeycutt, The Hollywood Reporter:

    Keira Knightley is a terrific choice to play the 18th century socialite, and she captures all the wit, intelligence and high-born manners of a woman given little choice other than to pursue pleasure in a world engineered for and by men.

    Awards and Nominations

    Below is a list of all accolades Keira has received for her role in the film.

    NOMINATED: British Independent Film Awards – Best Actress
    NOMINATED: People’s Choice Awards – Favorite Female Movie Star