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September 6, 2005

Keira Knightley on Love and Fear

Keira Knightley has been labeled many things: smug, gifted, prissy, beautiful and painfully thin. Here, she tells the startling truth about her body, living with dyslexia, what she wants out of love and the one thing that always makes her jealous

keira knightly

Photo Credit: Matthew Rolson

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Keira Knightley slips into her local coffee shop in the Maida Vale section of London wearing a black jersey dress, black clogs and an African beaded necklace. Her eyes are dark and smoky, and the whole look says disheveled Bohemian chic. "A newspaper here voted me one of the scruffiest people in Britain," Knightley says after ordering a croissant. "I'm quite proud of that. It's completely true. Most of my stuff is still packed in suitcases because I'm in between shoots right now, and everything is so crushed I can't wear any of it. I'm not one of these people who says, 'Oh no, I can't wear that because I wore it yesterday.' If it doesn't smell, it's fine." Her croissant arrives, and she tears into it.

Knightley, 20, grew up in the suburbs of London, and it's no wonder she had dreams of performing: Her father, an actor, and her mother, a playwright, were both already well-established. At the age of 3, little Keira demanded an agent, and at 6 she got one, but success took time. American audiences didn't come to know Knightley until, after a string of mostly forgettable TV roles in England and Europe, she played a tomboy soccer phenom in the sleeper hit Bend It Like Beckham. She followed that with Pirates of the Caribbean, Love Actually and The Jacket and will next be seen in Domino, in theaters this month, and Pride and Prejudice, which will be released next month.

So who is Keira Knightley? Forget the formalities that the English seem to like so much. To get this girl talking, we decided there was nothing better than a friendly (American) game of word association. We put a bunch of folded words and phrases into a hat: These are the words she drew.

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