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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!.
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"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."
Keira Knightley: I still have something to prove
Home » Press Archives » Articles from 2011

On the stage of the Comedy Theatre in London’s West End, Keira Knightley is in tears. Starring in the role of Karen Wright in the first West End production of Lillian Hellman’s once-banned 1934 play The Children’s Hour, she’s acting out a break-up scene with her on-stage fiance. Performing it eight times a week for four months is hardly what you would diagnose as therapeutic for an actor whose own five-year relationship with English actor Rupert Friend ended in January, shortly before the play began its run.

Still, Knightley is used to plying her trade under extreme circumstances.

Making her theatrical debut on the same stage a year ago, in The Misanthrope, Knightley fittingly played a young actor tackling the vacuity and cynicism of modern showbiz. She escaped her expectations of being “burnt alive” by the critics, with her latest stage outing further dispelling scepticism about her ability in the role Audrey Hepburn played in the 1961 film version.

Onscreen, the 26-year-old is more akin to the poised grace of Vivien Leigh than Audrey Hepburn, with the stillness of her exquisitely angled and structured face a throwback to the golden age of screen sirens.

Leigh, best known for Gone with the Wind, once declared: “I’m not a film star – I’m an actress. Being a film star – just a film star – is such a false life, lived for fake values and for publicity.” It’s a manifesto that could easily have come from Knightley’s lips.

Not many female actors have elicited such troublesome attention, the highlights of which include successfully suing a national newspaper that inferred she was anorexic, charging a stalker (one of a reported five) with harassment and paparazzi attention so incessant that when they’re not stalking her London home, they snap away in the foliage surrounding her film sets.

In person, you would expect Knightley to be an insular and paranoid wreck as a result, yet there’s not even a personal publicist in tow to keep an eye on things when we meet at a London hotel. She’s never had one. For a star of her status, it’s a complete anomaly.

“I never felt I needed one,” she says. “I’ve had incredibly bad press in the past and I don’t know if it would be any better with a publicist. I’ve got mates in similar situations [most notably Sienna Miller] who have publicists and still get horrendous press.”

When it comes to dealing with the media, it’s clear the strong-willed Knightley doesn’t need a publicist to warn journalists that her personal life and boyfriend talk is off limits. It turns out she has other help. “I put on a character to deal with interviews,” she says. “Sometimes she’s the right one but sometimes she gets me into a lot of f—ing trouble.”

A sip of tea makes her realise her faux pas.

“I’ve got to stop swearing! What is the matter with me?”

Normally, it’s when the B-word (boyfriend) is mentioned that her penchant for the F-word rears its head. A journalist for the British newspaper The Guardian, who pressed her too far, compared the clipped-toned Knightley swearing as like “a spurt of Special Brew from a fine Wedgwood teapot”. It’s a spot-on description.

Her feistiness and self-deprecating wit certainly helped keep her centred when, at 18, she was cast, alongside Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom, in an unlikely franchise based on the Disney theme park ride Pirates of the Caribbean. “To be honest, I took what I was offered,” she says. “I got offered huge Hollywood movies people would kill for and I took them.”

Ironically, Joe Wright, who directed Knightley in Atonement and her two Chanel adverts, wasn’t too impressed with the initial proposal of Knightley playing Elizabeth Bennet in their first collaboration, Pride & Prejudice. Wright had considered Knightley to be too beautiful to play Jane Austen’s literary icon. “But then he met me and he said, ‘Oh, no, she’s fine to do it,”‘ Knightley says of the role that garnered her an Oscar nomination. “I still don’t really know what he meant.”

One thing she does realise, though, is the effect Pride & Prejudice had in helping her develop as an actor.

“At the time, I wasn’t really ready to be scrutinised, as I wasn’t any good at my job yet,” she says.

“But with Pride & Prejudice, I was at least trying to show I was learning and, given the right opportunity, could possibility do it. So, since those first films, I’ve always been trying to be stretched and to become a good actress.”

Her latest role, in the adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s melancholic novel Never Let Me Go, is further proof of her progress and it reunites Knightley with her Pride & Prejudice co-star Carey Mulligan. With Mulligan the lead this time, the film’s director, Mark Romanek, for one, never expected to snag Knightley in a supporting role.

“I do have an ego and all the rest of it but not in that way,” Knightley says of her director’s initial pessimism. “Possibly, if I was a better businesswoman, I would create a lead-actress persona and stick to it and have an audience that expects a certain type of character – that’s where big money is made. I can’t do that, it’s not what excites me.”

Doing back-to-back theatre stints would be considered commercial suicide for an A-list Hollywood actor but in overcoming her initial trepidation of the stage, it brought her full circle to where it all began.

Her mother, Sharman Macdonald, had debilitating stage fright that ended her own career as an actor in the early ’80s. Needing to find a new profession, she decided to turn her hand to writing a play. Her husband, Will Knightley, made a deal with her: if she sold a play they could afford to have another baby.

The resulting witty and tragic play, When I Was a Girl, I Used to Scream and Shout, was a success. The deal was complete and Keira was born.

Her fast-tracked career since – from requesting an agent at the age of three to teenage Hollywood stardom – might have brought its pitfalls but within the industry, her dedication to her work has brought admirers not normally prone to superlatives.

David Cronenberg, who directed her in the forthcoming A Dangerous Method, is one. The film centres on the pioneering psychoanalysts Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) and his mentor Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen), with Knightley playing Russian-Jewish patient Sabina Spielrein, who ultimately causes a rift between them.

“She’s as good as anyone I’ve worked with,” Cronenberg says. “She just blew us away.”

If there’s anyone who still isn’t convinced of her abilities, Knightley almost takes comfort in the fact.

“It would be a terrible thing if I felt I had nothing to prove,” she says. “What would be the point?”