You loved her as the vivacious Elizabeth Bennet in ‘Pride and Prejudice’ (2005), praised her in ‘Atonement’ (2007) and admired her in ‘The Imitation Game’ (2014). Yes, we are talking about Keira Knightley. Ever since ‘Bend It Like Beckham’ (2002), she has established herself in the British film canon. Her portrayal of Elizabeth Swann in the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ series won her global acclaim. During Queen Elizabeth’s 2018 Birthday Honours, she received a special honor for services to drama and charity — she was appointed as the Officer of the Order of the British Empire.
Keira Knightley’s parents Will Knightley and Sharman Macdonald were theatre actors. Macdonald continued to work as a playwright after retiring from acting. Right from childhood, Keira’s love for acting has been prominent. Undoubtedly, her love for acting stems from her parents’ influence. She has acted in several TV dramas all through her childhood years. Knightley also performed in a number of local productions. She joined Esher College to pursue a degree in English literature, art, and history. However, she discontinued college to pursue a career in acting.
In the 1990s, Knightley appeared in quite a few television films, like ‘Innocent Lies’ (1995), ‘The Treasure Seekers’ (1996), ‘Coming Home’ (1998) and ‘Oliver Twist’ (1999). She was cast as Sabe in ‘Star Wars: Episode l- The Phantom Menace’ (1999). She bagged her first noticeable role with Walt Disney Productions in the film ‘Princess of Thieves’, where she played the role of the daughter of Robinhood. Her breakthrough film was the sports comedy ‘Bend It Like Beckham’ (2002). Knightley’s performance in the film as an aspiring footballer brought her worldwide recognition. She won the London Film Critics’ Circle Award for Best Newcomer. Her role also won her the Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Breakthrough Performance.
In 2003, Knightley was cast as Elizabeth Swann in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl’ where she played the role of a pirate, starring with the likes of Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom. The film experienced an unexpected commercial success, earning $654 million globally. After that, Knightley went on to star in a bunch of films like ‘Love Actually’, ‘King Arthur’ (2004), and ‘The Jacket’ (2005). Her role as Elizabeth in ‘Pride & Prejudice’ (2005 ), based on Jane Austen’s novel of the same name, remains one of her most critically acclaimed works till date. The film was a commercial success and also received critical acclaim. It earned her nominations for Golden Globe and Academy Awards.
The film adaptation of Alessandro Baricco’s novel, ‘Silk’ (2007), however, failed to add much to her ‘Pride & Prejudice’ fame. ‘Atonement’ (2007), a film based on Ian McEwan’s novel of the same name performed well at the box office and also garnered good critical reviews. Knightley later appeared in the wartime drama ‘The Edge of Love’, and received praise for her acting and singing abilities. We also saw her as Georgiana in the English drama ‘The Duchess’.
Knightley is closely attached to an Amnesty International campaign to support human rights. In 2016, Knightley, along with Peter Capaldi, Cate Blanchett, Douglas Booth, Kit Harington, and others appeared in a video from UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) to raise awareness regarding the global plight of the refugees. Apart from these, she has been attached to various charity programs.