For Joe Wright’s directorial debut film, Keira Knightley’s Pride & Prejudice did really well. The movie recently celebrated 18 years of its theatrical release. Based on English novelist Jane Austen’s 1813 novel of the same name, the film features Keira Knightley in the lead role of Elizabeth Bennett and Matthew Macfadyen who plays Elizabeth’s love interest Mr. Darcy.

It was almost impossible for one to enter a cinema hall in the 2000s and not see one of Keira Knightley’s brilliant movies running in there. The actress had recently gained worldwide recognition with her role in Jack Sparrow’s Pirates of the Caribbean when she was cast in the period drama Pride & Prejudice. Although her performance continues to impress millions of people across the world, there was one particular habit that the director couldn’t get her to shed.

Keira Knightley
Keira Knightley

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Pride & Prejudice Director Had to Control A Part of Keira Knightley’s Performance

Keira Knightley had the habit of pouting which didn’t sit well with the film’s director. In an interview on The Graham Norton Show, the Bend It Like Beckham actress explained the reasons for her love for pouting. She said:

“I didn’t like my smile. Lots of people had said I had a crap smile, so any time I had a picture taken I’d go a bit like that. Then suddenly there’d be a film camera. So Joe was like ‘No, you’ve got to stop the pout’, so I wasn’t allowed to pout. Then we started doing Chanel adverts and then all of a sudden he’s like: ‘You know that pout that I banned? Can we just have it back as much as possible?’”

Keira Knightley in Pride & Prejudice
Keira Knightley in Pride & Prejudice

Although Keira Knightley did her best to get the pout out of her performances, there is a scene in the movie where she had a slip-up, and to this day, every time, Wright watches the movie, he tells Knightley how one of her pouts is there in that scene. Despite everything, people loved her performance in the movie as it made her the third-youngest Best Actress nominee in Oscars history.

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Keira Knightley Almost Lost Her Role in Pride & Prejudice

A scene from Keira Knightley's Pride & Prejudice
A scene from Keira Knightley’s Pride & Prejudice

Although someone as attractive as Knightley was not on director Joe Wright’s list of actors, her tomboyish nature and a good sense of humor landed her the role of Elizabeth Bennett in Pride & Prejudice. Not to mention that she has been a fan of Austen’s work since she was only 7. That added to the fact that she was already famous helped her case.

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The Anna Karenina director explained his decision to Film Journal Internationalsaying:

“[She] was not going to say what she thought you wanted her to say. She was going to say exactly what she thought. That—and her humor—made her a perfect Elizabeth.”

Wright who went on to become a regular collaborator with Keira Knightley was very particular about the actors who were going to star in Pride & Prejudice, especially because he wanted their ages to align with the ages of the novel’s characters and the studio’s insistence to star famous actors to attract people to the theaters.

Source: The Graham Norton Show, Film Journal International

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