Keira Knightley Reveals The Lusty Role That Left Her Caged In

Kiera Knightley says that playing Elizabeth Swann in Pirates of the Caribbean left her feeling caged in.

By Sckylar Gibby-Brown | Updated

keira knightley pirates

Although she’s been acting since the age of 8, Keira Knightley experienced her breakout role at the age of 17 when she was cast in the first film of one of the world’s biggest franchises. Elizabeth Swann in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl was Knightley’s first significant film role, and it was also a part that would leave the actress feeling “caged in,” as she said during an interview with Harpers Bazaar U.K.

During the interview, Keira Knightley described her experience of going from a tomboy teenager to the “object of everybody’s lust.” Knightley acknowledged that Elizabeth is a strong female character who fights alongside the male pirates she is surrounded by and who always does what is right instead of what is expected of her. But, at the same time, she is depicted as being very sexy and desirable, which was something that Knightley had to get used to as she crossed over the brink of adulthood. 

Keira Knightley played Elizabeth Swann in three Pirates of the Caribbean films, making her name synonymous with the character and the franchise. The Imitation Game actress said that how she was portrayed to the public in these films made her feel restrained and stuck in a narrative that she didn’t relate to or fully understand.

To counteract the narrative positioned by Disney, Keira Knightley saw herself going for more prestigious projects. In 2005, she was cast in Joe Wright’s remake of Jane Austin’s story Pride & Prejudice, and the actress was nominated for her first Academy Award at the young age of 20. In 2007, she starred in Atonement, also by Joe Wright, for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe

keira knightley

Recalling how she tried to break out of the box Hollywood had put her in, Keira Knightley said she focused on an incredibly strong work ethic. She said that her ambition and drive forced her to keep going, and she made improving her acting skills her number one priority. However, the Love Actually actress admitted that she might have been too hard on herself, as she eventually suffered from severe burnout. 

Despite suffering from burnout, the now 37-year-old actress is back to work again without ever taking a full break. With 60 acting projects in her filmography, Keira Knightley has continuously had at least one project released every year since she was a child, often even having two or three projects in a 12-month period. The only exception was last year.

Keira Knightley’s newest project is releasing on Hulu later this month. Boston Strangler retells a true crime event from the 1960s. Knightley plays Loretta McLaughlin, a reporter for the Record-American newspaper who becomes the first journalist to connect the Boston Strangler murders.

Boston Strangler stars Carrie Coon and Chris Cooper next to Keira Knightley. The series was written and directed by Matt Ruskin, who also wrote the 2012 crime drama Booster and the 2017 crime biography Crown Heights

The Boston Strangler series will begin streaming on Hulu on March 17.