When Keira Knightley walks into the room, she flashes a wide smile and immediately introduces herself. It doesn’t seem to occur to the 20-year-old starlet that each one of the reporters in the room knows exactly who she is and has been waiting anxiously for her arrival.
In fact, as Knightley settles into a chair and begins to nervously twist the silver rings on her fingers, she seems more like a young girl on a first date than a fast-rising movie star at the press junket for her latest film.
Knightley, best known for her roles in “Love Actually” and “Pirates of the Caribbean,” is quickly carving a place for herself in Hollywood.
She was most recently seen in the movie “Domino,” a recounting of the life story of the model-turned-bounty hunter Domino Harvey.
Next, Keira will play Elizabeth Bennet in the movie adaptation of Jane Austen’s beloved novel, “Pride and Prejudice.”
The clever and strong-willed character is a favorite of Knightley’s.
“When my agents said ‘we’re going to put you up for Elizabeth Bennet, I said ‘no, please, I’m going to [mess] it up,” Knightley said. “I couldn’t bear it if I ruined her.”
The love story between Elizabeth’s character and the snobbish Mr. Darcy, played by Matthew McFayden, is an integral part of the movie’s plot.
However, Knightley is quick to acknowledge that love in the real world is not quite as ideal as it is in the film.
“I think in a funny kind of way a good romance is like a fairy tale where all the loose ends are tied up and everything is perfect,” Knightley said. “You never see two weeks after the story has ended [when the couple] has a huge argument and it’s all drama.”
Despite the tendency of these films to portray the lighter side of relationships, Knightley believes romantic movies, like “Pride and Prejudice,” are important in their own right.
“I think we all need romance,” Knightley said. “And what’s beautiful about these stories is that they’re like a confirmation that romance is out there, and that’s lovely.”
In addition to doing press for “Pride and Prejudice,” which opened in theaters Nov. 11, Knightley is currently filming two sequels to the 2003 hit “Pirates of the Caribbean.” Knightley will not reveal any details about the movies, but she is excited about the audience reactions.
“I’m pretty sure we’ve got some surprises up our sleeves for everybody,” she says with a smile.
Knightley is also thrilled to be able to work again with the other stars involved in the Caribbean sequels, including Orlando Bloom and Johnny Depp, the latter of whom Knightley has always looked up to professionally.
“He’s absolutely amazing,” she said of Depp. “When I say ‘risk’, I think [he’s] a prime example. He’s never sold out. He’s done things that have interested him,” she said.
Although Knightley already has an enviable resume at only 20 years old, she remains brutally realistic about the fleeting nature of stardom.
“It’s a flash in the pan, so you might as well enjoy it and see how far you can go,” Knightley said. “It could be gone tomorrow or it [could] go sky-high. I don’t know what’s going to happen, so I might as well give it a go,” she said chuckling to herself.
“It’s hilarious [because] Talulah Riley, who plays Mary Bennet in this film [“Pride and Prejudice”] and is a really close friend of mine, was in a magazine the other day [with the caption] ‘the new Keira Knightley,'” Knightley said with a good-natured laugh. “She’s only a year younger than I am, man. I’m only 20 [and] I’m the over-the-hill already. It’s awful.”
Although she is able to find the humor in these situations, Knightley still worries about her future. She insists that as a figure in Hollywood,especially a younger one, there is always a fear in the back of her mind over the possibility of being replaced in the industry.
“[I’m afraid that] somebody will come in and everybody will be like, ‘yes, she’s much better. We’ll go for her,'” Knightley admits. “It’s impossible not to think that way.”
But Knightley’s concerns are common for actresses who have achieved her status.
“If you meet any actress, they are, by nature, completely insecure beings. If they say they’re not, they’re lying,” Knightley said. “It’s a profession made out of insecurities.”
Despite her worries over being cast off of the island of Hollywood’s young elite, Knightley does not seem at all interested in joining the L.A. scene that many celebrities her age thrive upon.
She lives far removed from the fast paced, media intense, celebrity driven hills of California.
As Knightley describes it, she still lives a “blissfully down-to-earth life” in London.
The same words can be used to describe Knightley herself.
As she thanks the reporters for their time, she is asked to share her idea of a dream vacation. Knightley does not hesitate for a moment before she answers.
“London,” she said. “My flat. Sleep. [I would] hole up there and never come out.”