Keira Knightley is Still Doing More Period Pieces

January 5, 2009

Keira Knightley in The Duchess

I would've expected Keira Knightley to learn her lesson by now. After Pride & Prejudice, Atonement, Silk, and The Duchess this year, I was hoping she'd stop making such dull period pieces -- apparently not. Knightley has been cast in The Beautiful and the Damned, the next project from filmmaker John Curran. Curran last directed the period film The Painted Veil as well as We Don't Live Here Anymore before that. The Beautiful and the Damned concerns the turbulent marriage of alcoholic writer F. Scott Fitzgerald and his schizophrenic wife Zelda Sayre. Something to get excited about? I highly doubt it.

The Beautiful and the Damned will begin production in March. The story takes place in the high society of the roaring '20s, which was when Fitzgerald wrote some of his greatest novels, including This Side of Paradise, The Beautiful and Damned (for which this movie is named), and The Great Gatsby. Knightley will play Fitzgerald's wife. I've got nothing against Fitzgerald and I think Curran is a fairly competent director, I guess I just don't want to see Knightley in more period pieces. But then again, I know there are a few people who'd be happier seeing her in films like this than anything else. What about you?

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Reader Feedback - 48 Comments


Atonement a dull period piece? You obviously haven't seen the film then.

Angelo on Jan 5, 2009


i saw it and it was definitely dull

rob on Jan 5, 2009


That's mental. It was one of the more refreshing period pieces I have seen in a long time. I could understand people not liking the story, but at least way it was told, the playing with different points of view in the beginning and the changing of time and place at the middle, made it anything but dull in my opinion.

Angelo on Jan 5, 2009


keira knightley's is only doing period pieces because she things it get her a oscar

tiger2411 on Jan 5, 2009


Whether a film is dull or not is a subjective judgement, however I found both 'Atonement' and 'The Duchess' to be remarkable films with masterful performances especially by Knightley. The nuances films may be lost on those a bit less sophisticated but I think she have proven herself very successful in these type of movies and will probably do more of them. 'The Beautiful and the Damned' sounds interesting and I look forward to it.

Brad on Jan 5, 2009


Personally, I'm always up for a costume drama, but Knightley drives me crazy for some reason. It might be superficial, but they way she holds her jaw always makes her look tense and reaching even in the most sanguine moments. I've seen P&P several times hoping to get over her style, but I still come to the same conclusion - the film is good, she is annoying. But she's here to stay. I agree that she's doing these upper crust pieces in hopes that she'll be taken more seriously as an actress. And I think Atonement proved that she has the ability if she's got the right director. Keep an eye out, I bet she'll try for the West End or Broadway in the next five years.

CatieLee on Jan 5, 2009


Okay, Atonement wasn't dull, I actually liked that movie (thanks to James McAvoy, not Knightley). But Pride & Prejudice, Silk, and The Duchess, on the other hand, were very dull! People actually watch these movies?

Alex Billington on Jan 5, 2009


Okay your ignorance shows greatly here. You just corrected yourself about Atonement, but damn dude do you know anything about F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife? A movie about them is sure to be amazing and captivating, at least if it is well made. Everything about them is interesting so yeah...

Itri on Jan 5, 2009


Atonement dull?! I seriously think that some people simply cannot appreciate a good film, because they don't have an attention span. The way Atonement was made was in a old European style, which was beautifully done by Joe Wright and Keira played Cecilia Tallis to perfection! She is even better in the Duchess, and if you think about it, being convincing as a wife and mother when you're are a young actress in your early twenties can't be easy. In the last few years, Keira has impressed in movie after movie, but critics just love to dismiss her as a period actress, when her roles are complex and demanding. I find that modern critics (except the indomitable Mr. Ebert) do not understand the heart of movie-making; emotion and story-telling, and rather would have flashy, in your face movies. How very sad. She's a fantastic actress for such a young woman. She is also severely underrated, but I am not worried. I think she is going to very positively surprise even her most hardened critics in the next few years. As for the main question; would I rather see her in an intelligent, mature period drama than a stupid, emotionless, pointless romantic comedy? You bet!

Marianne on Jan 5, 2009


Mcavoy was indeed very good in Atonement.

Angelo on Jan 5, 2009


Pride & Prejudice was fantastic (and I am not generally fond of period pieces). One of my favorite movies. (And, btw, with an interesting director's commentary). It earned an 85% rating at rottentomatoes, so lots of reviewers didn't find it dull.

David Harper on Jan 5, 2009


I agree. It would be really nice to see someone more... well... talented play some of these period piece roles that Keira Knightley is snapping up like nobody's business. However I loved Atonement (because of james mcavoy and the whole cast). This plot of this movie does sound intriguing, but I would just rather see the part given to someone else. I think Hollywood is in desperate need of a new face, someone we haven't seen

Georgiana on Jan 5, 2009


I seem to recall watching an interview with Keira (maybe part of a dvd) where she said that she all but begged director Tony Scott to give her the lead role in "Domino" because otherwise she would be "stuck in a corset for the rest of her life." I guess when "Domino" didn't light up the box office, Keira just slipped on the ol' reliable corset and settled in for the rest of her life...

Outlaw on Jan 5, 2009


she said that to the director of The Jacket b/c the studio imposed her on the film, and the director didn't want her. Then he later says, in the commentary, that she was the best thing to emerge from the film

David Harper on Jan 5, 2009


Keira Knghtley is a great actress. Atonement was terrific. F. Scott Fitzgerald is intriguing. I look forward to this film.

Keith on Jan 5, 2009


Eh, I agree with Alex. It's another film I don't need to spend my money on. I, too, liked Atonement thanks to McAvoy and none at all to Knightley. It's fine with me because of all things, I care about period pieces the least and Knightley can have them all to herself. Similar news would be Orlando Bloom being cast in yet another period epic.

Jess on Jan 5, 2009


"The Beautiful and the Damned concerns the turbulent marriage of alcoholic writer F. Scott Fitzgerald and his schizophrenic wife Zelda Sayre. Something to get excited about? I highly doubt it." You certainly are just another bigoted American. Stick to your comic books and Sci-Fi, this sounds like a movie for the educated and non-American.

Ed S on Jan 5, 2009


Alex come on, get over it, knightly is a talented actress, and this film about F. Scott Fitzgerald is going to be great, and Knightly will deliver at least to me. And Mr. Billington you're giving America a bad rep. You perfer the flop Star Trek to Fitzgerald and his tale, really? Come on! Still I value you're opinion and I'm still a devoted fan of But at times you're opinions are folly.

xerxerxex on Jan 5, 2009


Also # 17 Ed S that stings I know Fitzgerald and I'm American bred, and I like Sci-fi, but not be nice.

xerxerxex on Jan 5, 2009


Guess what Kate Winslet is still doing period pieces two just came out last year. Guess what Kate Hudson is still doing Romantic Comedies she has one coming out next week. Guess What this sounds like a good project for Keira A big Guess what...this is old news this came out in September the only difference is that the director has changed.

Nicole on Jan 5, 2009


Sounds very interesting to me.

Zach D. on Jan 5, 2009


#17 - typical bigoted Eurotrash rant. There are educated, cultured people on both sides of the Atlantic and, as you have proven, unjustifiably pretentious egoists. Let go of your hate and join us in reality, won't you?

Brad on Jan 5, 2009


She keeps doing them because Pride and Prejudice got her an Oscar nomination, Atonement was nominated for a bunch of Oscars, and The Duchess has been highly praised by a lot of people though it's unlikely to ge any awards. Just because you don't like them, ALex, doesn;t mean others don't.

scm1000 on Jan 5, 2009


Wow Alex, biased much? Jesus christ, I can't take what you say seriously. Unless the movie has giant robots or super heroes it's not interesting to you. Get off your high horse and realize not everyone likes what you like.

Jones on Jan 5, 2009


Fitzgerald wrote Benjamin Button...

Rory on Jan 5, 2009


Whoa whoa. Slow down guys, let's not forget Pirates of the Caribbean in this list

Stefanzo on Jan 5, 2009


First of, Atonement is not a period pieces. Second, Atonement and Pride & Prejudices are masterpieces. As for her roles in The Duchess and others, I accept them as they are, period pieces or not. And you forget one important aspect of the movie industry : if an actress wants to keep having first parts, she HAS to make lots of period pieces because contemporary pieces mostly give the first part to males, the female so-called first part being the "love interest" of the male. Except maybe for romantic comedies, which will be dispised by people like you because it's "for women" ;-). I guess she is not offered parts such as Domino everyday. Anyway, i'm not Keira nor her agent, but I think she is interestingly sticking to first parts and that is something you should take under consideration because it's quite rare for actresses of her generation.

Elodie on Jan 5, 2009


I enjoy a decent period film from time to time. It takes a lot for one to really impress me though. Is Keira Knightly being stuck in period films any worse than Hugh Grant or Katherine Heigl in romantic comedies? I'd like to see Heigl branch out of the mold she's creating and do something a little different. An odd turn comes to mind when I think about Gerard Butler, who went from "300" to "PS. I Love You." Granted, I really liked both of them (Yeah, I can enjoy a good chick flick) it's interesting to see a guy take that route. There's a great question to ask there: Is it good for an actor to stick to what they're good at, rather than go out on a limb and endanger their career? One example that comes to mind, in my opinion, is Tom Hanks in "Road to Perdition". I was not a fan of this movie, particularly because Hanks didn't fit the part. However, many more successful typecasting breaks come to mind. Josh Peck in "The Wackness", Sandler in "Punch Drunk Love", Jim Carrey in "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind", and Robin Williams in "Good Will Hunting".

Will S. on Jan 6, 2009


I very much enjoy period pieces and the material available for The Beautiful and the Damned is ample and magnificently interesting! Keira Knightely has been very good in some period roles, but come on, give someone else a chance! I would love to see a fresh face instead of the same actress eveytime I go to the theatre to see intricate costumes, sets and details. As a major fan of films about literature and anything in history, and a fan f knightely, I would still very very VERY much LOVE to see SOMEONE NEW!!! (Sorry Kiera. But feel free to come back in a few years...we just need to refresh our eyes right now. Still enjoy your work though!)

Starletdancegurl on Jan 6, 2009


She's only ever had success with period films (bar Bend It Like Beckham) so it makes sense she's still making them. And after Benjamin Button and the talk of a new Great Gatsby, why not make a film about F. Scott Fitzgerald?

Joel on Jan 6, 2009


And what would you like her to make ? Another Pirates , another Domino or another Arthur flick ? Pride & Prejudice got her an oscar nod. Atonement was entertaining and had great acting. have not seen Silk yet. Just because it hasn't been translated into a graphic novel (see what I did there) doesn't mean it's going to be bad.

shige on Jan 6, 2009


Emma Thompson said once that if it wasn't for period films she wouldn't work at all. Elodie's got it right (#17) in that there is limited work available for women - no matter what age. And it only gets worse as they get older. Grab what you can while you can and make the most of it.

CatieLee on Jan 6, 2009


bbrrrring.... brrriiingg.... 18th century calling.... we want our Keira Knightley back!!!

bozoconnors on Jan 6, 2009


lol what an odd thing to say. I love period pieces myself. but that of course is just a personal taste. Silk wasn't the best movie, but Pride & Predjudice, Atonement and the Dutchess to a lesser extent were all very good films, very finely acted.

adrian on Jan 6, 2009


I thought Keira was terrific in the Duchess and in Atonement. May be you are not sensitive to these types of movies but there is definitely an audience for it. I also think that a great movie about Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda could be very interesting. Sometimes you defend movies on this web site that I cannot understand what you see in them. But why taking a jab at something that you have not even seen yet?

CHRISLNY on Jan 6, 2009


I've enjoyed all the films that Keira Knightley has done...and I really enjoyed how she portrayed the character in the Duchess. I think for her to do this 1920's film would be a great part for her to play as well...she's joining in the ranks of Kirsten Scott Thomas. These two would be great in a film together...Mother, Daughter, or Sisters...could be a great possibility.

athena on Jan 6, 2009


I couldn't care less what she's doing, as long as it's good. I mean, does it really matter if it's a period piece or not? As long as the movie is decent it shouldn't. That's like saying "Aw hell Christopher Nolan is doing another suspoense movie. I mean, he's never done us wrong but still, he should stop."

Chris on Jan 6, 2009


its not that she should stop doing period pieces, indeed she has acted beautifully in them. but because female roles seem to be limited when it comes to being the lead, and it is true that they tend to be period pieces when there is a female leading role, it just seems like she is the only one doing them. clearly there are other actresses out there in period films, but keira is just in so many she seems to be becoming associated with the term "period piece". it has become over kill, and other actresses that are doing roles similar to these are being shadowed by Keira. not saying she shouldn't be in them anymore when she is good at it, just saying please please lets see someone else in the role for a change. Keira can take a break for few years...she makes more money than any other actress for goodness sake, i think she can live off her earnings. shes good, but other people can be great too, so for something new lets see some fresh talent. Keira doesnt have to headline EVERY period film out there ya know!

Starletdancegurl on Jan 6, 2009


Pride and Prejudice not dull...and you if you do believe so I would think it would be because you do not appreciate Austen's writing and not Knightley's acting.

Davina on Jan 8, 2009


Keira's choices to do well developed and well directed period pieces versus...romantic comedies or third rate horror films that are mass produced these days says tons about her as an actress. Why should she do something of less quality when she has the chance to showcase talent and expand her potential...sticking to POTC type movies won't get her far, but people seem to be complaining that she always does the same roles over and over again when that's anything but the truth, an analysis of all of her roles would reveal that they are all different time periods, and all very different women...ugh! everyone generalizing so much just makes me mad

vanessa Cavanagh on Jan 11, 2009


Dear Alex Billington,calling such movies as "Atonement" and "The Duchess" dull,reveals only one simple,and painful thruth about're just another mindless and pretentious gayass,and you will stay the same 'till you fuckin' die.Then the world will be a better place 😛

~Insane~ on Jan 12, 2009


I love Keira, this is a good video for that people can see the violence in the woman and do something, this video is like the video clip of Black Roses a band of Argentina, they have a video clip where we can see the injustice in the world. The video clip is about a song called nadie nos detendra, and you can see this video in youtube or other sites. I love Keira and Black Roses!

megan on Jul 28, 2009


yes, me to a love keira and black roses!

kevin on Aug 9, 2009


'The Duchess' is a really good movie.

Gennesaret on Aug 16, 2009


keira and black roses are a exelent example of a good artist.

bill on Aug 18, 2009


yes, totally, i agree, keira are a axelent artist and black roses must to be!

david on Sep 1, 2009


the truth is that surprises me keira and black roses is very good what they have done, I like!

frank on Oct 13, 2009


While I liked The Duchess (never saw Silk or Atonement but have been assured they are well done), and have nothing against Knightley as an actress, I feel like the genre is over-saturated with her as the lead. We know she can play the parts, which is why it becomes dull to see her in them - I'd like to see her tackle a different genre, a different character. Let some up and comer take a crack at playing Zelda. The biopic topic sounds great, and since it's set in stone my only wish is that she serves up some good crazy to distinguish this from the rest of her repertoire.

Mo on Feb 13, 2010

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