Keira Knightley said she felt “caged”, “constrained” and “very stuck” after being in blockbuster film series Pirates Of The Caribbean.
The 37-year-old British actress, who has been twice nominated for Oscars, starred in the first film Pirates of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl in 2003 – alongside Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom – as Elizabeth Swann, along with three sequels.
Her character goes through a transition from daughter of a gentlemen to pirate while pursuing a romance with Bloom’s character Will Turner, a blacksmith’s apprentice, until her last outing in 2017’s Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.
She told Harper’s Bazaar UK: “(Elizabeth) was the object of everybody’s lust, not that she doesn’t have a lot of fight in her, but it was interesting coming from being really tomboyish to getting projected as quite the opposite.
“I felt very constrained, I felt very stuck, so the roles afterwards were about trying to break out of that.
“I didn’t have a sense of how to articulate it. It very much felt like I was caged in a thing I didn’t understand.”
After first rising to fame in science-fiction film Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace and football comedy Bend It Like Beckham, she has starred in period dramas as well as romantic comedies such as Love Actually.
She received Academy Award nods for actress in a leading role in 2005’s Pride & Prejudice, when she played Elizabeth Bennet in the regency period drama comedy, and actress in a supporting role for 2014’s The Imitation Game, a biopic about Alan Turing set during the Second World War.
Knightley said she had an “extreme landing” into fame which she has “never felt comfortable” with.
She also said: “I was incredibly hard on myself, I was never good enough, I was utterly single-minded, I was so ambitious, I was so driven.
“I was always trying to get better and better and improve, which is an exhausting way to life your life. I am in awe of my 22-year-old self, because I’d like a bit more of her back.
“And it’s only by not being like that any longer that I realise how extraordinary it was. There was never an ounce of me that wasn’t going to find a way through.”
Since having children, she said she feels the “heavy lifting” of parenting “has to be acknowledged” and the “vital” and “hard work” that people provide should stop being “undervalued”.
Knightley also said: “During filming, the hours are unpredictable and extreme. I worked out I needed three people to do what one full-time parent did.
“When you hear somebody say, ‘I’m just staying home with the kids’, that’s not a ‘just’. That’s a huge thing.”
Her upcoming roles include starring in true crime film Boston Strangler, where she plays American journalist Loretta McLaughlin, who covered the serial killer in the 1960s for the Boston Record American.
The April issue of Harper’s Bazaar UK is on sale from Thursday March 9 and the full interview with Knightley is available online at harpersbazaar.com/uk/keiraknightley.