We all know her for her classy style and on-screen as a period drama darling but how did she get her start?
Keira Christina Knightley was born in Teddington, London on March 26 1985.
Her family is no stranger to show business: her father is actor Will Knightley and her mother is playwright Sharman McDonald. Keira also has one sibling, a brother named Caleb.
At a young age, Keira already showed signs of becoming an actress. Her parents resisted at first but finally let her audition for roles when she turned six. Her first part came as Angela on the British TV show A Royal Celebration.
Keira would go on to appear more British TV hits and made-for-TV movies before making her silver screen debut in the
1995 thriller, Innocent Lives as young Celia. Her first major Hollywood role came when casting directors offered her a role in Star Wars Episode One, The Phantom Menace.
Due to her close resemblance to Natalie Portman, Keira played Sabé, a decoy for Natalie’s character Queen Padme Amidala.
In 2002, Knightley got her breakout role in the football, er, soccer-themed comedy Bend It Like Beckham. The film grossed $18 million on its UK release and $32 million when it hit theaters in the US.
Critics praised Keira for her performance in Bend It Like Beckham and soon Disney discovered she was a perfect fit to play Elizabeth Swann, the damsel in distress turned pirate from Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.
Starring alongside Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom, the movie struck box office gold as Pirates became one of 2003’s biggest films you really intend to kill my rescue
Following her role in the first installment of Pirates, Keira appeared in the 2003 British rom-com, Love Actually, and
became the face of British jeweler and luxury brand, Asprey.
In 2004, she starred in the historical action flick King Arthur, starring Clive Owen and Johan Griffith. Keira famously blasted Hollywood bosses for altering her bust in the poster for King Arthur, telling Allure magazine, “It’s my face on that poster. I thought, ‘Well if you’re going to make me fantasy breasts, at least make perky breasts.'”
In 2005, Keira garnered great reviews as Elizabeth Bennet and the adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic, Pride and Prejudice.
Critics loved the on-screen chemistry with Mr. Darcy played by Matthew Macfadyen. Her performance earned her Best Actress nominations for Golden Globe and an Oscar. At the same time, she became the third-youngest actress to be nominated for an Academy Award.
Keira reprised her role in the 2006 Pirates of the Caribbean sequel, Dead Man’s Chest, solidifying her a-list status.
She also famously stripped down for the cover of Vanity Fair’s 2006 Hollywood issue with Scarlett Johansson.
Then in 2007, the British starlet blazed the screen in period pieces, including the romantic novel adaptation of Silk and the romantic war drama, Atonement. That role earned her a second nomination at the Golden Globes and a nod from BAFTA.
Keira gained more positive reviews in David Cronenberg’s thriller, A Dangerous Method, as a woman seeking treatment for sex compulsion.
Keira spoke to The Associated Press in 2012 about the film’s many awkward sex scenes: “…they never were the most comfortable scenes to shoot and I think I was really worried before we did the film that when we came to release it, everybody would only be talking about those scenes and what’s been absolutely extraordinary when we released the film in Venice was, it literally didn’t get mentioned for the first four days for all of the press I did over there.”
2012 also saw Miss Knightley take a different direction starring in a rare comedic role in Seeking a Friend for the End of the World opposite Steve Carell.
Keira received rave reviews later that year as the lead role in the film adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. The film reunited with her director Joe Wright who she previously worked with on hit films Pride and Prejudice and Atonement.
In 2014, Keira starred as Cathy Muller alongside director Kenneth Branagh, Kevin Costner and Chris Pine in Jack Ryan:Shadow Recruit.
She recently told Graham Norton that acting under Branagh’s direction can get confusing sometimes: “We’re in the back of a truck and I’m sort tied up like that and he’s screaming at me and he’d be screaming at me in this kind of Russian accent and then all of a sudden, it would be like, ‘Okay and cut and that was lovely thank you so much.'”
Throughout her Hollywood career, Keira has had a string of high-profile relationships with co-stars Del Synnott, Jamie Dornan and Rupert Friend. Then in 2011, Keira started to date musician James Righton. The two were married in 2013 and there you have it, the continuing evolution of Keira Knightley.