Keira Christina Knightley OBE (/ˈkɪərə ˈnaɪtli/); born 26 March 1985 is an English actress. She has worked in both the British and American film industries, and has starred in Broadway and West End theatre productions. She has received an Empire Award and multiple nominations for British Academy, Golden Globe, and Academy Awards.
Knightley began acting as a child on television and made her feature film debut in 1995; she played such supporting roles as Sabé in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999) and Frankie Smith in the psychological horror film The Hole (2001). She made her breakthrough with the 2002 film Bend It Like Beckham, and achieved international fame in 2003 after playing Elizabeth Swann in the $4.5 billion-grossing Pirates of the Caribbean film series. Her portrayal of Elizabeth Bennet in the 2005 romantic drama film Pride & Prejudice earned her critical acclaim and a Best Actress nomination at the Academy Awards. She later became known for her roles as the heroines of other period dramas such as Atonement (2007), A Dangerous Method (2011) and Anna Karenina (2012).
Knightley’s performances in independent films including the dramas The Duchess (2009) and Never Let Me Go (2010) were well received; both the roles earned her nominations at the British Independent Film Awards. In 2014, she was nominated for the London Film Critics’ Circle’s British Actress of the Year Award for her performances as an aspiring singer-songwriter in the musical romantic comedy Begin Again, a young underachiever in the comedy drama Laggies, and Joan Clarke in the historical drama The Imitation Game. For the last of the aforementioned, she also garnered nominations for a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. The same year, she appeared in the Kenneth Branagh-helmed action thriller Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. In 2018, she was lauded for her portrayal of French novelist Gabrielle Colette in the biographical film Colette.
Knightley’s West End debut in Martin Crimp’s 2009 production The Misanthrope was well received and earned her a nomination for a Laurence Olivier Award. She also starred as the eponymous heroine in the 2015 Broadway production of the 1873 naturalist play Thérèse Raquin.
She was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2018 Birthday Honours for services to drama and charity.
On 20 January 2018, Colette premiered at the Sundance film festival. In an interview with Variety to promote the film, Knightley criticized the way female characters are portrayed in films set in the modern day stating: “I don’t really do films set in the modern day because the female characters nearly always get raped. I always find something distasteful in the way women are portrayed, whereas I’ve always found very inspiring characters offered to me in historical pieces”. Knightley was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2018 Birthday Honours for services to drama and charity. The same year, she played the Sugar Plum Fairy in Disney’s adaptation of The Nutcracker, titled The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, directed by Lasse Hallström and Joe Johnston. The film received generally negative reviews for which they deemed it as “soulless” and “incoherent”.
Knightley is set to star alongside Alexander Skarsgård in The Aftermath, a film adaption of the novel by Rhidian Brook. She is also set to play Katharine Gun in Official Secrets.