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Keira Knightley's next shrewd move: 'Atonement'
posted on 2007 Dec 08
Yes, she adores her three Chanel handbags and the dainty patent-leather lace-up Christian Louboutin booties she wore to a press lunch earlier in the week. But Keira Knightley is even more passionate about her current reading material, a light, fluffy romp called Into That Darkness: An Examination of Conscience by Gitta Sereny.
"It's the one about Franz Stangl, the commandant of Treblinka. It's amazing. It was actually given to me recently," says Knightley. "It's completely terrifying this guy, who has committed these horrendous crimes. I highly recommend it, but it's certainly not happy reading."

No wonder director Joe Wright, who has worked with Knightley on the new drama Atonement and her current Chanel Coco Mademoiselle perfume ad campaign, calls her "very smart."
"She doesn't suffer fools," he adds. "She knows her own mind."

He is echoed by Gore Verbinski, who directed Knightley in the Pirates of the Caribbean series: "She's bookish. She reads a lot. When there's downtime, she'll be curled up in a corner reading a book, waiting for the next setup. There's not a lot of showiness with her. She's a keen observer. She's shrewd."

That's certainly obvious both by her demeanor and her choices. At 22, Knightley belongs to a select group of Hollywood stars that includes Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson bright young women who are circumspect about their private lives and clever about their professional moves, mixing mainstream audience-pleasers with more intimate, artsy films.

For Knightley, that means following up the trio of Pirates blockbusters with Atonement, opening today. It's the blue-chip adaptation of Ian McEwan's best-selling novel about Cecilia, a posh, icy young woman (Knightley) who falls for Robbie (James McAvoy), the educated but impoverished son of the family's housekeeper, only to have her younger sister (Saoirse Ronan) accuse him of a nasty crime he didn't commit.

Knightley was drawn to the power of Cecilia's story as a privileged, pampered young woman who turns her back on her society family by siding with her lover.

"I saw her as behaving badly in the beginning, but I didn't think of her as a deep-down unlikable person," says Knightley. "She's a snob. There's a time when everyone behaves like a bitch. And she's behaving like a bitch. There's no doubt about it. But she makes a sacrifice by walking away from her family, and that kind of glamour-puss existence that's making her completely unhappy."

While Knightley remains the film's biggest star and likely its main draw, it's McAvoy's face and name that are first on the movie posters thanks to Knightley. "He should have got top billing anyway," she says. "I think, contractually, I had it, but I sort of thought it was ridiculous. It just wasn't right."

A new phase

The film represents the second big-screen pairing of Knightley and Wright, who directed her to her first Academy Award nomination for 2005's Pride & Prejudice. There's plenty of Oscar buzz surrounding the movie, but reviews have been mixed, with some critics dubbing the film a gilded but passionless tableau.

Yet, Variety praised it as "Knightley and McAvoy's film, with both showing impressive star poise and physical élan. As the more controlled Cecilia, Knightley hints at the rebel behind the upper-middle-class mask." And, wrote Newsweek's David Ansen, "the chemistry between Knightley and McAvoy is white-hot: her brittle, chilly Cecilia comes to life in his presence."

Certainly, it's the first time that Knightley, who kicked off her career as a soccer-mad tomboy in 2002's Bend It Like Beckham and spunkily caterwauled her way through King Arthur, Domino and the Pirates movies, plays a mature, regal woman on screen.

"That's one of the things that was quite exciting about casting her as Cecilia," says Wright, who met Knightley when she was 18. "It felt like the first role in which she got to be a proper woman and really play with this new phase in her life creatively and personally."

On screen in Atonement, Knightley's Cecilia can freeze someone with one glance, but in person the actress is "absolutely nothing like that," says Wright. "That's one of the most commendable things about this performance, is the fact that she is willing and brave enough to be disliked by the audience. She's very bold."

It's a description that leaves Knightley slightly baffled. She's a sliver of a girl clad in a bulky black coat, a normally fiery sprite whose spark is subdued today after a rapid-fire schedule of travel and interviews. She's lacking the energy to even do some Christmas shopping, despite her increased buying power thanks to the sagging dollar compared with the British pound. But, she laments, "department stores scare the hell out of me. This time of year, I can't handle it. I can't quite face the hordes."

She's definitely outspoken, hurling four-letter words non-stop, revealing her penchant for Indiana Jones movies, giggling at one particularly revealing dress she wore on the red carpet, ridiculing rumors that she doesn't eat as she digs into a lunch combination of chicken soup, bread and coffee.

But bold?

"What does bold mean? Brave? Not particularly," Knightley breaks off, looking from her coffee cup to her nearly empty bowl of soup. "This isn't a very good combination, is it? Isn't chicken noodle soup meant to have some healing power? If you've got a cold, isn't that what you're meant to have? I like the fact that I'm eating something that's quite healing."

She then returns to the issue of boldness: "I don't know about brave and bold. I just do what feels right to me."

About that boyfriend …

Like Cecilia, Knightley has her off days and can be a rhymes-with-witch. "I think everybody is, aren't they? I have my moody moments," she says. "What sets me off? Really, anything."

Then she adds, "I'm probably (lying) to make me sound more interesting."

The tabloids, however, find her plenty interesting without her own embellishment. Knightley doesn't read the weeklies, though, and says she isn't aware of most of the things written about her.

The key word is "most": Earlier this year, Knightley won nearly $6,000 in damages from the publishers of Britain's Daily Mail after the newspaper ran a story implying that she had an eating disorder.

During an interview at the Toronto Film Festival in September, Knightley brushed off speculation about her thinness. "I'm very glad I'm not anorexic or I wouldn't have been able to climb mountains. We went to Bhutan sorry, the royal we. Me and a friend went to Bhutan."

That "friend" is the one topic she won't discuss: her boyfriend, British actor Rupert Friend. At a time when anything seems up for grabs with stars, Knightley's personal life remains off limits. "I never felt comfortable with (revealing personal details). Again, it's comfort levels. I'm just not comfortable."

So, does she believe in one great, all-consuming love, like the romance between Robbie and Cecilia in Atonement?

"I don't know. That's the point of film, to present that. (Relationships) are never that clean-cut, are they?" says Knightley. "That's the good thing about film. You have a beginning, a middle and an end. A happily ever after, or they all die."

Unwanted entourage

In some ways, Knightley is conflicted about her life. On the one hand, she's "passionate" about making movies. On the other, she'd like to go out to eat without cameras around.

Dealing with paparazzi "did get really bad for a minute or two, and it wasn't worth it. I was just feeling (bad) about myself and not for any other reason than I had men following me around all over the place," she says. "I felt terrified all the time, and that's not worth it.

"But it has eased off in England, and that's brilliant. It's a difficult thing. I cannot imagine what else I'd do, but yet I am fully for self-preservation. I can't deal with any more attention than I've got."

She manages her level of fame well, says McAvoy. "It's not easy for her. Keira has a lot of class. She doesn't turn up to an opening of an envelope, to the latest Samsung phone launch. She doesn't use the press on purpose. She doesn't ask for it."

And she doesn't care that if she does appear in the celebrity magazines, it's usually with a scowl on her face as she's snapped out shopping or running errands at home in London.

"It's not the pictures. … If they wanted bad pictures, I could provide them myself. It is being followed all the time," she says.

She'll be spending the holidays with family in England, now that she has wrapped the historical drama The Duchess. This time, she plays the legendary gambler and society mover-and-shaker Georgiana, the Duchess of Devonshire. "The costumes were amazing, the wigs were great," says Knightley, who wore spectacularly corseted gowns. "At the end of the day, it took me 10 minutes to learn to breathe normally."

She's looking forward to catching her breath after a year of working non-stop. "I'm completely, as my mum would put it, fancy-free and floating," says Knightley. "I'm going to sit back and be very selfish about what I do next and do something that really interests me."

Sounds reasonable. Is Knightley really that balanced and sensible?

"Not at all," she says, giggling. "I'm just pretending."
Keira Knightley thinks ‘fame is a strange thing’
posted on 2007 Dec 08
The 22-year-old star is on her way to superstardom but still manages to keep a firm head on her shoulders.

"I think fame is a very strange thing. You learn to find ways around it, as in any job. You have to have a route to self-preservation," The New York Post quoted Knightley, as saying.

"My ambition hasn't changed, she added.

22-year-old Knightley also revealed that she never liked being a teenager.

"I never felt comfortable being in a group of giggly girls ... So I suppose I never really wanted to explore it, whereas I did want to be a woman,” she said.

Although young, Knightley's right kind of maturity has only reaped her benefits.

"I think I’m in an incredibly fortunate position, because I actually get offered amazing roles and the opportunity to work with extraordinary people. If you become an actor, then that’s what you want, said the Oscar nominated star.

Knightley, named as the new Period Queen in Hollywood is taking the tag in her stride.

"I’m fascinated by tragedies or dramas. It’s the drama queen in me. I want to explore them, partly because I don’t want to explore them in my real life, I guess,” she said.

However, the star denies being a role model and says that there shouldn’t be a definite way in which actors should carry themselves.

"I don’t believe in role models. I don’t believe that any person can be put up there as being better than any other person. Personally, I think I have the right to make as many mistakes as I like without having to feel guilty about a young girl going, 'Wow, you’re making that mistake, so should I.' People are cleverer than that,” she said.
'Atonement' star Keira Knightley redirects you to her talent
posted on 2007 Dec 08
Keira Knightley has crooked teeth. You may not have noticed, as they are frequently hidden behind that trademark pout of hers. But she has noticed, and she likes them just the way they are, thank you very much.

"Straight teeth are [expletive]," she says during an interview at this year's Toronto Film Festival to promote her new film, Atonement, which opens Friday at the Dallas Angelika. "My dentist asked me once if I wanted braces, and I said [expletive] no! You've got to have teeth with character."

It's a telling observation coming from the one of the world's most recognizable and photographed faces. (If you need proof, she's now the face of Coco Chanel's Coco Mademoiselle perfume.) And her message is clear: Compliments are nice, but she's more than just her looks.

"It's better than them going, 'God, isn't she ugly!' " says Ms. Knightley, 22. "I mean, don't get me wrong, but it's not really what it's about. I'm passionate about my job. I absolutely love making films, and that's what's interesting and that's what's important."

She made good on those feelings with her role in the 2005 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, for which she was nominated for an Oscar. Though she lost to Reese Witherspoon in the lead-actress field, the nomination itself was enough to silence doubters.

"If people thought before that she was just a pretty face, I think that Pride, and the reaction to Pride, vindicated her self-belief that that wasn't the case," says Pride and Prejudice director Joe Wright during a recent telephone conversation.

And count Mr. Wright among the believers, as he is also the director of Atonement. The adaptation of Ian McEwan's best-selling novel is set at the dawn of World War II and follows the well-to-do Cecilia (Ms. Knightley) and the working-class Robbie (James McAvoy), two young lovers who are torn apart when Cecilia's sister falsely implicates Robbie in a crime.

The first third of the film unfolds on Cecilia's family's English estate and has the lushness of a Merchant Ivory film. And, as it is set in 1935, Mr. Wright says that Ms. Knightley's aura matched the film's atmosphere.

"I love the iconic feel of her. I grew up loving those 1930s and '40s films and film stars, and I feel like she's almost our modern equivalent," he says.

In addition to starring in Atonement and Pride and Prejudice , Ms. Knightley is building quite a career on making period pieces, most notably this year's Silk, 2004's King Arthur and the three Pirates of the Caribbean movies. And if that wasn't enough, her next two films are The Edge of Love, about a love triangle involving early-20th-century poet Dylan Thomas, and The Duchess, the story of an 18th-century aristocrat.

"I like fantasy. And I think the wonderful thing about doing a period film is it's a bit removed from the reality that we all live in," she says.

"I find when I'm doing a modern-day piece, I'm more confined by the fact that we know what today's society is. We know how we behave and how we wouldn't behave. With period pieces, I think there's more room for imagination because, yes, you think you know what 1780 was like, but you can always play around a bit."
But don't expect her to be stuck in the past forever, she says. "I think the whole point of the job is to keep changing the way that you are perceived, so that means changing your periods, changing genres of film and all the rest of it. So hopefully I can do that a bit."
Keira Knightley tutored for steamy sex scene
posted on 2007 Dec 08
Keira Knightley was shown how to pleasure James McAvoy for their steamy sex scene in 'Atonement.' The Scottish actor plays Keira's love interest Robbie in the Oscar-tipped movie and says the highlight of filming the romantic epic was hearing his co-star being instructed in the art of manual stimulation.

James told the New York Daily News newspaper, "Being there while Keira Knightley was being told to (expletive) was a high point."
Director Joe Wright added, "Absolutely no comment. I can't believe he told you that!"

The 22-year-old actress admitted that while she enjoyed shooting the raunchy romp in the library scene, she did need some guidance on what to do.

Keira said, "It was the sex scene, which I have to say I think is a really good sex scene. But it was such a specific thing and it had to be so erotic that we did just say to Joe, 'Come on, talk us through it.' "
Living in the past agrees with Keira Knightley
posted on 2007 Dec 08
Given a choice Keira Knightley, the 22-year-old British actress who has made her mark appearing in a slew of period films, would probably prefer to spend more time in the past than have to sort out her present. She’s a white-hot Oscar nominee, but she’s also a young woman who has to use decoy cars to elude the paparazzi camped outside her London flat 24/7. And she can barely go anywhere without her “Ninja” in tow.

Ninja is James McAvoy’s term for his “Atonement” co-star’s beefy bodyguard, who wasn’t with her on the crisp autumn day we met in a Mayfair hotel suite to chat about “Atonement,” another period film that already has critics buzzing about a possible second Oscar nomination for Knightley.

In fact, the actress was all alone in a spacious room gently illuminated by the midday sun. The solitude seemed to suit her as she talked about playing a conflicted rich girl who falls for the servant’s son in her new film that hits theaters on Friday, fame, growing pains, her love of classic films and time travel while sipping a cup of tea.
“I’ve done a lot of modern-day pieces “Bend it Like Beckham,” “Love Actually” and “The Jacket” but I do like period films,” Knightley said while curling her legs underneath her lithe frame. “I think if you’re working in England, more often than not you’re going to be working in period pieces. I’ve loved them from a very, very early age. It was always the period films that I got absolutely obsessed by.”

Clearly this is a good time for Knightley. Although she claims that she’s “unbelievably dumb,” she’s either been smart enough to have made the right choices in her career or smart enough to have hired smarter people to make the right moves for her. Since her breakthrough role as a soccer player in “Beckham,” she has been nominated for an Oscar for “Pride & Prejudice,” the film that initially paired her with Joe Wright who also directed her in “Atonement” and she’s appeared in one of the most financially successful film franchises of all time “Pirates of the Caribbean.” She’s currently shooting another period film called “The Duchess,” recently completed a WWII drama called “The Edge of Love” and her Chanel fragrance was launched in September.

“You forget how young she is because she’s done so much work,” says McAvoy, who plays Knightley’s love interest Robbie in “Atonement.” “But she’s just a young girl. She’s good fun, always a good laugh. But she’s got her head screwed on. When she’s at work, she’s at work and she’s quite formidable actually.”

One of the keys to her success is that Knightley, who has been acting since she was six years old, gets it. “I think that this is an industry of smoke and mirrors,” she said. “I think everybody thinks they know what the entertainment industry is and very few people actually do. I think the wonderful thing about having been a child actor is that I’ve seen the truth of it from a very, very early age so I’ve never come into this with the idea of what it was going to be. I always saw a kind of reality and I think that’s kind of helpful.

“But it is harsh and if you don’t have the support there it’s very easy to crumble under the strain of that.”

Although Knightley’s parents were both actors, they were initially mortified and refused their three-year-old daughter’s request for an agent. Three years later, however, they caved when the headmaster at Knightley’s school told them that they needed to “dangle a carrot” in front of her because she was not doing well in school. So, her mother Sharman made her a deal. If she promised to come to her mother every day during the summer holiday with a book in her hand and a smile on her face, they would get her an agent.

She did.

“I don’t remember asking for one when I was three, but I remember the fight of trying to get one,” Knightley said with a laugh. “When you’re six you been fighting for something you want for half your life, which is a long (freaking) time!”

Knightley often finds herself having to fight different battles these days. Last year she successfully sued the Daily Mail for running a caption underneath a photo of her in a bikini that suggested that her anorexia caused the death of a teen girl. Knightley is thin, but she’s far from being skeletal.

“It’s going to be the weight or it’s going to be something else,” she says with a slight sigh. “You can’t win. I can’t pay that much attention to it. I think it’s not very healthy. I don’t read it. The only reason I found out about the (Daily Mail) story is because my agent rang and said there’s been this thing and we’ve got to do something about it because this is quite bad. Otherwise, honestly, I don’t think I would have known.”
But even though she’s got so much going for her, Knightley, whose mother once said she was born 45 and would meet herself when she was 22, has yet to shed some of her insecurities.

“I feel that within what I do I’ve still got huge barriers of my own making, not of anyone else’s and those points creatively as far as acting goes that I feel I really can’t get to at the moment,” she said emphatically. “So, I still feel like I’m still very much trying to break things down in order to be better. I hope that actually will never stop. I think that you can never be too comfortable in your ability.”

Playing Cecilia was challenging for Knightley, who like Wright, wanted to nail all of the nuances of a woman of privilege in 1940s Britain. Although Wright initially wanted Knightley to play Cecilia’s younger sister Briony, whose deception alters the lives of everyone around her, Knightley fought to play Cecilia.

“I loved her brittle quality,” Knightley said. “I loved the journey she went on. I thought it was fascinating that you’ve kind of got this character who has so many feelings bubbling underneath her. When I first read the script it made me cry. Anything that kind of provokes that kind of reaction is kind of good.”
Keira Knightley on the cover of Interview magazine
posted on 2007 Dec 05
Here are the pictures... I don't like the cover too much but I think the other pictures are nice, even though that's definitely not Keira's best photoshoot.

Keira on Regis & Kelly + new pictures
posted on 2007 Nov 27
Okay, before I forget to mention this : Keira will be a guest of Regis and Kelly on Monday December 3rd in the USA. In other "news", I finally took some time to scan "Park Avenue" with Keira on the cover, the scans are here :

Pictures of Keira Knightley filming "The Duchess"
posted on 2007 Nov 23
Blacksky (thank you!!!) sent me a link to a few very nice pictures of Keira Knightley filming "The Duchess", I put them in the gallery :


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