Bio / Info
Knightley was born in Teddington, Middlesex, England to Sharman Macdonald, a Scottish actress turned award-winning playwright, and Will Knightley, an English theatre and television actor. She has an elder brother, Caleb who was born in 1979. Knightley lived most of her life in Richmond, attending Teddington School and Esher College. Knightley suffers from dyslexia, but nevertheless achieved good grades in school to please her parents, and was thus permitted to acquire a talent agent and pursue an acting career. 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). Knightley's breakthrough role was in the English 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, Miss Knightley’s performance was overlooked in the crowded A-List cast. Her next film, King Arthur, opened in July 2004 to negative reviews, scoring only 31% at Rotten Tomatoes. While many liked the new Guinevere, Knightley’s performance was overlooked and she was mostly praised for her appearance. In the same month, Knightley was voted by readers of Hello! magazine as the movie 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 would see 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, scoring a disappointing 44%. Knightley was taken to task for her American accent but was otherwise dismissed by critics. Next would be Tony Scott's Domino, an action film based on the life of bounty hunter Domino Harvey. The film would be Knightley’s greatest critical flop to date, scoring only 17% positive reviews. Knightley’s critics often suggested she was nothing more than a pretty face, which lead the young starlet to comment to Elle magazine, “I always feel like I’m the one with everything to prove.” Pride and Prejudice would round out 2005, scoring a lively 85%. As iconic Elizabeth Bennet, Knightley would receive the greatest reviews of her career thus far. From Variety: "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 Macfadyen (as well as vets like Blethyn, Sutherland and Judi Dench) with a luminous strength that recalls a young Audrey Hepburn. More than the older Ehle in the TV series, she catches Elizabeth's essential skittishness and youthful braggadocio, making her final conversion all the more moving." The film would gross more than $100 million worldwide and Keira would earn a Golden Globe nomination and an Oscar nomination. It was noted that Keira was snubbed by the BAFTAs- a move which drew criticism from Pride and Prejudice producer Tim Bevan. Keira would ultimately lose both the Oscar and the Golden Globe to American actress Reese Witherspoon. 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 a MTV Movie Award for Best Performance but she lost to her co-star, Johnny Depp. She has recently completed filming in Silk (an adaptation of the novel by Alessandro Baricco) and Atonement, a feature film adaptation of Ian McEwan's novel of the same name, co-starring James McAvoy, Vanessa Redgrave and Brenda Blethyn. Knightley most recently appeared in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, which was released on May 24, 2007; she continued to film scenes for the film near the end of 2006. 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. This 2008 release was penned by her mother, Sharman Macdonald, and directed by John Maybury. She will next work on The Duchess in which she will play Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire.