Few actresses enjoy the kind of success Keira Knightley saw in 2003. First, her major picture starring debut, Pirates Of The Caribbean, entered the all-time Top 20 of box-office hits. Then, due to this success, her earlier low-budget effort, Bend It Like Beckham, already a cult smash, found its release widened dramatically, taking it into undreamed of profit. Her rise in a few short months would be nothing short of phenomenal. And still she was only 18.
She was born Kiera Knightley on the 22nd of March, 1985, in Teddington, south-west London. Her name would become Keira as her Hollywood career took off, making the name more easily pronounceable on a worldwide basis. Her father was a stage actor Will Knightley. Her mother, Sharman MacDonald, had also been a stage and TV actress. Eventually, pregnant with Keira, in 1984 she gave up acting and concentrated on her family. She also took up a career in playwriting, and a BBC documentary would be made about her, called Mindscape and featuring the young Keira.
Most kids like to join in with1 whatever their parents are up to2, and Keira was no exception. At the age of 3, noticing that both Will and Sharman were getting regular calls from their agents, the young girl demanded one of her own. She was, of course, politely refused, but was insistent3 in her requests for the next several years. By the time she was 6, her mother struck a bargain4 with her. As the child had recently been diagnosed as dyslexic5, she said that if Keira came to her every day of the summer holidays and spent an hour working on her reading and maths, she would provide her with professional representation. To Sharman’s surprise, the child complied6 and then forced her mother to keep to7 the bargain. And, to mum’s horror, the new agent did his work well. At age 7, Keira filmed her TV debut, Royal Celebration.
Fearing their daughter would begin to neglect her schoolwork Keira’s parents told her she could only pursue her new career during the summer holidays. So, throughout the mid-Nineties, she did just that. 1994 brought a minor role in a controversial drama A Village Affair. 1995 brought Innocent Lies where an aristocratic family in a small seaside town are suspected of complicity in a murder. The next year saw another period drama, Treasure Seekers, where a poor widower inventor worked on a breakthrough in refrigeration while his five kids tried to help.
Meanwhile, Keira’s education continued at Teddington School, a classy and well-funded establishment. With 10 science laboratories, a TV studio and a Music and Drama block it offered great opportunities. Through her early teens Keira would make the most of her spare time, too, attending drama workshops at the nearby Heatham House youth club. This was where Keira would gain most of her early acting experience.
While still at Teddington School, Knightley received a most extraordinary offer – to play a handmaiden8 of Natalie Portman’s Queen Amidala in the forthcoming The Phantom Menace [Скрытая угроза] (1999), part one of the Star Wars saga and perhaps the most hotly anticipated movie in history. Keira’s presence in the movie was kept absolutely secret and she was perhaps the only actress ever to not have her career boosted9 by a prime role in one of the biggest hits ever. But fame was not really the point for Keira, and her next role was a satisfying one. It was a part in Alan Bleasdale’s adaptation of Oliver Twist.
Now the offers of work were coming in thick and fast10. 2001 saw her star in the Disney-backed11 TV production Princess Of Thieves where she played Gwynn, daughter of Robin Hood. Immediately after this work came another venture onto the big screen with a horror flick12 The Hole. Though not a hit itself, the movie would bring Keira to the attention of the moviemakers. First came Bend It Like Beckham [Играй, как Бэкхем]. Here a young Asian girl dreams of playing football for England but is dissuaded by her disapproving parents. The movie was a real charmer13 and a major British success.
But 2002 wasn’t finished yet. It was time for yet another period drama, a remake of David Lean’s Dr Zhivago. Here Keira took on the role of Lara Antipova amidst the turbulence14 of the Russian revolution. Heavily advertised, Dr Zhivago was Knightley’s breakthrough15 in the UK.
Now came Keira’s big year. In 2003’s Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl she played Elizabeth Swann, daughter of British governor. Pursued by her wannabe16 lover Orlando Bloom and Johnny Depp’s camp17 and hilarious18 Jack Sparrow, she remained feisty19 to the last, even when walking the plank. The movie performed exceptionally well, quickly rising over the $200 million mark in the US. Keira, who’d turned 18 just after the Pirates shoot ended, was now A-list20 and a bona fide21 cover girl.
After Pirates would come Love, Actually [Реальная любовь] (2003). Then, it was off to Ireland to play Guinevere opposite Clive Owen’s titular regent in King Arthur (2004). This would claim to be more of a historical document than another stab22 at the Arthurian myth, with Arthur as a Roman general at the time of the Empire’s downfall. Keira’s next project was The Jacket (2005), where Oscar-winner Adrien Brody played a Gulf War23 veteran charged with murder and locked in a mental institution awaiting execution24. Originally planned as a mainstream thriller, The Jacket would have its budget reduced and be made as an art-house movie. Her next project, a re-adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride And Prejudice (2005). This saw Keira in the key role of Elizabeth Bennet. Matthew MacFadyen would play her D’Arcy25. In real life, her D’Arcy had changed at the end of 2003 when, her relationship with Del Synott over, she took up with Irish model Jamie Dornan. Following hot on the heels26, would come a very different proposition in Domino, where she’d play the title role of Domino Harvey, daughter of the actor Laurence Harvey, who rebelled against her privileged background and left a career in modelling to become an LA bounty hunter27.
Any further career expansion would be put on temporary hold as she now filmed two sequels for Pirates Of The Caribbean back to back. But 2007 would see her find a meatier28 role in Silk, based on the novel by Alessandro Baricco. Her second literary adaptation of 2007 would be Atonement. This concerned a gathering at a country manor in 1935 where Knightley would play the educated elder daughter of a nouveau riche family who’s worried about her increasingly awkward relationship with the son of the family’s cleaning lady. The film dramatically exploring the power of truth, lies and memory.
1 to join in with – присоединяться к
2 to be up to – (зд.) заниматься
3 insistent – настойчивый
4 to strike a bargain – заключать сделку
5 dyslexic – неспособный обучиться чтению
6 to comply – идти на уступки
7 to keep to – соблюдать
8 handmaiden – служанка
9 to boost – (зд.) подталкивать
10 thick and fast – один за другим
11 backed – (зд.) при поддержке
12 flick – (разг.) кинофильм
13 charmer – (зд.) очаровательный
14 turbulence – (зд.) буря
15 breakthrough – (зд.) прорывная роль
16 wannabe – (зд.) жаждущий быть
17 camp – аффектированный, манерный
18 hilarious – оживленный
19 feisty – отважный
20 A-list – (зд.) первой величины (в числе самых знаменитых)
21 bona fide – подлинный
22 stab – (разг.) попытка
23 Gulf War – война в Персидском заливе (cамая короткая война в истории США, известна также под кодовым названием «Буря в пустыне», 1991)
24 execution – приведение в исполнение
25 D’Arcy – Дарси, персонаж романа Остин «Гордость и предубеждение»; возлюбленный героини
26 hot on the heels – по горячим следам
27 bounty hunter – «охотник за головами», охотник за наградой (человек, ловящий преступников, за поимку которых назначена награда)
28 meaty – содержательный
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