Magazine article Newsweek

Keira's Royal Pain in the Neck

Magazine article Newsweek

Keira's Royal Pain in the Neck

Article excerpt

Keira Knightley plays 18th-century Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire, in "The Duchess." She spoke to Ramin Setoodeh.

Some people say this character reminds them of Princess Diana.

When I first read the script, I didn't see any parallels with Diana because I didn't know her story well enough. I was 11 when she died.

Did you read the book that the movie is based on?

A couple times. And I was lucky enough to go to Chatsworth and the now Duchess of Devonshire showed me a lot of Georgiana's things--I had a look at her actual letters and her actual gambling books and some of her jewelry, beautiful paintings of her with the kids. I read history books around that time, because it was near the change-over between George III and George IV. That whole period, historically and politically, is really fascinating. The reason I love period films is you can dive into a complete fantasy. For me as an actress, I love getting as far away as possible.

Did you like wearing the wigs?

They were like birdcages made of metal, with hair at the top, stuck to my forehead. I couldn't keep my head up very long. There was one particular one, with two feet of feathers, that was really tricky. I was dancing around and the guys were shouting "Timber!" as I danced past, which was f---ing cruel.

What about the dresses?

The dresses mean you can't breathe, you can never get a deep breath, only a shallow one. You can kind of understand why we were known as the weaker sex--all wigged up and all the rest of it, it's difficult to function.

When you were younger, did you ever dream about being royalty? …

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