Keira Knightley seems to have been around for a lot longer than she actually has. In fact, the English actress is still just twenty seven years old and along with Carey Mulligan and Gemma Arterton, she spearheads the representation of young, talented British actresses working in Hollywood.
Before becoming the big film star that she is today, Keira Knightley cut her teeth in television. As a child she had small roles in several episodes of television shows, including British institution The Bill. It is not common knowledge, but at just 14 years old Knightley appeared in the heavily criticised Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. Despite the commercial success, it would take another couple of years for Keira to land the role that would launch her career.
After appearing in television series Oliver Twist, she made a couple more films specifically for television before showing up in the psychological thriller The Hole alongside Thora Birch. 2002 was the year that really kick started Knightley’s career. She picked up a role in a film centring around a young female Sikh’s rebellion against her parents as she joins a women’s football (or soccer) team; the film, of course, is the brilliant Bend It Like Beckham. This was a brilliant performance by the young Keira Knightley and really raised her profile within the film industry.
In 2003 Keira Knightley became the new Hollywood ‘It’ girl with the lead female role in smash hit Pirate of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl (the best of the Pirates films) as Elizabeth Swann. Knightley put in a great performance in Curse of the Black Pearl and you can tell how good it is by the fact that she actually manages to make Orlando Bloom look like a half decent actor too. The Pirates franchise made Knightley well known to Hollywood audiences and she went on to star in the next two films in the series as well.
After breaking Hollywood Knightley appeared in British romantic comedy Love Actually alongside a whole host of British stars including Emma Thomspon and Hugh Grant. Unfortunately, her career seemed to stall after this (aside from the Pirates films) as she starred in King Arthur, Domino and The Jacket; all of which were flops with critics and audiences.
After failing to impress as an ‘action chick’ Keira Knightley moved into a genre that most audiences now would associate her with: the period drama. In 2005, Knightley portrayed Elizabeth Bennet in Pride & Prejudice for which she was awarded her only Oscar nomination to date. Knightley continued to impress in this area with Silk, Atonement, The Edge of Love and The Duchess. Atonement saw Knightley nominated for a Golden Globe and a Bafta for her performance and left many critics puzzled as to why she had not been nominated for an Oscar as well.
In 2010, Keira Knightley appeared alongside other bright British talents Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield for Never Let Me Go. She then went on to appear in Last Night and then London Boulevard which teamed her up with one of the most hot and cold actors of our time, Colin Farrell. She was most recently seen on cinema screens in A Dangerous Method with Viggo Mortensen and the brilliant Michael Fassbender which details the birth of psychoanalysis from Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung’s friendship.
I think that Keira Knightley is one of the best young actresses that England has produced over recent years. And despite the fact she gets acclaim for a large majority of her performances it seems like she is forgotten when she doesn’t have a film out and so is very hard done by. She is certainly a talented actress and I think it’s great that she continues to make British films and resisting the lure of big budget Hollywood blockbusters.