So, Keira, you had to be convinced to even attend the audition for the first Pirates movie, didn’t you? Are you surprised by the series’ success?
Keira: “Yeah! Everyone laughed when I told them I was doing a film based on a Disney theme-park ride. No-one thought it was going to make much money. But then with the second film, we thought it was safer because the first one was so big, but still, no-one thought it was going to be quite so big.”
Isn’t it all just a big five-year blur? Are you going to remember enough stuff when it comes to writing your autobiography?
KK: “Well, the years have sort of… melged together…”
KK: “Yeah! Is that a word? I quite like it!”
We’ll definitely use it…
KK: “I mean, merged! Merged into one. It has been a bit of a whirlwind, yeah. But I’ve been having a breather over the last five months – mostly to live in a flat that I bought three years ago and never lived in.”
So what do you do when you have time off?
KK: “Absolutely nothing! I walk around. I cook a lot. I have friends over to the flat and we drink very good wine. I cook a damned good roast - I’m a big meat eater. Chicken and loads of veg. I’ve got a great book called ‘The Silver Spoon’ [Italian cookery bible] and I’ve been going through that and trying everything. It’s taught me how to be economical. So if you do chicken on a Sunday, you freeze the stock and then have risotto and soups during the week. It’s great!”
OB: “Keira’s Cookery Course!”
KK: “And I used to watch football, but I’ve stopped now.”
You’re a West Ham fan, right?
KK: “Yeah, so… I just can’t watch any more.”
Maybe through your fingers…
KK: “I can’t even do that. My dad texts me with the results and I go, ‘Ah, fuck!’”
Must be easier for you, Orlando, being a Man Utd fan…
OB: “I always get that! I think I mentioned it once in an early interview, but no – I haven’t followed football in years.”
So, you must be kicking back too, having completed another huge action trilogy…
KK: “Oh, he’s far more intrepid than me!”
OB: “Yeah… At the moment, I’m loving that feeling of not… really… having anything to do. I just went to Antarctica for a few weeks. That was incredible. I spent three weeks on a 1950s Norwegian ice-breaker, sleeping in a room the size of a bus shelter, sharing a toilet and bathroom with 27 other people. It was great to be there with no privileges – the most surreal real experience I’ve had in a long time. I went scuba diving, climbed up a mountain, snowboarded down… I even had a swim in the Arctic water, which was… cold. But it was great to be there with no phone, no fax, no e-mail… I’m about to go off to Indonesia for UNICEF. I’m also building my own house! I’ve been doing that for a year as a spare time thing. I picked a great, young Italian architect and it’s been a real creative collaboration. No, I don’t have a huge bathroom with a bath you could have a swim in, but…”
You’re moving from blockbuster action movies into interior design…
OB: “Yeah! I guess I’m branching off pretty wildly there. But there’s just something really satisfying about building your own home. I tried to buy something and I couldn’t afford it!”
OB: (Laughs): “Seriously! It’s not the actors who’re making the money. It’s the boys in the city! Building my own place /has/ been massively stressful – the time and budget quickly doubled, but it feels good because I’ve had the control to make it a ‘green’ house – with solar panels and energy-efficient light-bulbs, and I’ve tried to use recycled materials for the floors.”
KK: “I’ve been doing charity stuff too, you know! I used to have a huge collection of shoes. I was the Imelda Marcos of the acting world. But they’ve all gone to the charity shop, now. [Little girl voice, mock-pout…] I’ve only got about three or four pairs left… And I also donated my Oscars dress to Oxfam. It’s a fucking huge dress and I’ve got nowhere to put it and I’m never going to wear it again, so…”
How do you both cope with privacy and security, being so well-known now?
OB: “Yeah. That’s one of the reasons I’m building my own house. To have privacy and security in the middle of London - forget about it! But it’s not like I want to exclude myself from society or anything. I’m not that kind of person. I’m very social and like to be part of a community. That’s the odd part about having become such a recognised face. In my late twenties, I went into a shell but now I want to come out of it. At the same time, privacy is important. In our culture, there’s an obsession with knowing everything about celebrities. People of the past like Cary Grant – there was a fantastic mystique about them. You never knew what they were going to do next. I’ve always tried to keep my cards close to my chest while wearing my heart on my sleeve. But it’s tough to do.”
So how do you feel when you read a story like this [we flop down a well-known celeb tattle-rag] – that you were “walking along the street in New York looking for a place to live, with Victoria’s Secret model Miranda Kerr”?
OB: “It’s funny, isn’t it? She’s beautiful , as well. It’s odd that you bump into somebody and that comes out. Another example of that: I was having dinner in London the other night and I bumped into Bryan Singer. The next time I saw my mum, she’s like, ‘So, I hear you got a part in the new Superman movie!’ It’s mad. I didn’t go to drama school expecting that one day this kind of thing would be part of my life. They recently snapped me in Hawaii taking a piss up against a rock…”
Nice. Did they get your good side?
OB: “ (Laughs) No! They could have used plenty of shots of me looking cool, surfing, but they had to use the one of me peeing up against a rock!”
KK: “That’s awful…”
OB: “But in a way, it’s part of the job. Let’s be clear about this: I love dressing up, putting make-up on and prancing about with a sword in my hand. I’m really lucky that I get to do that and get paid for it and all the press stuff is really just a bit of a trade-off.”
KK: “I don’t feel that way. For me, it’s not part of the job. Legally, I don’t have a choice. I have to deal with it. But personally, I think… it’s sick . The pressure the entertainment industry puts on young women is sick. And it’s not so much what pictures they print or what they say. It’s… a young woman being followed around by five men who could be anyone and you have no way of telling who they are – if they’re legitimate photographers or rapists. It’s terrifying.”
Yeah, press prurience can be pretty horrible. So, Orlando, you’re not actually seeing anyone at the moment? Can we confirm that? Not Kate Bosworth, not Miranda Kerr…
OB: “(Laughs). No! No-one. I know I always say that. And you can print, ‘Orlando is available!’ if you want, but it’s true this time. I’d love to be able to think about having my own family one day, but it’s going to take a very special woman who’s grounded enough to be able to deal with the kind of bizarre circumstances I find myself in…”
Who do you fancy on-screen, then?
OB: “Umm, Jaws! It’s all those teeth!”
[Sidelong glances and nervous laughter].
OB: “No, seriously… I dunno. Mostly older actresses, when they were younger. Like Ingrid Bergman and Julie Christie. She was incredible…”
Who was on your bedroom wall when you were a kid?
OB: “I didn’t have any posters of ‘famous’ people on my walls. I used to tear out pictures of supermodels and make wallpaper out of them. All these incredibly beautiful, but anonymous women…”
KK: “I wouldn’t want to feel like I was consciously trying to emulate someone. There are lots of actresses I admire. I’ve been watching a lot of David Lynch lately, and Naomi Watts is wonderful. I can’t wait to see Inland Empire. I keep reading that it doesn’t make any sense – but that’s not the point, is it? It’s a piece of art!”
Orlando, you said you love dressing up and waving swords around. Is that just more fun than the serious, close-up, more actorly stuff?
OB: “I do enjoy all of that, yeah, but mostly – weirdly, given the films I’ve been doing recently – I do really love the simple stuff. The interaction between two characters. Telling a story with character and psychology…”
KK: “I love the physical side! I have more fighting scenes in the new movie. Well, I actually had lots of them in the second one, but they cut them out. Bastards! I certainly /shot/ a lot of fighting scenes... What’s great about my job is that you get to do lots of things you’d never normally do – like swordfighting. Getting paid to learn how to swordfight is pretty fucking cool! Some of it can be a bit much, though. For Pirates 3, we did this long fight sequence in torrential movie-rain and we were all in wetsuits the whole time and the stage was on an uphill incline and the fake rain was kept just above freezing – because if it was any warmer then bacteria would have got into it and everyone would have been sick. So, I’m there in freezing cold torrential rain and I can barely see a foot in front of my face, and I’m concentrating on my moves for a fight scene that’s also a love scene where me and Will finally get married – so we couldn’t use any stunt doubles.”
OB: “That was pretty strenuous…”
KK: “I had to train really hard every night on a cross-trainer machine, trying to get my cardiovascular fitness up, because it was shit. Normally, I hate that kind of thing. But if I have a solid goal, then I find it easy to train.”
Didn’t you do that stunt in the first film where you fell into the water?
KK: “I did! I insisted on doing it. The stunt double did a take and I thought it looked great, so I did it myself. I don’t know if it’s me in the finished version, but I /did/ do it.”
How about the weirder stuff? Reacting to green-screen and having to imagine CG effects?
KK: “Yeah, it’s strange. Whenever we did scenes with Bill Nighy, you have to imagine this big tentacley thing. But he was wearing this really unattractive grey suit with a grey hood – disturbingly skin-tight, with little dots all over it. And if you’re doing a fight scene with him, then it’s not even Bill Nighy, it’s this big stuntman.”
OB: “You get used to it, though…”
KK: “Yeah. You do get used to it, but it never stops being slightly ridiculous. Y’know – you’re supposed to be terrified of something and it’s just sweet old Bill Nighy in his skin-tight grey suit.”
OB: “Stellan Skarsgaard [as ‘Bootstrap’ Bill Turner] had it much worse, though. We just had to react to CG, he was all make-up. We called him ‘Bouillabaise’ because he looked like fish soup.”
KK: “Yeah, with all these cockles and things stuck to the side of his face. His costume has water dripping through it all the time, so he’s constantly soaked through. And he couldn’t lie down because all these things were sticking out of his head. So he had to sit around for hours in all this get-up. I couldn’t believe how he did it all with such good grace.”
Did you learn a lot from working with people like Chow-Yun Fat?
KK: “God, yeah! He’s amazing. The American crew were brilliant. He was telling me that it’s a lot more collaborative on the sets of Chinese movies – the actors are given a forum. On American movies, the emphasis is more technical – the camera department rule and the actors just have to get on with it. But he’s so cool. The crew totally switched their mindset just for him. And believe me – you fucking would!”
Keira, you mentioned the love scene – and you’ve just finished filming Silk [based on a porny 1996 novel about a 19th century silkworm smuggler]… There are quite a few straight-up sex scenes in there. Are you okay with that?
KK: “Have you read the book?”
Well, we’d just heard that there were…
KK: (Testy) “Have you read the book?”
KK: “There are plenty of sex scenes in the book, so the adaptation is true to its source. I mean, Jesus Christ. It’s not like I haven’t taken my clothes off on film before, is it? I think soon, people are going to insist I keep my clothes on ... But, no. I don’t have a problem with nudity. I’ve never had a problem with nudity. I have more of an issue with violence – although I have made incredibly violent films. I don’t believe in censorship. But I wouldn’t do anything I didn’t feel completely comfortable with. If I felt uncomfortable in any situation, I’d simply walk out. But I suppose I’m very European in my attitude to my body. I’m an actress. I have certain tools. One of them is my body. I don’t mind stripping off occasionally.”
You’ve played a lot of characters – women – who refuse to be what they’re expected to be. Is that a fair reflection of you in general?
KK: “I don’t know, really. I have no idea what people expect of me. You’re right in that a lot of my characters have been people who seem to be going down one path but then go down another path…
Dramatically, that’s always good, because it’s always interesting when a character changes or surprises…”
Do you find the action figures a bit creepy? [We plonk down a plastic Elizabeth Swann. Keira picks it up…]
KK: “Oh, God. It just doesn’t look anything like me! This isn’t the worst one, though. There’s another, where it’s arms are sort of on a lever and the only motion it can make is…”
[At this point, Keira Knightley mimes masturbating a giant cock].
KK: “…and I just think that’s inappropriate! This one, though… It’s nothing like me. She’s got tits, for a start! I don’t have tits…”
Orlando, you recently turned 30 while shooting in Hawaii. Weird time and place to celebrate such a milestone…
OB: “Yeah! I had a bit of a bash in Hawaii and then another one in LA. Everyone tells you it’s the landmark age but weirdly it felt really good. I feel happy to have lived this far. I never thought I’d make it to 30! It feels good, though. Less urgent and more considered. A bit more reflective. Sort of, ‘How much living do I want to do?’. Because, as much as working has been my life, it feels like there’s been a shift on what the priorities are. This is the first time in eight years that I haven’t had a job I’m immediately going into. That’s given me a moment to take a breath and look around and think about exactly what I want to do at this point.”
You say you didn’t think you’d make 30, and in Pirates 3 there’s a cameo from someone who we’re amazed can still put one foot in front of the other – Keith Richards…
OB: “I actually made a point of not going to the set when Keith was working, and I’m kicking myself for it now. I thought that he was gonna be so hounded. I imagine it was pretty nerve-wracking for him, even though he is, y’know, a rock God or whatever.”
He can handle it…
OB: “Oh, yeah! I just thought, ‘Let him get on with it…’ I didn’t go down there, I didn’t meet him. I do regret it, but I’m sure I’ll meet him soon enough.”
KK: “I loved him. I only worked with him for one day. He was very nice. I said, ‘Hello, I’m Keira!’ and he just went, ‘Aaaaarrrr!’. It was very clear that Johnny had modelled himself on this guy, with those long, black dreadlocks and an amazing hat…”
You’ve both said that you haven’t been approached to do part four of Pirates…
OB: “Well, this is the end of a trilogy and it feels like I’ve been doing a pirate movie for most of my adult life. It’s been amazing and I’d never say never. It may well carry on in another form, but personally, I’m looking to do other stuff.”
KK: “I think we’re all very ready to finish it and move on to other things. Not that it hasn’t been wonderful, but it definitely feels like it’s finished at the right time.”
Do you both feel like a change of tone? More intimate movies?
Orlando: “Nah, I want to do another big trilogy! Complete my hat-trick!. And I need a sword – or at least a bow and arrow… Nah. The movies that I’ve really loved in the past few years have been stuff like The Constant Gardener, Hotel Rwanda, The Last King Of Scotland, Blood Diamond… Human stories that shed light on parts of the world we don’t pay much attention to.”
KK: “I’ve got Silk and Atonement [Ian McEwan adap with James McAvoy] coming up later this year. And I’m about to start a film called The Best Time Of Our Lives [Dylan Thomas biopic based on a play written by Keira’s mum]. It is good to go more low-key, because it’s easier on a small set. The Pirates movies had, like, 500 people in the crew. It’s like a village!”
OB: “As a kid, I loved movies, but going to drama school really got theatre in my blood and so now I’m wondering if there’s something smaller and more intimate I could do. The right kind of play – something really organic. I don’t want to be tossed out onto the West End with my balls left hanging, but it’d be great to be part of a company or something. Mind you, Daniel Radcliffe did an amazing job with Equus – really ballsy. A very brave choice. And I can see why he did it.”
Does it feel like you’re ‘hiding’ on a big film, and getting up there on stage is the big way of proving yourself?
OB: “Definitely. That’s why I’d like to do the play in Britain. I love being British. It’s a great equaliser. Y’know – rugby is one of our national sports and when you get too high and mighty, it’s like Britain comes to tackle you down. We’re all part of the same pack. My mum and sister do it to me a lot. I’d love to do a play, but it’d have to be the right play. I wouldn’t want to be just thrust into a star vehicle. I mentioned Equus and you could say that was a star vehicle, but it was also a good choice for him. And that’s what this business is all about – making the right choices. Now that I’ve turned 30, I don’t feel like the next job I do is gonna define the kind of actor I am, but I’ve built up a body of work that gives me the chance to make those choices. If Leonardo DiCaprio can go from Titanic to The Man In The Iron Mask and The Beach and then finally get to The Departed, then so can I. It’s as much about saying no to stuff as it is about saying yes.”
Was the cameo in ‘Extras’ was a good choice?
OB: “Definitely! I love Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant and The Office and the first series of Extras… They wrote something for me, I looked at it and said, ‘C’mon! We can have a lot more fun here, surely! I haven’t done two trilogies of movies to not have a bit of a dig at some of it.’
So you insisted that they take the piss more?
“Absolutely! I wanted them to really go for it, and all the Johnny Depp stuff [“Willy Wonka? Johnny Wanker!”] was great because he saw it and loved it. He’s got a really British sense of humour.”
So do you find it easy to handle the piss-taking – even the nasty stuff?
OB: “Mostly, yeah. People do say hurtful things but I only hear about some of them. My mum says, ‘Don’t worry, darling, you’re going to be fine…’ That makes me sit up and say, ‘What!? What are they saying about me?’ But then the good can be as bad as the bad. It all… alters your head. You don’t want to hear the criticism but you don’t want to hear the praise, either… I think Paul Newman said, ‘A man without enemies is a man without character’. There are some people you’re just not gonna get. They’re not gonna get you, you’re not gonna get them, and that’s the end of it. It’s all good, though. If it doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger, right?”
Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World’s End opens on 24 May and our review will go live on Monday