Keira Knightley is one of those rare actresses who chooses their roles carefully. The beautiful British actress began her career as a child in Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, but became a name in 2002, when she starred in the soccer film, Bend It Like Beckham. Knightly is a rare jewel and an extraordinary talent.
Bend It Like Beckham was the film that opened audience’s eyes to Knightley. Her beauty and talent shined through when playing tomboy, Jules. Before Knightley became known for her dramatic roles, her role as Jules was light and upbeat; a performance that was so much fun to watch.
In 2003, Knightley became internationally known for her turn as Elizabeth Swann in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. With the movie being the Johnny Depp show, her role was very memorable and gave her a nice boost in her growing popularity. She went on to appear in the two following sequels to the Pirates series.
That same year, Knightley went onto appear in one of my favorite movies, Love Actually. She played Juliet, a married woman who’s the object of another man’s desire. I love how kind, warm hearted and likeable she made Juliet, especially when put in the position she was in. It helped the audience understand what made her such an attractive person.
After proving she can be a bad ass in King Arthur (2004), The Jacket (2005) and Domino (2005), Knightley took a different turn and went onto star in Pride and Prejudice, a role that earned Knightley her first Academy Award Nomination for Best Actress. When Knightley received her first nomination for this role, I was a little caught off guard. We have time and time again seen Jane Austen’s work adapted to the screen, and each English actor plays the role with a different type of charm. Knightley played Elizabeth Bennett with playfulness yet illustrates the lively intelligence and sharp-minded wit of the character. Nevertheless, I never saw anything special about the performance that made it award worthy, Golden Globes? Sure, but not the Oscars. Pride and Prejudice was a great starring role because it gave Knightley the chance to prove she could carry a movie and she succeeded quite well.
Atonement (2007) on the other hand, was a film in which Knightley was deserving of a best actress nomination. Shying away from the spunky girls growing into womanhood roles, she chose to play a more mature and classy character. She delivered by far the best performance of her career with an air of maturity and elegance. I’m not quite sure whether her acting rapidly improved over the years or these types of roles fit her best.
Knightley’s turn in Atonement displayed versatility in her roles and how well she can pull off each one. She can play the spunky teenager, the kick ass girl, the strong vulnerable woman and the Duchess.
In 2008, Knightley appeared in yet another period piece, The Duchess. Knightley’s Shakespearean type of acting makes her perfect for roles like these. Her portrayal of the Duchess of Devonshire’s is exemplary. Something I have yet to mention about Knightley is her facial expressions. She has the most exact reactions to situations her characters are placed in and in this film her facial expressions tell more than the script could. Whenever she looks at the Duke, there is such disgust in her eyes; it’s as if you can feel it.
In her next role, Never Let me Go (2010) her conniving Ruth didn’t stand out next to Andrew Garfield and Carey Mulligan. While the performance was quite good, there wasn’t anything special about it. With her recent choice in characters, she seemed to be taking on more mature roles and with this particular role, I felt she took a step back. Yet, she took that step forward when she appeared in Last Night (2010), a story about marriage and temptation. It was nice to see her play a role she hasn’t before; the modern woman. It was so intriguing watching how her character rationalized every action. Her performance was very intelligent and done extremely well.
Through the years, it has been quite gratifying watching the growth in Keira Knightley. She has dabbled in all types of roles and has managed to pull them off successfully. Her talent lies in the more Shakespearean, period pieces, but she has learned to excel in the more modern roles. I am not completely satisfied with Ms. Knightley as I known there is better to come. This is only the beginning of her marvelous career and I’m so excited to sit back and watch her become one of the great English actresses.
Keira Knightley will be appearing in London Boulevard out November 11th. She can also be see in A Dangerous Method out November 23rd, a movie in which she has been receiving Oscar Buzz.