Keira Knightlley’s a beautiful, Oscar-nominated actress who commands some of Hollywood’s biggest pay cheques. So why is she so angry?
Within minutes of meeting, it becomes clear Keira Knightley and I are not going to click.
It’s like a nightmare party, where we’ve somehow got stuck talking to one another, both wishing the conversation would end but unable to find a suitable pretext for walking away.
Knightley is halfway through a day’s publicity for her latest film, an adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Booker prize-nominated novel, Never Let Me Go, and she is bored out of her mind.
Knightley is dressed in a short-sleeved broderie-anglaise blouse and a blue silk skirt. “Rodarte,” she informs me. “Apart from those.” She indicates a pair of tan leather Christian Louboutin heels strewn on the floor beside her.
“They’re not on because they’re more comfortable off.” She laughs briefly then lets out a sigh. “Well,” she continues, “if I’m going to sit in a room talking crap – sorry – I might as well dress up for it.”
OK then! Her newly bobbed hair is thick and bouncy, her smoky eyes are lustrous and her skin looks peachy. It
is a shocking contrast to the dead-eyed desperation of her character, Ruth, one of the three friends at the heart of Never Let Me Go.
Knightley co-stars with Andrew Garfield, who appeared in The Social Network, and Carey Mulligan, the Oscar-nominated star of An Education.
Perhaps surprisingly, Knightley’s is the smallest role of the three.
“That was a choice,” she says. “I worked solidly from the age of 16 to 22 without a holiday. And then at 22 I took a year off – which was needed! And since then it’s been supporting roles.”
Knightley, now 25, approached the early days of her career as though gorging herself at a feast that might at any moment be snatched away.
Aged 18, she had appeared in Bend It Like Beckham and the first Pirates Of The Caribbean film. She then fitted in training for her role in Domino while filming Pride And Prejudice. “That was insane,” she says.
She drove herself to a point, she adds, where she “couldn’t see the point of any of it” anymore. The last film she worked on before her break was Atonement.
Knightley was, by her own admission: “a precocious little brat” as a child. She famously requested her own agent at three, decided she ought to earn a living at six and, aged seven, began filling a jar with pennies with which to buy a house.
Split with Rupert Friend
Knightley has been spending more time in London since leaving the Pirates films behind (she won’t be appearing in the final instalment). And she describes finding a new passion – baking.
Her (now ex, as she split with him five days after the interview) boyfriend of five years, the actor Rupert Friend, apparently gave out batches of her brownies on the set of his latest film
So I ask her about Friend. “I don’t talk about my boyfriend. Not answering anything about it.
“Definitely not answering that. No!” she exclaims with a big, angry laugh.
The atmosphere in the room is terrible.
I think back to the things I’ve read about Knightley before meeting her, how she likes to “keep some protection up”.
And, it’s easy to surmise from my short time with her, that this is a girl who does not let her guard down easily.
Words Nisha Lilia Diu