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Keira Knightley Profile: From Pirates to Pride and Prejudice

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Keira Knightley was born March 26th, 1985 in London, England. She followed in her parents’ footsteps, and signed with an agent at age three, before appearing in several television commercials and minor roles. She made her film debut in 1995 and became a Hollywood sensation when she starred opposite Johnny Depp in 2003's “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl”, and its first two sequels. Join as we explore the life and career of Keira Knightley.

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Keira Knightley Profile: From Pirates of the Caribbean to Pride & Prejudice

This swashbuckling English actress became Hollywood’s “it” girl when she decided to “Bend It Like Beckham.” Welcome to and today we’ll be exploring the life and career of Keira Knightley.

Keira Christina Knightley was born March 26th, 1985 in London, England to an award-winning playwright and an actor.

She followed in her parents’ footsteps when she signed with an agent at age three, and spent her youth in amateur productions. Knightley’s dyslexia never prevented her from achieving her goals, and she appeared in several television commercials and minor roles.

She made her film debut in 1995 when she starred as the younger version of the main character in the thriller “Innocent Lies.” She slipped under the radar again when she played Queen Amidala’s royal handmaiden and decoy in “Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace.” In that role, Knightley was not only made to look like Natalie Portman, but her voice was dubbed with hers as well.

She then managed to land a starring role as Robin Hood’s daughter in Disney’s made-for-TV feature “Princess of Thieves.” This led to her major breakthrough in 2002’s cross-cultural comedy “Bend It Like Beckham,” where she played the main character’s tomboyish best friend. This success prompted Knightley to drop out of school to focus exclusively on her acting career.

That move paid off when she became a Hollywood sensation in 2003 with the release of “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.” Starring alongside Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom, she helped the film pull in 650 million dollars at the box office and was praised by critics for her spirited performance.

After a starring role in the TV remake of “Doctor Zhivago,” she was cast in the romantic comedy “Love Actually” beside her childhood idol Emma Thompson.

Knightley then took on the challenging project “King Arthur,” where she played a warrior version of Lady Guinevere. That role required her to undertake three months of intense bodybuilding, as well as horseback riding, sword fighting and archery lessons.

She was then praised by Time Magazine for the development of her serious acting skills, and was even voted most promising teen star for her exceptional work.

After a brief blip in her success with the commercial flop “Domino,” Knightley’s career went along unscathed. Her 2005 performance as Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice” earned her several prestigious nominations, including an Oscar nod for Best Actress. While the award ultimately went to Reese Witherspoon, Knightley was honored to become the third youngest actress ever nominated.

She then returned for back-to-back sequels in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” series, which earned her several Teen Choice Awards – including best movie lip lock with Orlando Bloom, best movie scream and best hissy fit.

Knightley then made waves for posing naked alongside actress Scarlett Johansson on the cover of Vanity Fair, and became the new face of Coco Mademoiselle.

However, this accomplishment was eclipsed when Knightley was forced to defend her almost skeletal appearance at the premiere of “Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man’s Chest.” She eventually sued Associated Press for claiming she was anorexic.

Back on the big screen, she starred in the adaptation of the romantic novel, “Silk,” as well as 2007’s romantic war drama “Atonement.” That role earned her several more award nominations, including a Golden Globe nod.

Knightley was also nominated for a British Independent Film Award for Best Actress, and a People’s Choice Award for Favorite Female Movie Star for her portrayal of “The Duchess.” She earned similar praise for 2010’s “Never Let Me Go” and 2011’s “A Dangerous Method.” The next year, Knightley stretched her comedic muscle opposite Steve Carell in the ensemble comedy, “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World.”

Knightley is a self-professed workaholic, and that work ethic has made her one of Hollywood’s highest-paid women. She has also been named one of the sexiest women in the world, and is a spokesperson for various luxury brands and charities. Since she is a diverse actress who never shies away from a challenge, we’re sure to see more of Keira Knightley in the years to come – both on the silver screen and on billboards.

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