The Evolution of Keira Knightley

Screen One (1993)

Keira Knightley began her acting career, aged only seven years old, when she appeared in an episode of BBC TV programme Screen One .

The storyline of episode 'Royal Celebration' revolved around Charles and Diana's wedding (ooh, topical… sort of). Footage of her appearance was dug up when she was a guest on The Jonathan Ross Show , and she's virtually unrecognisable as the starlet we know today.

Glamour rating? Thankfully low, as she rocks a look suitable for her age: baggy green T-shirt and scruffy hair.

A Village Affair (1995)

Keira's next bit of TV work was in this one-off drama. A family move to a small village and a bit of a storm ensues when the mum falls into a lesbian relationship with a villager.

Knightley played the daughter of the family, and though she didn't have a huge amount of screentime, she got to work with some decent-sized names, including Kerry Fox, Jeremy Northam and Michael Gough.

Glamour rating? Posh middle-class child chic.

Innocent Lies (1995)

Knightley's first feature film role came in this Agatha Christie-inspired potboiler. Set on the French coast in the 30s, a British detective (Adrian Dunbar) is investigating the murder of his boss, which brings him into contact with the bizarre Graves family.

Keira plays the young version of Celia Graves (Gabrielle Anwar, in older form), getting a taste for the period vibe that would define some of her biggest future successes.

Glamour rating?
The period setting adds a modicum of razzle-dazzle.

The Bill (1995)

Knightley took a role in the TV show that launched a thousand Hollywood careers. David Tennant, Russell Brand, Robert Carlyle and Sean Bean all made early appearances in the ITV cop show.

Now that it's been cancelled, it's hard to know what show will provide the embarrassing when-they-were-young footage for the next generation of big-screen stars. Keira played a young girl on the wrong side of the law, who was brought in for questioning by Sun Hill's finest.

Glamour rating? She had the scruffiness befitting the circumstances. She's not all plummy tones, y'know.

Treasure Seekers (1996)

Keira starred as a princess in this TV adaptation of 1899 children's novel The Story of the Treasure Seekers . It concerns the Bastable family, who have fallen from grace and fortune.

The Bastable children look for ways to bring their family back to glory, and Knightley (having a stab at an exotic accent) is a young foreign princess who plays a part in one of their schemes.

Glamour rating? She seems at home playing a royal.

Coming Home (1998)

Knightley joined an all-star cast in this TV adaptation of the World War II novel by Rosamunde Pilcher. Peter O'Toole, Joanna Lumley, Emily Mortimer and Paul Bettany starred as at the Carey-Lewis family.

The dynastic drama followed the clan before and after the war, with Knightley playing the younger version of Mortimer's character.

Glamour rating?
The role came with the embellishments that belonging to a wealthy family affords.

Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999)

Knightley's next role was pretty small, but the movie was an absolute whopper. Taking advantage of young Keira's striking likeness to Natalie Portman, she was cast as Sabé, a handmaiden to Princess Amidala.

Knightley doesn't have much to do in the movie as she's basically there to act as a decoy for Amidala, who swans about as a handmaiden for most of the movie. Keira's first babysteps into blockbuster stardom before Pirates mega-fame.

Glamour rating? She may not be royalty but she does get to dress up as the queen of Naboo.

Oliver Twist (1999)

Keira had a role in this ITV adaptation of the Dickens orphan classic. She brushed shoulders with a wealth of Brit talent including Robert Lindsay as Fagin, and Andy Serkis on menacing form as Bill Sikes.

Knightley played Rose, a young girl who helps to nurse Oliver back to health after the urchin bungles a robbery on her benefactor. Her role is beefed up from the page, as this miniseries adds some backstory to the novel.

Glamour rating? Fairly high thanks to wealthy benefactor Mr Brownlow. Plenty of period gownage.

Princess of Thieves (2001)

As you might of guessed, this Disney-produced TV movie put a feminine spin on the Robin Hood legend. Knightley takes the lead as Gwyn, the offspring of Robin and Marion.

When Robin is banged up in chokey by the Sheriff of Nottingham (Malcolm McDowell), Gwyn jumps into action to restore Prince Phillip (a youthful Stephen Moyer) to his rightful throne. The swashbuckling skills will serve her well in King Arthur and the Pirates trilogy.

Glamour rating? She looks better than a farmhand really should.

The Hole (2001)

Keira's next role came in this private-school thriller. She plays Frankie, a school lust-object who takes part in an exclusive mini-party in a disused bunker. Nothing, it would appear, is quite as it seems, especially when it comes to the testimony of Liz (Thora Birch).

It's a watchable thriller, but it struggles to overcome plots holes and narrative contrivances, and it's never actually very scary.

Glamour rating? The school princess lustre soon dissipates when things start to get a bit Lord of the Flies .

Matt Maytum
Editor, Total Film

I'm the Editor at Total Film magazine, overseeing the running of the mag, and generally obsessing over all things Nolan, Kubrick and Pixar. Over the past decade I've worked in various roles for TF online and in print, including at GamesRadar+, and you can often hear me nattering on the Inside Total Film podcast. Bucket-list-ticking career highlights have included reporting from the set of Tenet and Avengers: Infinity War, as well as covering Comic-Con, TIFF and the Sundance Film Festival.