Born to actor/playwright parents in Teddington, Middlesex, England,
Keira (who is also sometimes credited as Kiera) Knightley was
born on March 22, 1985. At 3 years old, she asked her mother for
an agent, feeling jealous that she never received the same amount
of calls that her parents did. At age 6, the Knightleys agreed
to let their daughter have an agent, provided that she'd study
every day during summer holidays.
This was no small feat for young Keira, who is dyslexic, but
she persevered. Although her parents had envisioned a more secure
career for their daughter, Keira started to get various acting
jobs. Schooling at a nearby comprehensive establishment remained
her focal point, but acting as a career choice gradually became
Pursuing artistic integrity and the satisfaction derived from
playing different characters, Knightley's hard work paid off at
an early age. European made-for-TV movies and shows started to
dot her resume by the age of 11, but it was a stroke of luck that
helped her along the way.
Thanks to hard work, and a close resemblance to star Natalie
Portman, Knightley was cast as Portman's handmaiden in Star Wars:
Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace. Her small but memorable performance
garnered her attention in Britain and the U.S. After the release
of the film in 1999, Knightley landed a role in an Oliver Twist
TV miniseries, portraying Rose Fleming.
After Star Wars and Oliver Twist, things got even better. In
2001, Knightley starred in the successful British film The Hole,
and spent three months in Slovakia and Prague filming a 2002 TV
version of Doctor Zhivago, in which she played Lara, the same
character Julie Christie played in the famous 1965 version. And
this was all before her 18th birthday.
But is was her other project in 2002 that served as her breakthrough
role. Keira Knightley starred in Bend It Like Beckham, a hugely
popular British comedy whose unexpected success has been likened
to that of My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
No longer an underground hit, the film made it big at the North
American box office. Thanks to Knightley's portrayal of a determined
soccer player, she can add the British Newcomer of the Year trophy
courtesy of the London Critics Circle Film Awards, and a Best
Actress award by the Bordeaux International Festival of Women
in Cinema, to her mantle.
The summer of 2003 ushered in the release of the Hollywood blockbuster
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, with Knightley
as the romantic lead. The British comedy Love Actually, with a
star-studded cast including Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson and Liam
Neeson, was released in November 2003, while King Arthur has a
summer 2004 release.
In 2005, she can add The Jacket, co-starring Adrien Brody, and
the sequel to Pirates of the Caribbean to her resume -- which
means Knightley will be stealing the spotlight for some time to
Barely into adulthood, this hot UK export has already won over
fans across the Atlantic. The many diverse projects she has lined
up prove that she is ready to take the world by storm, and we're
waiting with open arms. For now, she keeps a level head and lives
with her parents in Richmond, England.