At 12, she played Queen Amidala's lookalike handmaiden in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. A few years later, she learned how to Bend It Like Beckham. But it was the parley-demanding Elizabeth Swann in this summer's blockbuster, Pirates of the Caribbean, that really swung 18-year-old Keira Knightley into the Hollywood spotlight. With the Pirates DVD hitting stores today, Knightley gave TV Guide Online a behind-the-scenes look at her experience making the swashbuckling hit. The British beauty shares her thoughts on Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom and that darn corset.
TV Guide Online: Elizabeth Swann holds her own among a fearsome crew of pirates. How did you prepare for that part?
Knightley: I didn't do any preparation at all. I was meant to be a damsel in distress, but as we went along, [director] Gore Verbinski and the writers decided that I needed to get involved, and that it would be very boring if all I was doing was screaming and being rescued all the time. So we made her into a kind of heroine. It was all very last minute.
TVGO: Tell the truth. Did you nick the pirates' medallion or any of your costumes as keepsakes?
Knightley: (Laughs) Just the medallion, because I figured I wore it enough, so I definitely had the right to take it. I don't think I took anything else at all. That was very good of me.
TVGO: Did you actually wear a corset?
Knightley: Yes, it was a proper corset, with a lace up the back. I didn't need to do much acting, because it did stop me [from] breathing. It's a bit like being stuck in a metal loo roll. Or what I'd imagine, not ever having been stuck in a loo roll.
TVGO: The special effects are pretty detailed during the scene when you discover that Barbosa and the Black Pearl crew are all half-dead. Was the filming just you doing a lot of screaming in front of a blue screen?
Knightley: We didn't actually have any blue screens, but it was me doing a lot of screaming completely on my own. We'd do the first take with all the actors, so I'd see where everyone would be. It took two weeks to film that scene, so for the rest of the two weeks, I was completely on my own, just screaming at myself. I think people can actually get committed for that but, um, luckily I didn't.
TVGO: Did you get seasick during filming?
Knightley: No, I took seasickness tablets because I thought that I'd be really clever, but what they don't tell you about seasickness pills is that they make you really sleepy. So there were some takes where I was falling asleep in the middle of the take and everyone else was puking up. It makes for a really glamorous day of shooting.
TVGO: You're marooned on an island with Johnny Depp. That sounds like many a woman's fantasy! What was he like to work with?
Knightley: He's fantastic. I mean, I was a fan, obviously. He's an amazing actor. He really did take a risk in the way that he played Jack Sparrow, and there are very few actors that are willing to do that. So it was an absolute joy to work with him. All the scenes on the island were great fun. We had a real giggle!
TVGO: I heard your kissing scene with Orlando Bloom was less than ideal.
Knightley: Yeah, there were teenage girls on the set and I thought I was going to get killed. I got to kiss Orlando, and it was all going to be terribly romantic, because the sun was going down and there was sea and dolphins and all that kind of lovey stuff. And someone thought it was a fantastic idea to bring their teenage daughters on set that day and there were about four or five of them. I actually feared for my life. I thought there was going to be a stampede. I've never gotten the evil look before that these girls gave to me. So I'm sorry to every single teenage girl out there, but it was a very enjoyable experience apart from that.