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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!.
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."
Keira Knightley gets edgy for her latest role
Home » Press Archives » Articles from 2012

There’s nothing straightforward about a designated meeting place in Venice. Italy’s bejewelled city, full of labyrinthine, intricate alleyways and dead ends, provides a perfect setting to interview Keira Knightley, who inhabits the dark and complex mind of patient-turned-analyst Sabina Spielrein in A Dangerous Method.

This drama, set at the turn of the 20th century, is about the turbulent relationship between the great minds of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. Known for her period movies, Knightley does the heavy lifting in her portrayal of this little-known Russian woman, responsible for injecting emotional intensity and sexual heat (albeit the disturbing kind) into this otherwise cerebral subject.

During my search for the appointed hotel where the interview will take place, as if in the midst of a Freudian dream, Knightley’s famous visage (promoting Chanel’s latest scent, Coco Mademoiselle) looks out from billboards along the way. Her expression is one of vague amusement.

Finally, pushing through the glass doors of the Hotel Danieli, I am enormously relieved to see the Oscar-nominated actress calmly sitting at a table sipping espresso in the corner of the bustling lobby. At first glimpse, Knightley looks as though she’s stepped out from one of the 17th-century paintings that hang on the surrounding walls.

Her hair is dyed a darker hue than usual and, despite her modern blunt bob, which enhances her alarming beauty and dramatic bone structure, her face is simpatico with this gothic-inspired former palace. It’s this old-world quality that has aided her in securing leading roles that necessitate the ability to cross oceans of time.

Rising from her seat, arm extended, she gestures towards the chair next to her. Knightley is casually chic in a summery black-and-white Orla Kiely dress and black Kat Maconie heels. Graciously brushing off any discussion of my tardiness, and with one perfectly arched eyebrow, she smiles and offers tea and water. Laughing at the notion that her celebrated and iconic face teased me along the way, she says: “I’ve never seen myself as being attractive in that glamorous way. At the same time, I completely know from being on photo shoots and film sets that my face photographs very well. It lights very well and make-up artists like making it up because of the planes in it.

“But I feel like it’s something apart from me. It doesn’t exist other than when I’m at work, in a funny kind of way, if that makes sense,” she says, a little hesitantly.

Well versed and analytical on the much-discussed subject of her attractiveness, she says: “I’m incredibly self-conscious about the fact that I get bad skin. Actually, I’m incredibly self-conscious about a lot of parts of it but, equally, I’m aware that it works in certain environments and for certain things. I’ve never sort of identified with it, I suppose. It became something that some people used. I don’t know whether that makes sense,” she says, again.

Suggesting her sentiments might be just a tad too self-deprecating, she explains. “Well, if you’re using your face, if you’re selling it, then you’ve become so aware of the flaws because people tell you. And they do so brusquely. So then you start seeing it,” she says, with a direct gaze.

“The stylists, the hair and make-up people, and the right lighting create something. I’m not saying that I look in the mirror all the time and go: ‘Oh my God, that’s hideous!’ I can look at myself and think: ‘Oh, good. You look good today’ or: ‘Holy fuck. You look like shit today.’ But doing something like the Chanel campaign feels like I’m being a character. It’s not me.”

So then, who is Ms Knightley when she’s not appearing as someone other than herself? She smiles, tilting her head back slightly. Crossing and uncrossing her ridiculously long legs, she comes across as genuinely uncomfortable as the subject of discussion.

“I didn’t know this about myself, but when Pirates of the Caribbean came out I realised that I didn’t enjoy a huge amount of recognition. I didn’t react to it well, but I think life is about finding out who you are and what you like. So I started doing independent movies and art-house films instead. I made a conscious decision to live my life the best way I could and that meant to publicise myself as little as possible,” she explains.

“It’s an interesting thing when you discover something about yourself. To go: ‘Wow, I’m not the person I thought I was. I’m in the middle of something and I can’t actually deal with it.’ So, for the moment, keeping a low profile is the best way for me.”

Self-discovery, is of course, the theme du jour. A Dangerous Method is another heady offering from the largely underrated director David Cronenberg, renowned for his psychologically intense films (A History of Violence, Eastern Promises). Based on the 1993 book A Most Dangerous Method, this is a clear departure for Knightley. Her signature performances call for restrained and demure women, such as in The Duchess, Atonement and Pride & Prejudice. Although she’s worked in other genres, appearing in the romantic comedy Love Actually and some edgier fare, namely Domino and Last Night, she is primarily associated with corset-donning, regal women from past eras. Apropos, she will soon star in the title role in the Russian classic Anna Karenina.

Now as Spielrein, she reveals an untamed side as the troubled-yet-brilliant patient who becomes Jung’s protégé. In certain cities, notably Los Angeles or New York, self-analysis and therapy is as rudimentary as keeping a dentist appointment. Suggesting it may not be regarded the same way in her home town of London, she offers: “Without going into my own history with therapy, I think a lot of people seek therapy in England, whether it’s therapy itself or something like acupuncture. To me, it’s extraordinary when anybody recognises in themselves that they need help and goes and seeks it. They have nothing but my utmost respect.”

To choose to be an actor, someone who spends his or her life in the mind and body of another, perhaps requires a modicum of insanity. How does she keep herself in check?

“I don’t,” she retorts. “I have no idea whether I am completely sane. I don’t think anybody is. I see the world through my eyes. It’s sometimes a strange world. I hope I don’t hurt people,” she says. “You hope not to hurt yourself too much, either. Maybe that’s the definition of keeping yourself in check.”

Knightley’s interpretation of Spielrein is one of extremes and, at times, unsettling to watch. When we first meet her onscreen, it’s not clear whether she’s a woman possessed or on the brink of insanity. Knightley says: “Madness lies at the end of any human, and without wanting to sound wanky, we are all very fragile. An emotion taken too far is where madness is.”

A gargantuan task, the role requires much emotional wrenching and visceral baggage, complete with facial tics and uncontrollable bodily contortions. Her character, who is drawn from a true story, is enslaved to her unusual sexual proclivity, which is the result of early-childhood abuse.

No stranger to onscreen nudity and sexual scenarios, it’s somewhat surprising that Knightley claims to be ill at ease with this element of her job.

“I don’t think anybody is completely comfortable in their body. Firstly, it’s the superficial thing of seeing your flaws on the screen. That’s probably going to be all that you see and you focus on the bits you don’t particularly like. But at a certain point, I’ve had to get over my own body anxiety issues so it doesn’t get in the way of telling the story. It’s something I’ve had to face,” she says, and shifts in her seat.

“It’s complex. If you said to me: ‘Would you like to stand in the middle of this room and take your clothes off?’ I’d say: ‘Well, actually, no, I wouldn’t,’” she laughs. “Do I sometimes feel incredibly shy about going out even in a bathing costume into a swimming pool? Yeah, actually, I do.”

A waiter hovers nearby and smiles expectantly. Perhaps out of an inherent British politeness, Knightley orders a pot of tea she will never touch.

In further illustrating her level of discomfort, she says: “I was on the beach the other day. I was in France on holiday with some friends and we were all lying out. They were all totally fine taking everything off and I was sitting around in my jeans and a top. I kind of didn’t want to take anything off.”

It’s not uncommon to hear an actress describe herself as shy. It’s a character trait Knightley wrestles with constantly. “I didn’t really realise what it was until quite recently. There are definitely extroverted actors and then there are introverted, and I fall into the introverted category. I tend to keep my head down so as not to get noticed, apart from a film festival like here in Venice, where that’s not going to happen. So, then I just go for it. Then it’s time to get dressed, and have fun.

“We all face our fears constantly in regular life and for me it’s social situations. Going to a party is frightening for me. If I go out, I give myself a big pat on the back,” she says. Smiling, she continues: “Yes, I know you’re going to say: ‘How is it that I can do interviews?’ Well, this is a completely separate thing. This is not a real-life situation. I am always frightened to go to a party, every single time. And when I do it, I say to myself: ‘Yes, I made it. Yes, I’m actually talking to people.’”

So, it’s no coincidence I find her sitting in the darkest corner of the room? She laughs. “Well, yes. I tend to find a corner for quite a long time and then I do get kind of coaxed out, eventually.”

To encapsulate her life thus far, this London-born actress, now 26, enjoyed her precocious childhood in which she requested an acting agent at age three, and got her way at age six. Given her background – her mother is an award-winning playwright and father a theatre and television actor – her interest in acting wasn’t any great leap.

An A-student, in spite of dyslexia, she attended Teddington School and Esher College. She was accepted into the prestigious London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art; eager to work, however, she didn’t attend. After appearing in television movies and commercials, she landed her first break in 1999 in Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace, largely due to her remarkable resemblance to Natalie Portman.

Knightley played Sabé, the decoy of Portman’s Queen Amidala. Not surprisingly, the doe-eyed doppelgängers regularly compete for the same roles. And interestingly, while Knightley is very much Chanel’s girl, Portman is Dior’s favoured spokesperson.

Familiar with the pros and cons of public life, she once said: “It frightens me when kids say: ‘I want to be famous.’” When questioning her on this statement, it seems an emotional eruption occurs. Evidently, this is a subject she feels very passionate about.

“I want to say to these kids: ‘Be creative, be a writer, be a musician, a singer, an actor. Preferably be a doctor, somebody who’s going to save the fucking world.’

What does fame mean? What relevance is there in any of us sticking our head above the parapet?” she says, heatedly. Her voice rising a little, she continues. “Is there something worthwhile in this, alone? I get huge amounts of pleasure from creating something, but I don’t know about the fame part. I don’t know that I understand what you want if you’re just saying this is it. I mean, why?” she says, rhetorically.

“What are you giving? You just want people to look at you? What for? I think if you’re not asking yourself why and you’re not trying to be a part of society and you just want to be looked at, what’s the point?”

Her words hang in the air. In lightening the mood, I suggest it’s a safe bet she’s not watching Keeping Up With The Kardashians in her spare time?

She bursts out laughing at that. “No. Damn straight I’m not watching it.” Fiercely private, her least favourite subject is her love life. “You know I don’t talk about that part of my life. I just don’t talk about that to anyone,” she says, almost apologetically.

All things considered, Knightley’s romantic track record would imply a strong preference for serial monogamy. She was the girlfriend of Irish actor Jamie Dornan from 2003 to 2005, followed by a five-year relationship with Pride & Prejudice co-star Rupert Friend. Allegedly, she is currently in a relationship with James Righton of the British indie band Klaxons.

“I don’t have any of those ‘I want to be married with kids’ plans,” she declares. “I have no idea what’s going to happen, and for me, that’s the joy of life. It’s in the not knowing. Would it be lovely if kids and marriage were in my future? Yes, absolutely. But right now, do I want that? No, not really,” she says.

“If I got to a point in my life where that seemed a great thing, and I’d met somebody and we both thought that, then how great. Equally, if I don’t, and if that’s not what happens to me, then I’m sure there will be other great things,” she says. After a pause, she says, unprovoked. “But yes, I think I’m somebody who will want kids at some point. Maybe it’s next week and maybe it’s in 10 years, or maybe it’s not. It would all depend on the person, I guess. But I’m not a planner and I think that makes me happier not to be. I don’t want an image in my head of what it ‘should’ be. That’s too difficult to live up to.”

However, one image she continues to live up to is her status as pre-eminent style icon. Regularly swathed in couture outfits on the red carpet, how does she describe her personal style?

She moans. “Oh, I hate that question. I don’t know, I don’t know! It’s sort of a bit preppy with a bit of scruffiness as well. Is that possible?”

Reassured that her description is perfectly legitimate, she brightens. “Okay, good. American actresses are brilliant, I’ve noticed, at being able to say exactly what their style is and be really accurate. It’s something I’ll have to work on.”

Leaning forward, she says, excitedly: “But I do really love beautiful, well-made clothes where you can see the art in it. The other night for the screening of this movie,

I wore a handmade Valentino couture number. I met the woman who made it, because it didn’t fit me, so we needed to get it fitted. It was an extraordinary creation, and meeting the actual woman who made it, literally with her own hands, was incredible.”

Sipping the remains of her glass of water, she looks out at the private gondolas parked in front of the hotel, one of which will take her to the island of Lido later in the afternoon. She says, almost to herself: “But do I like the actual red carpet? No. That is just not my cup of tea in a huge way.”

It seems there are quite a few aspects of her illustrious career she doesn’t enjoy – in a huge way. To decide at the age of three to become an actress, and then be fortunate enough to achieve a relatively impossible goal, is the dream not all it’s cracked up to be?

She thinks for a moment. “Particularly with this profession, there’s so much smoke and mirrors. You have an image of what you should be, or what you’re going to be, or what the dream is and, in a funny way, that image is quite destructive. It doesn’t make you look around and appreciate what you’ve got. It constantly makes you think: ‘But it’s not this or it’s not that.’ And it took me until a couple of years ago to realise that whatever that dream, or whatever that image I had in my head, or whatever it is that I should be like, didn’t exist, couldn’t exist. As soon as I’d let that go, I could look around and say: ‘Oh God, this is great. I’m living the most extraordinary fucking life.’”