Is still making history…
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.