Dame Kristin Ann Scott Thomas, DBE (born 24 May 1960) is an English actress who also holds French citizenship. A five-time BAFTA Award and Olivier Award nominee, she won the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994) and the Olivier Award for Best Actress in 2008 for the Royal Court revival of The Seagull. She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for The English Patient (1996).
Scott Thomas made her film debut in Under the Cherry Moon (1986), and won the Evening Standard Film Award for Most Promising Newcomer for A Handful of Dust (1988). Her other notable films include Bitter Moon (1992), Mission: Impossible (1996), The Horse Whisperer (1998), Gosford Park (2001), The Valet (2006), and Tell No One (2007). She won the European Film Award for Best Actress for Philippe Claudel's I've Loved You So Long (2008), etc.
She was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2003 Birthday Honours and Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2015 New Year Honours for services to drama. She was named a Chevalier of the Légion d'honneur by the French Government in 2005.
Kristin Scott Thomas was born in Redruth, Cornwall. Her mother, Deborah (née Hurlbatt), was brought up in Hong Kong and Africa, and studied drama before marrying Kristin's father, Lieutenant Commander Simon Scott Thomas, a pilot in the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm who died in a flying accident when Kristin was aged five. She has a younger sister Scott Thomas.
The childhood home of Scott Thomas was in Trent, Dorset, England. Her mother remarried to another Royal Navy pilot, Lieutenant Commander Simon Idiens who also died in a flying, six years after the death of her father. Scott Thomas was educated at Cheltenham Ladies' College and St Antony's Leweston in Sherborne, Dorset, both independent schools.
On leaving school in 1978, she moved to Hampstead, London, and worked in a department store. She began training to become a drama teacher at the Central School of Speech and Drama, enrolling on a BEd in Speech and Drama. After a year at Central, speaking French fluently, she decided to move to Paris to work as an au pair and studied acting at the École Nationale supérieure des arts et techniques du théâtre (ENSATT). When she was 25, she was cast as Mary Sharon in the film Under the Cherry Moon (1986), the first but widely panned film directed by and starring the already well-known musical artist, Prince.
Her breakthrough role was playing Brenda Last in an adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's A Handful of Dust (1988), winning her the Evening Standard British Film Award for the most promising newcomer. This was followed by roles opposite Hugh Grant in Bitter Moon and Four Weddings and a Funeral where she won a BAFTA for Best Supporting Actress.
In 1994, she starred in the Romanian–French film An Unforgettable Summer, in which she played Marie-Thérèse Von Debretsy. Rather than learn Romanian for the part, she read her lines phonetically. In an interview for Gloucester Citizen on 22 March 2015, she cited An Unforgettable Summer as one of the films that she is most proud of alongside The English Patient and Only God Forgives.
1996 saw the release of the film with her most famous role as Katharine Clifton, The English Patient, which gained her Golden Globe and Oscar nominations as well as critical acclaim. This was followed by a brief period working in Hollywood on films such as The Horse Whisperer with Robert Redford and Random Hearts with Harrison Ford. However, growing disillusioned with Hollywood, she took a year off to give birth to her third child.
She returned to the stage in 2001 when she played the title role in a French theatre production of Racine's Bérénice, and appeared on-screen as Lady Sylvia McCordle in Robert Altman's Gosford Park. This started a critically acclaimed second career on stage, in which she has received four nominations for a Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actress, including one win, for her performance of Arkadina in a London West End production of Anton Chekhov's The Seagull.
Scott Thomas has also acted in French films. In 2006, she played the role of Hélène, in French, in Ne le dis à personne (Tell No One), by French director Guillaume Canet. In 2008, Scott Thomas received many accolades for her performance in Il y a longtemps que je t'aime (I've Loved You So Long), including BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations for Best Actress.
In 2015, she appeared in Suite Française, the film adaptation of Irène Némirovsky's World War II novel directed by Saul Dibb.
In 2017 she was nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role at the 71st British Academy Film Awards for portraying Clementine Churchill in Joe Wright's Darkest Hour.
In 2020, Scott Thomas played Mrs. Danvers in director Ben Wheatley's adaptation of Daphne du Maurier's Gothic romance Rebecca, with Armie Hammer and Lily James.
Scott Thomas is divorced from François Olivennes, a French gynaecologist, with whom she has three children: Hannah (1988), Joseph (1991) and George (2000). She has lived in France since she was 19, brought up her three children in Paris, and sometimes considers herself more French than British.
Katharine Houghton Hepburn (May 12, 1907 – June 29, 2003) was an American actress of film, stage, and television. Hepburn's career as a Hollywood leading lady spanned more than 60 years. Known for her headstrong independence and spirited personality, she cultivated a screen persona that matched this public image, and regularly played strong-willed, sophisticated women. Her work came in a range of genres, from screwball comedy to literary drama, and she received four Academy Awards for Best Actress—a record for any performer.
Hepburn famously shunned the Hollywood publicity machine and she refused to conform to society's expectations of women. She was outspoken, assertive, and athletic, and wore trousers before they were fashionable for women. She was briefly married as a young woman but thereafter lived independently. With her unconventional lifestyle and the independent characters she brought to the screen, Hepburn epitomized the "modern woman" in the 20th-century United States, and is remembered as an important cultural figure.
Hepburn was born on May 12, 1907, in Hartford, Connecticut, the second of six children. Her parents were Thomas Norval Hepburn (1879–1962), a urologist at Hartford Hospital, and Katharine Martha Houghton (1878–1951), a feminist campaigner. Both parents fought for social change in the US
The Hepburn children were raised to exercise freedom of speech and encouraged to think and debate on any topic they wished. Hepburn said she realized from a young age that she was the product of "two very remarkable parents", and credited her "enormously lucky" upbringing with providing the foundation for her success. She remained close to her family throughout her life.
The young Hepburn was a tomboy who liked to call herself Jimmy and cut her hair short. Her father was eager for his children to use their minds and bodies to the limit and taught them to swim, run, dive, ride, wrestle, and play golf and tennis. Golf became a passion of Hepburn's; she took daily lessons and became very adept, reaching the semi-final of the Connecticut Young Women's Golf Championship. She loved swimming in Long Island Sound, and took ice-cold baths every morning in the belief that "the bitterer the medicine, the better it was for you".
Hepburn was a fan of movies from a young age and went to see one every Saturday night. She would put on plays and perform for her neighbors with friends and siblings for 50 cents a ticket to raise money for the Navajo people.
In March 1921, Hepburn's 15-year-old brother Tom killed himself. The incident made the 13-year-old Hepburn nervous, moody, and suspicious of people. She shied away from other children, dropped out of Oxford School, and was tutored privately. For many years she used Tom's birthday (November 8) as her own. It was not until her 1991 autobiography, Me: Stories of My Life, that Hepburn revealed her true birth date.
In 1924 Hepburn was admitted to Bryn Mawr College. Hepburn was drawn to acting, but roles in college plays were conditional on good grades. Once her marks had improved, she began performing regularly. She performed the lead role in a production of The Woman in the Moon in her senior year, and the positive response it received cemented Hepburn's plans to pursue a theatrical career. She graduated with a degree in history and philosophy in June 1928.
Hepburn left university determined to become an actress. Her first appearance on the stage was in Baltimore just after her graduation. It was a small role in the play The Czarina for which she received good reviews, but she was criticized for her shrill voice in her second performance, and left Baltimore to study with a voice tutor in New York City.
Her Broadway debut came on November 12, 1928, at the Cort Theatre, but reviews for the show were poor, and it closed after eight nights.
On December 12, 1928, she quit her job as an understudy in the play Holiday, married Ludlow Ogden Smith, a socialite-businessman from Philadelphia whom she met while a student at Bryn Mawr. She was 21 and he was 29. Smith changed his name to S. Ogden Ludlow at her behest so that she would not be "Kate Smith", which she considered too plain. She planned to leave the theatre behind but began to miss the work and quickly resumed her previous job.
For the next few years, Hepburn tried and failed various time as broadway actress.
Then finally, while playing in The Warrior's Husband, she was spotted by a scout for the Hollywood agent Leland Hayward, who asked her to test for the part of Sydney Fairfield in the upcoming RKO film A Bill of Divorcement.
Offered the role, Hepburn demanded $1,500 a week, a large amount for an unknown actress. The director of the film George Cukor was impressed by her and encouraged the studio to accept her demands and they signed Hepburn to a temporary contract with a three-week guarantee.
Hepburn arrived in California in July 1932, at 25 years old. She starred in A Bill of Divorcement opposite John Barrymore, but showed no sign of intimidation. Although she struggled to adapt to the nature of film acting, Hepburn was fascinated by the industry from the start. The picture was a success and Hepburn received positive reviews.
On the strength of A Bill of Divorcement, RKO signed her to a long-term contract. George Cukor became a lifetime friend and colleague—he and Hepburn made ten films together.
Hepburn's third picture confirmed her as a major actress in Hollywood. For playing aspiring actress Eva Lovelace in Morning Glory, she won an Academy Award for Best Actress. Hepburn chose not to attend the awards ceremony—as she would not for the duration of her career—but was thrilled with the win. Her success continued with the role of Jo in t he film Little Women (1933). The picture was a hit, one of the film industry's biggest successes to date, and Hepburn won the Best Actress prize at the Venice Film Festival. Little Women was one of Hepburn's personal favorites and she was proud of her performance.
By the end of 1933, Hepburn was a respected film actress, but she yearned to prove herself on Broadway. Jed Harris, one of the most successful theatre producers of the 1920s, was going through a career slump. He asked Hepburn to appear in the play The Lake, which she agreed to do for a low salary. Harris' poor direction had eroded Hepburn's confidence, and she struggled with the performance. Finally not wanting to continue in a failing show, she paid Harris $14,000, most of her life savings to close the production instead.
After moving to Hollywood in 1932 Hepburn was estranged from her husband and in 1934, she traveled to Mexico to get a quick divorce. Hepburn often expressed her gratitude toward Ludlow Ogden Smith for his financial and moral support in the early days of her career, and in her autobiography called herself "a terrible pig" for exploiting his love. The pair remained friends until his death in 1979.
Soon after moving to California, Hepburn began a relationship with her agent, Leland Hayward, although they were both married. Hayward proposed to the actress after they had both divorced, but she declined, later explaining, "I liked the idea of being my own single self." The affair lasted four years.
After the failure of several more forgettable films, success returned to Hepburn with Alice Adams (1935), the story of a girl's desperation to climb the social ladder. Hepburn loved the book and was delighted to be offered the role. The film was a hit, one of Hepburn's personal favorites, and gave the actress her second Oscar nomination.
But she then made four unsuccessful pictures in a row. and alongside a series of unpopular films, problems arose from Hepburn's attitude, in particular toward the press, which gave her the nickname "Katharine of Arrogance".
Hepburn was known for being fiercely private, and would not give interviews or talk to fans for much of her career. She distanced herself from the celebrity lifestyle, uninterested in a social scene she saw as tedious and superficial, and she wore casual clothes that went strongly against convention in an era of glamour. She rarely appeared in public, even avoiding restaurants, and once wrestled a camera out of a photographer's hand when he took a picture without asking.
The public was also baffled by her boyish behavior and fashion choices, and she became a largely unpopular figure.
For the next years, RKO tried resurrecting her popularity. But after the release of Howard Hawks' screwball comedy Bringing Up Baby (1938), where she played opposite Cary Grant, hugely popular at the time, the Independent Theatre Owners of America included Hepburn on a list of actors considered "box office poison".
Hepburn opted to buy out her contract with RKO for $75,000 and took action to create her own comeback vehicle. She left Hollywood to look for a stage project, and signed on to star in Philip Barry's new play, The Philadelphia Story. It was tailored to showcase the actress, with the character of socialite Tracy Lord incorporating a mixture of humor, aggression, nervousness, and vulnerability. Howard Hughes, Hepburn's partner at the time, sensed that the play could be her ticket back to Hollywood stardom and bought her the film rights before it even debuted on stage.
Hepburn was introduced to Howard Hughes by Cary Grant, their mutual friend, and started a relationship with him in 1936.
Hughes wished to marry her, and the tabloids reported their impending nuptials, but Hepburn stayed focused on resurrecting her failing career.
The Philadelphia Story first toured the United States, to positive reviews, and then opened in New York at the Schubert Theatre on March 28, 1939. It was a big hit, critically and financially, running for 417 performances and then going on a second successful tour.
Several of the major film studios approached Hepburn to produce the movie version of Barry's play. She chose to sell the rights to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), Hollywood's number one studio, on the condition that she be the star. As part of the deal she also received the director of her choice, George Cukor, and picked James Stewart and Cary Grant (to whom she ceded top-billing) as co-stars
The Philadelphia Story was one of the biggest hits of 1940, breaking records at Radio City Music Hall. Hepburn was nominated for her third Academy Award for Best Actress, and won the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress while Stewart won his only Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance.
Hepburn was also responsible for the development of her next project, the romantic comedy Woman of the Year. She presented the finished product to MGM and demanded $250,000—half for her, half for the authors. Her terms accepted, Hepburn was also given the director and co-star of her choice, George Stevens and Spencer Tracy.
Tracy was initially wary of Hepburn, unimpressed by her dirty fingernails and suspecting that she was a lesbian, but Hepburn said she "knew right away that [she] found him irresistible".
On Hepburn and Tracy's first day on set together, she allegedly told Tracy "I'm afraid I'm too tall for you" to which Tracy replied, "Don't worry Miss Hepburn, I'll soon cut you down to my size."
Released in 1942, Woman of the Year was another success, and Hepburn received a fourth Academy Award nomination. During the course of the movie, Hepburn signed a star contract with MGM.
Since Woman of the Year, Hepburn had committed to a romantic relationship with Tracy. She was 34 and he was 41.
Tracy remained married throughout their relationship. Although he and his wife Louise had been living separate lives since the 1930s, there was never an official split and neither party pursued a divorce. Hepburn did not interfere, and never fought for marriage. She stuck to her decision not to remarry and made a conscious choice not to have children. She believed that motherhood requires a full-time commitment, and said it was not one she was willing to make.
With Tracy determined to conceal the relationship with Hepburn from his wife, it had to remain private. They were careful not to be seen in public together and maintained separate residences.
MGM reunited Hepburn with Tracy in Without Love (1945), which received poor reviews, but a new Tracy–Hepburn pairing was popular, selling a record number of tickets over the Easter weekend in 1945.
Since the beginning of their relationship, Hepburn dedicated herself to helping the star, who suffered from alcoholism, insomnia and was frequently depressed;
Reports from people who saw them together describe how Hepburn's entire demeanor changed when around Tracy. She mothered and obeyed him, and Tracy became heavily dependent on her.
Her career slowed as a result, and she worked less for the remainder of the decade than she had done in the 1930s—notably by not appearing on-stage again until 1950.
Tracy and Hepburn appeared onscreen together for a third consecutive year in the 1949 film Adam's Rib which was a hit, favorably reviewed and the most profitable Tracy–Hepburn picture to date.
The 1950s saw Hepburn take on a series of professional challenges, and stretch herself further than at any other point in her life at an age when most other actresses began to retreat.
In January 1950, Hepburn ventured into Shakespeare, playing Rosalind on stage in As You Like It. It opened at the Cort Theatre in New York to a capacity audience and was virtually sold out for 148 shows.
In 1951, Hepburn filmed The African Queen, her first movie in Technicolor. Co-starring Humphrey Bogart, Hepburn got her fifth Best Actress nomination at the Academy Awards for her performance, while Bogart was awarded his Academy Award for Best Actor(The only one in his career). The first successful film she had made without Tracy since The Philadelphia Story a decade earlier, it proved that she could be a hit without him and fully reestablished her popularity.
Hepburn went on to make the sports comedy Pat and Mike (1952) with Spencer Tracy, which brought her a nomination for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress and was also Hepburn's personal favorite of the nine films she made with Tracy.
Pat and Mike was the last film Hepburn completed on her MGM contract, making her free to select her own projects. She spent two years resting and traveling, before committing to David Lean's romantic drama Summertime (1955). The movie was filmed in Venice, with Hepburn playing a lonely spinster who has a passionate love affair. The role earned her another Academy Award nomination and has been cited as some of her finest work. Lean later said it was his personal favorite of the films he made, and Hepburn his favorite actress.
Hepburn received an Academy Award nomination for the second year running for her work opposite Burt Lancaster in The Rainmaker (1956). Again she played a lonely woman empowered by a love affair. Hepburn said "I was playing me. It wasn't difficult for me to play those women, because I'm the maiden aunt."
In the film adaptation of Tennessee Williams' controversial play Suddenly, Last Summer (1959) with Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift, Hepburn played a creepy aunt Violet Venable which gave Hepburn her eighth Oscar nomination.
Hepburn earned her ninth Oscar nomination for her role Sidney Lumet's film version of Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night (1962).
Spencer Tracy's health declined in the 1960s, and following the completion of Long Day's Journey Into Night, Hepburn took a five-year break in her career to care for him. She moved into Tracy's house for this period.
She did not work again until 1967's Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, her ninth film with Tracy. The movie dealt with the subject of interracial marriage, with Hepburn's niece, Katharine Houghton, playing her daughter. Tracy was dying by this point, suffering the effects of heart disease, and Houghton later commented that her aunt was "extremely tense" during the production.
Spencer Tracy died 17 days on June 10, 1967 after filming his last scene, and Hepburn was with him when he died. Out of consideration for Tracy's family, she did not attend his funeral.
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner was a triumphant return for Hepburn and her most commercially successful picture to that point. She won her second Best Actress Award at the Oscars, 34 years after winning her first. Hepburn felt the award was not just for her but was also given to honor Tracy.
Hepburn quickly returned to acting after Tracy's death, choosing to preoccupy herself as a remedy against grief.
She chose to play Eleanor of Aquitaine in The Lion in Winter (1968), co-starring Peter O'Toole. The movie was nominated in all the major categories at the Academy Awards, and for the second year running Hepburn won the Oscar for Best Actress (shared with Barbra Streisand for Funny Girl). The role, combined with her performance in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, also received a British Academy Film Award (BAFTA) for Best Actress.
From December 1969 to August 1970, Hepburn starred in the Broadway musical Coco, about the life of Coco Chanel. She admitted that before the show, she had never sat through a theatrical musical. She was not a strong singer, but found the offer irresistible and took vocal lessons six times a week in preparation for the show. Reviews for the production were mediocre, but Hepburn herself was praised, and Coco was popular with the public—with its run twice extended. She later said Coco marked the first time she accepted that the public was not against her, but actually seemed to love her. Her work earned a Tony Award nomination for Best Actress in a Musical.
Hepburn stayed active throughout the 1970s. In 1973, she ventured into television for the first time, starring in a production of Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie. She had been wary of the medium, but it proved to be one of the main television events of the year, scoring high in the Nielsen ratings. Hepburn received an Emmy Award nomination for playing wistful Southern mother Amanda Wingfield, which opened her mind to future work on the small screen. Her next project was the television movie Love Among the Ruins (1975), a London-based Edwardian drama with her friend Laurence Olivier. It received positive reviews and high ratings and earned Hepburn her only Emmy Award.
Despite her zeal for privacy, she enjoyed her fame, and later confessed that she would not have liked the press to ignore her completely. The protective attitude toward her private life thawed as she aged; beginning with a two-hour-long interview on The Dick Cavett Show in 1973, Hepburn became more open with the public.
In 1976, Hepburn was voted "Favorite Motion Picture Actress" by the People's Choice Awards. In 1979, she played in the television movie The Corn Is Green (1979), the last of ten films Hepburn made with George Cukor. The film gained her a third Emmy nomination.
By the 1980s, Hepburn had developed a noticeable tremor, giving her a permanently shaking head. But she continued working, playing opposite Henry Fonda in On Golden Pond, which was the second-highest-grossing film of 1981. It demonstrated how energetic the 74-year-old Hepburn was, as she dived fully clothed into Squam Lake and gave a lively singing performance. The film won her a second BAFTA and a record fourth Academy Award. Henry Fonda won his only Academy Award for his role in the movie, the third male screen legend (after James Stewart and Humphrey Bogart) who won his only Academy Award acting alongside Hepburn.
Hepburn's reputation as one of America's best loved actors was firmly established by this point, as she was named favorite movie actress in a survey by People magazine and again won the popularity award from People's Choice.
Hepburn never talk publicly about her feelings for Spencer Tracy until his wife Louise Tracy's death in 1983. In response to the question of why she stayed with Tracy for so long, despite the nature of their relationship, she said, "I honestly don't know. I can only say that I could never have left him." She claimed to not know how he felt about her, and that they "just passed twenty-seven years together in what was to me absolute bliss".
In 1985, she presented a television documentary about the life and career of Spencer Tracy. The majority of Hepburn's roles from this point were in television movies, which did not receive the critical praise of her earlier work in the medium, but remained popular with audiences. With each release, Hepburn would declare it her final screen appearance, but she continued to take on new roles.
In 1986 Hepburn received a lifetime achievement award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America in recognition of her influence on women's fashion. She pioneered wearing trousers at a time when it was a radical move for a woman. She helped make trousers acceptable for women, and fans began to imitate her clothing.
In 1991, Hepburn released her autobiography, Me: Stories of My Life, which topped best-seller lists for over a year.
The actress led an active life, reportedly swimming and playing tennis every morning. In her eighties she was still playing tennis regularly, as indicated in her 1993 documentary All About Me. She also enjoyed painting, which became a passion later in life.
Hepburn liked to go barefoot, and for her first acting role in the play The Woman in the Moon she insisted that her character Pandora should not wear shoes. Offscreen, she usually dressed in slacks and sandals, even for formal occasions like TV interviews. In her own words, "the thing that drove me out of skirts was the stocking situation... That's why I've always worn pants...that way you can always go barefoot".
She did not believe in religion or the afterlife. In 1991, Hepburn told a journalist, "I'm an atheist, and that's it. I believe there's nothing we can know, except that we should be kind to each other and do what we can for other people."
Hepburn's final appearance in a theatrically released film, and her first since Grace Quigley nine years earlier, was Love Affair (1994). At 87 years old, she played a supporting role, alongside Annette Bening and Warren Beatty.
Hepburn played her final role in the television film One Christmas (1994), for which she received a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination at 87 years old.
Her health began to deteriorate not long after her final screen appearance, and she was hospitalized in March 1993 for exhaustion. In the winter of 1996, she was hospitalized with pneumonia. By 1997, she had become very weak and was speaking and eating very little, and it was feared she would die. She showed signs of dementia in her final years.
In May 2003, an aggressive tumor was found in Hepburn's neck. The decision was made not to medically intervene, and she died from cardiac arrest on June 29, 2003, a month after her 96th birthday at the Hepburn family home in Fenwick, Connecticut.
She was buried in Cedar Hill Cemetery in Hartford. Hepburn requested that there be no memorial service.
Hepburn's death received considerable public attention. Many tributes were held on television, and newspapers and magazines dedicated issues to the actress. American president George W. Bush said Hepburn "will be remembered as one of the nation's artistic treasures". In honor of her extensive theatre work, the lights of Broadway were dimmed for the evening of July 1, 2003.
"I think I'm always the same. I had a very definite personality, and I liked material that showed that personality."
Hepburn is considered an important and influential cultural figure. She is named in Encyclopædia Britannica's list of "300 Women Who Changed the World". In 1999, the American Film Institute named Hepburn the "greatest American screen legend" among females. A number of Hepburn's films have become classics of American cinema, with four of her pictures (The African Queen, The Philadelphia Story, Bringing Up Baby, and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner) featured on the American Film Institute's list of the 100 Greatest American Films of all time. Adam's Rib and Woman of the Year were included in the AFI's list of the Greatest American Comedies.
In 2004, in accordance with Hepburn's wishes, her belongings were put up for auction with Sotheby's in New York City. The event garnered $5.8 million, which Hepburn willed to her family.
Keira Christina Righton, OBE (born 26 March 1985) is a British actress. She has starred in both independent films and big-budget blockbusters, and is particularly noted for her roles in period dramas. Her accolades include two Empire Awards and nominations for two Academy Awards, two British Academy Film Awards, three Golden Globe Awards, one Screen Actors Guild Award and one Laurence Olivier Award. Knightley was appointed an OBE in the 2018 Birthday Honours for services to drama and charity.
Born in London to actors Will Knightley and Sharman Macdonald, Knightley obtained an agent at age six, and initially worked commercials and television films. She appeared as Sabé, Padmé Amidala's handmaiden, in science fiction blockbuster Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999). Despite her work, she struggled to break through until portraying a tomboy footballer in sports film Bend It Like Beckham (2001). Knightley achieved global stardom at age 18 for portraying Elizabeth Swann in fantasy swashbuckler series Pirates of the Caribbean. In the same year, she appeared in the Christmas romantic comedy Love Actually (2003) and was labelled a promising teen star.
She portrayed Elizabeth Bennet in Joe Wright's adaption of Pride & Prejudice (2005), which earned Knightley her first nominations for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress and an Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role. At age 20, she became the third-youngest Best Actress nominee. Knightley starred in a series of further period pieces, portraying a complex love interest in Atonement (2007), tastemaker Georgiana Cavendish in The Duchess (2008), and the titular socialite in Anna Karenina (2012). She then forayed into contemporary dramas, appearing as an aspiring musician in Begin Again (2013) and a medical student in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014). Knightley returned to historical films by playing cryptoanalyst Joan Clarke in The Imitation Game (2014), earning her a second round of Academy Award and BAFTA nominations, and starred as the eponymous belle époque writer in Colette (2018) to critical acclaim.
On stage, Knightley has appeared in two West End productions: The Misanthrope in 2009, which earned her an Olivier Award nomination, and The Children's Hour in 2011. She also starred as the eponymous heroine in the 2015 Broadway production of Thérèse Raquin. Knightley is known for her outspoken stance on social issues, and has worked extensively with Amnesty International, Oxfam, and Comic Relief. Knightley married musician James Righton in 2013; they have two children.
Keira Christina Knightley was born on 26 March 1985 in the Teddington suburb of London, to theatre actors Will Knightley and Sharman Macdonald. Her father is English and her mother is of Scottish and Welsh ancestry. She was meant to be named "Kiera", the anglicised form of "Kira", after Kira Ivanova, whom her father admired. However, her mother misspelled the name when she went to register Knightley, writing the "e" before the "i". Macdonald worked as a playwright after her career as an actress came to an end.
Knightley has an older brother, Caleb.Knightley's parents encountered substantial financial difficulties after the birth of her brother.
Knightley attended Teddington School. At age six, she was diagnosed with dyslexia but by the time she was 11, with her parents' support, Knightley says, "they deemed me to have got over it sufficiently." She is still a slow reader and cannot read out loud. At age three, she expressed the desire for an agent like her parents and got one at six. Knightley performed in a number of local amateur productions, which included After Juliet, written by her mother, and United States, written by her drama teacher. She focused on art, history, and English literature while studying at Esher College, but left after a year to pursue an acting career. Her mother's friends encouraged her to go to drama school, which she declined for financial and professional reasons.
Since age six, Knightley began working in commercials and small television roles. Her first on-screen appearance was in the 1993 Screen One television episode titled "Royal Celebration". After appearing in a spate of television films through the mid-to-late 1990s, Knightley landed the role of Sabé, Padmé Amidala's handmaiden and decoy, in the 1999 science fiction blockbuster Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. Her dialogue was dubbed over by Natalie Portman, who played Padmé. Knightley was cast in the role because of her close resemblance to Portman; even the two actresses' mothers had difficulty telling their daughters apart when they were in full make-up.
In her first major role, the 2001 Walt Disney Productions feature film Princess of Thieves, Knightley played the daughter of Robin Hood. In preparation for the film, she trained for several weeks in archery, fencing, and horse riding.
Knightley also took on the role of Lara Antipova in the 2002 miniseries adaptation of Doctor Zhivago, to positive reviews and high ratings.
Despite having appeared in over a dozen film and television roles, Knightley struggled to get a breakthrough. That changed in 2002, when she starred in Gurinder Chadha's sports comedy film Bend It Like Beckham, which was a smash hit both in the UK and in the US, grossing over $76.6 million. Knightley portrayed Jules, a tomboy football player struggling against social norms who convinces her friend to pursue the sport. Knightley and her co-star Parminder Nagra attracted international attention for their performances in the film.
Knightley portrayed the role of Elizabeth Swann, in the 2003 American fantasy swashbuckler film Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. The film, based on the Disney theme park attraction, revolves around infamous buccaneer Jack Sparrow and blacksmith Will Turner rescuing Swann, in possession of a cursed golden medallion, from 18th-century pirates. The film opened at number one on the box office, and became one of the highest-grossing releases of the year, with worldwide revenues of $654 million.
Also in 2003, Knightley appeared in Richard Curtis' Christmas-themed romantic comedy Love Actually, featuring an ensemble cast, which included her childhood idol Emma Thompson. Knightley portrays Juliet, a woman whose fiancée’s best man is secretly in love with her. Knightley believes the film's trajectory to be "extraordinary", given that its popularity resurfaced a few years after the film's release.
Knightley's most successful release in 2005 was Pride & Prejudice, a period drama based on Jane Austen's novel Pride and Prejudice. Knightley, who had admired the book from a young age, said of her character, "The beauty of Elizabeth is that every woman who ever reads the book seems to recognise herself, with all her faults and imperfections." On release, the film became a huge commercial success, with total collections of around US$120 million worldwide, and received positive reviews from critics. Knightley earned Best Actress in a Leading Role nominations at the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards for her performance at age 20, becoming the third-youngest nominee for the latter.
Knightley's consecutive successes came with increased media scrutiny, and she later admitted to having struggled with her mental health during this period.
In 2006, she reprised her role as Elizabeth Swann in the second and third productions of the Pirates of the Caribbean series. The Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, released in July 2006. With the worldwide collections of $1.066 billion, it became the biggest financial hit in Knightley's career. The third instalment in the series, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, was released in May, the following year.
In 2008, Knightley appeared in wartime drama The Edge of Love. The film had her play the role of Vera Phillips, a childhood friend of Welsh poet Dylan Thomas and his wife Caitlin Macnamara. Knightley wrote the script with her mother, Sharman Macdonald, with Macnamara in mind. She based her performance on Marlene Dietrich.
Knightley then starred as the 18th-century English aristocrat Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire in Saul Dibb's period drama The Duchess (2008), based on the best-selling biographical novel, Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire by Amanda Foreman. The film tells the story of Georgiana's rise in society as a sociopolitical tastemaker after her marriage deorientates.
The script Knightley was sent was covered in "huge white ostrich feathers" and a gold ribbon. Knightley was attracted to her character's strength and status as a political influence and fashion prowess, while being inwardly vulnerable and isolated. The following year, she was nominated for a British Independent Film Award for Best Actress.
Knightley made her West End debut with Martin Crimp's version of Molière's comedy The Misanthrope, staged at London's Comedy Theatre in December 2009. She portrayed Jennifer, a shallow, amorous, and vulnerable American film star who is courted by an analytical and veracious playwright. Knightley chose the role as she felt that "if I don't do theatre right now, I think I'm going to start being too terrified to do it" and described the production as an "extraordinary and incredibly fulfilling" experience. In recognition of her theatre debut, Knightley was nominated for the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role and an Evening Standard Award.
Knightley began the new decade with three films, including Never Let Me Go, an adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro's novel of the same name. Knightley described the script as unique, one that made the reader think. Knightley played Ruth, one of three graduates of an autocratic boarding school that discovers their fates in a dystopia.
Knightley starred in a 2011 revival of The Children's Hour by Lillian Hellman at the Comedy Theatre in London. She portrayed Karen Wright, an engaged schoolteacher accused of lesbianism in 1934.
Knightley's only film of 2011 was David Cronenberg's historical drama A Dangerous Method. Based on writer Christopher Hampton's 2002 stage play The Talking Cure and set on the eve of World War I, the film depicts the turbulent relationships between fledgling psychiatrist Carl Jung, his mentor Sigmund Freud and Sabina Spielrein. Knightley portrayed Spielrein, the troubled but beautiful young psychoanalyst who comes between Jung and Freud. Knightley spent four months reading and discussing her character's behavior with psychologists to prepare for the role.She appre ciated the depth and variety of her character arc, which she viewed as rare for female roles. The film premiered at the 68th Venice International Film Festival to a positive reception.
In 2012 Knightley reunited with director Joe Wright to film their third production, Anna Karenina, in which she starred as the title character. She said this collaboration is the most important of her career.
In 2014, Knightley played against Benedict Cumberbatch in Morten Tyldum's historical drama The Imitation Game, a film based on the life of British mathematician Alan Turing(Benedict Cumberbatch). Knightley portrayed cryptanalyst and numismatist Joan Clarke, who decrypted German intelligence codes for the British government during World War II with Turing. The Imitation Game became a critical and commercial success grossing over $233.6 million. For her performance, Knightley received her second Academy Award and BAFTA Award nominations, and third Golden Globe Award nomination, all for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.
In October 2015, Knightley made her Broadway debut playing the title role in Helen Edmundson's adaptation of Émile Zola's Thérèse Raquin at Studio 54.
In 2018, Knightley starred in the biographical drama Colette as the titular French author. The film depicts Colette's social ascent in belle époque society through her provocative novels, but is exploited by her husband, who plagiarizes her work. The film, released at the Sundance Film Festival, was critically successful, with Knightley's performance receiving acclaim.
Despite multiple successful films and award nominations, the criticism affected her, and Knightley felt that she "didn't know [her] trade." Media scrutiny decreased as her career progressed, and she spaces out her public appearances to maintain attention on her films. Beginning in the 2010s, Knightley regained confidence in her abilities, and by the release of Colette (2018), she felt she had learned her craft and mentally occupied a "good place where I feel pretty confident about what I can do".
Knightley has been widely recognized for her extenstive repertoire of period dramas throughout her career and is reputed for her signature "strong female lead" parts. She has been compared to actresses Katharine Hepburn, Greta Garbo, Audrey Hepburn, and Nicole Kidman.
In a 2004 BBC poll, Knightleywas named among the most influential people in British culture. She has been included several times on FHM's "100 Sexiest Women in the World" list, making her first appearance in 2004 and topping the list in 2006; she was included in every subsequent issue until 2009. She was part of the American editions of the list from 2004 to 2006, and was also placed ninth on the Maxim Hot 100 list in 2006.
Knightley is the face of an Amnesty International campaign to support human rights, marking the 60th anniversary of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. She is also involved in various other charity works.
Knightley was the celebrity face for the luxury goods brands like Aspres, Shiatzy Chen, Lux haircare products, Chanel's perfume Coco Mademoiselle, and has endorsed Chanel Fine Jewellery's collection Coco Crush.
In 2008, Knightley was the highest-earning British Hollywood star according to the Forbes Celebrity 100 list and was named amongst the most bankable actors in 2009.
Knightley began a relationship with musician James Righton in February 2011. They were married on 4 May 2013 in Mazan, France. The couple have two daughters, Edie, born in May 2015, and Delilah, born in September 2019. The family live in Canonbury, London.