Keira Knightley Hates What Johnny Depp's $4.5B Franchise Did To Her

Keira Knightley Hates What Johnny Depp's $4.5B Franchise Did To Her
Image credit: A24, Legion-Media, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

The Elizabeth Swann star still can't stomach how Pirates of the Caribbean turned her into someone she wasn't supposed to be and trapped her like that for years.


  • The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise became a breakthrough for Keira Knightley.
  • Her Elizabeth Swann was very different from all the previous characters she’d portrayed.
  • Being presented as “the object of everybody’s lust” was an unwelcome and hard to accept change for the actress.

Pirates of the Caribbean is among the most popular movie franchises ever, and these films brought in a grand total of over $4.5B to Disney and made their lead stars unfathomably rich. As successful as they come, it’s hard to imagine that some PotC actors were not happy with where they found themselves after the movies.

But for Keira Knightley, Pirates of the Caribbean was a turning point that came suddenly and differently than she’d imagined — and she hated what it did to her.

Keira Knightley Was Different Before Pirates

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Prior to joining the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise (which wasn’t even planned as a franchise at the time), Keira Knightley wasn’t a newbie actress. She’d already starred in over a dozen movies and TV shows, including The Phantom Menace, the iconic Episode I of Star Wars … But her previous roles were not quite the same.

Most of them were smaller than the part of Elizabeth Swann in what grew to become Johnny Depp ’s signature movie series, true. But also, none of her previous characters were as openly sexualized — not on the screen, at least. Miss Swann was blatantly presented as an object of desire, and that messed with the actress.

Keira Knightley Hated Being Perceived Like That

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Such a sudden and rapid change didn’t only affect the character, of course; Knightley herself felt like she was forced into being someone else. At first, it seemed like an interesting experience, but then she realized she didn’t like it. It was too late to change anything, though, and the actress was feeling “quite powerless.”

“[Elizabeth Swann] was the object of everybody’s lust. <...> [I was] coming from being really tomboyish to getting projected as quite the opposite. I felt very constrained. I felt very stuck. <...> It very much felt like I was caged in a thing I didn’t understand… I was incredibly hard on myself. I was never good enough,” Keira Knightley shared with Harper’s Bazaar.

The next few years after the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie were hard for the star: while she was receiving sweet offers after the fame surge, Knightley was burnt out by the constant struggle of trying to become better at her craft and find herself again, at the same time. She fared, of course — but it took quite a toll on the actress.

Source: Harper’s Bazaar