Keira Knightley (born March 26, 1985 in Teddington, London, England) is an English actress. She is the daughter of Sharman Macdonald, a Scottish playwright, and Will Knightley, an English actor. Knightley has lived most of her life in Richmond upon Thames.
She started to follow in her parents' footsteps at an early stage, making her film debut at the age of nine in A Village Affair (1994). Her first major theatrical appearance was as SabÃƒÂ©, PadmÃƒÂ© Amidala's decoy in the 1999 release Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Knightley was cast because of her close resemblance to Natalie Portman, who played PadmÃƒÂ©. Her first major starring role was as the daughter of Robin Hood in a made-for-TV Walt Disney Productions feature, Princess of Thieves, first telecast in 2001.
Knightley is best known for her breakthrough roles in Bend It Like Beckham and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Bend It Like Beckham was especially physically demanding for Knightley in terms of the intense football training she underwent but opened the way for her into Hollywood. Her role in the blockbuster Pirates cemented her up-and-coming position in international cinema.
In 2004 Knightley appeared in the blockbuster King Arthur which, although criticised for its numerous historical inaccuracies, was praised by critic Roger Ebert for "the considerable production qualities and the charisma of the actors, who bring more interest to the characters than they deserve", Knightley being described as looking "simultaneously sexy and muddy" fitting in with the current vogue for strong female action heroes (something which Knightley repeated in a modern setting in the 2005 film Domino).
Knightley's dedication to developing herself as an actress rather than a movie star was noted by Time magazine in a 2004 feature. In July 2004, Knightley was voted by readers of Hello! magazine as the movie industry's most promising teen star. Additionally, Knightley was voted the sexiest movie star of all time by the readers of Empire magazine, leaving behind other stars such as Angelina Jolie, Halle Berry, Charlize Theron, Julia Roberts, Marilyn Monroe and Brigitte Bardot.
In 2005 Knightley starred in the title role of Tony Scott's film Domino inspired by the life of his friend Domino Harvey, a British born model-turned- L.A. bounty hunter who died in July 2005 of an overdose aged 35. Ebert commented that, although the movie is "fractured and maddening" it is also "alive", praising Knightley for her ability to play a diversity of roles. In contrast to Knightley's role in the same year of the regency englishwoman Elizabeth Bennett in a film adaption of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice with Donald Sutherland and Matthew Macfadyen. Recently opening at No.1 in the UK box office, it is her sixth film to do so in her career. Knightley has received a Best Actress - Comedy/Musical Golden Globe nomination for the film.
She is currently filming the sequels to the immensely popular Pirates of the Caribbean series, due for release in the summers of 2006 and 2007 respectively. She recently ended her relationship with Irish model Jamie Dornan. She has been awarded Personality Of The Year 2005 by Variety UK, and has been nominated for a Golden Globe Award for her portrayal of Elizabeth Bennet in Pride & Prejudice. Beside acting, Knightley is currently modelling for Asprey, a British luxury items company.