At the height of her popularity, Keira Knightley was crumbling behind the scenes.
In 2008, the Brit beauty was 22 years old and promoting two films — the blockbuster trilogy ender Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End and the critically acclaimed Atonement, for which she was nominated for multiple awards.
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And inside she was struggling just to leave the house.
The star explained to The Hollywood Reporter‘s Awards Chatter podcast this week it was right after Britney Spears‘ breakdown had become an enormous tabloid seller:
“It was big money to get pictures of women falling apart.”
“Because you wanted them to be sexy, but you wanted to punish them for that sexuality. If you weren’t breaking down in front of them, then it was worth their while to make you break down in front of them.”
That’s horrible. She continued:
“So suddenly there was a level of violence, it felt, in the air, that is not a thing that anybody would react to well. I think I’ve always had a f**k you button and it was so obvious that they wanted me to fall, and I had such, like, an ‘I’m not gonna give you what you want.’ So there was a sense of battle every day leaving the house.”
Keira says the critical acclaim she started to get a couple years earlier for Pride And Prejudice, for which she was nominated for an Oscar, didn’t help:
“It was still very confusing. Because you’re getting all these nominations for all of these things, but press-wise, when I’m going into interviews, people are still saying, ‘Everybody thinks you’re s**t,’ or focusing on your looks, or focusing on what’s wrong with you. And, again, I was 19 [actually 20 when nominated] — you can only hear the negative stuff. I felt pretty much like actually I didn’t exist and I was this weird creature with this weird face that people seemed to respond to in quite an extreme way, and I couldn’t quite figure any of it out.”
The attention for Atonement was flattering — the obligation to actually go to awards shows was not:
“I hadn’t been out of the house for three months when the BAFTA nomination happened, and I remember having conversations with my agent and going, ‘I can’t get there,’ and everyone going, ‘If you don’t get to the BAFTAs, the heat on you is going to be ten times more.’ So I actually did hypnotherapy so that I could stand on the red carpet at the BAFTAs and not have a panic attack.”
It all ended up causing a full breakdown in 2008. Keira reveals:
“I did have a mental breakdown at 22, so I did take a year off there and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder because of all that stuff.”
“I went deep into therapy and all of that, and [a therapist] said, ‘It’s amazing — I normally come in here and have people that think people are talking about them and they think that they’re being followed, but actually they’re not. You’re the first person that actually that is happening to!'”
These days Keira is feeling confident, which is a good thing — because her new film Colette is getting her some awards attention again!
[Image via WENN.]