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 revealed recently 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 also 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 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. Knightley says that while she doesn’t have a total ban on nudity, she states, “I kind of do with men.”
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.
Most recently, Keira Knightley appeared as herself in Michael Winterbottom’s Greed, and also starred in Misbehavior with Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Jessie Buckley, and Lesley Manville. Next, Knightley is starring in Silent Night, an upcoming comedy from writer/director Camille Griffin. The film will also star Jojo Rabbit’s Roman Griffin Davis, Matthew Goode, and Lily-Rose Depp. Knightley is also scheduled to star in the Hulu series The Other Typist, based on the Suzanne Rindell novel of the same name. Knightley has been circling the project for years, as she was originally announced for The Other Typist back in 2013 when it was originally going to be a film.
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. 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.