Keira Knightley was definitely one of the brightest stars of the big screen throughout the 2000s. You couldn’t enter a cinema without coming across a brilliant Keira Knightley movie, whether it was her work in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise or a selection of her trademark period drama roles. But for one of her best movies, she had to control one specific part of her performance.
In 2005, Knightley took on the lead role of Elizabeth Bennet in a big screen adaptation of Jane Austen’s literary classic Pride and Prejudice, with future Succession star Matthew Macfadyen as Mr Darcy. The film was a commercial success and earned four Oscars nominations, recognized among the best movies based on books.
Knightley explained on The Graham Norton Show in 2014 that director Joe Wright, who would become a regular collaborator with the star, specifically instructed her not to pout while making the movie. She explained that the reasons for her love of pouting went back a long time.
“I didn’t like my smile. Lots of people had said I had a crap smile, so any time I had a picture taken I’d go a bit like that. Then suddenly there’d be a film camera,” she said. “So Joe was like ‘no, you’ve got to stop the pout’, so I wasn’t allowed to pout. Then we started doing Chanel adverts and then all of a sudden he’s like: ‘You know that pout that I banned? Can we just have it back as much as possible?'”
Despite Wright’s best efforts, Knightley explained that something slipped through the net in his absence. “I tried to get it out. There is actually one shot in the film that was done by the second unit director in Pride and Prejudice where the pout is there. Every time [Wright] watches it, he’s still like: ‘You got one pout in there’.”
Pout or not, we love Knightley’s performance as one of the greatest characters in the history of literature. And we weren’t the only ones to appreciate her work, with the star becoming the third-youngest Best Actress nominee in Oscars history. She has since dropped down to fifth thanks to Jennifer Lawrence and nine-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis.
If you’re after more from Knightley, find out why she didn’t think anyone would watch one of her best 2000s movies and learn why Keira Knightley felt caged after Pirates of the Caribbean. You can also check out our guide on how to watch the Pirates of the Caribbean movies in order.