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!.
 
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    Home » Press Archives » Articles from 2015

    By any standard it is set to be quite a year for Keira Knightley – as we go to print she is pregnant with her first child, nominated for her second Oscar and about to turn 30. Always thoughtful, funny and an intelligently outspoken feminist, she talks to Violet about equal pay, airbrushing and buying bras.

    The most unprofessional interview ever. Come sit next to me. Do you mind if I take my shoes off?

    Quite all right.

    Okay so you were talking about acting. And you saw your parents in the industry and you thought, that seems a good way to be kind of an effective agent of change…

    Yeah, I also mean I asked for an agent when I was three the first time.

    Amazing you even knew what an agent was.

    It is amazing. I don’t remember it so I don’t know…

    Are you sure it’s true?

    No, it’s absolutely true, my mum and dad both remember it completely. I think partly because they were like, ‘What is this child?’ I think it probably had to do with the fact that I always liked answering the telephone and when l answered the telephone it was my mum or dad’s agent. I probably didn’t know what it was but I wanted… to be one of those people, yeah.

    Well, it’s interesting that you said that you saw acting as a way to kind of influence and ultimately make some kind of change. Were your parents political?

    Oh hugely. So it was political activism. I wasn’t necessarily aware of what they did, all the shows they were in or anything like that, but more the kind of conversations with them and their friends round the dinner table.

    Did you have any concept when you started your professional career as an actress that you would be taking on a position of being a role model? Because that seems to have increased over time.

    Yeah, but it’s a funny one, that. It’s increased but it’s been used to kind of hit people over the heads with and keep them in check in a very right wing, moralistic sort of way, which definitely is the opposite of anything that I saw from my parents, you know. They were actors and were very much the people that disappeared behind a role and that got together to make a piece of work and the piece of work was important but the people who made it weren’t.

    They communicated the story.

    Exactly. And maybe that’s also because my mum’s a writer so it was like the power of the word is the thing and not the celebrity sort of aspect of it. So I think I was quite shocked when suddenly I was in the middle of something that was coming at a completely different angle. And I remember being sixteen going, ‘This is really wrong, making a sixteen year old a role model.’

    Right.

    I find that all very weird and have always found it very, very weird. You know, you get taught that you’re meant to tell the truth whatever your truth is, and you re meant to be honest and of course you then realise, having had years with the media and everything, that actually that’s the last thing that you should do or that you wanted to do. You’re there to sell a particular brand, a particular lifestyle that maybe doesn’t even really exist for you. But nevertheless you’re lead to do that.

    On the one hand you’re being asked to be more than a face for something.

    Yes and on the other hand you’re being told, shut up! Which is fair enough you know, this is the world that we live in but I’ve always tried to be honest about things.

    There was a story about you going to some dance in England and I don’t know if it’s true or not because who knows, but where you had a friend go with you, a girlfriend who dressed up as a boy – is that true?

    No.

    Too bad I thought that was a great story.

    I went with my girl – I mean not girlfriend as in lovers – but we were..

    Your bestie.

    She wasn’t I dressed as a boy, She was wearing black tie and trousers; I don’t know whether that makes you dressed as a boy.

    That’s more androgynous isn’t it?

    It was pretty androgynous… Yeah, she did go in that but then I was in trousers too. I was in leather trousers and a boob tube and on open dress shirt.

    Fantastic.

    And everybody else was in full on dresses! Yeah, it was great.

    I just thought, as for as not fitting into a box, that to me is the seed of activism.

    Yeah, it probably is. We have to celebrate people’s differences, which I suppose is what activism is completely about. And feminism has always been a big thing, I mean I gave speeches, we had to give speeches at school and for speech competition, which I only won once. My main speech at speech competition was on sexism and sport, which I think was probably when I was about twelve or thirteen.

    Before you did Bend it Like Beckham.

    Yeah. I did that when I was about sixteen.

    By the way I started to show my eight-year-old daughter that film. But then there’s some not age appropriate stuff, but I wanted her to see a girl football player.

    I can’t believe there hasn’t been another female sports film. I loved sport when I was at school and the realisation, it must hove been about twelve or thirteen, when suddenly you’re not allowed to play with the boys anymore and you realise you could be a professional footballer, you could be a professional cricketer, and that’s not an option for me. And I remember really clearly having that moment of going, what the fuck do you mean that’s not an option for me?

    But why do you think you thought ‘that’s not an option for me’? Because a lot of girls wouldn’t even notice that, they’ll be like, light right I’ll go into a cooking class instead then. What is it about you that prompted that thought?

    I don’t know I think probably again coming from a very left wing kind of background, of my mum being an absolute feminist but also being the main breadwinner for a lot of my life.

    You grew up with equality.

    Yeah, I mean proper equality, to suddenly when you come out of that and you’re like. wait a minute…

    Why do you think feminism is haying a fashion moment? The last Chanel show. British Elle’s The Feminist Issue. Beyoncé. Why do you think this is? Do you think it’s a moment or simply a new way forward?

    I really hope it’s a new way forward. I worry that if something con become ‘fashionable’ it can become ‘unfashionable’ just as quickly and this is too important for that to happen. I don’t know what happened through the 80’s, 90’s and 00’s that took feminism off the table, that made it something that women weren’t supposed to identify with and were supposed to be ashamed of. Feminism is about the fight for equality between the sexes, with equal respect, equal pay and equal opportunity. At the moment we are still a long way off that.

    It must be really interesting for you, navigating your life and the world that you find yourself in. So let’s talk about gender equality within your industry. I think that with the Sony hacking one of the great things that has come out of this-

    Was the pay thing.

    The huge imbalance!

    We’ve always known. And particularly when you look of Jennifer Lawrence, who is arguably the biggest star on the planet today and you think, she’s still being paid under?

    I love that Charlize [Theron] basically went in and renegotiated an extra 10 million dollars and said, I should be earning that, and she’s right.

    Absolutely. I mean, it’s astonishing.

    We’re not talking about a small discrepancy here. This is a massive divide.

    This is the industry with one of the biggest divides of any industry, gender wise, as far as pay goes.

    Only porn and modelling is where girls are earning more than boys.

    Which is always the most amazing thing, isn’t it?

    But you would think with acting as well. Because given how many men have to take their clothes off in a film compared to how many women have to take their clothes off. Surely the women should be paid more if we go on the theory that in porn and modelling the women are already paid more?

    Well you’re so right, I’m gonna bring that up next time somebody asks me to take my clothes off in a movie! [Laughs].

    Actually you should!

    I might say yes if I can get me extra.

    How did you feel about that, have you taken note of that?

    It was something that everybody knew.

    But I mean now there’s actually ground to say, okay, we have transparency with wages now.

    Yes, there should be but I think there’s a long way to go. A lot of times I’ll go to work and I’ll be the only woman in the cast, you know.

    And that’s supposed to be a badge of honour, right? Yeah, but actually you’re going-

    ‘I want more women in here.’

    Well again, it’s not equal. Where are the female stories? Where are they? Where are the directors, where are the writers? It’s imbalanced, so given that we we half the cinema – going public we are half the people that watch drama pr watch anything else, where is that? So yes, I think the pay is a huge thing but I’m actually more concerned over the lack of our voices being heard.

    Or women’s stories not being told accurately?

    In The Imitation Game Joan Clarke’s story wasn’t exactly the way it was portrayed in the film. She didn’t need Alan to marry her to save her. She married him to save him as he was being investigated for being a homosexual, which was against the law then. Were you aware of this? Why do you think that part of the story was changed?

    That’s not totally true she wanted to marry him because she loved him. They were best friends and I think there was a meeting of minds. They were engaged for six months it off after he came out to her. In the film, the reason for his proposal wasn’t accurate. Her family weren’t against her working at Bletchley Park so he didn’t need to propose to her to try and keep her there. Or ‘save her’, as you said. He wanted children, he wanted a family, he wanted to be ‘normal’ and then realised that, although he loved her as a friend, he couldn’t pretend to be heterosexual. I think it is interesting that for women in film the problems they face are generally put into the sphere of home and family and not into the work place. Joan’s real struggles were to get her rightful ‘place at the table,’ and then once she was there, equal pay, which she never came close to. In the dramatisation of the film, facts were changed through creative licence like in most biopics, and a storyline was invented that made her lack of a husband the problem. Which, as far as I could find out, were never issues. In all the media coverage of The Imitation Game and discussions over the factual inaccuracies in the film, I thought it was really interesting that this never came up and that the mainstream media had no problem with it. They had issues with there being factual inaccuracies in all the male storylines.

    Why do you think there is that lack of female perspective in film?

    Well, I think directors? Because there’s 50:50 when they come out of film school, women to men, female to male directors, and winning the prizes it’s Pretty much 50:50 as well. But you lose them in their thirties; why do you lose them in their thirties?

    Child-rearing years.

    Child-rearing. And really, when you look at most directors, a couple of them, a real minority will make it in their twenties, but they’re not making their first films until they’re in their thirties. They’re not really hitting their stride until their forties. What’s happening to women at that point?

    I agree with you that it is a woman’s most fertile years and also her most productive years work wise, but I also know a lot of women directors who are just not being given even an opportunity to go in the room.

    It’s a boy’s town.

    It is – and I don’t know if you feel like this – but I feel more and more the women’s voices within our community are speaking up.

    So important right now is that the conversations are being had because for so many years they haven’t been.

    We’ve all been having them but not publicly.

    No, not publicly and really, even with some of us who are trying to have them publicly, you’d be laughed at; you’d literally be laughed at in an interview situation.

    Or they wouldn’t print it.

    They certainly wouldn’t print it.

    I have a friend who is a public person and was sexually abused as a child. She told me she had spoken about it in interviews but no one would ever publish the story.

    It’s interesting as far as that editorial choice of what is printed and what isn’t, you know. I think the push for this has been through female journalists like yourself saying, no, this has to be known, and finally everybody else can go, yes, thank you. Because everybody’s been trying this for years but there’s this kind of amazing cloak of, oh no that’s a problem that we’ve got sorted.

    Or that it’s not happening.

    That it’s just not happening at all.

    You know that in America, where there are hundreds of television stations, there is now not one woman who has her own unscripted show, there is not one interviewer who has her own show. Barbara Walters has gone. Diane Sawyer has gone. Katie Couric is on Yahoo. Chelsea Handler has gone to Netflix and I am gonna put myself in with that lot you know. Chelsea and I both came off air on the same week and I was talking to her and I said, do you realise we’re it? Who else [is there]?

    There isn’t anybody else.

    There isn’t one woman who has her own show who can voice opinions about news, about topical issues, about current affairs, through a female perspective, not one. So every opinion that’s going out into the news is through a male point of view.

    Male perspective.

    So how are we supposed to have gender equality in our homes if we can’t even have examples of it in how we receive media?

    You were talking earlier about Sleeping Beauty. Look at the gender stereotype within kid’s films, if you want to start right at the very beginning, and I think it’s amazing – ha pregnant brain again I’m forgetting the name, Geena Davis! With what she’s been doing. She’s actually finding statistics on how many speaking roles there are for women, this is how many women are in kid’s films that aren’t just the mum.

    But I’m personally really sick of all these analytics and statistics because that was great five years ago. Okay not a lot has changed.

    No.

    What I want to say is we know what the situation is. Let’s actually get some plan of action.

    I know.

    If I go to one more fucking conference where woman are just talking about how shit it is for women. Yes it is terrible [but] do something. Put money in a fund, let’s go to the studio heads and get a commitment that of this slate of 30 to 40 films and television shows a year what amount con you commit to having a woman director, a woman writer, female leads that aren’t strippers or hookers, you know? What can we actually do here to get a commitment from people? That’s what I’m interested in because talk is cheap.

    Absolutely and I think it is a huge problem with a movement that’s been very good at being loud and therefore people think that the problem has gone away.

    That’s really interesting. And I also think that there’s a big gap between the intellectuals and the people who are on the ground. And that’s what I’ve been trying to bridge myself, is how do we bring these two things together? Because there is a lot of funding and there is a lot of power between our community and the intellectuals.

    Come on Amanda do it.

    I know!

    [Laughter].

    And I’ve been thinking, oh do I need to get everybody on board together with some kind of a collective?

    I do think that’s the route because of course a collective is always going to be stronger than a single voice.

    Our voices together, absolutely.

    And at the moment it’s a lot of single voices and even within the feminist movements there are a lot of single groups and a lot of them fight within. And you’re like, guys stop fighting about whether she should bare her breasts or if she shouldn’t bare her breasts or whatever the fuck it is, just, ahhhh!

    It’s all a distraction from the real issue.

    It is. I completely agree and I think that a collective kind of movement is absolutely the way forward. I’ll join yours.

    Okay let’s do it.

    [Laughter]. Okay done. Television is on interesting one because you’re seeing a lot of these female directors working quite a lot in television.

    More than in film. But I think I am going to put that collective together because I do feel like this is the time for it to happen.

    It feels like it’s at a peak where it could just slide down and nothing would have changed. See it’s the problem with being actresses, because as much as you’re good at talking it up, the actual doing in the kind of business sense…

    I know.

    You need to put well… you, Reese Witherspoon – I’m sure she’d be great of doing it because she’s got the producer’s hat on as well, you know? I’m just to lazy, I could talk about it a lot but actually I wouldn’t know where to start with the doing of it.

    But you know what? If I said to you, okay this is what you need to do, you could do it.

    Yeah, I’m figuring at some point when this baby comes out it will be a whole new stage of my life and something will happen.

    It will and you can call me and say, ‘how the fuck do I do a PowerPoint?!’

    Yeah at the moment I’m fuzzy and don’t really know anything. I’m sort of floating. But that’s fine. I figure that will come to an end, right?

    It will. In about five years!

    [Laughter] I’m sorry.

    I’ve stopped floating.

    [Laughter] Okay good.

    When you posed topless on the cover of Interview most recently, it was very close in time to the many, many images of naked women being released on the Internet against their will through hacking… Was this intentional? How do you feel about the hacking invasion? Why do you think there is an increase in this of late?

    I wish it had been intentional but it was just coincidence. I totally agreed with Jennifer Lawrence saying that it was a form of sexual assault. It was. It’s very clear that in this day and age women are still being punished for being sexual creatures and that that punishment is seen as socially and culturally acceptable. We have a culture of so-called ‘slut shaming’ which the Internet has highlighted. Just because a woman chooses to share photographs of a sexual nature with a partner, doesn’t mean that anyone else has the right to see them. It’s the same thing as saying that because a woman has consensual sex with one person everyone has a right to have sex with her. We have the right of privacy and the right to say ‘no’. The hacking and release of those photographs was a violation. The public release of any photograph [whether the people are in the public eye or not] of a sexual nature without prior consent of the people involved is, in my opinion, a form of sexual assault.

    Tell me why the Interview shoot became a story.

    It was made into a story. I don’t know, there are a lot of topless photographs of me but it wasn’t a big deal on the day. Then it come out and they went, ‘Wait a minute, but she’s got very small breasts in that photo’. So I was asked about it in on interview and I said, ‘Yeah, I told them I was fine doing it as long as they didn’t give me bigger tits.’

    Right, fair enough.

    And that was it and then it become a thing. Which on one hand is great and on the other hand I kind of feel a little –

    Violated.

    No not particularly, because again in the similar way that you were talking about, your show particularly, with British media outlets, things are going to be taken out [of context and] you kind of go, Okay, they’ve asked me to do it topless, I’m personally, as me, completely fine with these people that I work with but –

    But it’s gonna be a thing.

    It’s gonna be a thing.

    Were you pregnant?

    No.

    Because they’ll look different.

    They do look different but then again I’ve done it before and it hasn’t been made into a thing that much so you can never quite tell.

    At least they ran up a good story, right?

    It was a good story and I did say, ‘You can only do it it you don’t make them any bigger,’ because in a lot of photoshoots that I’d done they make my tits bigger.

    Jesus, I mean I would like to make mine smaller. I’m sorry.

    You definitely don’t need them bigger. They’re amazing.

    I don’t. They’re huge.

    Have they always been that large?

    No, they got bigger after my twins.

    And they’re still that big.

    They’re huge.

    They’re amazing!

    Massive.

    Congratulations.

    Thank you.

    I mean, for me, mine are already enormous.

    And wait ’til your milk comes in. You’re gonna have big boobs.

    They go huge, right?

    They do.

    I rolled over in bed the other day and was like, I think I need to [wear a] bra again, to my husband, and he said, right, and I said, but I’ve never bought a bra, I have no idea, how do I get a bra? And he was like, why would I know! [I said], You have had girlfriends with tits before, you probably know more about breasts than I do, you have to help me!

    Hilarious.

    Because honestly, I have no idea. I was thinking, do I go into M&S? I’ve never even needed to be measured [before]!

    Yeah M&S have cosy bras.

    That’s what I’ve been told.

    You don’t want underwire bras.

    It’s amazing that I’ll hit 30 and be having a baby and It will be the first time I’m going through the bra thing.

    That’s so great.

    Yeah it is.

    I can tell you as someone that was wearing [one] at eleven.

    30, shopping for a bra. I don’t know, they don’t expect you to not know what you’re doing. Me going into M&S, going ahhhh! What s the matter with me! But yeah, they’ve been made bigger on lot of things and without any producers having ever asked me if I was okay with that.

    Do you now have an agreement they cannot retouch you without your consent?

    No I don’t. I should do.

    You should.

    Well, I don’t know, you can’t get that with magazines.

    Yeah you can!

    Can you?

    Absolutely.

    Ohhh I’ll look into that.

    I mean, honestly, I’m not even really a famous person and I did an ad campaign and they took out my tits and ass severely. And I looked at the choice and said, ‘That’s not my body, and by the way, you’re gonna get slammed if you put that picture in because everyone knows that I’ve got tits and ass.’ I speak up a lot about Photoshopping women’s bodies so even the women themselves can’t meet the Photoshop version of themselves.

    Well let me tell you, on the occasions when I’ve had cellulite all over my thighs…

    That’s when it’s handy!

    Please! Please god bring the cellulite down.

    Zits and cellulite – fine.

    Zits.

    But don’t make shit bigger or smaller.

    No. I completely agree with the whole breasts thing but I don’t think I’ve ever had a problem with not having tits.

    Did it ever give you a problem?

    Actually no, it didn’t, and possibly, right or wrong, it always sort of made me laugh. Particularly on one poster where I was literally given – I mean, they were beyond what you have.

    Really?

    They were absolutely enormous.

    Big titties sell, Keira.

    Big titties sell. Even if you go to the film and they’re not actually there.

    Doesn’t matter, they got them in the cinema thinking, Wow, Keira’s got some big jugs.

    Yeah enormous, enormous jugs. I remember doing a women’s magazine where at the time they weren’t allowed to have anything less than a C cup on their cover because–

    When was that?

    Because the market research… Must have been 2004, 2005, something around there. Market research had shown that anything under a C wouldn’t sell.

    Wow.

    So they completely changed my body shape. And you think, Oh, I’m sorry my body’s not–

    It’s not marketable to you.

    It’s not acceptable.

    So it’s interesting, it goes the other way too; do you have experience of being ‘skinny shamed’?

    Oh yeah, a lot of that.

    Because that’s something that people don’t talk about as much as being… You know, people know what fat shaming is.

    Yeah well, if you’re a woman without a lot of shape then you’re anorexic and you’re disgusting and you should be ashamed yourself and you’re teaching young kids to starve themselves.

    But isn’t that the same as our culture that’s telling everyone that they need to be a size 0 and fit in sample sizes?

    Of course.

    Duality.

    But it is that duality isn’t it because you’ve got half of the culture going, you have to be skinny, and the other half of the culture going you’re disgusting and skinny. And you think, okay, so actually none of us can be anywhere.

    The only choice really for any peace is to just be you.

    Well that is the absolute truth. And I think as you get older of course you realise that and you go, I really couldn’t give a fuck.

    But it’s a process, to get there.

    It is and you also go, I don’t know what teenage girls are making of you, of feeling that nothing is right? You know if you’re skinny you’re too skinny, if you’re big then you’re too fat.

    But for so many years I know for me I was like, Oh you know, I’m too sexual, I’m too outspoken. I’m too curvy and I’m too desirable, I’m too… Ahh! And then I kind of went the other way. I’m married now and have a child so I’m a good girl.

    Got to be ultra-respectable.

    Which means I’m not sexual, I’m not desirable, right? Let’s get rid of those things. Do you know what I mean?

    Yeah.

    You just go through all these identities trying to be accepted.

    But nothing quite fits.

    Because it can never fit. If it’s not you, then it will never fit.

    No and also whose ideal is it? Because it’s the people who you’re listening to, it changes. it changes.

    And we don’t know all [of] our various influences.

    No. And if you are in a media thing the big thing is that you’re never gonna be right because the story is going to be that you’re somehow disgusting or you’re just wrong. Because they don’t really want to go, Oh yeah, you look nice. Which is really [the] reality. [Laughter].

    I know, when’s the last time someone said, Oh she looks nice, she seems great.

    But in life we do that a lot.

    Well life, yes, but in media.

    Yeah, wouldn’t happen. But it’s a funny thing when it doesn’t actually reflect life, given that’s what it’s meant to, isn’t that its job?

    Do you have any rules in your house about consuming media?

    We both wish we were looking and using the Internet less and recognising that we’re both falling down the back of the couch of Internet consumption.

    I know, me too.

    Which is going to be curbed. Not quite sure how we’re gonna do it.

    Well your hands will be full…

    Our hands will be full… So hopefully.

    And not have an iPhone in the other hand!