Keira Knightley shot to prominence in films like Bend It Like Beckham (2002) and Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl (2003) and has barely looked back since. As one of Britain's most sought after young actors, she's been able to mix roles in popular UK romantic dramas such as Love Actually (2003) and Pride & Prejudice (2005) with tougher Hollywood projects such as The Jacket (2005) and Domino (2005). She's back in a corset for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest - the first of two sequels. But as she points out here, she's not just a pretty face this time around...
What was it like to come back and take on this character again?
It was quite scary actually. I have obviously never done a sequel before and I've always said of any of the characters that I've played that if I played them now, I'd play them completely differently. So it was weird trying to find a continuity with a character that I'd played when I was 17. We actually had big problems because she was quite black and white in the first film, very strait-laced, and we couldn't really see how to carry her on - so we went off into a grungier look. That was really exciting, to take the character and make her grow up.
Given the gap of two years between filming The Curse Of The Black Pearl and Dead Man's Chest, how hard was it to get back into shape and get costumed up again?
It was weird because the costumes at the beginning of Dead Man's Chest are quite similar to those in Pirates 1, so it was really like we'd been filming Pirates of the Caribbean for the whole time and we'd never stopped. It was the same crew, more or less, and a lot of the same cast members. So it was very easy just to slip back into it.
You get to do a lot more sword fighting in this one. How much did you get to do yourself and was it fun?
We had a great stunt team and they also got us personal trainers. But for myself and Orlando it was important to do as much of the action ourselves as possible. It's really boring if you're doing an action movie and you're not actually involved with it. So I did a couple of weeks training before I started and then throughout I was working with the stunt department.
Was it a condition of coming back this time that you got to dispense with the corsets early on?
I love the idea that I could say I would only come back if you don't let me wear a corset. But it wasn't. I think they really liked the more action-based side of Elizabeth from the first film and apparently that's what little girls really responded to, so they decided to take her off in that direction. But I had nothing to do with it - or the kiss [with Johnny Depp] either, although I was really happy that there was one!
How did you keep a straight face during some of your funnier scenes in the film, especially with Johnny Depp?
Don't look at Johnny! Ignore him at all costs. He was actually quite nice because he wouldn't do the full Jack Sparrow routine if the camera was on you. But as soon as the camera turns around you couldn't do any off camera lines because you were laughing too much. I think there will be a lot of out-takes [on the DVD] of everybody pissing themselves in the middle of a scene. I remember the crew standing around with tears running down their faces. They were desperately trying to keep it in.
What was it like doing scenes with Bill Nighy, particularly as he wasn't in his make-up for Davy Jones at the time?
He was wearing this really nasty grey tracksuit the whole time with dots everywhere. I hadn't got a clue what he was going to look like so everything was exaggerated. It was fascinating from my point of view to watch him. But I also felt sorry for him because I'd read that he'd wanted to do a pirate movie in a big pirates' hat and there he was in a skin-tight grey catsuit!
You obviously still have part of the second sequel to shoot. What lies ahead that fills you with excitement or dread?
We're going to be shooting in a place called Palmdale, which is about two and a half hours outside LA. It's not really the prettiest place on Earth but apparently they've built some amazing sets there. But it's been really great to have a break. We've been working for over a year on it and everybody needed a breather. The time off has been fantastic. But we're all really excited to get back. There's some great sequences in number three that we've already shot but we've got half the movie still to do. And I'm not going to say anything more about it because I don't want to give it away!
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest is released in UK cinemas on Thursday 6th July 2006.