At only 17 years old she already "felt very stuck" due to the image created by Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean
Keira Knightley is reflecting on the impact of her first blockbuster hit.
In an interview with Harper's Bazaar, the 37-year-old "Pride and Prejudice" actress opened up about becoming an "object of everybody's lust" after starring in 2003's "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl" when she was 17 going on 18.
According to Knightley, taking on the role of desirable Elizabeth Swann in her teens left her feeling "stuck" and "constrained" when it came to looking for jobs in the industry.
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"I had quite an entrance into adult life, an extreme landing because of the experience of fame at a very early age," she began. "There's a funny place where women are meant to sit, publicly, and I never felt comfortable with that. It was a big jolt."
"[Elizabeth Swann] was the object of everybody’s lust," Knightley explained. "Not that she doesn't have a lot of fight in her. But it was interesting coming from being really tomboyish to getting projected as quite the opposite. I felt very constrained. I felt very stuck. So the roles afterwards were about trying to break out of that…I didn't have a sense of how to articulate it. It very much felt like I was caged in a thing I didn’t understand."
The actress went on to do more "Pirates of the Caribbean" films, but actively sought out roles like "Pride and Prejudice" and "Atonement" she felt would counteract the image the seafaring movies gave her.
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Eventually Knightley's hard work paid off when she earned a nomination for best actress for her performance in the Jane Austen movie adaptation.
"I was incredibly hard on myself," she said of her earlier career. "I was never good enough. I was utterly single-minded. I was so ambitious. I was so driven. I was always trying to get better and better and improve, which is an exhausting way to live your life. Exhausting."
"I am in awe of my 22-year-old self, because I'd like a bit more of her back. And it's only by not being like that any longer that I realize how extraordinary it was," Knightley admitted.