Keira Knightley gave an interview about sexual harassment… while being followed by a man she didn’t know
She may be a big Hollywood star, but Keira Knightley’s experiences of harassment aren’t as far removed from reality as you might think.
Arguably one of the world’s most recognisable faces, Keira Knightley has graced the silver screen on countless different occasions. Appearing in just about every genre of film, she has years of experience under her belt and has played everyone from football-mad Juliette ‘Jules’ Paxton in Bend It Like Beckham to the swashbuckling Elizabeth Swann in Pirates of the Caribbean.
Proving she’s as well-spoken off-screen as she is on it, the actress recently gave an interview to Harper’s Bazaar, in which she spoke candidly about life, lockdown, and what it’s like to be a woman of the world. Choosing to conduct the interview outdoors – in keeping with public health restrictions at the time – Knightley accompanied her interviewer, Lydia Slater, for a stroll around the north London neighbourhood where they both live.
Touching on a range of different topics, the conversation eventually turned to her role in an upcoming movie Ancillary Justice. Looking into questions of power – the purpose of conquest and the motivations to rule – her research led her to the audiobooks of Manda Scott’s Boudica series which Knightley says have been particularly consoling in the wake of Sarah Everard’s death and the revelations uncovered by the Everyone’s Invited forum (an anti-rape movement organisation based in the UK).
Faced with the realisation that she’s failed to call out much of the misogyny she’s personally faced throughout her life, Knightly said it was only when other women started speaking of their experiences that she registered how familiar it all sounded. “It was when women started listing all the precautions they take when they walk home to make sure they’re safe, and I thought, I do every single one of them, and I don’t even think about it. It’s f*cking depressing,” she acknowledged.
In very apt timing, it’s at that precise moment that a lone male stranger passes by, and seeing his opportunity decides to call out to Knightley. Questioning whether she’s a student at the local school as she looks “very young”, the two women “hastily depart” to a neighbouring garden square for respite… only to find the same man lingering nearby just moments later. “I think it’s quite interesting talking about this while being chased around,” the actress comments.
“I love that politician who said there ought to be a curfew for men and men were outraged, and you think – but there’s a curfew for women and there always has been,” she continued. As for her own experiences of harassment, well, unfortunately like most other women, Knightly has had her fair share. “I mean, everybody has. Literally, I don’t know anyone who hasn’t been, in some way, whether it’s being flashed at or groped, or some guy saying they’re going to slit your throat, or punching you in the face, or whatever it is, everybody has [experienced harassment].”
As women ourselves, Knightley’s comments don’t come as much of a surprise to us – but it’s still shocking to see things laid out so plainly. Especially when essentially all of her statements are substantiated by an unknown stranger who, unbeknownst to him, gives credence to everything Knightley has just said regarding harassment.
On a slightly less relatable front, the actress also admitted that she spent the first part of lockdown wearing red lipstick, Chanel and jumping on her trampoline with her daughter. Blessed with a wardrobe of beautiful clothes but nowhere to wear them, she decided to forgo the rules and just dress up at home. “We have a trampoline in our garden, and we decided we were only allowed to wear dresses on it. I put on red lipstick every day, and every bit of Chanel that I have in my cupboard, and my daughter Edie had Chanel ribbons plaited into her hair and fairy wings,” she said. Her husband James Righton was allowed to join, but only when dressed suitably in one of his “array of peacock-coloured Gucci suits”.
Gwyneth Paltrow “broke down and ate bread during quarantine”, Knightley put her glad rags on and jumped for joy. I wore mismatched pyjamas and avoided washing my hair, but to each their own I suppose.