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Keira Knightley's Elizabeth Swann was an integral part of the first three films in Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean series. The actress reprised the role for a cameo in last year's Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, but the franchise has generally moved beyond Keira Knightley and co-star Orlando Bloom and has largely suffered for it, as the focus has been entirely on Johnny Depp's Captain Jack Sparrow. Yet, despite the creative decline, these films still make money, especially overseas, so a sixth entry is likely inevitable. But if there is another Pirates of the Caribbean movie, don't expect Keira Knightley to be a part of it because she simply doesn't want to commit the time.
Even though she made a brief return to the series in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Keira Knightley does not expect to set sail for the high seas again as a part of the franchise. According to the Los Angeles Times, her reasoning is that the films simply take too long to shoot. The Pirates of the Caribbean films take five or more months of principal photography, which is considerably longer than a film that isn't on that blockbuster scale would take. Keira Knightley is a mother now, and blockbuster films like the Pirates series take a long time to shoot, so that probably factors into how much time she wants to commit to one specific project, especially one that she's done before multiple times.
Keira Knightley is also a prolific actress, and perhaps she prefers taking on lots of roles and creative challenges with shorter productions instead of having to pass up on parts because she's spending too much time shooting the next Pirates of the Caribbean film. It's understandable, even if it is a bummer for fans of her character that went from damsel in distress to badass pirate king over the course of the series.
Despite the fact that the last Pirates film suffered a $250 million drop from Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, it does seem likely that a sequel will come at some point given the power of the brand and the fact that the last film still earned $795 million worldwide. I think fans might like Keira Knightley to be a part of it, if only because she was back when this franchise was performing stronger critically, but it seems that Elizabeth Swann will not be returning to right the ship. That said, there are directions that a sixth film could go in to try and reinvigorate and reinvent the franchise.
Keira Knightley may be done with Pirates of the Caribbean, but she isn't done with Disney. The actress will be seen later this year, in a perfect bit of casting, as the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. Before that though, you can see her in Colette, which is now in limited release. Check out our premiere guide for all the biggest movies still to come this year.