All 2 entries tagged Keira Knightley

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July 18, 2008

Keira Knightley

Keira Knightley

Return to British Women Actors

See Also Stars & Star Theory


Star fever is clearly rampant in the case of Keira Knightley. Despite the fact that in Atonement many of the serious critics rather thought she was put in the shade by James McAvoy something I'm in agreement with. Her global reception is quite extraordinary with over 9.2 million Google hits on an initial search (21 / 07/ 08). This means that researching this there is a lot of drivel to search through however this does make me think that things haven't moved on from Adorno's day in the Culture Industry when it comes to film stars.  But Walsh in the Independent thinks that this is perhaps her best performance yet:

Knightley gives Vera an independence and complexity that's aeons ahead of the spunky pirate babe Elizabeth Swann or the crosspatch aristocrat Cecilia Tallis in Atonement. (Walsh, Independent, 19 / 06 / 08)

The Times online carries a story about how Knightley's mother is rejecting rumours being spread about whether Keira has anorexia or not. Nowadays star status means instant commentary whizzing around the internet. For a woman actor is appears as though their body is their primary asset. Take Walsh's comments from the Independent which create a discourse of 'sexiness' around a star:

Keira Knightley's astounding physiognomy.....Within 20 seconds, every male heart on the platform (and in the cinema) becomes her devoted slave, as her eyes and lips and hair and skin and voice construct a sensory web of enchantment. (Ibid)

The way the comment is phrased is a fine example of what Laura Mulvey has described as the 'male gaze' which, if we extend the concept beyond the confines of the cinema itself to the critical and fan community,  shows us how a discourse of a star can be maintained. whether or not she can act seems besides the point.

Bend it like Beckham

Knightley Bend it Like Beckham

Parminder Nagra & Keira Knightley in Bend it Like Beckham (2002). Gurinder Chadha

Pirates of the Caribbean

Knighley and Bloom Pirates

Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom in The Pirates of the Caribbean series

Knightley and Depp Pirates

Kiera Knightley & Johnny Depp in The Pirates of the Caribbean series

Pride & Prejudice

Knightley Pride and Prejudice

Keira Knightley in Pride and Prejudice (2005). Dir:  Joe Wright

Pride and Prejudice 2

Keira Knightley & Matthew MacFadyen as Mr Darcy in Pride & Prejudice. 2005  Dir:  Joe Wright


Knightley Atonement 1

Keira Knightley in Atonement (2007). Dir: Joe Wright

Knightley and McEvoy Atonement

Keira Knightley and James McAvoy in Atonement (2007). Dir: Joe Wright

The Edge of Love

Knightley and Miller Edge 1

Knightley and Miller Edge 2

Kiera Knightley & Sienna Miller in The Edge of Love (2008) Dir: John Maybury

The Duchess 2008

Shooting The Duchess

Shooting The Duchess 2008

...but the film is let down by a central performance from Knightley which overly emphasises her increasingly-annoying tendency to let her lips do the acting - tightly pursed equals unhappy or determined, open means `look at me, aren't I vivacious'.(Manchester Evening News Review of The Duchess)

Facing Fiennes, the junior cast, like lambs to the slaughter, go to pieces. Knightley gives great profile (just as she gave great close-up in Edge of Love); Dominic Cooper plays her lover, Charles Grey, as a one-note automaton; while Haley Atwell’s strumpet Bess is wonderful at saucy stares but struggles with the spoken word. In short, Fiennes: 4, Kids: Nil. (Timesonline Review of Duchess)

Filmography (British films)

Film Title

Year of Production

Production Company
Country of Production

Bend it Like Beckham
Gurinder Chadha

Pride and Prejudice
Joe Wright
Working Title
Joe Wright Working Title
Edge of Love
2008 John Maybury
BBC Films
The Duchess
Saul Dibb


Channel Four viewable interview for 6 minutes on the Duchess

Independent review with Keira Knightley on her role in The Edge of Love

Independent. Knightley and Pirates of the Caribbean 2006

Keira Knightley's mother Sharman MacDonald on being the scriptwriter of  The Edge of Love

Polly Vernon Observer 2002 interview with Keira Knightley on Bend it Like Beckham

Guardian Knightley for Oscar in The Duchess?

This is Nottingham: Knightley The Duchess of Devonshire @ Chatsworth House

Guardian: Knightley to play scandalous role

Guardian: Wollaston interview with Knightley (Aug 2008): Not especially deep and meaningful. Clearly part of the film's pre-release marketing strategy.

BBC Knightley Interview Pirates of the Caribbean

BBC Pride & Predjudice Interview

Telegraph: The Duchess and Diana: Kindred Spirits?

Telegraph on Knightley's anger at role being compared to Diana in The Duchess

Time Out interview with Saul Dibb on The Duchess

Telegraph article on Knightley's agreement to play in intimate scenes in The Duchess and her attitude to nude acting in general.

BBC Woman's Hour Knightley Interview (Currently available on Listen Again)

BBC August 2007 on Knightley in Atonement

Daily Mail interview with Knightley. Discusses her dyslexia and lack of education as she dropped out of colege before taking A levels.

Hadley Freeman (Guardian) on Knightly and Photo-posingitus. Witty.

Timesonline. Knightley interview. Says wants to drop acting as pressure too great. (2007)

Timesonline. Review of The Duchess (2008)

Guardian Podcast of Maybury interview

BBC: Knightley Stars at Duchess Launch

The Duchess Official Website

Return to British Women Actors

See Also Stars & Star Theory

July 13, 2008

British Women Film Actors

British Women Film Actors

Under Construction

Go to Non-British women Actors in British Cinema


This is brief meta-survey of significant British women actors working mainly in the British film industry. Strangely the entries on those non-white women who have appeared in Brtish cinema on rare occasions are frequently not dealt with properly in Screenonline which has been my main link source for biographical details so far. In Burning an Illusion there is no coverage of the lead woman actor. Similarly in Bend it Like Beckham then is no linking biography of the central Asian women actor!

Readers doing the current OCR Women & Film research unit for A2 may find this metahub useful. Please remember if you use this as a reference to ensure that you put the date of access! This page is going to be fairly dynamic and will be updated / upgraded frequently.

This is currently under development as can be seen from the empty boxes in the table but is hopefully a useful source of quick links.

Stars and Star Theory

A key selling point of the film industry in general revolves around the creation and selling of stars otherwise known as the star system. Sometimes stars can become linked to specific genres as the combination of stars and popular genres makes for a powerful marketing tool. In Britain most of the female stars are often employed in live theatre television and even advertising. Studying women and film from the perspective of the creation of the star system and the perspectives audiences have on specific stars is a fruitful area of audience research. Undoubtedly having stars as a part of the cast of the film can dramatically improve the selling prospects of a film and this encourages investors to put up money to invest in a film.

British Female Stars & Actors in British Cinema

Major Films
Ashcroft Peggy (Dame) 1907-1991

Baddeley, Hermione

Bissett, Jaqueline 1944-

Murder on the Orient Express (1974)

Cul-de-Sac (1966)

Bloom, Claire

Bonham-Carter, Helena

Bryan, Dora

Byron, Kathleen

Calvert, Phyllis

Carroll, Madeleine

Coates, Anne V 1925-

Murder on the Orient Express (1974)

Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

Craig, Wendy

Crawford, Anne

Christie, Julie

Dench, Judi

Dors, Diana

Edith, Evans (Dame)

Fields, Gracie (Dame)

Sing as We Go! (1934)
Joan Greenwood

Grenfell, Joyce

Hawkins, Sally

Hayes, Patricia 1909-1998

Hiller, Wendy (Dame)

Man for All Seasons (1966)

I Know where I'm Going (1945)

Jackson, Glenda

Johns, Glynis

Johnson, Katie

Kerr, Deborah

Knightley, Keira

The Edge of Love


Pride & Prejudice

Lee, Belinda

Lockwood, Margaret

McFarlane, Cassie

Burning an Illusion
Miles, Sarah

Mirren, Helen

The Queen (Oscar for Best Actress)

The Long Good Friday

Madness of King George

Gosford Park

Calendar Girls

The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover

Morton, Samantha

Nagra, Parminder

Bend it Like Beckham
Neagle, Anna (Dame)

Oberon, Merle

Rampling, Charlotte

Redgrave Lynn

Redgrave, Vanessa

Reid, Beryl

Richardson, Joely

Richardson, Miranda

Richardson, Natasha

Roberts, Rachel

Robson, Flora (Dame)

Roc, Patricia

Rutherford, Margaret (Dame)

Scott Thomas, Kristen

Shearer, Moira

Simmons, Jean

Sims, Joyce

Skinner-Carter, Corinne

Smith, Maggie

Steadman, Alison

Stevenson, Juliet

Swinton, Tilda


Syal, Meera

Syms, Sylvia

Taylor, Elizabeth

Thompson Emma

Tushingham, Rita

Julie Walters

Whitelaw, Billie

Withers, Googie

Yorke, Susannah

To reach Stars and Star Theory click here

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