Keira Knightley Says She'll Only Do Sex Scenes in These Circumstances
"I don't have an absolute ban, but I kind of do..."
Since breaking out in the 2002 rom-com Bend It Like Beckham, Keira Knightley has been one of the most in-demand British actors of her generation—specifically when it comes to period pieces. And as she's become more established and experienced, the Pirates of the Caribbean and Pride and Prejudice star, now 35, has also gotten comfortable setting boundaries about how she wants to appear on screen. In a recent podcast interview, Keira Knightley revealed her hard rule for doing sex scenes going forward, and it makes a lot of sense. Keep reading to learn where she's drawing the line, and for more on this sensitive subject, Game of Thrones Star Calls This Scene "The Worst Day of My Career."
Keira Knightley won't do any more sex scenes with male directors.
As a guest on the Chanel Connects podcast, Knightley discussed being a woman in the industry with director Lulu Wang and producer Diane Solway. And during the conversation, she was asked about her current view on baring her body onscreen.
"It's partly vanity, it's partly, also, the male gaze," Knightley said, on why she's stopped doing any kind of nudity in her projects, particularly with male directors.
She continued on, saying, "I don't have an absolute ban, but I kind of do with men." The worst kind of sex scenes to her, the actor explained, are "those horrible sex scenes where you're all greased up and everybody's grunting, I'm not interested in doing that."
Giving an example of a hypothetical she would consider, Knightley said that a film about a woman accepting the way that her body changed after becoming a mother would be a possibility for her, as far as nude scenes go, but that it would "have to be a female filmmaker" steering the ship.
"But I feel very uncomfortable now trying to portray the male gaze," she added.
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She's had a no-nudity clause in her contracts since 2015.
While she has done onscreen nudity in the past, becoming a mother of two with her husband James Righton has led to the actor phasing it out of her career and relying on body doubles whenever it comes up in a project. Knightley has confirmed publicly that she now does have language in her contracts restricting nudity and giving her approval on the final cut of any sex scenes. Speaking to Glamour in 2019, she expressed that she's lucky to have the power to be able to say no to things that she doesn't want to do. "I think really what everyone's trying to do is protect those actresses mainly who are in positions where they can't do that," she said, "and that's where we've got to be protective as an industry over young, up-and-coming actresses."
On the Chanel podcast Knightley explained, "There's times where I go, 'Yeah, I completely see where this sex scene would be really good in this film, and you basically just need somebody to look hot, and so therefore you can use somebody else.' Because I'm too vain and the body has had two children now, and I'd rather not stand in front of a group of men naked."
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The actor has even gotten to choose her own body doubles.
On Live With Kelly and Ryan in 2019, Knightley told the hosts that she was very excited to get to choose the body double for her steamy scenes with costar Alexander Skarsgård in the film The Aftermath.
"They were like, 'What kind of body do you want?' I go, 'Wow, okay! I'm gonna go with that one,'" the actor remembered of the process. "She is very nice. And they apparently had a lovely time, and I got to not take my clothes off and eat cake on the other side of the studio."
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None of this means that she doesn't love her post-birth body.
"I'm at peace with my body," Knightley said in the same Glamour chat. "It did something quite amazing. It built and carried and birthed and fed a human being. An actual, real-life human being. So I'm like, it's all fine! It doesn't look like it did before and maybe it will never be on film again, but I am absolutely fine with the way it is in my private life. I'm very happy with it, it did well."
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