Tragic Details About Keira Knightley

There's certain actors that are instantly recognizable from their iconic roles, and Keira Knightley is one of them. From her breakout appearance at only 17 years old in 2003's "Bend It Like Beckham," Knightley was one to watch; she went on to star as Elizabeth Swann in "Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl" in the same year and shot to stardom overnight. Knightley played the role through the next four "Pirates of the Caribbean" films, but she found her own path in Hollywood outside of the franchise and landed other parts, such as her legendary stint as Elizabeth Bennett in 2005's "Pride and Prejudice."

Despite her incredible success and building such a resume, instant fame at a young age can have its downsides. While Knightley is thoroughly settled into her career after years of experience, the transition from struggling actor to A-list celebrity was a tough one, and something Knightley was not prepared for.

Knightley struggled with her sudden fame

In 2003, the first installment of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" films took the world by storm, making new actor Keira Knightley a household name. Although it seems like every aspiring actor's dream to find a role like Elizabeth Swann and become an overnight celebrity, Knightley didn't relish the experience as much as you might think.

"I found it [the instant fame] pretty horrific," she told Variety in a 2019 interview. "I'm not an extrovert, so I found that level of scrutiny and that level of fame really hard. It was an age where you are becoming, you haven't become, and you need to make mistakes. It's a very precarious age, particularly for women."

It wasn't just the adjustment to fame that made the situation hard for Knightley, but also the outside opinions that came with such big hits. Along with so much acclaim for her talent came some adverse reactions to her stardom, and due to her young age, Knightley didn't know how to deal with it. She detailed her mental breakdown at 22 years old to The Hollywood Reporter, explaining that it resulted in years of therapy to better acclimate to her new life.

Knightley was accused of having anorexia

It's not uncommon for celebrities to be involved in legal issues, but for Keira Knightley, the lawsuit she filed against the Daily Mail in 2007 was particularly personal. The Daily Mail had published an article discussing the death of Sophia Mazurek, a young girl who had passed after struggling with anorexia, and the article included a side-by-side picture of Mazurek next to Knightley. The article also warned that trying to look like Knightley could potentially become dangerous for young girls. Lawyer Simon Smith from the law firm Schillings released a statement (via Independent) on behalf of Knightley.

"We wish to make it clear that Ms. Knightley has the deepest sympathy for the girl's family. However, Ms. Knightley has publicly denied suggestions that she might be anorexic or have a similar eating disorder ... Accordingly, Ms. Knightley will argue that the Mail's article suggests she has dishonestly sought to mislead the public about whether she has anorexia or similar eating disorder and will show that she does not have anorexia."

In the end, Knightley was awarded £3,000 in damages from the lawsuit and subsequently donated the money to Beat, a charity focused on mental health and eating disorders. The "Colette" actor also donated an additional £3,000 to the charity after the lawsuit was settled. Smith added that the money wasn't the object of the lawsuit, but rather to prove that Knightley's appearance was not the cause of Mazurek's death.