Story by Jack Foley
FORMER Teddington schoolgirl, Keira Knightley, has swashbuckled
with Johnny Depp, got romantic with the ensemble cast of Love
Actually, and has bent it like Beckham to considerable acclaim
in America, so it is little wonder to find her heading a magazine
poll as this years top breakout movie star.
What is surprising, however, is the fact that the magazine in
question is one of Americas most influential entertainment
watchdogs, Entertainment Weekly, which sits alongside Variety
and the Hollywood Reporter as one of the journals to read for
anyone who cares about their viewing.
The British rose, it seems, is blossoming on both sides of the
Atlantic, and her star looks set to continue rising, with yet
more high-profile movies lined up, in the form of Jerry Bruckheimers
King Arthur, as well as Tulip Fever, alongside Jude Law, and The
Jacket, alongside this years Oscar-winner, Adrien Brody.
Her feisty performance in this Summers Pirates of the Caribbean,
for example, has thrust her onto the Hollywood A-list, while both
Bruckheimer and George Clooney have touted her as a major new
Not bad for an actress who is still just 18, and who can regularly
be seen shopping with her family in both Richmond and Teddington.
And whats more refreshing is that success does not appear
to have gone to Knightleys head, for she remains in demand
for all of the right reasons.
Bruckheimer, for instance, had no hesitation in casting her in
the role of Guinevere, in King Arthur, after her appearance in
Pirates of the Caribbean helped it to become one of 2003s
biggest successes, stating that she can act; with Keira,
you don't see the wheels turning.
While Clooney, who serves as executive producer (with Steven
Soderbergh) on The Jacket, was quoted by the BBC as saying he
thought she was fantastic in Pirates Of The Caribbean,
and adding: "She's just a movie star. You know, it's an intangible
that you're never really able to describe."
In the past 12 months, Knightley has also been signed up as the
new Asprey girl, and appeared in several magazine in November
for an advertising campaign, shot by respected photographer, Bruce
Asprey has, since 1781, been known for its silver, leather, porcelain
and crystal, but is now expanding into fashion, while Knightley
donned $800,000 worth of Asprey diamonds for the London premiere
of Pirates of the Caribbean.
The daughter of actor, Will Knightley, and playwright, Sharman
MacDonald, Knightley apparently requested an agent at the age
of three, and secured her first role at the age of nine, in Moira
Armstrongs A Village Affair, in 1994.
She subsequently attended Teddington School, before securing
her first big break in 1999, playing a double for Natalie Portman
in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.
Speaking of her own success, at a Summer press conference in
London, the actress confessed to having had several pinch me moments
of late, but added: "You just have to take each day at a
time and try to have as much fun as possible. And, fortunately,
this movie [Pirates of the Caribbean] was a great experience to
be part of."
Although she also admits to becoming incredibly nervous in the
presence of the Love Actually ensemble, when the cast assembled
for a read through in a hall, in Notting Hill, prior to filming
"I have five scenes and I have never been more nervous in
my entire life," she admitted. "I mean, Ive done
read throughs before. Ive done them with Johnny Depp, and
that wasnt terrifying. But there were, like, 50 people sitting
around this huge table.
"It was astonishing. You looked up and there was Hugh Grant,
over there was Alan Rickman. Oh theres Liam Neeson, theres
Emma Thompson. I mean, come on, can you blame me for being nervous?
"I mean, just the fact that all of those people turned up
for this read through shows how much respect they have for writer-director,
Richard Curtis. It was huge, huge. And at the end of it, I was
like ah! I cant handle this! And I ran away,
I got out of there as fast as I could."
Not that the prospect of appearing alongside such a big cast
prevented her from appearing in the movie, given that she is gushing
in her praise of Mr Curtis.
"The thing about Richard is that he makes feel good movies
and he makes them well, and thats very difficult to do,"
"Because the thing about the feel good movie is that its
something they all try and do and there is nothing more disgusting
than a patronising feel good, smarmy movie, because you just think
my brain has been turned to mush and that was a disgusting
"To be able to do it well is an amazing talent; there are
very few who can do it, and Richard is at the top of that list,
no question. Its absolutely incredible how you can sit through
all of his films with a stupid grin on your face and you do -
no matter if you come out and say oh no its not my sort
of thing, Im very art house... you still smile at
those films. I defy anyone not to."
Of her own plans for the future, Knightley has determined to
continue enjoying her success while it lasts, even though she
admits that her parents may have had a different career path in
"I think my Mum and Dad think Im going to university,"
she laughed at the end of an interview for Love Actually, "because
they probably expect me to become a doctor or something. But no,
I think Ill stick with this. I am having a very good time."
And who can blame her? With the sequel to Pirates of the Caribbean
serving to ensure that she will be working at least until 2005,
and the cream of Hollywood clamouring to either direct, or appear
alongside her, Entertainment Weekly looks to have been spot on
in predicting greater things for her in the future.