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The Evolution of Keira Knightley

Bend It Like Beckham (2002)

Following The Hole with Gurindar Chadha's hit comedy-drama helped get Knightley's name remembered (training scenes in skimpy sportswear probably didn't hurt matters on that front either).

Jess (Parminder Nagra) is the girl who just wants to play footie, much to her family's displeasure. Knightley is Jules, the striker for the local all-girls team, Jonathan Rhys Meyers is on hand for a touch of romance, and Gary Lineker turns up to offer a bit of analysis.

Glamour rating? There's a lot of footie kits, but there's also at least one chance to get dolled up on a night out.

Pure (2002)

Knightley next movie came with a big pinch of grit. Pure is the story of 10-year-old Paul (Harry Eden) and his struggle to get his mum out of the grip of her heroin addiction, and away from seedy pimp/dealer Lenny (David Wenham).

Keira plays Louise, a pregnant waitress whose also suffers drug problems. Decent performances and a strong visual style mean this is a gloomy experience worth enduring.

Glamour rating? Low- there's nothing glitzy about donning a greasy spoon pinny, and she adopts a cockney accent to fit in with the East End setting.

Doctor Zhivago (2002)

Keira played Lara in this TV serial: a daunting task as the role was made famous by Julie Christie at her peak. She engages in a long and complicated love affair with Yuri Zhivago (Hans Matheson), while the Russian Revolution and subsequent civil war rage in the background.

It's hard to fault the production values of this epic, but it's a shame that David Lean set such an unmatchable precedent when he filmed the novel in 1965.

Glamour rating? Lara's social mobility sees her straddle various strata of wealth throughout the story.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

After appearing in a couple of shorts, Knightley nabbed a role in Jerry Bruckheimer's theme-park adaptation that became the unexpected hit of the summer.

As Governor's daughter Elizabeth Swann, she's mainly on damsel-in-distress duty, but she does get to limber up as the film progresses, giving good feist in a couple of action scenes, and drunkenly sparring with Jack Sparrow (Depp, of course). A rollicking adventure that's not dampened one jot by the disappointing sequels.

Glamour rating? There's plenty of corsetry on display here.

Love Actually (2003)

Keira had a little role in Richard Curtis' festive portmanteau film in which various Londoners face love crises in the run up to Christmas.

Sadly Knightley ends up in one of the more insipid segments (and that's really saying something). She gets married to Chiwetel Ejiofor, while his bezzie mate Andrew Lincoln lusts after her, and it all crescendos to a queasy cue card confession.

Glamour rating? High: Lincoln seems to interested in her purely for her looks. And she gets to don a wedding dress for a nuptial scene.

King Arthur (2004)

Knightley went all actiony for Training Day director Antoine Fuqua's revisionist take on the knights of Camelot. Exchanging myths and legend for a wholehearted stab at historical accuracy, this is a unlike any Excalibur story you've seen before.

Retooling Guinevere (Knightley) as a woad warrior adds a nice hook, but Clive Owen seems to have left the gravitas at home for his role as Arthur. There's a couple of pleasingly dirty battles, but you're left with the feeling that a big of magic wouldn't have gone amiss.

Glamour rating? The rustic warrior garb still allows for a little bit of flesh-flashing.

The Jacket (2005)

Knightley added a bit of variety into her credit list with this psychological thriller. Adrien Brody starred as Jack Starks, a Gulf War vet who gets put into Kris Kristofferson's mental institution after a bout of amnesia.

While subjected to various unpleasant experiences, Jack travels forward in time to 2007, and meets Jackie (Knightley), who he met many years earlier. Keira does well with an American accent and a character that requires more nuance than has previously been asked of her.

Glamour rating? It's all about the caked on eyeliner and chain-smoked cigarettes here.

Pride and Prejudice (2005)

Knightley earned an Oscar nomination for her role as as Elizabeth Bennet in Joe Wright's handsome Jane Austen adaptation. Wright seems to bring out the best in Knightley, and this is considered one of her strongest performances.

She brings a nice balance of fragility and ballsiness to her Lizzie, and stands out amid a decent cast. This holds its own against the strong telly version.

Glamour rating? We know by now that Keira wears a period frock well, even if it's more working class than fanciful.

Domino (2005)

Keira capped an eclectic year with Tony Scott's hyper-kinetic actioner. Based on a 'true story', the film is openly liberal with the facts. She plays the lead role of the English model turned bounty hunter, working alongside Edgar Ramirez and Mickey Rourke.

A mishmash of subplots ensue, with varying degrees of success. Christopher Walken is, as always, a particular highlight, as a crazed TV producer who wants to put the gang on screen.

Glamour rating? She brings a considerable amount of sass to the role, and convinces as an ex-model.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006)

A huge disappointment however you look at it. After the fantastic fun of the first outing, the signs looked good. Bill Nighy's Davey Jones and his sea-creature chums looked really impressive. Keira got a more actiony part. What went wrong?

Well, the convoluted plotting becomes more tiring this time round, the Orlando/Johnny ratio is all off, and it suffers badly for not having a proper ending. Feels like a bit of a rip-off when you have to pay again just to see how this rubbish ends.

Glamour rating? "Elizabeth, these clothes don't flatter you at all - it should be a dress or nothing!"