Skip to main content

The Evolution of Keira Knightley

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (2007)

Keira's last dalliance with the Pirates franchise (she's not returning for Part IV ) failed to resolve any off the major problems that Dead Man's Chest encountered. Seemingly interminable, the light-hearted frolics of the first movie feel like an eternity ago.

Keira has since bemoaned certain issues that arose when shooting the sequels, such as a lack of script. Explains a lot…

Glamour rating? She gets to don some fetching oriental threads for a nonsensical subplot involving Chow Yun-Fat.

Atonement (2007)

Knightley presumably got a script for this austere but moving period piece. Teaming with Joe Wright once again she delivers another strong performance (and they might be joining forces again for Anna Karenina ).

In this Ian McEwan adap, Knightley and James McAvoy play star crossed lovers who are torn apart by war, and a seemingly innocent lie. Powerful stuff.

Glamour rating? Before the harshness of war sets in, she shows off some über-glamourous, Oscar-nommed outfits.

Silk (2007)

This next movie looked pretty, but that's pretty much the only compliment you could bestow on it. It follows the travels of French silkworm merchant Michael Pitt, who heads to Japan and becomes besotted with a mysterious concubine, all the while taking his missus Keira Knightley for granted.

A strange mismatch of accents don't help the feeling that this one was badly miscast, and it's a real struggle to care about the characters or circumstances.

Glamour rating? It lives up to its name by being beautiful but ultimately lightweight.

Robbie the Reindeer in Close Encounters of the Herd Kind (2007)

In what was probably a more relaxing role, Keira did voice duty on animated festive favourite Robbie the Reindeer .

This was the third in the claymation series, with Robbie set to marry his beloved Donner. Keira voiced Em, Donner's super-organised sister and bridesmaid, who just so happens to be part of a Men in Black -type agency.

Glamour rating? Moderate, as far as reindeer go...

The Edge of Love (2008)

Keira's mum Sharman Macdonald wrote this one. Ostensibly a biopic of Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, it eschews the traditional biography formula to emerge as an artsy meditation on love, friendship and jealousy.

The cast have a great rapport - Knightley struck up a friendship with Sienna Miller on set, and Matthew Rhys and Cillian Murphy bring different dynamics to the group - but ultimately this suffers comparisons to Keira's other wartime drama Atonement poorly.

Glamour rating? Knightley was obviously born in the wrong era: once again she wears the period finery (and even belts out a tune) with class.

The Duchess (2008)

Strapping herself into yet another corset (and balancing some impossibly large wigs on her bonce), Keira took on another period drama, this time playing the Duchess of Devonshire, a young It girl trapped in a loveless marriage.

Ralph Fiennes is the dastardly Duke who takes his fashionista missus for granted and moves his mistress in. An ill-judged marketing attempt made Georgiana a proto-Diana, but ignore that and enjoy an impressive, stately drama.

Glamour rating? She rivals Marie Antoinette in the fashion stakes.

London Boulevard (2010)

Keira is back this week in cockney crime thriller London Boulevard . In what's probably not the most stretching role of her career she's playing Lilian Palmer, an ultra-glamourous, paparazzi-hounded movie star.

Colin Farrell plays the former gangster who's hired to act as her bodyguard. William Monahan (Oscar-winning screenwriter of The Departed ) is making his directorial debut with this cockerney caper.

Glamour rating? You can check out the trailer here .

Up Next

Next up is Mark Romanek's grim, thought-provoking drama Never Let Me Go , alongside Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield. Then she's got complicated relationship drama Last Night , in which Eva Mendes and Guillaume Canet threaten her marriage to Sam Worthington.

And perhaps most tantalisingly of all, she's recently wrapped David Cronenberg's A Dangerous Method , with Viggo Mortensen as Sigmund Freud and Michael Fassbender as Carl Jung.

And after all that, she just might be getting historically tragic again for Joe Wright's Anna Karenina .