Keira Knightley

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Real Name: Keira Knightley
Birthday: 03/26/1985 
Birth Place: Teddington, London, England



Because of her work in the smash hit “Bend It Like Beckham” (2002), actress Keira Knightley shot to the attention of viewers outside her native England.

Before she played a young sexy semi professional soccer player who becomes friends with an Indian girl more concerned in joining the team than following her parent’s traditions, Keira had already gained a long list of movie, film, television and theater credits, including a famous, but quick, appearance in “Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace” (1999) as Sabe, Natalie Portman’s body double. 

But it was the smash hit pirate adventure “Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl” alongside actor Johnny Depp (2003) and its two sequels, “Dead Man’s Chest” (2005) and “At World’s End (2007), that established Keira Knightley as a truly international sexy celebrity able to hold her own with the skills and talents of Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom. Not one to be type-cast, Knightley extended her roles in 2005 starring as Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice,” a role that won her first Oscar nomination and showed that she was more than just a pretty face.

Born Keira Christina Knightley in Teddington, Middlesex, in England on March 26, 1985, she came from an entertainment family. Her father, Will, was a television and stage actor and her mother Sharman MacDonald was an actress, playwright, and author. Struggling with dyslexia as a child, Keira worked hard at school so that she could convince her parents to allow her to seek and acting career, which was her goal from a young age. By the time she was nine, she had made her television debut with a small role in “Royal Celebration” (1993), and during the next several years appeared in several British television movies, including “Coming Home” (1998), a variation of Rosamunde Pilcher’s story about two English families stuck in World War II, starring Peter O’Toole and Joanna Lumley. 

In 1998, her similarity to actress Natalie Portman got her the part of Sabe, the handmaiden double to Queen Amidala, in “Star Wars: Episode One The Phantom Menace.” In a funny bit of trivia, director George Lucas did not disclose that Keira was doubling for Portman in certain scenes until after the film was released. The two actresses looked so much alike when in makeup that their own friends could not tell them apart.

Keira Knightley returned to television productions until 2001, when she was hired for a leading role in the UK theatre production, “The Hole” (2001), an emotional thriller co-starring American actress Thora Birch. The movie, which was not seen in theaters but was released directly to video in the United States, showed a short nude topless scene from the fifteen year old actress.

That same year, Keira made her introduction in the Walt Disney television “Princess of Thieves,” playing the teenage daughter of Robin Hood. During this time, she was still attending college, and while completing her final exams in 2002, filmed “Bend It Like Beckham,” a comedy romance about an Indian girl whose love for soccer goes against her family’s strict traditional values. Knightley played Nagra’s friend, who fights with her own family issues, including her mother wanting her to act more like a woman. The girls’ troubles hit home with audiences and tabloid critics took notice of her ability to play both drama and comedy, as well as act physical in the sport action scenes. 

Her college life stopped soon afterwards when a talk with a television producer convinced her to take up acting full time. Her first job after college was a television variation of “Doctor Zhivago” (2002), where she played Lara, a role made famous by Julie Christie in the 1965 film version. Keira followed with a tiny role in the feature film, “Love, Actually” with Billy Bob Thornton and Elisha Cuthbert (2003), in which she played a young bride whose best man has fallen in love with her. Packed with star power including Laura Linney, Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, and Alan Rickman, the film did well in the United States and extended her standing as sexy celebrity and Hollywood star.

However, it was her next project that gained Keira Knightley super celebrity status.

Originally seen as an uncertain venture, as it was the first movie about pirates in years, the Jerry Bruckheimer produced “Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl” turned out to be one of the biggest blockbusters and smash hits in movie history. And while Johnny Depp’s role as the suave Captain Jack Sparrow attracted the largest share of the reviews, audiences did not hesitate to comment about Keira's ability to play gritty, romantic, sexy and frail in the special effects extravaganza. Bruckheimer himself hired her for two more films, as well as another action packed project, an adaptation of the Arthurian legend called “King Arthur” (2004), where she played Guinevere as a sword yielding Celtic fighter.

Keira Knightley was now a movie star.

Her next two films were “The Jacket” (2004),  a science fiction thriller with Adrien Brody, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Brad Renfro that showed her skill with an American inflection, and “Domino” with Lucy Liu (2005), based on the life of Domino Harvey, the daughter of actor Laurence Harvey and a professional bounty hunter, was a film from Tony Scott that showed her looking uncomfortable while firing high powered weapons. An adaptation of Deborah Moggach’s story “Tulip Fever” was shut down due to the ending of British tax loopholes for film productions and studio directors, so Keira returned to more traditional roles starting with the movie “Pride and Prejudice” (2005), a  variation of the Jane Austen book. Her role as the enlightened Elizabeth Bennett, who seeks to find her own life path, gained her a Golden Globe and Academy Award nomination.

During this extremely hectic stage, which had Keira hired as the face of Ausprey jewelers and Chanel perfume, she found her private life under the microscope by the world press and tabloid media, who decided that her skinny build was the result of anorexia. Knightley denied the allegations, while saying that her own grandmother had suffered from anorexia. Her private romantic life also was made public in the tabloid news - among her romantic interests during this time were Irish fashion model Jamie Dornan and actor Rupert Friend, whom she met on the set of “Pride and Prejudice.”

In 2005, Keira Knightley returned to the “Pirates” series of films for “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest,” which broke previous records with even larger numbers at the box office, although critics gave the film moderate reviews its drawn-out plot. The film was filmed at the same time as “At World’s End” (2007), which was the expected final to the series, though many in the film and movie industry understood that such a money making venture could not be stopped so easily. Knightley spent most of 2006 filming “The Best Time of Their Lives,” about Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, from a script by her mother. Knightley was also named “Sexiest Woman” and won similar accolades from a number of men's magazines like "FHM" and "Maxim", and raised eyebrows for posing nude with Scarlett Johansson and Tom Ford on the cover of Vanity Fair.

Regardless of her reputation in Hollywood, Keira Knightley keeps a home in London and made no apology about her intentions of staying a UK citizen and resident, while continuing to do business in the United States. She next starred in Alessandro Baricco’s historical tale, “Silk” (2007), portraying the tender and loving wife of a silkworm merchant who falls in love with a hooker while on business in Japan. After “Silk,” she played the sister of a young writer whose life is forever changed when her lover is accused of a crime he did not commit in “Atonement” (2007).

Next was the dramatic romance "The Edge of Love" (2008) with Sienna Miller, about two feisty, free-spirited women who are connected by the brilliant, charismatic poet who loves them both. Knightley wrapped her year starring next to Ralph Fiennes in the historical "The Duchess" (2008), a chronicle of the life of 18th century aristocrat Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, who reviled for her extravagant political and personal lives.

With her good looks and easy going personality it is certain that Keira Knightley will grace the silver screen year after year as we seem to never grow tired of her talents.


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