Keira Christina Knightley ( born 26 March 1985) is an English actress and model. She began acting as a child on television and made her film debut in 1995. Knightley had a supporting role as Sabé in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999) and her first significant role came in The Hole (2001). She gained widespread recognition in 2002 after co-starring in the film Bend It Like Beckham and achieved international fame in 2003 as a result of her appearances in the Pirates of the Caribbean film series (2003–07).
Since the Pirates of the Caribbean films, Knightley has become best known for starring in period drama films, such as Pride & Prejudice (2005), Atonement (2007), Silk (2007), The Duchess (2008), A Dangerous Method (2011), and Anna Karenina (2012). Knightley has also appeared in a variety of genres of Hollywood films, including the romantic comedy Love Actually (2003), the historical action King Arthur (2004), the psychological thriller The Jacket (2005), biographical action Domino (2005), the drama The Edge of Love (2008), the film noir London Boulevard (2010), the dystopian science fiction Never Let Me Go (2010), the romantic drama Last Night (2010), and the dark comedy Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012).
Knightley has earned nominations for the Academy Award for Best Actress and the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress for her role as Elizabeth Bennet in Joe Wright's 2005 adaptation of Jane Austen's novel Pride and Prejudice. Two years later she was nominated again for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress, as well as the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her performance in Wright's Atonement. In 2008, Forbes claimed Knightley to be the second highest-paid actress in Hollywood, having reportedly earned $32 million in 2007, making her the only non-American on the list of highest-paid actresses.
Knightley was born in Teddington, London, England, the daughter of Sharman Macdonald, an award-winning playwright, and Will Knightley, a theatre and television actor. Her father is English and her Scottish mother is of half Welsh ancestry. She has an older brother, Caleb.
Knightley lived in Richmond, attending Stanley Junior School, Teddington School and Esher College. She was diagnosed with dyslexia at the age of six, but nevertheless was successful in school and was thus permitted to acquire a talent agent and pursue an acting career. She requested an agent as early as the age of three. 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, no relation to the actor of the same name). She focused on art, history, and English literature while at Esher, but left after a year to focus on her acting and she also turned down her spot at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.
Knightley's only film of 2011 was David Cronenberg's historical drama A Dangerous Method, co-starring Viggo Mortensen, Michael Fassbender and Vincent Cassel. Based on writer Christopher Hampton's 2002 stage play The Talking Cure and set on the eve of World War I, the film depicts the turbulent relationships between fledgling psychiatrist Carl Jung, his mentor Sigmund Freud and Sabina Spielrein played by Knightley, the troubled but beautiful young psychoanalyst who comes between them. The costume film premiered at the 68th Venice International Film Festival to a positive reception, while Knightley, who had almost backed out of the movie due to its explicit scenes, earned generally favourable reviews by critics, with Andrew O'Hehir of Salon.com noting her "the real star of this film."
In 2012, she appeared with Steve Carell in the dramedy Seeking a Friend for the End of the World. In addition, she reunited with director Joe Wright for the production of Anna Karenina (2012), in which she starred as the title character. Knightley has garnered rave reviews for her performance, prompting early Oscar buzz.
Knightley is slated to appear in The Emperor's Children with Rachel McAdams, Emma Thompson and Richard Gere. The film, a dark comedy, was written by Noah Baumbach and will be directed by Scott Cooper. In May 2012, Knightley was cast to replace Scarlett Johansson in director John Carney's Can a Song Save Your Life? after Johansson had withdrawn due to personal reasons.
Knightley is cast as Cathy Ryan in 2013's Jack Ryan alongside Chris Pine.