Keira Knightley Doing Nudity And Why She Blames Men

Keira Knightley has said she no longer wishes to do nude or sex scenes in her films, specifically saying she doesn't want to bare it all for male directors.

By Ross Bonaime | Published

Keira Knightley nudity

Throughout her career, Keira Knightley has done nudity in her films, from as early as 2001’s The Hole, and in many other films since. However, Keira Knightley has made it known that since having children, she has added a no-nudity clause to her contract, specifically stating that she no longer wishes to do nude or sex scenes for male directors.

In an interview for the Chanel Connects podcast, Pirates of the Caribbean star Keira Knightley spoke with The Farewell writer and director Lulu Wang and producer/journalist Diane Solway about her choice to no longer do nude scenes or sex scenes.

Knightley said “It’s partly vanity and also it’s the male gaze,” continuing, “I feel very uncomfortable now trying to portray the male gaze.”


Keira Knightley says that she’s just no longer interested in being in these “horrible sex scenes where you’re all greased up and everybody’s grunting.” While Knightley says she understands the value of nude scenes in films, it’s not for her anymore.

For example in 2019’s The Aftermath, Knightley used a body double for her character’s sex scenes. A sex scene or nudity doesn’t necessarily mean Knightley won’t be involved with the role, but it might not be her body on display.

Keira Knightley

Keira Knightley also said that having two children and her vanity are other reasons behind not wanting to do nude scenes, stating “I’d just rather not stand in front of a group of men naked.”

Yet Knightley does state that she isn’t completely against nude scenes, and that she would consider being nude in a film if it was about body acceptance or dealing with motherhood, but if this was the case, it would have to also be with a female filmmaker.

“I’d just rather not stand in front of a group of men naked.”

Knightley says that while she doesn’t have a total ban on nudity, she states, “I kind of do with men.”


Keira Knightley as Jackie in The Jacket (2005)

To be fair, Keira Knightley would know almost better than anyone how being directed by a man in a nude scene or sex scene affects her. In fact, Knightley was only fifteen when she shot her first topless scene, so it’s something she has dealt with for the majority of her professional career.

She has since appeared in other nude or sex scenes in films like 2005’s The Jacket and David Cronenberg’s 2011 film A Dangerous Method, all with male directors. The actress is certainly experienced at knowing what being nude while filming in front of a group of men can be like, and at this point, it’s kind of understandable why she wouldn’t want to do it anymore.


Keira Knightly met her future husband, James Righton, musician and keyboardist for the new rave band the Klaxons (disbanded in 2015) in 2011. The couple married two years later in a plush ceremony in Mazan, France. Two years after that, Knightly and Righton welcomed their first child, a baby girl they named Edie. In 2019, daughter number two, Delilah, arrived.

The couple has been notoriously private and protective with the girls, so one can understand Knightley backing away from any roles that call for her being nude.

While Knightley and Righton have continued to be very protective of their daughters, Knightley has a different outlook for them when they transition into their teenage years, one that includes finding their own styles and ways of self-expression.

“I really hope that they don’t listen to me when they’re teenagers and they pile [makeup] on their faces and they do completely extraordinary punk-like things because that’s the point of being a teenager,” she told PEOPLE in a 2022 interview.

Although Knightley has concerns about her nudity in earlier films and how her daughters may eventually react to that, she does have a number of films sans nudity that she can hang her hat on. One came early in her career and was a soccer film called Bend It Like Beckham. Others, of course, are the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.


Keira Knightley, along with Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom, began the franchise in 2003 with Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Its immense popularity brought Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest in 2006, quickly followed up by Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End.

Knightley (and Bloom for that matter) skipped the fourth film in the franchise, the 2011 Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, but both of them returned six years later for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.

In 2019, Keira Knightley appeared as herself in Michael Winterbottom’s Greed, following that up with Misbehavior, which also starred Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Jessie Buckley, and Lesley Manville. More recently, Knightley starred in the dramedy Silent Night, a film by writer/director Camille Griffin. The film also starred Jojo Rabbit’s Roman Griffin Davis, Matthew Goode, and Lily-Rose Depp.

Keira Knightley was in the Hulu original, Boston Strangler. Released to the streaming network on March 17, 2023, the film is based on the true story of Albert DeSalvo, the man dubbed the Bost Strangler, who in a two-year timeframe from 1962-64 raped and killed 13 women throughout Boston, Massachusetts. Knightley plays Loretta McLaughlin, the reporter who first connected DeSalvo’s murders, then broke the story.

Keira Knightley nude scenes

For years, Knightley has been circling a project called The Other Typist and for years it was to be made. She first became attached to the project back in 2013 and now that she has made the Boston Strangler for Hulu, it appears this will be her next Hulu project. The series is based on the Suzanne Rindell novel of the same name.

But after years of doing nudity and sex scenes, it’s good that Keira Knightley is being more forward about what she will and won’t do in films. Whether it be because of what she calls “the male gaze” or the simple fact that her daughters are growing up, if it makes her uncomfortable to bare herself in a movie, she should be able to say no to such scenes after years of showing herself on screen.