Keira Christina Knightley was born on 26 March 1985. She is an English film and television actress. She began her career as a child actress, and came to international fame in 2003, after major roles in the films Bend It Like Beckham and the first film in the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy. Knightley has since become a notable lead actress, having starred in several Hollywood films and earning an Academy Award nomination for her role as Elizabeth Bennet in Joe Wright's 2005 adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.
Knightley was born in Teddington, Middlesex, England to Sharman Macdonald, a Scottish actress turned award-winning playwright, and Will Knightley, an English theatre and television actor. She has an elder brother, Caleb (b. 1979). Knightley lived most of her life in Richmond, attending Teddington School and Esher College. Knightley suffers from dyslexia, but nevertheless achieved good grades in school to please her parents, and was thus permitted to have an agent and pursue an acting career. Knightley has noted that she was "single-minded about acting" during her childhood. She performed in a number of local amateur productions including After Juliet (written by her mother) and United States (written by her then drama teacher, Ian McShane).
Knightley began acting at the age of seven, making her television debut in Royal Celebration (1993) and also appearing on the television series, The Bill (1995). She appeared in several more made-for-television films in the mid to late 1990s, before being cast as Sabé, Padmé Amidala's decoy, in the 1999 science fiction blockbuster Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace. Knightley was cast in the role due to her close resemblance to Natalie Portman, who played Padmé; the two actresses' mothers had difficulty telling their daughters apart when they were heavily made up. Knightley's first starring role followed in 2001, when she played the daughter of Robin Hood in a made-for-television Walt Disney Productions feature, Princess of Thieves. During this time period, Knightley also appeared in The Hole, a thriller that received a direct-to-video release in the United States. She also appeared in a mini-series adaptation of Doctor Zhivago that was first aired in 2002.
Knightley's breakthrough role was in the English football-themed film, Bend It Like Beckham, which was a major success in its August 2002 UK release, and did fairly well at the box office upon its United States release in March 2003, grossing $32 million. After Bend It Like Beckham's UK release raised her profile, she was cast in the big budget action film, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, which was produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and opened in July 2003 to positive reviews and a high box office gross, 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. Her next film, King Arthur, opened in July 2004 and received mixed reviews, but was praised by critic Roger Ebert for "the considerable production qualities and the charisma of the actors, who bring more interest to the characters than they deserve", Knightley being described as looking "simultaneously sexy and muddy". In the same month, Knightley was voted by readers of Hello! magazine as the movie 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.
Knightley starred in three 2005 films; The Jacket, a dark thriller that opened in March; director Tony Scott's film Domino, which opened in October, was an action film inspired by the life of bounty hunter Domino Harvey; and finally Pride and Prejudice, an adaptation of Jane Austen's novel, in which Knightley played regency Englishwoman Elizabeth Bennet. The Jacket and Domino received mixed critical receptions and performed poorly at the box office, but Pride and Prejudice did well in the U.S. and opened at No. 1 in the UK box office, and is Knightley's sixth film to do so. She received a Best Actress - Comedy/Musical Golden Globes nomination and an Academy Award for Best Actress nomination for the role, though she did not win either.
Knightley's biggest hit so far, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, was released on July 7, 2006. She recently completed filming on Silk (an adaptation of the novel by Alessandro Baricco) and Atonement, a feature film adaptation of Ian McEwan's novel of the same name, also starring James McAvoy, Vanessa Redgrave and Brenda Blethyn.
Knightley most recently appeared in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, which was released on May 24, 2007; she continued to film scenes during the last part of 2006. She was also cast in a film entitled The Edge of Love, formally titled The Best Time Of Our Lives, about the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, from a screenplay by her mother.
As a result of her rapid rise to fame, Knightley has been the subject of significant media attention. She has been described by press reports as "famously open with media", although Knightley herself has stated "I don't talk about my private life."
She was voted the sexiest movie star of all time by the readers of Empire magazine, was ranked #79 by FHM in the magazine’s UK Edition 2004 100 Sexiest Women in the World list, #18 in 2005, and was ranked the sexiest woman in the world in 2006. The U.S. Edition ranked her #54 in 2004, #11 in 2005 and #5 in 2006. Knightley appeared nude on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine's March 2006 'Hollywood' issue, with Scarlett Johansson, and was voted the World's Sexiest Woman by FHM (UK) in their FHM 100 Sexiest Women in the World 2006 poll. In May 2006, Knightley was #9 on Maxim's 2006 Hot 100.
Knightley was the celebrity face for the luxury goods brand Asprey, as well as Lux haircare products in Japanese TV commercials. In April 2006, she was confirmed as the new celebrity face of Chanel's perfume "Coco Mademoiselle", though the first photo from the campaign was not released until May 2007.
She is the subject of Glasgow band Endrick Brothers song "Star of the Silver Screen" featured on their forthcoming album Attraction versus Love. This was written after a chance meeting at a party in Glasgow during the filming of The Jacket.
Her Valentino gown at the 2006 Golden Globe Awards won her much acclaim and even landed her the top spot on Steven Cojocaru's "Best Dressed List" on Entertainment Tonight, while the dress she wore to the 2006 Academy Awards was recently donated to the charity Oxfam, where it raised £4,300.
Knightley, who currently lives in London, is dating her Pride and Prejudice co-star, Rupert Friend. She has previously dated Irish male fashion model Jamie Dornan, as well as actor Del Synnott, who according to some reports, attempted suicide after their relationship ended, although Synnott and Knightley deny these claims. Knightley has stated that she feels uncomfortable dressing up and that she prefers British men over Americans, because she feels that British men are less concerned about their own appearance.
She has denied rumours she is anorexic, although she has noted that her family has a history of anorexia, after her appearance at the Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest premiere led to media speculation that her extremely slender figure was due to an eating disorder. In July of 2006, Knightley noted that she believes that she has become a workaholic, detailing that "the last five years have blended into one. I can't tell you what was last year and what was the year before" and specifying that she is "working too much" and is "quite frightened that if I continue at this rate I will start to hate what I love." As a result, Knightley may take a one year break from acting to travel and focus on her personal life.
Knightley remains a devoted fan of West Ham United, having attended many games as a child.
On May 24th E! News reported that Keira was planning to leave the acting business for a long term or for a year. She told E! saying "that she thinks she is pushing herself too hard to work, that she might start hating what she loves to do." Her most frightening place to go was The Red Carpet, because she was afraid that she would get on the worst dressed list.
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