Keira Knightley was born in Teddington, Middles--, England to Sharman Macdonald, a Scottish actress turned award-winning playwright, and Will Knightley, an English theatre and television actor. She has an older brother, Caleb (b. 1979). Knightley lived most of her life in Richmond upon Thames, 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 have an agent and pursue an acting career. Knightley has noted that she was "so 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, John McShane).
Keira Knightley began her acting career at the age of seven, making her television debut in Royal Celebration (1993) and also appearing on the television series, The Bill (1995). She appeared in several more made-for-television films in the mid to late 1990s, before being cast as Sabé, Padmé Amidala's decoy, in the 1999 science fiction blockbuster Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace. Knightley was cast in the role due to her close resemblance to Natalie Portman, who played Padmé; the two actresses' mothers had difficulty telling their daughters apart when they were heavily made up. Knightley's first starring role followed in 2001, when she played the daughter of Robin Hood in a made-for-television Walt Disney Productions feature, Princess of Thieves. During this time period, Knightley also appeared in The Hole, a thriller that received a direct-to-video release in the United States, and in a mini-series remake of Doctor Zhivago that was first aired in 2002.
Keira Knightley's breakthrough role was in the English football-themed film, Bend It Like Beckham, which was a major success in its August 2002 UK release, and did fairly well at the box office upon its United States release in March 2003, 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, which was produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and opened in July 2003 to positive reviews and a high box office gross, becoming one of the biggest hits of summer 2003 and cementing Knightley as a leading actress.
Keira Knightley had a role in the British romantic comedy Love Actually, which opened in November 2003. Her next film, King Arthur, opened in July 2004 and received mixed reviews, but was praised by critic Roger Ebert for "the considerable production qualities and the charisma of the actors, who bring more interest to the characters than they deserve", Knightley being described as looking "simultaneously s--y and muddy". 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.
Knightley starred in three 2005 films; The Jacket, a dark thriller that opened in March; director Tony Scott's film Domino, which opened in October, was an action film inspired by the life of bounty hunter Domino Harvey; and finally Pride and Prejudice, an adaptation of Jane Austen's novel, in which Knightley played regency Englishwoman Elizabeth Bennet. The Jacket and Domino received mixed critical receptions and performed poorly at the box office, but Pride and Prejudice did well in the U.S. and opened at No. 1 in the UK box office, and is Knightley's sixth film to do so. She received a Best Actress - Comedy/Musical Golden Globes nomination and an Academy Award for Best Actress nomination for the role, though she did not win either.
Keira's most recent film, a Pirates of the Caribbean sequel, was released on July 7, 2006.
Keira Knightley recently completed filming on Silk (an adaptation of the novel by Alessandro Baricco) and Atonement, a feature film adaptation of Ian McEwan's novel of the same name, also starring James McAvoy, Vanessa Redgrave and Brenda Blethyn.
Keira Knightleyhas completed work on parts of Pirates Of The Caribbean 3, which is due for release in May of 2007; she will continue to film scenes during the last part of 2006. She was also recently cast in a film entitled The Best Time Of Our Lives, about the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, from a screenplay by her mother.
As a result of Knightley's rapid rise to fame, Knightley has been the subject of significant media attention, being described by press reports as "famously open with media" regarding her personal life. She was voted the s--iest movie star of all time by the readers of Empire magazine, was ranked #79 by FHM in the magazine’s UK Edition 2004 100 S--iest Women in the World list, #18 in 2005, and was ranked the s--iest woman in the world in 2006. The U.S. Edition ranked her #54 in 2004, #11 in 2005 and #5 in 2006. Knightley appeared nude on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine's March 2006 'Hollywood' issue, with Scarlett Johansson, and was voted the World's S--iest Woman by FHM (UK) in their FHM 100 S--iest Women in the World 2006 poll. In May of 2006, Knightley was #9 on Maxim's 2006 Hot 100. However Knightley herself has stated "I don't talk about my private life."
Keira Knightley was the celebrity face for the luxury goods brand Asprey, as well as Lux haircare products in Japanese TV commercials. In April of 2006, she was confirmed as the new celebrity face of Chanel's perfume "Coco Mademoiselle".
Keira Knightley, who currently lives in Central London, is dating her Pride and Prejudice co-star, Rupert Friend; the two have moved in together. She has previously dated Irish male fashion model Jamie Dornan, as well as actor Del Synnott, who according to some reports, attempted suicide after their relationship ended, although Synnott and Knightley deny these claims. Knightley has stated that she feels uncomfortable dressing up and that she prefers British men over Americans, because she feels that British men are less concerned about their own appearance.
Keira's valentino gown at the 2006 Golden Globe Awards won her much acclaim and even landed her the top spot on Steven Cojocaru's "Best Dressed List" on Entertainment Tonight, while the dress she wore to the 2006 Academy Awards was recently donated to the charity Oxfam, where it raised £4,300.
Keira Knightley has denied rumors she is anorexic, although she has noted that her family has a history of anorexia, after her appearance at the Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest premiere led to media speculation that her extremely slender figure was due to an eating disorder.
In July of 2006, Keira Knightley noted that she believes that she has become a workaholic, detailing that "the last five years have blended into one. I can't tell you what was last year and what was the year before" and specifiying that she is "working too much" and is "quite frightened that if I continue at this rate I will start to hate what I love". As a result, Knightley may take a one year break from acting to travel and focus on her personal life.
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