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"I've had to develop a thick skin": Keira Knightley on dealing with "brutal" criticism

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Keira Knightley is a lady with Hollywood at her feet but things haven't always been easy for the 29-year-old actress.

Knightley, who has an estimated worth of £29 million, has opened up about her geeky past and how tough she found it transitioning to the glare of the media limelight - with all the pressure and criticism that came with it.

Knightley's breakthrough role came aged 17 in 2002 indie comedy Bend It Like Beckham, and she admits she paid a price for finding fame so early.

"I've definitely done all my learning publicly," the actress told the Guardian. "And I've had to develop a thick skin because of that. So yeah, there would have been a comfortable way of doing it where I went to drama school and made tons of mistakes. If you could choose how success happens, that's what I would have chosen. But of course you can't.

"I chose to jump, knowing it was going to be brutal because I knew that I hadn't learned enough. I didn't know what I was meant to be doing."

Keira with her husband James Righton at this year's Wimbledon

The barrage of scrutiny and criticism she received in the early days was difficult to deal with, she said.

"The criticism was tough. At school I'd always been good at things. And drama was always something I'd been good at. I was picked for good parts in the school plays and you form a sense of yourself from that.

"And then all of a sudden people are saying: 'No, you're sh**. You don't know what you're doing.' It's a strange jolt in how you see yourself and how you connect to the thing that you love."

Knightley added that she could understand why some people felt a bit resentful that she had found Hollywood success so quickly and easily.

"It's really annoying, let's face it," she said. "'Fuck off, you little sh**.' I do totally get it."

Keira says growing up in the limelight has forced her to develop a thick skin

Having grown up in the spotlight and with major film roles in Atonement, Pride and Prejudice and Anna Karenina - not to mention being the face of Chanel - it's unsurprising that Knightley has courted relentless press attention over the years. And this again is something she has struggled to deal with in the past.

"I like walking," she said. "I know that sounds like a stupid f**king thing. But I do like walking, and for a long time I couldn't."

Keira in this year's comedy drama Begin Again

The star's latest role sees her play a heartbroken folk singer in rom com Begin Again opposite Mark Ruffalo and James Corden.

But despite the nature of her part, and the fact that she is married to Klaxons frontman James Righton in real life, the actress says she possesses absolutely no musical skill.

"Oh God, f**k no, I'm so not musical," she said. "It's terrible. I know nothing about music whatsoever... I used to like Rage Against the Machine, but I think that was only because they swore in their songs. I was always more into reading and drama [growing up]. I was such a geek.

"I mean, I could probably bullshit you and come up with an album that I've heard is really cool, but you'd probably find me out."

Begin Again is out now

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