20 years ago, Pirates of the Caribbean propelled Keira Knightley to international stardom

20 years ago, Pirates of the Caribbean propelled Keira Knightley to international stardom

The actress was only 17 years old during the filming of this first part.

On August 13, 2003, Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl was released in theaters. Inspired by the Disneyland attraction opened to the public in 1967 in Los Angeles, Gore Verbinski’s film then generated more than 654 million dollars at the worldwide box office. With such success, Disney propelled a young actress to the forefront of the international scene overnight: Keira Knightly.

By “young”, we mean underage, since she was only 17 when she performed for the first time Elizabeth Swann. “I’ve had a hell of a pretty extreme entry into adulthood experiencing stardom at a very young age”said the actress in an interview with Variety.

The filming of Pirates of the Caribbean, which lasted a total of six months between Los Angeles and the Caribbean, was not easy. At the release of the film, the actress shared a few anecdotes, in particular on the moment when she had to jump from several meters high for the scene of the torture of the board, ordered by captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) in the film. The teams took two days to shoot the entire sequence. When Keira Knightley was asked if she wanted a vault double, she said: “I’ve been standing on this thing for two days, do you really think I’m not going to jump?”.

Not being an adult, she was always accompanied by her mother, Sharman McDonald, on the set. Moreover, both found themselves stranded on a lifeboat after a filming session in the middle of the night. The small boat they were in to leave the Black Pearl hit a rock, so they had to wait several hours before they were picked up, reports TheThings from the bonus DVDs.

“The object of all desires”

If, when the film was released in 2003, Keira Knightley described Pirates of the Caribbean like a “beautiful and amazing experience” to the BBC, today, his discourse is much more nuanced. When varietylast March, asked her about her debut in the franchise, the actress mainly mentioned the sexualization of her character, which had an impact on her.

“(Elizabeth) was the object of all desires. Not that she didn’t have a struggle in her. But it was special, as a tomboy, to be seen as the complete opposite of who I was.”explained in particular the actress.

Disputed by Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and James Norrington (Jack Davenport), groped by the Black Pearl pirates, and picked up by a Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) dead drunk on a desert island… It is true that in this first opus, Elizabeth Swann evolves only around men, and the desires of each of them. It also experienced a dazzling evolution and gradually gained authority and strength: “She starts out as a damsel in distress and then kicks ass, so what’s not to love about her?”, wondered Keira Knightley herself in 2003. But note that her character, always impeccable and ultra-feminine, is the only one to regularly change clothes and hairstyle just for the pleasure of the eyes. When the film was released, the young Keira Knightley found herself with an image of a beautiful woman coveted by men stuck to her skin, at an age when we are still looking for ourselves.

“I felt constrained, blocked. I didn’t know how to put it all together. I felt trapped in something that I didn’t understand. With my following roles, I wanted to free myself from that. (…) It’s a funny place, that women are supposed to hold, publicly, I’ve never been comfortable with that”remembered the actress.

Some months later, Love Actually was a hit at the global box office ($244 million in revenue). At 18, Keira Knightley then confirmed her establishment in the international cinematographic landscape. While continuing the saga with The Secret of the Cursed Chest (2006) and Till the end of the world (2007), the actress tried to distance herself from Elizabeth Swann with prestigious Hollywood projects such as Pride and Prejudice (2005) and Come back to me (2007), which earned him an Oscar nomination at just 20 years old.

In 2009, the actress officially left the universe Pirates of the Caribbean, considering that he had covered the subject. Since then, we know the actress in particular for her many period heroines, in Anna Karenina, Colette, The Duchess, enemy hearts, Imitation Game or King Arthur. Sometimes complex roles, especially when it comes to embodying women who really existed.

“Everyone has their own take on these women and it would take a miracle to match mine”explained the actress to First in 2006. “You have to keep in mind that these are in no way documentaries but fictions where authors take liberties with reality. If in my interpretation, I remained obsessed by this single reality, I would go straight into the wall. Whatever happens, we know that his interpretation will never be able to satisfy everyone. It’s the same when I play literary heroines like Anna Karenina or Elizabeth Bennet (Pride and Prejudice)”she continued.

Keira Knightley has somehow become an expert in period dramas, going through all the episodes of history. “I wanted to base my career in Europe, and that’s what we mainly export. Also, I find it fascinating to have the chance, with my work, to learn everything about a particular period of history. It allows me to grow too”, she concluded in an interview with Build.

Colette, Anna Karenine, Elizabeth Bennet: Keira Knightley talks about her great heroines

Keira Knightley in The Duchess (2008)

Keira KnightleyRachael Morgan

Keira KnightleyRachael Morgan

Keira Knightley in King Arthur (2004)

Keira Knightley in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006)

Keira Knightley in Imitation Game (2014)

Keira Knightley in A Dangerous Method (2011)

Keira Knightley in Silk (2009)

Keira KnightleyRachael Morgan

Keira KnightleyRachael Morgan

Keira Knightley in The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (2018)

Keira Knightley in Colette (2019)

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