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Keira Knightley on being a "survivor", behaving badly as she grows up and her "geeky" marriage

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Keira Knightley has spoken about overcoming the pressures on young actors in Hollywood, and becoming more relaxed and less "neurotic" as she grows up.

Speaking to The Observer today, Keira, 29, spoke about an epiphany she had upon turning 25 that she was taking everything too seriously. "I suddenly woke up at [on my 25th birthday] and was like 'it's all OK'. We went bowling. We had a really silly party with karaoke, which I hate, and loads of balloons. And it was just excellent. Lots of cupcakes. Lots of booze. And suddenly there was just that dawning. It was exactly the right way to go."

Keira, who first found fame starring in Bend It Like Beckham at the age of 17 says that she has since found it a lot easier to deal with criticism about the films she makes.

"There are people who can do it and deal with it brilliantly, and in the scheme of things I should absolutely have been able to deal with it all better than I did. But I failed. And it’s just a sort of personality thing. That period of being 17, 18, 19, 21… I just found it all very hard."

"I was just very embarrassed at being young, probably because I’d worked with people who were a lot older than me from such a young age. I think I did playact a version of trying to be a grown-up. Trying to be sensible and good and professional in a way I don’t now.

"Who gives a shit? My attitude now is that some people will enjoy it and some people won’t. Just make it for the people who enjoy it." She compares herself to her favourite character from Gone With The Wind, Scarlett O'Hara: "I loved [her], because, specifically, she is a bitch. She does things her own way and everybody’s terrified of her, but she lives like a fucking survivor. And everyone wants to be that.

"Not that I behave badly or do anything [dramatically different from how I used to behave], but you suddenly realise that you’ve set yourself a very specific framework to live within, and that can be quite claustrophobic and unnecessary."

Having starred in several big budget films, alongside famous co-stars, including the Pirates of the Carribbean series, Pride and Prejudice and Atonement, Keira has now started to steer away from blockbuster pictures, having worked so hard at a young age to try and prove herself. "I do love big blockbuster films. I love eating popcorn and watching, because it’s like a ride, and it can be fantastic. But it’s secretly always got the other side to it, which is: ‘Well, they’re not really acting, and that’s shit, and it’s all about the CGI.’ Which is completely fair enough."

Keira and Jamie

Keira and her husband James Righton

Keira is currently starring in Say When, and feels that the role perfectly suits her grown up attitude. "For me [the role] was about trying to find out who you are and being yourself and how that’s mature, instead of this sort of idea of what being a grown-up should look like."

But she says that acting is "an addiction. It absolutely is. There are a lot of people in this industry out of work, but they keep going because that moment, that part, could be just around the corner. And even when you are doing well, you are always looking for your next hit."

She also spoke about her "geeky" marriage to James Righton from the band The Klaxons: "He’s the sort of person who will be the brightest light in any room whereas I’m the one who sits in the corner. And he’s much nicer than me." But, she says, marriage hasn't changed their relationship much, "apart from letting you be the first person by their side if they were ever in trouble, which is important."

Words: Victoria Gray, Images: Rex Features

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