Keira Knightley has slammed the use of rape and sexual assault as a plot device in modern movies.
The Pride and Prejudice star said that while there are more female-dominated roles emerging with the growth of original content from streaming services, in her experience movies are a different matter.
“With the rise of Netflix and Amazon we’re seeing some strong female characters and female stories on streaming services. I don’t know about films as much,” she told Variety.
“I don’t really do films set in the modern day because the female characters nearly always get raped. I always find something distasteful in the way women are portrayed, whereas I’ve always found very inspiring characters offered to me in historical pieces.
“There’s been some improvement. I’m suddenly being sent scripts with present-day women who aren’t raped in the first five pages and aren’t simply there to be the loving girlfriend or wife.”
She also spoke about the Hollywood sex scandal, saying that she’s battled her ‘fair share of monsters’.
“I’m fortunate that I’ve never been sexually abused professionally or harassed on a film set, but in my personal life, when I’ve been in bars, I can count four times when I’ve been what I’d say was assaulted in a minor way,” she added.
“[But] it’s not just actresses. It’s teachers; it’s lawyers. I’m not talking about rape, but I’m talking about the people who had been grabbed in pubs or their breasts had been fondled by somebody they didn’t know or they’d had someone shove a hand up their skirt.
“For too long, you really did go, ‘Oh, this is just normal.’ It’s terrifying that was our response. It must have been awful for all of those brave women who have come forward and spoken publicly about their experiences.
“There’s been a lot of pain and a lot of suffering. We’re in a period of time in which it all has to come out. Then we need to move forward and figure out how to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.”
Knightly worked with the disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein on a number of projects in her career too, including Begin Again and The Imitation Game, but when asked about his conduct with her, added that she never saw that side of him.
“My experience with Harvey Weinstein was always very professional,” she said. “He was very good on the films we made. I was aware of his reputation of being a bully.
“He was famous for phoning people in the middle of the night and screaming at them. He didn’t do that to me, and he certainly never asked me for massages or anything like that.
“I wasn’t aware of any allegations or rape or sexual assault against him. For the first time people are sharing their stories. People have been absolutely terrified to talk about it and were scared of retribution, so I don’t think everybody knew the extent of what was going on.”