Do you ever get caught up with your characters to the point that they stay with you after you’ve finished a film?
Yes. The worst was when I was playing Anna Karenina. There were many days where I felt angry and irritable because of my feelings about her. I would take her home with me and that was exhausting and I often found myself in a very bad mood. It was one of those roles which I was very glad to be done with once the film was over.
Does marriage and children change your thinking when it comes to work?
I think for a while it means you don’t have your foot all the way down on the accelerator. But I really love movies and I really want to make really excellent movies. And I think that my work improves when I have life experience. When I don’t go job to job to job, and I take a step back, then come back to it, then I’m the person I want to be on set, which is the positive person, and not the person who’s too tired. And I think that’s very important for me as well.
Given that you grew up in a theatrical family, was acting your destiny?
I think so. I’ve been acting since I was six and I knew from that age that it was what I wanted to do in life. I was raised in that world – my dad was an actor and my mum was both an actor and a writer. You can’t help but be swept away by that creative environment. I remember doing my homework backstage while my dad was rehearsing in the theatre and it felt so wonderful to be there. It becomes your little world. I never expected fame and fortune because I knew how hard the business can be. My parents have always been my greatest inspiration and they have always stood behind me.
Is there any one life lesson that your parents gave you?
A sense of independence. I was raised to have an independent spirit and mind and to learn to make my own way in life. My parents never tried to control me and that gives you an enormous sense of freedom. It’s almost been intimidating to have been given that kind of personal and creative space – it took me awhile before I truly felt as confident as I should have been, perhaps. But I think you learn more and ultimately have a greater sense of self-worth if you are allowed to make your mistakes and evolve with the sense that this is your life and career and you have to take responsibility for it.
Do you feel that your own life has suffered a certain degree of mythmaking and then the process of tearing that façade down?
It’s the nature of the game. When you grow up in the business you are aware of the celebrity culture and how you are going to enjoy moments where everything seems to be beautiful, and then people will try to take you down from those highs. It’s not something you can control and so I just try to do my work and ignore what’s written about me.
I think you add depth and insight to your work while you make your way through life and be as observant and curious as you can be.
Is it easy being Keira Knightley despite the media attention?
I don’t have much choice, do I? (Laughs) I have a very good life, a wonderful family and I’ve been extraordinarily fortunate to be able to do interesting work and get to travel and explore so many different things about the world. I can’t ever complain and I will never complain.