Keira Knightley [ˈkɪəɹə ˈnaɪtlɪ] 1 is a British actress, born March 26, 1985 in Teddington, Middlesex2.
She began her career at a very young age and became known worldwide in 2003 thanks to her supporting roles in the English dramatic comedies Play her like Beckham and Love Actually, then especially the leading female role in the successful fantasy blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.
If the actress then multiplied the projects in Hollywood, in particular with two sequels of Pirates of the Caribbean, she imposed herself with the critics as headliner of period films3, including three under the direction of the director Joe Wright: Pride and Préjugés (2005), which earned her her first Oscar nomination for best actress, Reviens-moi (2007), The Duchess (2008) by Saul Dibb, and Anna Karenina (2012).
Subsequently, she stood out in biopics: A Dangerous Method (2011), where she played Sabina Spielrein, Imitation Game (2014), where her incarnation of Joan Clarke earned her an Oscar nomination for best actress in a supporting role, then Colette (2018), where she plays the title role this time.
In June 2018, she was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II, alongside Tom Hardy and Emma Thompson4.
Professions Actress, Performer (songs from the film), Executive Producer more
Birth name Keira Christina Knightley
Born March 26, 1985 (Teddington, London – England)
Keira Christina Knightley is the daughter of English actor Will Knightley and Scottish screenwriter Sharman Macdonald. Her father admired a Russian skater named Kiera and it is therefore this first name that she should have worn, but her mother made a mistake in spelling the five letters of this first name in the civil status5.
She has an older brother, Caleb, born in 1979. She spent most of her childhood in Richmond, a district of Greater London. Diagnosed as hyperactive and dyslexic at the age of six, she strives to get good grades at school to please her parents, but says that as a child, she “only thought of being an actress” 6 . She appears on stage in several amateur productions, including After Juliet (written by her mother) and United States (written by her drama teacher at the time).
Keira Knightley is what you might call a ball child. The daughter of actor Will Knightley and playwright Sharman MacDonald, Keira, born in Teddington, Middlesex, England, began her television career appearing in numerous commercials. In 1999, she landed, at the age of sixteen, the role of Sabé in Star wars: episode 1 – The Phantom Menace. After this sensational start and in parallel with a television career (the series Princess of thieves and Oliver Twist), the young woman progresses at her own pace, taking care to vary the genres.
So, in 2001, Keira Knightley was one of the young stars of the horror thriller The Hole. The following year, she radically changed her register by playing a football player in the comedy Play Like Beckham (2002). In 2003, she took her up a notch by playing one of the main roles in the Disney adventure film Pirates of the Caribbean, The Curse of the Black Pearl alongside Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush. Three years later, she will once again don the toilet of the aristocratic Elizabeth Swann for the other two parts Pirates of the Caribbean, the secret of the cursed chest and Pirates of the Caribbean, to the end of the world.
Her beauty radiates the screen as evidenced by her performance in the romantic comedy Love Actually (2003) by Richard Curtis. Hollywood is tearing it off: Keira Knightley lends her features to Guinevere in the epic fresco King Arthur (2004), before trading her bow and arrows for the firearms favored by bounty hunter Domino Harvey. But from 2005, the beauty turned to a more classical repertoire, touring twice under the direction of the British Joe Wright (Pride and Prejudice, Come back to me) and tasting the work of Alessandro Baricco (Silk).
In 2008, she turns again, after The Jacket, under the direction of John Maybury, in The Edge of Love, whose screenplay is written by her mother. The same year, she played the title role of The Duchess alongside Ralph Fiennes then left the cinema for a while to get on the stage for the first time. Thus, she made her theatrical debut in an adaptation of Molière’s Misanthrope by Martin Crimp where she took up the role of Célimène in a more modern version. The start of 2011 marks its return to screens with 2 films coming out a few weeks apart. The first, Last Night, sees her play a woman confronted with adulterous temptation while the second, Never Let Me Go, according to the acclaimed short story by Kazuo Ishiguro, allows her to play a clone alongside rising values such as Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield.
David Cronenberg then transforms her into Sabina Spielrein, a Jewish patient suffering from hysteria that causes trouble in the relationship between the two famous psychoanalysts Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud in A Dangerous Method. She continues to rub shoulders with big names, like Jude Law (Anna Karenina, 2012), Steve Carell (Until the End of the World Do Us Part, id.), Chris Pine (The Ryan Initiative, 2013), Mark Ruffalo ( New York Melody, 2014) and Benedict Cumberbatch (Imitation Game, 2015). The same year, we find her in the casting of the romantic comedy Girls Only with the young Chloë Grace Moretz then in the adventure film Everest.
Television and film debuts (1993-2001)
Keira Knightley began her career at the age of seven on television, in Royal Celebration (1993) and then in the series The Bill (1995). She appeared in several other TV films in the 1990s, before being chosen for the role of Sabé, the lure of Padmé Amidala, in the blockbuster Star Wars, episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999). She was only 12 at the time of the shooting which took place from June to September 1997. She was chosen for the role because of her resemblance to Natalie Portman, who plays Amidala; during the filming of the film their mothers claim to no longer be able to distinguish them when they are both wearing makeup. In 2020, she confessed in an interview, no longer remembering the role she played in Star Wars, episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999) 7. Her first leading role followed in 2001, when she played Robin Hood’s daughter in the TV movie Princess of Thieves. It was around this time that we also see her in the thriller The Hole. She also appeared in the Doctor Zhivago miniseries in 2002, which received mixed reviews but obtained a good following.
First successes (2002-2004)
Her first major role is that of Juliette “Jules” Paxton in Play It Like Beckham which is a commercial success (18 million dollars in revenue when it was released in the UK in August 2002 and 32 million in the US in March. 2003) 8. He was then offered a role in a large production, the adventure film Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (with Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom), produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. The film was released in July 2003 and was a box office success, establishing the actress as a hit girl. At the end of the same year, she was cast for the choral romantic comedy Love Actually, which was released in November 2003, alongside other actors including Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Bill Nighy, Liam Neeson, Colin Firth, Alan Rickman who, being more famous than her, eclipses her a bit.
His next film, King Arthur, was released in July 2004 and was not unanimous among critics despite a very promising cast (Clive Owen, Hugh Dancy, Mads Mikkelsen, Ioan Gruffudd and Joel Edgerton) but not yet known to the general public. at the time9. The same month, the readers of Hello! voted her “Most Promising Teenage Star”. In 2004, Time magazine noted that Keira seemed determined to become a serious actress, not a star.
Critical and commercial consecration (2005-2006)
The year 2005 saw the release of three films. The first, The Jacket, a complex thriller starring Adrien Brody, deemed unoriginal, eccentric and poorly cared for by critics, scored 44% on Rotten Tomatoes. The actress’s false American accent was then criticized. The second film is Domino, directed by Tony Scott, an action film based on the life of bounty hunter Domino Harvey. Of all the films she appears in, she is the least liked by critics, with 17% positive reviews. Keira Knightley is often only defined as a “pretty face”, which leads her to say in an interview for Elle “I always feel like I have everything to prove” footnote 1.
Then comes the release of Pride and Prejudice, with a score of 85% 10. In the role of Elizabeth Bennet, she gets the best reviews of her career; Variety claims she is on par with other more experienced actors like Brenda Blethyn, Donald Sutherland and Judi Dench, and equates her to a young Audrey Hepburnnote 2. Pride and Prejudice makes over $ 100 million in revenue and Keira Knightley receives two nominations for Best Actress, one at the Golden Globes and another at the Oscars. The BAFTAs ignore it, earning them criticism from the film’s producer, Tim Bevan. Both awards are ultimately awarded to Reese Witherspoon. In 2006, Keira Knightley was invited to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences12.
Her biggest commercial success to date, Pirates of the Caribbean: Secret of the Cursed Vault, was released on July 7, 2006. On June 3, 2007, she was nominated for the MTV Movie Award for Best Performance, but lost to her co-star. Johnny Depp. She filmed in Soie (adaptation of the novel by Alessandro Baricco) and Reviens-moi (adaptation of the eponymous novel by Ian McEwan), where she worked for the second time with director Joe Wright, of whom she would become the muse13. Her performance in this film earned her a nomination for the BAFTA’s and the 2008 Golden Globes.14 The film will be nominated 8 times at the 2008 Oscars, notably for the awards for best film, best actress in a supporting role, best adapted screenplay and best photography and will win the award for best film score. She appears in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, the third installment of the series released in 2007, which she finishes filming in the last days of 2006.
Independent films and historical frescoes (2007-2012)
The Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy having confirmed its star status, and the critical reception of Pride and Prejudice having established its talent for period films, it confirms in this last groove, while alternating with independent films. In 2007, she thus shot The Edge of Love, a film written by her mother, Sharman Macdonald, and directed by John Maybury, which was released in 2008. The same year, she played the main role in the period film The Duchess, where she plays Georgiana Cavendish from Devonshire. For this role, she will be nominated for the BIFA Awards for best actress. At the end of 2009, she made her theater debut, where she played Jennifer (modern version of Célimène) in Le Misanthrope by Martin Crimp15.
At the beginning of 2011, she returned to the stage of the Comedy Theater in London with The Children’s Hour. Then in March, she participated in Red Nose Day 2011 notably with Rupert Grint, Tom Felton or Paul McCartney. She then appeared in Last Night, the first feature film of her director friend Massy Tadjedin, who offered her the role principal of this drama alongside Sam Worthington, Eva Mendes or Guillaume Canet. At the end of 2011, she played the Russian psychoanalyst Sabina Spielrein when she was suffering from hysteria in A Dangerous Method directed by David Cronenberg. The film is presented at the Venice Film Festival. If half of the critics do not find her up to the role, the other half already saw her with the Oscar for best actress. In 2012, she reunited with director Joe Wright for the third time in her career in Anna Karenina, adapted from the eponymous novel by Leo Tolstoy.
Return to Hollywood (since 2013)
The year 2013 marks the return of the actress to Hollywood projects: she first shares the poster for the independent dramatic comedy New York Melody with Mark Ruffalo. The film was a critical16 and public17 success, to the point of being released in French cinemas at the end of August to meet the demands of viewers. Then she returned to the blockbusters by taking the leading female role in the reboot The Ryan Initiative, by Kenneth Branagh, alongside Chris Pine. But this spy thriller disappointed critics18 and the public, especially in the United States19, and the sequels were canceled by the studio20.
The year 2014 also begins with an independent American comedy: Girls Only, which she co-stars with Chloë Grace Moretz. The feature film, presented at the Sundance Film Festival and then at the Toronto Film Festival, was well received by critics21 but went unnoticed in American cinemas. However, the actress can count on another project: The Imitation Game, a biopic of Alan Turing played by his friend Benedict Cumberbatch, who left with the Audience Award at TIFF 2014, and wide critical support22: the film has already won the Audience Award at the Telluride Film Festival. In addition, the press praised the actress: for The Hollywood Reporter, her performance in The Imitation Game was “lively, alert and resolutely sympathetic23”, for deadline.com “Knightley is as talented as she has never been” and for Variety the film is “a contender for multiple awards, including superb performances by Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley”. At the Twin Cities Film Fest, Keira won the TCFF North Star Award for Excellence for “her outstanding work on The Imitation Game and Laggies”. The film performs very well in theaters24.
In 2015, she starred in the survival film Everest, by Baltasar Kormákur, then made her Broadway debut in the play Thérèse Raquin, adapted from the book by Émile Zola. The performances begin in October 2015 and if the critics are mixed on the piece which they generally find too long, the press is unanimous on the performance of Knightley. ThaeterMania says she is “a wonder in Thérèse Raquin”, Vulture declares “She is constrained and articulate, especially in the silence, and brings to this moody story a fiery quality that lights up any room she is in.” NJ finds her “extraordinary” and Exeunt Magazine says she is “powerful and restrained intensity”.
The actress continues with choral distribution projects: in 2015, the big production Everest, an adventure film, led by Jason Clarke and Jake Gyllenhaal, was released in 2015; then in 2016, she was part of the cast of the melodrama Hidden Beauty, worn by Will Smith. The first film received satisfactory reviews25 and performed well internationally, despite disappointing figures in the United States26. These low-investment projects for the actress give her time to shoot a few scenes from the blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean: La Vengeance de Salazar, where she becomes Elizabeth Swann again.
The year 2018 begins for her with the biopic Colette, by Wash Westmoreland, where she plays the French novelist Colette. Reviews are excellent for this return to the period film for the actress27, but the disappointing box office on American soil when it was released in September28 Three months later, it’s the family-friendly fantasy adventure film Casse- Hazelnut and the Four Realms, where the actress seconded young Mackenzie Foy in the lead role, who received bad reviews29 and suffered a major box office flop30
2019 also ended in two critical failures: that of the sketch film Berlin, I Love You, which was released in general indifference in February 2019, after a catastrophic reception31, then the historical drama Enemy Hearts, in which the actress reunites with Jason Clarke. but also gives the reply to Alexander Skarsgård. Here again, the press is bad32. Finally, the independent spy thriller Official Secrets, directed by Gavin Hood, of which she is the headliner, is released in a limited circuit of theaters in the United States33, despite good press34 when it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. 2019.
Keira Knightley is under media attention due to the rapid rise of her career. She is described by the press as a person available to the media35, but she says that she does not talk about her private life36. She was voted “the sexiest star of all time” by readers of Empire magazine, ranked No. 79 in the “100 sexiest women in the world” list in the UK edition of FHM in 2004, No. 18 in 2005, and No. 1 in 200637. The US edition of the same magazine ranked No. 54 in 2004, No. 11 in 2005, and No. 5 in 2006. In May 2006, it was ranked No. 9 in Maxim’s Hot 100. She posed nude alongside Scarlett Johansson for the cover of Vanity Fair in March 2006.
Keira Knightley has modeled for luxury company Asprey as well as Lux hair products in Japanese television commercials. In April 2006, it was confirmed that she was the new face of Chanel for the Coco Mademoiselle perfume, but the first photo was not revealed until May 200738. She was the subject of the song Star of the Silver Screen by the Attraction versus Love album by Scottish band Endrick Brothers. The song is written after the band members run into it while filming The Jacket37.
The Valentino dress she wore at the 2006 Golden Globe Awards is eye-catching: She is ranked first in Steven Cojocaru’s “Best Dressed Actresses” list on Entertainment Tonight. The dress she wears to the 2006 Oscars was donated to charity Oxfam, which sells it for £ 4,300. Keira Knightley said: “I get scared when I see children saying ‘I want to be famous’ 40. In addition, she is a supporter of the # MeToo41 movement.
Keira Knightley is the heroine of a fictional novel Killing Kate Knight (formerly Killing Keira Knightley), published by Calmann-Lévy editions in February 201142.
In 2012, she went to Chad to support Unicef and the Soccer Aid project. She mobilized to raise funds to increase vaccination against polio. In 2014, the actress traveled to South Sudan with Oxfam. In particular, she visited several refugee camps. This humanitarian mission aimed to make Westerners aware of the ravages of civil wars and the living conditions of South Sudanese refugees.
In 2016, she campaigned against Brexit in the referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union.
Keira Knightley declares himself an atheist.
In 2001, she dated Del Synnott, her partner in the TV movie Kingdom of Thieves (2001). She then went out from 2003 to 2005 with the Irish actor Jamie Dornan – she allowed the latter to play a leading role in the cinema – whom she met during photoshoots44.
In 2004, on the set of Pride and Prejudice, she met actor Rupert Friend with whom she was in a relationship from 2005 to 2010.
In 2007, she sued the Daily Mail for publishing an article speculating that she suffered from anorexia nervosa. Knightley won the case and received £ 3,000 in damages. With this amount and a personal donation, she donates a total of £ 6,000 to Beat, a charity dedicated to people with mental illness and eating disorders.
In February 2010, she was the victim of harassment while playing in the play Le Misanthrope. In front of the Comedy Theater in London, a man stood in front of the doors of the boxes every evening and tried to contact her. The case will go to court. In 2016, she was harassed again while working on the play Thérèse Raquin. A man throws her flowers while shouting a declaration of love at her during the performance. He will then go so far as to harass her in front of her house by regularly slipping personal letters in her mailbox. He will be sentenced to eight weeks in prison with a ban on approaching the actress and her family.
At the start of 2011, she began a relationship with James Righton, musician from the Klaxons group, with whom she became engaged in 2012. They ended up getting married on May 4, 2013 in Mazan (Vaucluse), a town in the south of France45. On May 26, 2015, she gave birth to a daughter named Edie46. She gave birth to her second child in September 2019, a girl named Delilah47,48,49.
In 2017, she was cited in the Paradise Papers scandal. She would have invested in a real estate company on the Channel Island of Jersey.