Keira Knightley is not a name easily forgotten. Her role in Pirates of the Caribbean set her on a path to stardom, but that is among the very reasons we have not seen much of her since she parted ways with the franchise.
Too Much Fame Foe Keira Knightley
One of the most famous names that arose from the movie franchise, Pirates of the Caribbean is Keira Knightley. She was a mere 17 years old when she took on her role as Elizabeth Swan, the love interest of William Turner, played by Orlando Bloom. This was a skyrocketing career choice for the young Kiera, whose career was set from then onwards. Additionally, she became a household name and was feverishly adored by fans all over the world.
Unlike many celebrities, this was not exactly the ideal situation for Keira, who saw herself as an introvert. “I found it pretty horrific. I’m not an extrovert,” she said. “So I found that level of scrutiny and that level of fame really hard.”
At 17, Keira Knightley was still finding herself, as were most teens her age. This was why she took the attention she received negatively. She was still developing and finding her adult independence. “It was an age where you are becoming, you haven’t become, and you need to make mistakes. It’s a very precarious age, particularly for women,” she said. “You’re in some ways still a child. It was traumatic, but it set up the rest of my career.”
The character, Elizabeth Swan, was created to be sexualized for the characters Will Turner and Captain Jack Sparrow, played by Johnny Depp. This trapped Keira Knightley in the character that made her A-Lister famous. “I felt very constrained. I felt very stuck. So the roles afterward were about trying to break out of that,” said Keira. “I didn’t have a sense of how to articulate it. It very much felt like I was caged in a thing I didn’t understand.”
Years of PTSD and Therapy
As a result of the trauma she faced from so much attention, she wishes with all her might that her own daughter will find another source of passion, aside from acting. However, she does say that she will support whatever decision she makes career-wise. “I hope she’s going to be an environmental lawyer or something spectacular, but I’m going to be the kind of parent where whatever interest she has, I’m going to be supportive,” she said.
Keira Knightly was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome following her sudden spike in fame. The attention she received and the self-criticism had become too much. She took two years off to heal her wounds, and came out with a role that earned her a second Academy Award nomination for “The Imitation Game.”
In 2019, she interviewed with The Telegraph where she opened up about her PTSD and the time she took off from her work. She said she “didn’t want to do big-budget films anymore, because the fame that came with them I just couldn’t handle.”
Keira Knightley Calls Herself “Lucky”
Keira Knightley might not strike you as insecure. But, it seems that she may have struggled with a case of imposter syndrome. In other words, she never felt like she was good enough to be where she found herself. “I was never good enough, I was utterly single-minded, I was so ambitious, and I was so driven,” she said in an interview. “I was always trying to get better and better and improve, which is an exhausting way to live your life. Exhausting.”
Keira went on to say how much she admires her younger self. “I am in awe of my 22-year-old self because I’d like a bit more of her back. And it’s only by not being like that any longer that I realize how extraordinary it was. But it does have a cost.”
Even though Keira Knightley found the fame she earned from her role as Elizabeth Swan exhausting, she did manage to find herself in a great place to take any jobs she likes. So much so that she calls herself “unbelievably lucky.” “My career is in a place where I really enjoy it,” she said in an interview. “And I have a level of fame that’s much less intense. I can deal with it now, and that’s great. But at the time, it was not so great, and took many years of therapy to figure it out.”
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- “Keira Knightley had to go through years of therapy to get over trauma after starring in Pirates of the Caribbean. Unilad. Ali Condon. May 10, 2023
- “Keira Knightley ‘Felt Very Stuck’ After Sexualized ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ Fame.” Indie Wire. Samantha Burgesson. March 8, 2023