Knightley lived most of her life in Richmond, attending Teddington School and Esher College. Knightley has dyslexia, but nevertheless was successful in school and was thus permitted to acquire a talent agent and pursue an acting career. She requested an agent as early as the age of three but got one when she turned six, from her mother as a reward for studying hard. 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, no relation to the Deadwood actor). Career Knightley appeared in several television movies in the mid to late 1990s—including ITV1's The Bill—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 the girls were in full makeup. Knightley's first starring role followed in 2001, when she played the daughter of Robin Hood in the made-for-television Walt Disney Productions feature, Princess of Thieves. During this time, Knightley also appeared in The Hole, a thriller that received a direct-to-video release in the United States.
She appeared in a miniseries adaptation of Doctor Zhivago that first aired in 2002 to mixed reviews but high ratings. Knightley's breakthrough role was in the football-themed film, Bend It Like Beckham, which was a success in its August 2002 UK release, grossing $18 million, and in its March 2003 U.S. release, 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 (along with Orlando Bloom and Johnny Depp) which was produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and opened in July 2003 to positive reviews and high box office grosses, 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. Though charismatic, her performance was overlooked in the crowded A-List cast.
Her next film, King Arthur, opened in July 2004 to negative reviews. In the same month, Knightley was voted by readers of Hello! magazine as the film 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. 2005 saw the release of 3 films, the first of which was The Jacket.
The complex thriller starring Adrien Brody was derided by critics as unoriginal, silly, and messy. Knightley was taken to task for her American accent but was otherwise dismissed by critics. Next came Tony Scott's Domino, an action film based on the life of bounty hunter Domino Harvey. The film has been Knightley's greatest critical flop to date.
Knightley's critics often suggested she was nothing more than a pretty face, which led the young starlet to comment to Elle magazine, “I always feel like I’m the one with everything to prove.” Pride and Prejudice rounded out 2005. For her portrayal of Elizabeth Bennet, Knightley received the greatest reviews of her career thus far. Variety wrote: "Looking every bit a star, Knightley, who's shown more spirit than acting smarts so far in her career, really steps up to the plate here, holding her own against the more classically trained Matthew Macfadyen, as well as vets like Brenda Blethyn, Donald Sutherland, Penelope Wilton, and Judi Dench with a luminous strength that recalls a young Audrey Hepburn. More than the older Jennifer Ehle in the TV series, she catches Elizabeth's essential skittishness and youthful braggadocio, making her final conversion all the more moving." The film grossed more than $100 million worldwide and Knightley earned a Golden Globe nomination and an Oscar nomination (the Oscar ultimately went to Reese Witherspoon).
'Keira Knightley is the third-youngest performer ever nominated for an Academy Award.' BAFTA's decision not to nominate her drew criticism from Pride and Prejudice producer Tim Bevan. In 2006, Knightley was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Knightley's biggest financial hit thus far, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, was released on July 7, 2006. On June 3, 2007, Knightley was up for an MTV Movie Award for Best Performance but she lost to her co-star, Johnny Depp. 2007 saw the release of several films starring Knightley: Silk, an adaptation of the novel by Alessandro Baricco, Atonement, a feature film adaptation of Ian McEwan's novel of the same name (co-starring James McAvoy, Vanessa Redgrave, and Brenda Blethyn), and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, which was released on May 24, 2007. Knightley's performance in Atonement began to generate buzz before the film was released; she was nominated for a Golden Globe Award in the Best Dramatic Actress category for the role, as well as a BAFTA.
Critic Richard Roeper was puzzled by both Knightley's and McAvoy's Academy Award snubs stating "I thought McAvoy and Knightly were superb." In the late spring of 2007, Knightley shot The Edge of Love with Cillian Murphy as her husband, Matthew Rhys as her childhood sweetheart, Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, and Sienna Miller as Thomas' wife Caitlin MacNamara. She has received, for the most part, very positive reviews for her role. This 2008 release was penned by her mother, Sharman Macdonald, and directed by John Maybury. She then began work on The Duchess based on the best-selling biography, Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire by Amanda Fporeman in which she plays Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire; the film was released in cinemas on September 5, 2008 in the U.K.
Knightley has been praised for her portrayal of Georgiana. Critic and Co-Chair of the Toronto International Film Festival, Cameron Bailey, stated that "The Duchess Of Devonshire, with Keira Knightley, which is a beautiful film and she gives a really mature performance. You're seeing her really turn into something beyond the kind of pretty face that we've seen her do already so well. But she's actually a very serious actress and she's turning into a great, great performer." Critic Edward Douglas writes "we were blown away by Keira Knightley's performance in the costume drama The Duchess...Knightley is even better in it than Atonement and Pride & Prejudice." New York Post critic Lou Lumenick writes that in terms of an Oscar nomination, that Knightley "seems a lock for The Duchess" and goes on to say that she "shines" in this role. Keira's next film roles include King Lear, and the modern drama Last Night in which she will co-star with Eva Mendes, Sam Worthington and Guillaume Canet.
It is to be directed by Massy Tadjedin and will start filming in October 2008 in New York. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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