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Keira Knightley Bio
Keira Knightley (born March 26, 1985) is a British Actress. She began acting as a child on television and made her film debut in 1995. She had a supporting role as Sabé in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999) and her first significant role came in the psychological horror film 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 after appearing as Elizabeth Swann in the Pirates of the Caribbean film series.
Since the Pirates of the Caribbean films, Knightley has become 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). She has also appeared in a variety of genres of Hollywood films, including the romantic comedy Love Actually (2003), as Guinevere in the historical action King Arthur (2004), the psychological thriller The Jacket (2005), biographical action Domino (2005), the historical 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 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 its 2008 list, Forbes identified Knightley as the second highest-paid Actress in Hollywood, with reported earnings of US$32 million in 2007, making her the only non-American on the list of highest-paid actresses that year.
In 2014, Knightley appeared in four films: the action thriller Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, the musical comedy-drama Begin Again, the romantic comedy Laggies and the historical thriller The Imitation Game. For her performance as Joan Clarke in the latter film, she was nominated for a Golden Globe, a SAG, a BAFTA Award, and an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. In October 2015, Knightley will make her Broadway debut in the title role of Thérèse Raquin.
After getting an agent at six, Knightley worked mostly in 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.
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 Portman) was actually disclosed as the real Queen Amidala at the end of the film. Knightley was cast in the role because of 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 was 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. Its director Nick Hamm described her as “a young version of Julie Christie”.
She appeared in the 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 performed 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 US$18 million, and in its March 2003 U.S. release, grossing US$32 million.
After Bend It Like Beckham‘s UK release raised her profile, Knightley 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. Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, it 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; 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.
Pride & Prejudice was released in 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 US$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.”
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 prerecorded 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.” In recognition of 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 (longlist) 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.
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. Spielrein, the troubled but beautiful young psychoanalyst who comes between Jung and Freud, is played by Knightley. The costume film premiered at the 68th Venice International Film Festival to a positive reception, while Knightley earned generally favourable reviews by critics, 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. During the same year, she reunited with director Joe Wright to film their third production together, Anna Karenina, in which she starred as the title character. She has named her collaboration with Wright as the most important of her career. Knightley garnered positive reviews for her performance, prompting early Oscar buzz.
In May 2012, Knightley was cast to replace Scarlett Johansson in director John Carney’s Begin Again, after Johansson withdrew due to personal reasons. The film was released in 2013.
Knightley’s first film of 2014 premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, prior to its US general-release opening on 24 October. Titled Laggies, the film also stars Chloë Grace Moretz and Sam Rockwell, and is directed by Lynn Shelton. Shortly afterward, the London, UK, premiere of Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, in which Knightley plays Cathy Muller alongside Chris Pine, was held at the end of January. Also in 2014, she starred opposite Mark Ruffalo in Begin Again, and although she plays a Singer-songwriter, she revealed in July that Music doesn’t “sink in” for her, and she is more interested in books and drama. Knightley also referred to the end of a chapter of her career, which the Guardian described as “mired in neurotic roles”. She then appeared again with her Atonement co-star Benedict Cumberbatch in the 2014 historical drama film The Imitation Game, playing Joan Clarke opposite Cumberbatch’s Alan Turing.
Knightley is slated to appear in a film adaptation of the novel The Emperor’s Children with Rachel McAdams, Emma Thompson and Richard Gere. The dark comedy was written by Noah Baumbach and will be directed by Scott Cooper. In October 2014, it was announced that Knightley would make her Broadway debut as the title character in a new adaptation of Helen Edmundson’s Thérèse Raquin. The show’s official post-preview opening is scheduled for 29 October 2015.
Keira Knightley (age: 34) is a British actress known for Pirates of the Caribbean, The Hole, King Arthur, Domino, Jack Ryan, Pride & Prejudice and The Imitation Game.