Keira knight­ley

Is still mak­ing his­tory…

Total Film - - Contents - JW

Why the Bri­tish star is so hot right now.

After por­tray­ing com­pli­cated, bold women in over a dozen pe­riod films, Keira Knight­ley hasn’t be­come known as ‘queen of the pe­riod drama’ for noth­ing. “I’ve al­ways found very in­spir­ing char­ac­ters of­fered to me in his­tor­i­cal pieces,” the twice-Os­car-nom­i­nated ac­tress said re­cently. “I don’t re­ally do films set in the mod­ern day be­cause the fe­male char­ac­ters nearly al­ways get raped.”

It’s a typ­i­cally fear­less state­ment from Knight­ley – she may play a lot of his­tor­i­cal fig­ures, but you could never ac­cuse the 33-yearold of liv­ing in the past. She’s be­moaned fe­male rep­re­sen­ta­tion in film, de­nounced the gen­der pay gap and, just last month, ad­mit­ted she’s banned her daugh­ter from watch­ing Dis­ney movies in which princesses re­quire men to save them. “Res­cue your­self!” she railed.

That phi­los­o­phy ex­tends to her cel­lu­loid up-and-com­ers. In Co­lette, Knight­ley plays 19th Cen­tury French nov­el­ist Gabrielle Co­lette, who wrote un­der a male pseu­do­nym to ex­pose prej­u­dice in turn-of-the-cen­tury so­ci­ety. “Women’s sto­ries are sud­denly viewed as im­por­tant,” Knight­ley notes of the film, di­rected by Wash West­more­land (Still Alice), which sees Co­lette hav­ing a re­la­tion­ship with a trans­gen­der man. “She felt it was her right to ex­pe­ri­ence plea­sure and to give plea­sure,” she notes. “That’s still a rev­o­lu­tion­ary idea for women.”

Plea­sure and pain are also on the cards in The Af­ter­math, di­rected by James Kent (Tes­ta­ment Of Youth). Set in Ham­burg in 1946, Knight­ley plays Rachael, who strug­gles to adapt to post-war life with her shell-shocked hus­band (Ja­son Clarke), and grows close to a lo­cal Ger­man man (Alexan­der Skars­gård). Knight­ley also has three more films in the can: short-film col­lec­tion Ber­lin, I Love You, Gavin Hood bio-thriller Of­fi­cial Se­crets, and Philippa Lowthorpe’s 1970s drama Mis­be­haviour.

“It’s been busy,” Knight­ley ad­mits of the myr­iad projects she’s taken on after a post­preg­nancy break. “I sup­pose my es­capism into an­other world has al­ways been through pe­riod drama,” she muses. “It’s nice that in my thir­ties I can fi­nally ad­mit that.” Pe­riod.

ETA | 11 JAn­uAry / Co­lETTE opEns nExT monTh. ThE Af­TEr­mATh opEns 1 mArCh. BEr­lin, i lovE you, of­fi­CiAl sE­CrETs And mis­BE­hAviour ArE All in pro­duC­Tion.

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