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Keira Knightly: Pirates, Ports and Petticoats
an emily blunt interview

 

Bluntly speaking? In Pirates of the Caribbean: The Legend of the Black Pearl, the Bend It Like Beckham's rising star Keira Knightly swashbuckles with some other major talents and a solid gold tray of the highest caliber "Grade A Mansteaks" eyes ever be set upon! She's kissing and telling gals…

What a lucky little chickbabe she is. I mean how many women get to schnookie woo with Orlando Bloom and then frolic in the surf with Johnny Depp? Envy her? You bettya!

Of course this bubbling young tough gal is oozing talent on top of stunning looks. And she's busy as can be what with this summer's biggest film, working on both the upcoming King Arthur and Love, Actually, co-starring with snooty-yet-yummy Colin Firth.

It was sweet of her to stop in, sip some tea, and chat in a refreshingly blunt manner with me.

Emily: Of course the line "Try wearing a corset" relating to pain comparisons 'tween the sexes back in the day is all over the television. Is it really that horrible to wear a corset?

Keira: It wouldn't be if you were very sensible and you go into a fitting and you breathe out. If, like me, you've been watching too much of Gone With the Wind and have a bit of a Scarlet O'Hara complex, you go, "Ooh, let's see how tight we can make it." Then it's a problem. So we got it down to about 20 inches. It's a bit ridiculous. And yeah, the oxygen deprivation did become a problem. And you kind of can't sit down. And if you eat anything or drink anything it stops here [indicates chest]. So it feels like it's going to come back up all day, which is also great. So no, it did get to one point where I was standing on these stairs and it's sort of my big entrance is this gorgeous gold dress, and Gore is like, "Okay, you've got to go and get out of that corset because your eyes are rolling into the back of your head and you look like you're going to fall over." So that was kind of problematic.

Emily: [laughter] Have you done the Pirate ride yet?

Keira: Yes. In Disneyworld in Florida. I've been on it about five times. I went to that one when I was about 11. And I loved it. It was one of the best holidays I've ever been on. And then when I got to L.A. I thought, I'm doing the film, I'm working for Disney, can I have some free passes? I went back about four times with a very large group of friends and family, obviously, because you can't do research on your own. [laughter] So yeah, I know it intimately.

Emily: Did you get to walk around in the private parts of the ride for "research?"

Keira: No. No, I had to queue up. I desperately tried. I said, "Listen, I'm doing the film." And they're like, "Yeah. Get to the back of the queue." So it didn't work. I couldn't pull any strings.

Emily: Johnny Depp is edible like a box of double creme Oreo brand cookies - and he's quite an actor. What was it like working with him?

Keira: [laughter] I couldn't wait to meet him because one of my friends has like the biggest crush ever. You go into her room and it's just posters of Johnny everywhere. Which is kind of really freaky, now. But no, I wasn't scared. And he's just such a nice guy. He's just so normal. I mean, you have a laugh and he's lived in France so he's watched a lot of British comedy shows so he knows British humor. And we just got on really well. And he's just a lovely guy. You have a chat, you have a cup of tea, and it's great. At the beginning of this experience I thought, right, I'm going in, I'm working with Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Jonathan Pryce, these are kind of titans really. I'm going to go and I'm going to learn how to be rather fabulous and get all their secrets. I can safely say I've learnt absolutely nothing. Johnny in particular, he chats, he has a cup of tea, he giggles a lot, he does the scene, he chats, he has another cup of tea. But where does it come from? I haven't got a clue. It's just talent I guess. We had the read through in the Viper Room actually, his club. And I was kind of star struck about being in there anyway, and he walked in and I'm like,"Ooh, it's Johnny Depp!" And we sit down at a long table, and he sits next to me and I'm like, "Oh, God!" And he goes, "Hi, Keira." And I went, "Shit, look at your teeth!" He already had them in for the film. So it kind of broke the ice right there, and that was our relationship from then on, really.

Emily: I noticed you never actually fought the pirates with a sword? What's up with that?

Keira: We were really lucky because the writers, Ted [Elliot] and Terry [Rossio], were on set practically every day from the beginning. And they were always coming up saying, 'Have you got any ideas? Come and talk to us. If you want anything, come and talk to us.' The only thing I wanted was a sword. And every single day I'd go up and say, 'Give me a sword! Give me a sword!' And they'd be like, 'Yeah, yeah, yeah. Whatever.' Never got a sword. Six months later, never got a sword. So am I angry? Yes. Very. [laughter]

Emily: So what was it like starring with Orlando?

Keira: [smiling] He's great. He's a sweetheart. We'd met each other a couple of times before at various auditions and never got the parts together. Either he'd got it or I got it. So it was really great to finally get a chance to work with him. But saying that, we have maybe four scenes in the entire film together. So I didn't see much of him at all. But he's a sweetheart and we had a laugh.

Emily: I adored Bend it Like Beckham. I know it was huge in Euope. But it was embraced here as well. Did you expect that?

Keira: It's phenomenal. No. It was a very, very, very, very low budget film. It took eight weeks to shoot. It was a great summer. I hung out with a load of girls. We had a very girly time. Played some soccer, got a suntan, and that was that. We thought it would kind of do all right in England and in Europe because David Beckham is such an idol. And soccer, it's the only sport really. So we kind of thought that people would be curious about it and go and see it because of that. When it went to number one for three weeks in England, you kind of think, okay, this has gone beyond curiosity. And then when it comes out here, where really soccer is not anything. And David Beckham, you don't know who he is. It really kind of makes you proud to be a part of it because you think okay, it's a good film. It makes people smile, and that's great. It was just a little film I was going to do during the summer holidays before I went to college. So it's amazing how well it's done.

Emily: You've done the Indie and the Hollywood behemoths what's the difference?

Keira: They're kind of polar opposites, really. I mean, Bend it Like Beckham, there was practically no money to make it. You do a small film like that, and you become really close because it's a tiny, tiny crew. And it's all very much, we have today to shoot this. We have to get it done now before the sun sets. That's it. With a film like this, we can take three weeks to shoot an action sequence. I go in in the morning and oh, look, they're exploding another boat and this is just a normal day isn't it? I mean, it's crazy. But both great experiences.

Emily: We also apparently share a love of kick boxing. How did you get into boxing?

Keira: It's all in preparation for King Arthur. Apparently, it's a very good way to keep fit. And my big problem with my knife fighting is that I don't look like a fighter because I did a lot of ballet dancing growing up. So I'm very much standing up here [indicates very straight and tall]. What I need to do is get down and learn how to defend myself. So the boxing's helping with all that. And if you ever want to feel like a powerful woman, there's nothing like knowing how to defend yourself. That endorphin rush is great.

Emily: Oh, yeah - I always feel like a tough Lara Croft-like chickbabe when I leave the gym. How did you like filming in the Caribbean? I've been about 1000 times?

Keira: It was amazing. I did start to get island fever at the end of two months. But it was really incredible. My days off I'd be sort of lying on a beach and going snorkeling and stuff. Do you feel really sorry for me? [laughter]

Emily: Pure pity dear! [laughter]

Keira: [laughter].

Emily: Was that actually you jumping off the plank into the sea?

Keira: It actually was. There were always safety divers in the water because there were a lot of people on a lot of boats. And all falling in. My stunt girl Sonja, who's wicked, she's my hero, she jumped in first. But I'd been standing on the plank for like two days. I don't have vertigo or anything but standing on that plank, it was only about 15 feet up, but when you're standing there it's like a diving board so it's wobbling the entire time. And for the first time in my life I really got scared of heights. Everyone who sees the film is going to go, "Yeah, but it's not that high." But actually, I was completely terrified. It would have been fine if I'd just kind of run and jumped in. But standing out there for two days, I got completely freaked out. But after Sonja jumped in I thought, bloody hell. I've been standing out here, there is no way I'm not going to do this. So I was like, "Gore [Verbinski, the director], can I?" And he went, "Yeah, go on, man." It was great fun.

Emily: What was the most unique experience in this film- acting-wise?

Keira: There's a scene where she first sees all the skeletal pirates, which was really bizarre because there weren't any actors there [they were animated later]. It was just me running around the big ship, screaming a lot, completely on my own. That was kind of difficult, and it took two weeks to film as well. And by the end of it I was completely black and blue because I'd just been beating myself up, basically. Some people can get institutionalized for that! But there you go.

Emily: King Arthur is another period piece?

Keira: It is, but this is kind of 450 A.D., so it's very, very different to Pirates of the Caribbean. It's Jerry Bruckheimer again, it's Disney again. So I know a lot of the guys. It's the same costume designer as had done Pirates, which is great. She's like my mom so that's very nice. But it's going to be a lot more rural. I don't think it's going to be a family film. I think we're just going for reality. So don't think Camelot or Excalibur. I think it's kind of more Gladiator. So it's going to be fascinating.

Emily: Will you ever wear another corset?

Keira: Never say never, but not for a good, long time!

Emily: "Corset" doesn't hurt when you're starring in a phenomenal Bruckheimer film! [laughter]

Keira: You're right! All worth it really [laughter]!

Keep your eye out for Keira. She's only 19 and already a commanding talent. King Arthur sounds delightful. If you have not seen Pirates f the Caribbean: Legend of the Black Pearl yet - leave now. It's oh-so good on oh-so many levels.

 

 

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