“Talented,” “charming,” and “beautiful” are just a few of the words we would use to describe famed British actress Keira Knightley. Known for her many box office hits and elegant red carpet style, Knightley has had a unique and fascinating career. Check out 42 charming facts about Keira Knightley.
Keira Knightley Facts
42. A Star Is Born
Keira Christina Knightley was born on March 26, 1985 in London, UK.
41. A Major Typo
Knightley was supposed to be named “Kira” (without the “e”), after Russian figure skater Kira Ivanova. However, when Knightley’s mother, Sharman Macdonald, went to register her new child, she misspelled the name and it ended up as “Keira.”
40. Family Business
It’s really no surprise Knightley ended up as a successful actress when you consider that both of her parents were actors. Knightley’s mother was a Scottish playwright, screenwriter, and actress, while her father, William Knightley, was an English television and stage actor.
39. Battle With Dyslexia
At just six years old, Knightley was diagnosed with both ADHD and dyslexia. Though she is still a slow reader today and cannot read out loud, she had successfully gotten over her dyslexia by the age of eleven.
38. A Natural Talent
Knightley had her first agent at the age of six. Though she appeared in several commercials and had multiple small television roles, her first on-screen role was in the 1993 made-for-TV film Royal Celebration.
37. Football Fan
Knightley is a football fan (or soccer as we call it). More specifically, she is a supporter of the West Ham United Football Club based in London.
36. Making History
In 2006, Knightley received an Academy Award nomination. She was nominated for her portrayal of Elizabeth Bennet in 2005’s Pride & Prejudice. At just 20 years old, she was the fifth youngest actress in Oscar history to receive this honor.
35. Double Take
In 1999, Knightley landed the role of Sabé, the handmaiden and decoy of Padmé Amidala in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom of the Menace. Amidala was played by Natalie Portman, and Knightley was cast owing to her physical likeness to Portman. In fact, it was reported that on set, even the actresses’ own mothers could not tell them apart once they were in makeup.
34. Going Method
For her first major role (in Disney’s 2001 Princess of Thieves), Knightley played Gwyn, the daughter of Robin Hood and Maid Marian. To prepare for the role, she trained for weeks in archery, horseback riding, and fencing.
33. Soccer Star
In anticipation of her role in 2002’s Bend It Like Beckham, Knightley again entered preparation mode. She, along with her co-star Parminder Nagra, trained extensively for three months with English soccer coach Simon Clifford.
32. Two-Time Nominee
Despite being just 32 years of age, Knightley has already been nominated twice for an Academy Award. The first time was the aforementioned 2006 nod for Best Actress for Pride & Prejudice, and the second time was in 2015 for Best Supporting Actress in The Imitation Game.
31. Vote Remain
Knightley urged the public to vote “Remain” in the 2016 UK EU Referendum (the result of which became known as “Brexit”). In May of that year, she co-signed a letter pleading with Britain to vote remain. She also appeared in a video that encouraged young people to vote in the referendum.
30. Talk to Me
The UK’s Royal National Institute for the Blind voted Knightley as having the second sexiest voice in the country. First place honors went to Scottish actor Sean Connery, who is not a bad man to lose to.
29. Household Name
One year after Bend It Like Beckham was released, Knightley was cast as Elizabeth Swann in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. This Hollywood adventure flick, co-starring Orlando Bloom and Johnny Depp, became a huge franchise and made Knightley a household name around the world.
28. Too Good to Be True
Knightley couldn’t believe it when she was cast in Pirates of the Caribbean. In fact, according to the actress, she only packed a few things with her at the start of filming because she was sure she would be fired after only a few days.
27. Sexy Star
This won’t come as a shock to most, but Knightley has been listed as one of the world’s sexiest celebrities on numerous occasions. In 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009, she was listed as one of the 100 Sexiest Women in the World by FHM (even taking top honors in 2006). She was also ninth on Maxim’s Hot 100 list in 2006.
26. Photoshop Ban
In 2014, Knightley agreed to pose topless for the September issue of Interview magazine on the condition that her body would not be photoshopped in any way. The actress stated, “women’s bodies are a battleground and photography is partly to blame.”
25. A Little Extra Help
While on a talk show promoting Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Knightley said that during filming she had to add padding to her chest in order to make it appear “like there’s something there.”
24. Mademoiselle Chanel
In spring 2006, Knightley became the new face of French fashion house Chanel’s Coco Mademoiselle perfume. The first photo from the campaign was released in May 2007.
23. Childhood Idol
Working on the 2003 rom-com Love Actually was a dream come true for Knightley because it meant she got to work with her childhood idol, Emma Thompson.
22. Take No Prisoners
In preparation for her role in the 2004 adventure flick King Arthur, Knightley trained four days a week for three months. Training included weightlifting, boxing, fighting, and horseback riding.
21. Walk, Walk Fashion Baby
It takes a village to look as good as Knightley does on the red carpet! The British star hires a stylist to dress her for film premieres and awards ceremonies, and it happens to be the same stylist who works with Lindsay Lohan and Nicole Kidman.
20. Onscreen and Offscreen Love
After meeting on the set of Pride & Prejudice, Knightley dated co-star Rupert Friend for five years, from December 2005 until December 2010.
19. Fifty Shades of Keira
Knightley dated fellow UK actor Jamie Dornan for two years between 2003 and 2005. Dornan has since achieved worldwide fame for his role as Christian Grey in the Fifty Shades of Grey film series.
More than romance, Knightley has also found friendship on set. In 2008, she starred alongside Sienna Miller in The Edge of Love. The two young stars got along so well on set that they became off-screen friends. Speaking about Knightley, Miller told Vogue, “Don’t be fooled and think she is a goody-goody. She can be a bloody good laugh.”
17. London Calling
When she’s not jet-setting around the world for film premieres and A-lister soirées, Knightley lives in her hometown of London.
Knightley’s big break came in 2002 after starring in Gurinder Chadha’s British sports comedy Bend It Like Beckham. The film was a hit in both the UK and the United States and received rave reviews from critics.
15. London Schoolgirl
As a young girl growing up in the London borough of Richmond, she attended Stanley Junior School and Teddington School.
14. College Dropout
She went on to study at Esher College but left after one year to pursue acting full-time. During her one year at the sixth form college in Elmbridge, she studied art, history, and English literature.
13. Critical Darling
As a result of her performance in Bend it Like Beckham, Knightley went on to win the London Film Critics’ Circle Award for Best Newcomer and the Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Breakthrough Performance.
12. Bringing in the Big Bucks
In 2007, Forbes listed Knightley as the second highest paid actress in Hollywood. That year, she reportedly earned $32 million USD. She was the only non-American actress on the list.
11. Mother-Daughter Love
In 2008, Knightley starred in The Edge of Love, a wartime drama that was actually written by her mother.
10. Acting Partners
Knightley and fellow Brit Benedict Cumberbatch have starred in two movies together. The first was Atonement and the second was The Imitation Game.
9. True Meaning
In Irish Gaelic, the name “Kira” means “dark haired.”
8. Period Princess
The actress has become known for accepting roles in period dramas. Historical films she’s starred in include Atonement, Pride & Prejudice, Anna Karenina, and The Duchess.
7. No Stranger to Nudity
Knightley acted in her first topless scene in 2001’s The Hole. Pretty shockingly, she was just 15 years old at the time, which meant her mother’s approval was required for the scene to take place, and the set was closed.
6. Tone Deaf
Though Knightley has had a hugely successful acting career, she can’t sing at all. She previously auditioned for 2004’s The Phantom of the Opera, and the experience was one of the most embarrassing of her life owing to her inability to carry a tune. Guess we won’t be seeing her in Les Mis anytime soon.
Due to exhaustion, Knightley fell asleep during the premiere screening of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, and to this day has never seen the entire movie.
4. Suit Up
Don’t mess with Knightley: In 2007, she sued the Daily Mail for publishing an article implying she suffered from anorexia or another eating disorder. Knightley won the suit and was awarded $6,000 USD in damage. She donated this, and an additional $6,000 USD, to a charity that helps those who suffer from eating disorders and mental illness.
3. Mr. Right
Knightley began dating English musician James Righton in February 2011. Righton was a member of the indie rock band the Klaxons. The pair were married on May 4, 2013, in France after roughly two years of dating.
2. “I Do”
Rather than making it a grand affair, Knightley and Righton opted for a private wedding ceremony with just 11 guests. They were wed in the town hall of Mazan, a commune near Marseilles. Knightley wore a strapless white tulle gown with pink pumps, a cropped Chanel jacket, and a floral headpiece. If the dress looks familiar, it’s because she’d worn it before—to an event where she was accompanied by her ex-boyfriend, Homeland star Rupert Friend!
1. Baby Edie
Three years after their wedding, Knightley gave birth to her first child, Edie, on May 26, 2015.