Knightley at the 68th Venice International Film Festival, September 2011
|Born||Keira Christina Knightley |
26 March 1985 
Teddington, London, UK
|Spouse(s)||James Righton (m. 2013)|
Keira Christina Knightley (/ /; born 26 March 1985) is an English actress and model. She began acting as a child on television and made her film debut in 1995. Knightley had a supporting role as Sabé in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999) and her first significant role came in The Hole (2001). She gained widespread recognition in 2002 after co-starring in the film Bend It Like Beckham and achieved international fame in 2003 as a result of appearing as Elizabeth Swann in the Pirates of the Caribbean film series (2003–07).
Since the Pirates of the Caribbean films, Knightley has become best known for starring in period drama films, such as Pride & Prejudice (2005), Atonement (2007), Silk (2007), The Duchess (2008), A Dangerous Method (2011), and Anna Karenina (2012). Knightley has also appeared in a variety of genres of Hollywood films, including the romantic comedy Love Actually (2003), the historical action King Arthur (2004), the psychological thriller The Jacket (2005), biographical action Domino (2005), the drama The Edge of Love (2008), the film noir London Boulevard (2010), the dystopian science fiction Never Let Me Go (2010), the romantic drama Last Night (2010), and the dark comedy Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012).
Knightley has earned nominations for the Academy Award for Best Actress and the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress for her role as Elizabeth Bennet in Joe Wright's 2005 adaptation of Jane Austen's novel Pride and Prejudice. Two years later she was nominated again for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress, as well as the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her performance in Wright's Atonement. In 2008, Forbes claimed Knightley to be the second highest-paid actress in Hollywood, having reportedly earned $32 million in 2007, making her the only non-American on the list of highest-paid actresses.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Career
- 3 Media attention
- 4 Personal life
- 5 Filmography
- 6 West End appearances
- 7 Discography
- 8 Notes
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Early life[edit source | edit]
Knightley was born in Teddington, London, England, the daughter of Sharman Macdonald, an award-winning playwright, and Will Knightley, a theatre and television actor. Her father is English and her Scottish mother is of half Welsh ancestry. She has an older brother, Caleb.
Knightley lived in Richmond, attending Stanley Junior School, Teddington School and Esher College. She was diagnosed with dyslexia at the age of six, but nevertheless was successful in school and was thus permitted to acquire a talent agent and pursue an acting career. She requested an agent as early as the age of three. Knightley has noted that she was "single-minded about acting" during her childhood. She performed in a number of local amateur productions, which included After Juliet written by her mother, and United States written by her then drama teacher, Ian McShane.[Note 1] She focused on art, history, and English literature while at Esher, but left after a year to focus on her acting and she also turned down her spot at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.
Career[edit source | edit]
1993–2002: Career beginnings[edit source | edit]
After getting an agent at 6, she did work mostly on commercials and small TV roles. Her first role was "Little Girl" in Royal Celebration, a 1993 TV film. A year later, she had a small role in the film A Village Affair. She later starred in 1995's Innocent Lies and 1998's Coming Home. She was a princess in the 1996 film The Treasure Seekers. Later in 1999, she appeared as Rose in Oliver Twist.
Keira Knightley appeared in several television films in the mid to late 1990s—as well as ITV1's The Bill—before being cast as Sabé, Padmé Amidala's decoy, in the 1999 science fiction blockbuster Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Sabé's dialogue was dubbed over with Natalie Portman's voice. This was to hide the fact that the handmaiden Padmé (played by Natalie Portman) was actually disclosed as the real Queen Amidala at the end of the film. Knightley was cast in the role due to her close resemblance to Portman; even the two actresses' mothers had difficulty telling their daughters apart when the girls were in full makeup.
Knightley's first starring role followed in 2001, when she played the daughter of Robin Hood in the made-for-television Walt Disney Productions feature, Princess of Thieves. She trained for several weeks in archery, fencing and horse riding. During this time, Knightley also appeared in The Hole, a thriller that received a direct-to-video release in the United States. She appeared in a big-budget miniseries adaptation of Doctor Zhivago as Lara, alongside Scottish actor Hans Matheson in the title role, which first aired in 2002 to good reviews and high ratings. In the same year, she also was in the film Pure, in which she portrays a pregnant teenager who is a heroin addict and had a child taken by social services. Knightley's breakthrough role was in the football-themed film, Bend It Like Beckham, which was a success in its August 2002 UK release, grossing $18 million, and in its March 2003 U.S. release, grossing $32 million.
2003–2007: Breakthrough and acclaim[edit source | edit]
After Bend It Like Beckham's UK release raised her profile, she was cast in the big budget action film, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (along with Orlando Bloom and Johnny Depp) which was produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and opened in July 2003 to positive reviews and high box office grosses, becoming one of the biggest hits of summer 2003 and cementing Knightley as the new "It" girl.
Knightley had a role in the British romantic comedy Love Actually, which opened in November 2003, which co-starred her childhood idol Emma Thompson. Her next film, King Arthur, opened in July 2004 to negative reviews, however in preparation for the role she took boxing, fighting, archery and horseriding lessons for four days a week for three months. In the same month, Knightley was voted by readers of Hello! magazine as the film industry's most promising teen star. Additionally, TIME magazine noted in a 2004 feature that Knightley seemed dedicated to developing herself as a serious actress rather than a film star.
She appeared in three films in 2005, the first of which was The Jacket, alongside Adrien Brody. She next appeared in Tony Scott's Domino, an action film based on the life of bounty hunter Domino Harvey. The film has been Knightley's greatest critical flop to date. Knightley's critics often suggested she was nothing more than a pretty face, which led her to comment to Elle magazine, "I always feel like I’m the one with everything to prove".
Pride & Prejudice rounded out 2005. Knightley had loved the book since she was seven, and with her first cheque for acting she bought a doll's house of the hero's mansion. She said of her character, "The beauty of Elizabeth is that every woman who ever reads the book seems to recognise herself, with all her faults and imperfections. If you give an actress who is even remotely good the chance to play a fantastic character like that, they are going to revel in it." Variety wrote about her portrayal of Elizabeth Bennet: "Looking every bit a star, Knightley, who's shown more spirit than acting smarts so far in her career, really steps up to the plate here, holding her own against the more classically trained Matthew Macfadyen, as well as vets like Brenda Blethyn, Donald Sutherland, Penelope Wilton and Judi Dench with a luminous strength that recalls a young Audrey Hepburn. More than the older Jennifer Ehle in the TV series, she catches Elizabeth's essential skittishness and youthful braggadocio, making her final conversion all the more moving." The film grossed more than $100 million worldwide, and Knightley earned a Golden Globe nomination and an Oscar nomination (the Oscar ultimately went to Reese Witherspoon). The Academy Award nomination made her the third-youngest performer ever nominated. BAFTA's decision not to nominate her drew criticism from Pride & Prejudice producer Tim Bevan.
In 2006, Knightley was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Her biggest financial hit thus far, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, was released in July 2006.
Knightley starred in three major films in 2007: Silk, an adaptation of the novel by Alessandro Baricco, Atonement, a feature film adaptation of Ian McEwan's novel of the same name (co-starring James McAvoy, Vanessa Redgrave and Brenda Blethyn), and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, which was released in May 2007. For her performance in Atonement, Knightley was nominated for a Golden Globe Award in the Best Dramatic Actress category for the role, as well as a BAFTA Award. Critic Richard Roeper was puzzled by both Knightley's and McAvoy's Academy Award snubs, stating "I thought McAvoy and Knightley were superb."
2008–2010: Transition into independent films[edit source | edit]
In 2008, Knightley appeared alongside Sienna Miller, Cillian Murphy and Matthew Rhys in John Maybury's The Edge of Love, a fictional wartime drama about Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, his wife Caitlin Macnamara, childhood friend Vera Williams, and her romance and marriage with a British soldier. Penned by Knightley's mother, Sharman Macdonald, the playwright initially crafted the screenplay with Knightley as Macnamara in her mind. Once her daughter agreed to portray Williams, Macdonald enlarged the character, making her a singer. Knightley, who watched Marlene Dietrich films for preparation, was expecting to mime to her pre-recorded voice, but was told by Maybury to sing live in front of the crew while shooting. "I was shaking like a leaf," Knightley later commented, "I thought my knees were going to buckle. In the first couple of songs, I sounded like a pubescent boy, it was so embarrassing." While the actress received positive reviews for her role, the film became a moderate critical and commercial arthouse success.
She then filmed Saul Dibb's The Duchess (2008), based on the best-selling biography, Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire by Amanda Foreman, in which she played 18th-century English aristocrat Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire opposite Ralph Fiennes. Well received by critics, Knightley garnered largely positive reviews by critics, with The Epoch Times writing, "Knightley's performance gains new depth – she not only perfectly portrays a witty and feminine Georgiana early in the film, but also a caring mother, and an abandoned woman later on." The following year, she was nominated for a BIFA Award for Best Actress for her performance.
In December 2009, Knightley made her West End debut in Martin Crimp's version of Molière's comedy, The Misanthrope, at the Comedy Theatre in London alongside Damian Lewis, Tara FitzGerald and Dominic Rowan. Reviews for her portrayal of Jennifer in the play were generally positive. The Daily Telegraph described her performance as revealing "both power and poignancy" and The Independent called her performance "not only strikingly convincing but, at times, rather thrilling in its satiric aplomb." The Guardian, however, noted that due to the nature of the role "one could say that she is not unduly stretched." Recognising her theatre debut, Knightley was nominated for the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role in the play. Knightley also received an Evening Standard Award nomination for the Natasha Richardson Award for Best Actress.
In 2010, Knightley appeared in Massy Tadjedin's romantic drama Last Night, in which she co-starred with Eva Mendes, Sam Worthington and Guillaume Canet. The same year, Knightley completed work on an adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro's dystopian novel, Never Let Me Go with Andrew Garfield and Carey Mulligan. Filming took place in Norfolk and Clevedon in Somerset. Also in 2010, she starred in London Boulevard with Colin Farrell, written by William Monahan.
2011–present: Recent work and upcoming projects[edit source | edit]
Knightley's only film of 2011 was David Cronenberg's historical drama A Dangerous Method, co-starring Viggo Mortensen, Michael Fassbender and Vincent Cassel. Based on writer Christopher Hampton's 2002 stage play The Talking Cure and set on the eve of World War I, the film depicts the turbulent relationships between fledgling psychiatrist Carl Jung, his mentor Sigmund Freud and Sabina Spielrein played by Knightley, the troubled but beautiful young psychoanalyst who comes between them. The costume film premiered at the 68th Venice International Film Festival to a positive reception, while Knightley, who had almost backed out of the movie due to its explicit scenes, earned generally favourable reviews by critics, with Andrew O'Hehir of Salon.com noting her "the real star of this film."
In 2012, she appeared with Steve Carell in the dramedy Seeking a Friend for the End of the World. In addition, she reunited with director Joe Wright for the production of Anna Karenina (2012), in which she starred as the title character. Knightley has garnered rave reviews for her performance, prompting early Oscar buzz.
Knightley is slated to appear in The Emperor's Children with Rachel McAdams, Emma Thompson and Richard Gere. The film, a dark comedy, was written by Noah Baumbach and will be directed by Scott Cooper. In May 2012, Knightley was cast to replace Scarlett Johansson in director John Carney's Can a Song Save Your Life? after Johansson withdrew due to personal reasons. Knightley was also cast as Cathy Ryan in 2013's Jack Ryan alongside Chris Pine.
Media attention[edit source | edit]
Knightley has been described by press reports as "famously open with media", although Knightley herself has stated "I don't talk about my private life." Knightley has appeared many times in FHMs 100 Sexiest Women in the World list. Ranked No. 79 in 2004 she climbed to No. 18 in 2005, and was named "the sexiest woman in the world in 2006". In 2007, she was 12th, 10th in 2008, and came in 36th in 2009. The US edition ranked her No. 54 in 2004, No. 11 in 2005, and No. 5 in 2006. In May 2006, she was No. 9 on Maxim's 2006 Hot 100. Knightley appeared nude, along with Scarlett Johansson, on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine's March 2006 "Hollywood" issue.
Knightley was the celebrity face for the luxury goods brand Asprey, Shiatzy Chen as well as Lux haircare products in Japanese television commercials. In April 2006, she was confirmed as the new celebrity face of Chanel's perfume Coco Mademoiselle, though the first photo from the campaign was not released until May 2007. The dress she wore to the 2006 Academy Awards was donated to the charity Oxfam, where it raised £4,300. A 41-year-old man was charged with harassment in February 2010 after trying to contact the actress on several occasions outside the Comedy Theatre in London, where she appeared in the play The Misanthrope. The subsequent trial folded after the actress was unavailable to testify in court.
Personal life[edit source | edit]
Keira Knightley was in a relationship with actor Del Synnott from 2001 to 2003. The couple met during the making of Princess of Thieves. Knightley was also in a relationship with actor Jamie Dornan from 2003 to 2005. She dated her Pride & Prejudice co-star Rupert Friend from 2005 until December 2010. She subsequently began dating musician James Righton in late February 2011. Knightley and Righton became engaged in May 2012, and married on 4 May 2013 in Mazan, Vaucluse, South of France. The couple live in East London.
Knightley has denied rumours she is anorexic, although her family has a history of anorexia. Knightley sued the Daily Mail after they claimed she lied about having anorexia; the article said that a teenage girl died from anorexia, indicating that Knightley's physical appearance may have influenced her in some way. She was awarded a settlement. In July 2006, Knightley said she has become a workaholic, suggesting that she would take a one-year break from acting to travel and focus on her personal life. Knightley is an atheist.
Charity work[edit source | edit]
Knightley is the face of an Amnesty International campaign to support human rights, marking the 60th anniversary of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. She posed for photos for WaterAid in 2005 and also for the American Library Association's "Read" campaign (a promotional poster of Pride & Prejudice). Knightley contributed her voice to a 2007 Robbie the Reindeer animation, all profits of which will be donated to Comic Relief. In 2004, she travelled to Ethiopia on behalf of that charity.
In April 2009, Knightley appeared in a video to raise awareness of domestic abuse entitled Cut shot for Women's Aid. The video created controversy, with some sources calling it too graphic, while other groups support the video for showing a realistic depiction of domestic violence. In November 2010, Knightley became patron of the Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) Trust, a British charity that funds medical research into the disease spinal muscular atrophy.
Filmography[edit source | edit]
|1993||Screen One Royal Celebration||Little Girl|
|1995||A Village Affair||Natasha Jordan|
|1995||The Bill||Sheena Rose|
|1996||The Treasure Seekers||The Princess|
|1998||Coming Home||Young Judith Dunbar|
|1999||Oliver Twist||Rose Fleming|
|2001||Princess of Thieves||Gwyn (daughter of Robin Hood)|
|2002||Doctor Zhivago||Lara Antipova|
|2007||Robbie the Reindeer in Close Encounters of the Herd Kind||Em|
|2003||Pirates of the Caribbean||Narrator|
West End appearances[edit source | edit]
|2009/10||The Misanthrope||Comedy Theatre, London||Jennifer (Celimene)||Nominated – Laurence Olivier Award for Best Performance in a Supporting Role |
Nominated – Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Actress (The Natasha Richardson Award)
|2011||The Children's Hour||Comedy Theatre, London||Karen Wright|
Discography[edit source | edit]
|2007||Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (soundtrack)||"Hoist the Colours"|
|2008||The Edge of Love (Music from the Original Motion Picture)||"Overture / Blue Tahitian Moon" feat. Angelo Badalamenti|
|"After the Bombing / Hang Out the Stars in Indiana" feat. Angelo Badalamenti|
|"Drifting and Dreaming" feat. Angelo Badalamenti|
|"Maybe It's Because I Love You Too Much" feat. Angelo Badalamenti|
Notes[edit source | edit]
- Knightley's drama teacher, Ian McShane, is not the same person as Ian McShane the actor.
References[edit source | edit]
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[edit source | edit]
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Keira Knightley|
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Keira Knightley|
- Keira Knightley at the Internet Movie Database
- Keira Knightley at Yahoo! Movies
- Keira Knightley at People.com
- Keira Knightley biography and credits at the British Film Institute's Screenonline
- Keira Knightley on Charlie Rose
- Works by or about Keira Knightley in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- Keira Knightley collected news and commentary at The Guardian