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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."
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When I meet Keira Knightley on the rooftop of Shoreditch House on one of this summer’s rare warm afternoons, I commit one of the cardinal sins of journalism: I allow myself to be completely distracted from the job at hand. My carefully crafted interview questions lie mutely in my notebook as the minutes tick by unchecked and the conversation is monopolised by the happy subject of weddings. She’s so charming, you see, Ms Knightley. In part, it can be attributed to her general unstarriness: the checked shirt worn underneath a woollen jumper that looks as though it could have played bedchamber to a favourite pet; the total lack of make-up, not even a shine of freshly applied lipbalm; and the grin that jumps to her lips with a face-splitting regularity that means the only thing connecting it to Hollywood pouts is the fact that if I had the ability to freeze-frame, I could match it up to its appearances in any one of her 30 films. Except, perhaps, A Dangerous Method – she didn’t have much cause to smile in that.

It’s not just her appearance, though. There’s something about 27-year-old Knightley that wins you over almost immediately. I first met her four years ago, at an awards ceremony where she had just picked up a best actress accolade for her appearance in Joe Wright’s Atonement. Backstage, in the flurry of the green room, and despite co-star James McAvoy being on hand, she looked so lost that I felt compelled to go over. I didn’t know then that her shyness was almost overwhelming when faced with a room full of strangers, but the smile she gave me was one of such patent gratitude that it was my gut that answered when I promised to get her a drink and have her out of there as quickly as possible.

Today, though, she’s at ease. We’re completely alone, hidden away from the usual cool creatives who inhabit this London hangout, and the business of the photoshoot is behind her, having taken place the weekend before at Allington Castle in Kent. Her then-soon-to-be-fiancé, Klaxons keyboard player James Righton, accompanied her on that occasion, watching good-naturedly and unobtrusively as she wielded daggers and peered into crystal balls in the name of high fashion.

Which brings us to the wedding talk. I won’t tease you any more, though, and insinuate that Knightley discusses every detail of her upcoming nuptials. For one thing, there isn’t an engagement ring to be seen today. A stack of delicately beautiful gold bands travels up one of her long fingers, but no solitaire is visible. The question has yet to be popped, the announcement of her engagement coming just days after our meeting. And, besides, I know Knightley well enough to state with conviction that even if it were a done deal, waxing lyrical about her love life could not be any more unappealing to her. No, the wedding in question is that of our mutual friend Leith Clark, the celebrated stylist and long-time friend of Knightley and her sister-in-law. And the issue that occupies the actor is this: ‘It’s the wedding of the century. What the fuck do you wear?’

Swearing is furniture to a conversation with Knightley. Not peppered, but ever-present, and so unconsciously uttered that you hardly notice it. If anything, it serves to make her observations sound honest and unguarded. And in this case, the expletice is justified. ‘It’s just terribly difficult, because when [Clark] says “pretty dresses”, you know it’s got to be a very pretty dress. And also, if you wear the wrong pretty dress, I know she’ll go, “That’s scary, why did you do that?”‘ She would say that to you? ‘Oh, yeah!’
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Of course, Knightley doesn’t really have anything to worry about. Style missteps are a thing of the past, and even those are a relic of her teenage ascent to fame – few of us can boast blemish-free fashion snaps from our youth. Still, her red-carpet wardrobe of softly elegant dresses – Erdem, Marchesa, Valentino (‘I get really, really, really, really nervous. Every dress has to be sweat-proof’) – is completely at odds with her off-duty ensembles,which appear to consist of various shapeless pieces. That’s not a criticism, just a statement of fact. Knightley has a definite look – a muddle of Annie Hall mixed with a Nineties Winona Ryder – and at its heart is a need for comfort and, yes, probably a yearning for invisibility. But it’s appealing because of its absolute lack of pretension.

Of course, for her own wedding dress, we can safely assume that, as Knightley is a Chanel girl, Karl Lagerfeld could be called upon to provide it. She is certainly a fan of the esteemed designer, although perhaps not for the reasons you might imagine. ‘Karl’s amazing,’ she says. ‘He’s an avid reader. And he speaks about five different languages, so he’ll be rattling off English to you and French to somebody else, and German to somebody else, and then the phone rings and he’s speaking in Italian.’

Is Lagerfeld the reason then, that she became the face of the French house’s Coco Mademoiselle scent? ‘It was my perfume anyway,’ says Knightley. Would you have done the advertisement if it wasn’t? ‘I don’t know. I definitely did it because it was, because I love the serendipitous, weird nature of it. I’d always worn men’s perfumes before that one, and it was a friend who gave it to me and said, “I think it’s time you wore a women’s one.”’

Most of us might imagine that one perk of the Chanel-face role would be to sit front-row at the label’s spectacular shows, but Knightley has been conspicuously absent. ‘This sounds ridiculous, but I don’t actually like having my picture taken and I tend to avoid anything where I have that.’ So if you could sneak in the back? ‘I would totally sneak in the back! And sit in the back row. I love seeing [the collections] as they were presented. Because it is art, when you see it. And the couple [of shows] that I’ve been to were absolutely extraordinary.’

An added draw to the role of Chanel ambassador may well have been that Knightley was able to work with a man we can feasibly assume to be her favourite director, Joe Wright. as well as the epic Coco Mademoiselle adverts, the pair collaborated successfully on Atonement and Pride & Prejudice, making her latest role in Anna Karenina the third cinematic project the two have worked on together. ‘We talked about it a few years previously, one of those conversations about which are the great female roles, and Anna Karenina came up,’ recalls Knightley. ‘Then he phoned me when I was doing A Dangerous Method in Germany, and left a message saying, “er, K, can you phone me back, please?” I did and he said, “so you know Anna Karenina, remember that conversation? Well, what about it?”’ Did she have to think about it? ‘Joe’s never offered me a role that I’ve turned down – he’s offered me three and I’ve taken them all. I think if it was deeply wrong I wouldn’t do it, but then I don’t think he would offer me anything that was deeply wrong, because we know each other.’

The signs for this latest project are good, although when we meet, neither I nor Knightley have been able to see an edit of the film – a fact that causes her to make a few comments along the lines of ‘I hope it’s worked’ and ‘I don’t know whether we’ve managed to do this’, with a lack of swagger that is both ridiculous and adorable.

As you might imagine, though, given the industry nominations that follow Wright around, the names attached are impressive. Firstly, the screenplay, written by Tom Stoppard. ‘It was amazing because you’ve got a book with 820 pages and he got it down to about 130,’ says Knightley. ‘Often, when you’re dealing with something that big and you cut it, you feel bereft at losing bits. But there wasn’t anything I read and went, “Oh fuck, if only…” If you’ve got a writer like Tom Stoppard you know you’re in safe hands.’

Secondly, there’s her co-star, Jude Law. I tell her that I barely recognised him from the brief trailer I was permitted to see under strict security. ‘Oh God, yeah. No wonder he kept that hat on… [the make-up and wig] were the worst. Poor fucker. I’d get to the end of the day, take my make-up off, the wig off, and I’d look shit. He’d take the make-up and wig off and look fucking brilliant. And everyone would say, “Oh yeah! Good-looking man underneath!”’

Did she enjoy working with him? ‘He’s lovely and just a complete professional. You naturally put him in the leading-man, good-looking roles, which you think, “Oh, you don’t need to be very good to do that.” but he is, actually, and when you look at his body of work, he again and again goes for the quite strange character roles. He’s absolutely on it.’

Law plays Anna’s husband, Alexei Karenin, whereas the young lover who unrests their marriage is brought to life by Aaron Johnson, husband of Sam Taylor-Wood and young star of Nowhere Boy and Kick-Ass. What did Knightley make of him? ‘He is very confident. But he’s also got whatever it is, and I’m never sure quite what it is that makes an actor good, but he’s got it. It’s real. It’s a really interesting thing. If you asked him about his preparation or anything like that, I’m not quite sure what the answer would be – he’s a total wing-it, but he absolutely pulls it off. You sort of stand there and go, “Wow, I don’t know how you’ve done it, but you’ve really, really done it.” It was an amazing thing to watch.’

Anna Karenina was, she says, ‘the hardest thing that I’ve done to date. absolutely.’ The dance aspect of the film – something Wright cooked up to give the production a stylised feel on a smaller budget – pushed her out of her comfort zone, but the role itself was particularly challenging, largely because Anna is ‘a very, very difficult character. I think quite often in film, because you only have a certain amount of time, characters are quite simplistic, and this one definitely isn’t’. And Anna’s complicated character went home with Knightley far more than she would have liked. ‘I can safely say I didn’t enjoy living with Anna very much,’ she says. ‘And I don’t think the person that lives with me enjoyed living with her too much either. I’m very glad she’s gone now.’

Filming took place not long after the actor hit a low ebb, physically. ‘My body at the end of last year was just breaking, and I thought, “I’ve really got to try and do something.” I’ve been trying to get myself into gear – I’ve been doing yoga. But I’ve already got injuries! From fucking yoga!’ I remind her that the last time we worked together, she showed up on set despite being floored by a bug, to the extent that she coughed so hard, we thought she had broken a rib. ‘No, it wasn’t a broken rib,’ she assures me. ‘It was pleuresy! It’s like, you do period films and you get some sort of weird, archaic disease. And I didn’t realise, so I went on like that for another month. I just stupidly never went to the doctor. I was rehearsing for this bloody play, and then suddenly found in rehearsals that it had gotten so bad I couldn’t stand up any more. And they were just like, “please can you go to the doctor?”’

But working to the point of exhaustion isn’t what has stopped Knightley from keeping up the pace of work she completed last year – it’s the threat of having to promote it all. ‘In the past couple of years, I have turned down quite a lot [of films] because of what the press commitments would be. I haven’t worked this year, mainly to have a year clear when I didn’t have to do [press]. There is a certain point where you go, “There are decisions to be made,” and if you really hate it, then you do have to look at it and go, “OK, how can I make my life better, because I don’t want to sit here and be complaining about things the whole time.”

‘I probably should try to do something that would make a bit more money than the ones I’ve been doing have been making. But the films I have been making for the past five years make me incredibly happy, and whether they work or they don’t, they’ve been experiences, and I don’t mind coming out and talking to people about them. In that way, it’s pretty well balanced.’

Regularly during our conversation, Knightley refers to being in her ‘late twenties’ and what she has learnt by this point. I ask her if she feels old for her years, having started her working life early.‘I don’t know. I hated my late teens, I hated my early twenties, all of that; I think a lot of people do. Possibly, I think I’m one of those people who always would have done, and it didn’t really matter where I was in life. But I was totally uncomfortable in everything. And all of a sudden, 25 hit, and I was like, “Ah, I think I’m all right.” And actually, after 25 it’s been pretty good. I feel like I’ve been around the block a couple of times, and that’s great.’

Of course, being engaged to the man she loves plays a big part in that contentment, but it’s friends that she cites as the glue in her life. ‘Women get a really bad rep, but they’re fucking excellent. I keep on having moments with groups of girls where I just think, “Girls are excellent, like, really excellent.” There is nothing like a friendship group of women, and going out for girlie nights or whatever. It’s the best fucking thing in the world.

‘As much as we can be bitchy and gossipy and all the rest of it, I think, equally, if there’s something actually really wrong, women talk about it and we air it. And if it’s an argument, then it’s an argument, but we have it out, as opposed to that festering thing where suddenly you never speak to somebody ever again. I think that doesn’t help as much. I do have quite a boyish thing sometimes of just shutting down and not actually having the conversation, because the conversation will be too embarrassing and I don’t want to get emotional about it, mainly because I find it really awkward, so I just don’t do it.

‘But now I’m able to reach out to people in a way that I think I wasn’t in my early twenties. I think in your late twenties it’s all sort of coming together. I think you get certain points where you suddenly find you really need help, and the first time that you have to ask for help, particularly if you’re not naturally someone who does, it’s such a massive kind of moment of having to understand that you can’t take it all on your own shoul- ders and, actually, you do need to share it out. It’s the best thing when you’ve learnt that lesson.’

These lifeblood friendships are so important to Knightley that she has repeatedly resisted the idea of a move stateside; she lives there for the duration of filming when necessary, but always returns swiftly to her home in the British capital. ‘I am very close to my family. I am very close to my friends. I like the fact that in London I can get out of what I do,’ she says. ‘I don’t have to just be defined by what I do, and I find in LA, if you’re an actress, you can’t get out of the film industry, it’s all about that, as far as I found, though I’m sure there are other people who would say that’s complete bollocks.’

Thanks to my wedding-talk time-wasting, the interview is drawing to a close and I still have a couple of key questions left to ask: firstly, when is she happiest? ‘Work-wise, it is amazing when you’re doing a scene and you’re working with somebody that you click with and for a second, or a couple of seconds, it’s real. And then it’s like magic, it’s like a drug. Otherwise, a good book, a nice meal, a lovely girls’ evening, you know. I do like a pub – gin makes me cry though; I’m a vodka girl. And I’m shit at karaoke, but on occasion, a bit of karaoke as well. A good dance I think is very, very necessary.’

I ask her how she thinks her friends would describe her. ‘Oh fuck, I haven’t a clue. I hope I’m a laugh, I hope I’m there for them. I’m far too introspective; I’d like to be more outgoing. I’m working on that. Constant work in progress: that’s how I’d describe myself. This bit’s quite a nice bit, so maybe I’m onto the right track. Of course, I’ve said that now and probably jinxed myself, so maybe I should touch wood.’

You’ve got to take happiness when it comes, I say.

‘You do. It’s fleeting and you have to grab it.’

But it will come back.

‘Absolutely, that’s what you learn, isn’t it? You go down, you come back up again.’

That’s the idea – relationships, life, everything.

‘All of that.’

A rollercoaster, as Ronan Keating once said so eloquently.

‘Ronan Keating was right about all of it.’