Keira Knightley Explains Why She Does So Many Corset Films

keira knightley in a corset in pirates of the caribbean

Keira Knightley has played a lot of different types of characters over the years, but a lot of those characters do have one thing in common: a corset. If you've ever wondered why the actress has spent so many hours working in a garment that has been out of fashion for about 100 years, the actress has an answer. Simply put, she likes the sort of roles that involve frothy dresses and a sense of "escapism." She said:

For years I felt quite guilty about it, like it was something that I should try to shake off. Then I realized that these were the films I've always loved watching. I think some people find escapism through science fiction or fantasy, and I suppose my escapism into another world has always been through period drama. It's nice that in my 30s I can finally admit that.

Keira Knightley has been in a slew of period dramas over the years. She memorably wore a corset in the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie. In fact, it's a plot point in that flick that the corset is new to her character and is in fact so tight, it causes her to faint and fall in the water, where she is rescued by none other than Captain Jack Sparrow. Later, Atonement saw her in a corset, as did Pride & Prejudice, The Duchess, Anna Karenina, and her latest movie Colette. It's a trend a lot of people who watch Knightley's movies and follow her career have noticed, and apparently, it's something that Knightley used to guilt trip herself about, according to what she recently told Variety. No matter how uncomfortable the whole getup may look, there's something in the actress that just loves it.

That's not to say Keira Knightley is always in a corset. Early roles, including Star Wars: The Phantom Menace and Bend it like Beckham, were not period pieces. And more recently, she's shed the corset look for Laggies, Collateral Beauty, Everest, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, and Begin Again, among many others. She's never totally typecast herself by only choosing period dramas involving corsets, and she now believes she has gotten to the point where she can just enjoy roles that allow for that sort of fashion "escapism" rather than dwelling on the fact that she has taken quite a few gigs of that ilk.

Keira Knightley did don a corset briefly for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, and she'll be back in the getup when she plays the French novelist of the same name in Colette, who lived in the late 1800s through the earliest part of the twentieth century. Colette is premiering at Sundance on January 20, 2018. To find out what else is coming this year, take a look at our full movie premiere schedule.

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Jessica Rawden is Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. She’s been kicking out news stories since 2007 and joined the full-time staff in 2014. She oversees news content, hiring and training for the site, and her areas of expertise include theme parks, rom-coms, Hallmark (particularly Christmas movie season), reality TV, celebrity interviews and primetime. She loves a good animated movie. Jessica has a Masters in Library Science degree from Indiana University, and used to be found behind a reference desk most definitely not shushing people. She now uses those skills in researching and tracking down information in very different ways.