March 20, 2018 | Emily Southey

Charming Facts About Keira Knightley

"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.

Keira Knightley FactsShutterstock

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.”

Keira Knightley FactsWikimedia Commons

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.

Keira Knightley FactsGetty Images

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.

Keira Knightley FactsShutterstock


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.

Keira Knightley FactsRoyal Celebration, BBC

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.

Keira Knightley FactsFlickr

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.

Keira Knightley FactsGetty Images

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.

Keira Knightley FactsStar Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, 20th Century Fox

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.

Keira Knightley FactsPrincess of Thieves, Granada Entertainment


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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.

Keira Knightley FactsBend It Like Beckham, Searchlight Pictures


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.

Keira Knightley FactsGetty Images

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.

Keira Knightley FactsWikimedia Commons, Paul Bird

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.

Keira Knightley FactsWikimedia Commons

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.

Amanda Bynes FactsGetty Images

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.

Keira Knightley FactsFlickr

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.

Keira Knightley FactsGetty Images


 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.”

Keira Knightley FactsShutterstock

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.”

Keira Knightley FactsGetty Images

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.

Keira Knightley FactsWikimedia Commons, Brownchl

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.

Rom-com QuizFlickr

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.

Keira Knightley FactsShutterstock


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.

Keira Knightley FactsGetty Images


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.

Keira Knightley FactsShutterstock

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.

Keira Knightley FactsGetty Images

18. BFFS

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."

Keira Knightley FactsGetty Images

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.

Keira Knightley FactsShutterstock

16. Breakthrough

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.

Keira Knightley FactsBend It Like Beckham, Searchlight Pictures

15. London Schoolgirl

As a young girl growing up in the London borough of Richmond, she attended Stanley Junior School and Teddington School.

Keira Knightley FactsWikimedia Commons, Sue Adair

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.

Madonna FactsShutterstock

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.

Keira Knightley FactsGetty Images

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.

Keira Knightley FactsWikimedia, Tony Shek

11. Mother-Daughter Love

In 2008, Knightley starred in The Edge of Love, a wartime drama that was actually written by her mother.

Keira Knightley FactsThe Edge of Love, BBC Films

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.

Keira Knightley FactsThe Imitation Game, Black Bear Pictures

9. True Meaning

In Irish Gaelic, the name "Kira" means “dark haired.”

Keira Knightley FactsGetty Images

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.

Keira Knightley FactsAnna Karenina (2012), Universal Pictures

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.

Keira Knightley FactsThe Hole, Pathé

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.

Broadway Shows FactsGetty Images

5. Naptime

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.

Keira Knightley FactsShutterstock

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.

Keira Knightley FactsShutterstock

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.

Keira Knightley FactsShutterstock

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!

King Edward I Longshanks factsPixabay

1. Baby Edie

Three years after their wedding, Knightley gave birth to her first child, Edie, on May 26, 2015.

Keira Knightley FactsShutterstock

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

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