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Keira Knightley: Pirates of the Caribbean left me stuck in racy roles

Keira Knightley was just 17 and she was 18 when she became an international star in 2003’s Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. But in a new interview with Harper’s Bazaar UK, the Oscar nominee said playing Something as desirable as Elizabeth Swann at such a young age made her feel “stuck” and “restricted” in the industry.

“I got completely into adult life, downhill because of experiencing fame at a very young age,” said Knightley. “There’s a funny place where women are supposed to sit in public, and I’ve never felt comfortable about it. It was a huge shake.”

“[Elizabeth Swann] It was the object of everyone’s lust, Knightley continued. Not that she didn’t have a lot of fighting in her. But it was interesting to go from being really a tomboy to being shown the complete opposite of that. … I had no idea how to express it. I very much felt like I was caged in something I didn’t understand.”

While Knightley starred in two more “Pirates of the Caribbean” films in 2006 (“Dead Man’s Chest”) and 2007 (“At World’s End”), she also tried to take on such Hollywood mainstays with prestige projects like the director’s “Pride and Joe Wright’s “Prejudice” (2005) and “Atonement” (2007), the first of which earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Actress at just 20 years old.

“I was incredibly hard on myself,” Knightley said of this period in her career. “I was never good enough. I was completely single-minded. I was so ambitious. I was so driven. I was always trying to get better and better, and it’s a stressful way to live your life. Stressful. I’m in awe of my 22-year-old self, because I’d like to have More of her back. And it was only by not being like this anymore that I realized how unusual it was. But it has a cost.”

When asked what exactly that cost was, Knightley replied, “Exhaustion.”

Knightley returns this month in the crime mystery “Boston Strangler,” which airs March 17 on Hulu. Knightley stars in the true-life drama as Loretta McLaughlin, an American Record reporter who becomes the first journalist to link the Boston Strangler murders.


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