Keira Knightley: It was impossible not to be affected by all the criticism

Keira Knightley has said she went through a period when “the world went definitely crazy” as her body and acting were criticised by the media.

The British star, 33, said she was winning modelling contracts but also hearing that she was so thin she looked “disgusting”, and that while some of her films were being nominated for awards, her acting in others was being panned.

Discussing her career at a Bafta: A Life In Pictures event, Knightley said she had always been a hardworking, top of the class type who was on set on time every day and felt a “desperation for that A star the entire time”.

But when she was around 21 she drew some less than impressive reviews for Pirates Of The Caribbean 2 and she also came under fire for her slim frame.

Keira Knightley
Keira Knightley (David Parry/PA)

“It was a really funny time where I had these films that were Oscar nominated and they were seen as being brilliant, and on the other side I had these films that were commercially just doing brilliantly and yet I was also seen as being shit,” she said.

“My body was… I was getting modelling contracts where you are being told you are beautiful but at the same time I’ve got major papers saying, ‘Actually, her body should come with a health warning because she’s sick and she’s anorexic and she’s making other people sick, she’s disgusting’.

“You have, ‘Her face is beautiful’, and then you have, ‘Her face is disgusting and her mouth looks like a bangle’.

“Everything was really extreme.”

“For Atonement I was 21, and you are suddenly in the middle of all this stuff,” she said.

“And the world went definitely crazy.”

Knightley said it was impossible for her to shake off the criticism as “you are … at 21 and all you really want to do is fit in”.

She said: “If you are the A star, or the A student, and you are the girl and you have been taught that you’ve got to be perfect, all you want to do is please everybody, but of course, you can’t.

“I mean, you can’t be thinner and fatter at the same time.”