Keira Knightley: ‘I think that often women storytellers are subtler than men’

11.2018 KK Cover

I didn’t realize until very recently that Keira Knightley has several films out this fall and winter, not just Colette. Colette is the one getting a lot of attention, and truly, I would not be surprised at all if Keira got another Oscar nomination for it. The Academy loves beautiful British actresses in corsets, almost as much as they love British actors playing historical figures. Keira also has a role in Disney’s The Nutcracker (hard pass) and then in the spring, she’s in Ridley Scott’s The Aftermath, another period drama. So obviously, Keira got one of the covers for Elle Magazine’s Women In Hollywood issue – you can read the full cover story here. She sounds… matured. She’s been this way for several years now – you can tell that her 20s were complete garbage, but she’s loving her 30s. Some highlights:

On asking about her pay in relation to her male costars: “It didn’t even occur to me. It felt like something you couldn’t question. But I do ask now, and I can safely say that in my last two films, I have not made less than the men I’ve been working with.”

Becoming famous at 18, understanding the double-standards: “The double standards that women face are so extreme, particularly at that age. Men are meant to be getting drunk and falling out of clubs. Then [people] go, “Yeah, you’re cool!” But if I’d been seen as a party girl, it could’ve been the end of my career. We also live in a society that gives unbelievably difficult messages to young women. You’re meant to be thin, but not that thin. You’re supposed to go out and have sex, then people say, “No, you’re a slut.” You’re always too much of something. What’s so interesting about Colette is that she was breaking all those rules. She felt that she had the right to live her life in the way that she saw fit.

The difference between male & female directors: “Of course men can direct women brilliantly, but I think that often women storytellers are subtler than men. And I think that often their work gets devalued because of the subtlety, and that’s ridiculous. There is also ageism with directors: You want the young, sexy female directors, but you don’t necessarily want the middle-aged female directors. We need all those voices. We need to be talking about how difficult it is for women to work with small children, too. We’re losing loads of women because with the way the industry is set up, they can’t direct and have kids at the same time.

Her biggest mistake when she was young: “I think my biggest mistake, actually, was trying to be perfect. I was so convinced there was a way to make everybody happy. But there’s joy in knowing that’s impossible. A lot of the time, trying to figure out how the f–k you get off the floor again is the most interesting part of your life.

[From Elle]

I really agree with what she says about women directors versus male directors – there are so many male directors who do brilliant work with women. BUT female directors just see the work and the story differently, they see the subtleties differently, and different doesn’t mean better or worse. But Keira’s right about the work of female directors being devalued. It’s the same with so-called “chick flicks” or “women’s films,” like the kind of corseted dramas Keira makes. They are seen as less-than because they’re made by women or made for women or made WITH women.


Photos courtesy of David Bailey for Elle Magazine, sent from Elle’s promotional email.

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3 Responses to “Keira Knightley: ‘I think that often women storytellers are subtler than men’”

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  1. Laura says:

    You know, I think for a long time I never really cared about Keira, but these last few years have gotten me to pay attention to her more and listen to what she’s saying. I’m happy she’s able to speak her mind about these things and I hope she continues to stand up for females in such a male-dominated industry.

    I think the turning point was Anna Karenina. That movie was unexpectedly brilliant for me and I’ve seen it a few times now.

  2. Alexandra Wojciechowska Tran says:

    She’s spot on.

    Also, for everyone who wants to see an excellent, hauntiny, woman-directed film I highly recommend The Kindergarten Teacher on Netflix. Maggie Gyllenhaal is incredible in it and the subtlty of the directing makes the film.

  3. Ashley says:

    HAve you seen the interview where she speaks about the letter she wrote that alot of people felt was shading Kate Middleton. Highly recommend it because she speaks so clearly and eloquently about it the fallout and feminism…I mean i’ve always loved Keira but now more than ever!!