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Keira Knightley recalls undergoing therapy after her ‘traumatic’ role in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’

Keira Knightley’s early encounter with fame provides a sobering glimpse into the harsh realities of the entertainment industry, often overshadowed by its allure. Her candid account unveils the unseen burdens and sacrifices that accompany celebrity status, challenging the idealized notion of stardom.

The acclaimed Keira Knightley, who starred in the first three of the hit Disney Franchise “Pirates of the Caribbean” (from 2003  to 2007) as the character Elizabeth Swann, had opted out of the two movies that came after. 

This stemmed from the actress expressing that the whole experience of her ‘big break’ was ‘traumatic’ for her. Knightley’s reflections shed light on the complexities of fame and the toll it can take on even the most talented and resilient individuals in the industry.

'Pirates of the Caribbean' star Keira Knightley undergoes therapy after her 'traumatic' portrayal of Elizabeth Swann
Photo Credit: Walt Disney

As reported by Variety, Knightley, who began her journey with the franchise at the tender age of 17 in “The Curse of the Black Pearl,” candidly discussed the challenges of portraying a mature image and role. Delving deeper, she articulated the complexities of inhabiting a character like Elizabeth Swann, often objectified as an emblem of desire, which, in turn, left her feeling ensnared and limited within the industry’s confines. After a while, the actress felt that after the three movies, it was time to pursue other projects beyond the iconic role. 

Knightley answered in an interview tackling what she was dealing with as a teenager in the spotlight, “I found it pretty horrific. I’m not an extrovert, so I found that level of scrutiny and that level of fame really hard. You’re in some ways still a child. It was traumatic, but it set up the rest of my career.”

This was all the while Knightley had skillfully managed and juggled her Hollywood persona while simultaneously captivating audiences with her performances in acclaimed films such as “Pride and Prejudice” in 2005, and “Atonement” in 2007.

Afterward, the young actress underwent therapy in the hope of recovering from all the overwhelming pressure the showbiz brought upon her.  In order to prevent a panic attack when walking the BAFTA red carpet, Knightley admitted that, at the age of 20, she had undergone hypnosis. She was later diagnosed with PTSD.

Despite it all, Knightley is beyond grateful for all the support she received playing Swann, and that the franchise has, overall, impacted her life for the better or worse “I am in awe of my 22-year-old self because I’d like a bit more of her back. And it’s only by not being like that any longer than I realise how extraordinary it was. But it does have a cost.” she explained

The actress had no regrets and would not take anything back and said, “I can deal with it now, and that’s great. But at the time, it was not so great, and took many years of therapy to figure it out.”


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