Pride & Prejudice

SOUND BITES
Which director would you like to work with that you haven’t before? “I honestly have no idea. There are fantastic directors out there, so any of them who want to offer me a part.”

How do you balance commerce vs. art? ” I don’t think you should ever just make a movie for an audience of one. If you can make a really good commercial movie that’s fantastic. I’ve been really lucky so far that I’ve managed to do really small films and really big ones and had a fantastic time on both. “

Up next: “I’m working on ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ until October. Other than that I have no plans.”

Having appeared in five films over the past two years, Keira Knightly might seem older than her 20 years — but it’s simply not the case.

The British-born thesp already has 14 feature films to her credit, not including extensive television work, it’s only the beginning of what looks like a lengthy career.

She made her screen debut at the tender age of 7, shot to fame in the Gurinder Chadha’s feel-good soccer pic “Bend It Like Beckham” when she was only 17, and struck gold a year later with “Pirates of the Caribbean.” Now, as Lizzie Bennet in Focus Features and Working Title’s adaptation of “Pride & Prejudice,” Blighty’s hottest bright young thing has proven that she’s got what it takes to play with grownups.

“It was exciting doing the film and it’s even better that people actually like it,” says Knightley, who’s been obsessed with the Jane Austen classic since she was a little girl. “I had it on book tape and listened to it on a loop. I even had two dollhouses called Longbourne and Pemberley, like the houses in the story.”

Yet, when she was actually offered the part of Lizzie, her agent had to persuade her to take it. “This is one of my favorite characters in the English literature and I couldn’t bear it if I ruined it.”

As a result, Knightley took her preparations for the part very seriously, learning the entire script by heart prior to rehearsals, rereading and cross-referencing the book with the scenes in the film.

“I was really nervous, so I became a bit of a swat,” says Knightley, who describes herself as a “workaholic.”

The three-week rehearsal period was crucial because it helped Knightley to click with the actors.

“This is actually the first time that I’ve worked with people my own age. We were an incredibly close unit and it was like we were five sisters.”

This sense of authenticity was encouraged by Joe Wright, a first-time feature director who asked her to be as natural in front of the camera as possible.

“He kept going, ‘Don’t act! Be more like you, more Keira!’”

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