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Feature: Keira Knightley

Keira Knightley

We revist the UK’s sexiest screen star to find out how she’s become part of the Hollywood A-list and what she’s doing next…

When Movie Idols last visited the incredible career of Britain’s brightest star, Keira Knightley, talk of her supestar status was almost speculative. In just 10 years Knightley had begun a journey that would turn her into Hollywood royalty. By mid-2004 the actress had managed to become a household name, an amazing achievement for any actor, much less one just 19 years old.

The recipe for such success would, it seems, be a selection of well chosen parts, solid acting ability and a face that girls would kill for and men would die for. Beginning mainly with Bend it Like Beckham (although Film Review spotted her first in The Hole), Knightley wowed audiences with her girl-next-door charm and classic beauty. It’s these elements which have undoubtedly propelled her forward, landing her in her most successful role (of Elizabeth Swann) in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, and firmly assisting her in becoming a bona fide Hollywood starlet. But it wasn’t always that way.

Keira Christina Knightley was born in Teddington, Middlesex on March 26, 1985 to proud parents Will Knightley and Sharman Macdonald, joining her six-year-old brother Caleb. While her entry into the entertainment business has been well documented over the years – asked for agent at three, got one at six, etc – few are aware that the actress battled with dyslexia in her early teens, presenting problems that she eventually overcame.

Like most young actors and actresses, Keira worked hard in her early career, balancing her school work with occasional acting jobs. Arguably her biggest break would come when she was cast as the double of Natalie Portman’s Queen Amidala in Star Wars: Episode I, a small role but one which nevertheless raised her profile high enough to attract interest from the likes of Nick Hamm (The Hole), Gurinda Chadra (Bend it Like Beckham) and Peter Hewitt (Princess of Thieves and Thunderpants). From there she hasn’t really had the opportunity to look back.

Following the massive success of Pirates of the Caribbean (and remarkable US triumph of Beckham), Knightley found herself being pushed up the alphabet towards the A-list. Having helped make her name in Pirates, Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer employed her charms once again in his production of King Arthur as Guinevere. It would be a role that the young actress would throw herself into, training for four days a week over seven months (including weights, boxing and horseback riding) to get into shape.

Read the full feature in
Movie Idols #42

Photo © Buena Vista international
Feature © Visual Imagination 2006. Not for reproduction

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Movie Idols #42
September/October 2006
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