Keira Knightley and Stalker No. 6

Man charged with harassing actress who left Britain to escape attention

Her roles in Atonement, Pirates of the Caribbean and Pride & Prejudice have won the English actress Keira Knightley plaudits, Hollywood celebrity and legions of fans. They have also won her more unwanted attention – from stalkers.

Yesterday Marek Daniluk, 41, appeared in a London court charged with harassing the actress, who is appearing in the play The Misanthrope in the West End.

He is believed to be the sixth stalker to have bothered the 24-year-old actress since she made her name in the 2002 film Bend It Like Beckham.

Such has been the unsettling attention that Knightley, who played Elizabeth Swann in the Pirates films, moved to America two years ago to escape five stalkers.

Daniluk, a Polish national, was arrested last Thursday outside the Comedy Theatre, where Knightley is appearing in Molière's classic play with co-star Damian Lewis. The man's arrest followed a complaint made by a woman to police about the behaviour of a man outside the theatre on Wednesday. Daniluk, who lives in Enfield, Middlesex, will face trial in June.

Knightley is far from the only star to be plagued by stalkers. Almost anyone who regularly appears in celebrity magazines has found themselves followed by an unwelcome fan, including Harry Potter actress and model Emma Watson, pop star Madonna, and actresses Catherine Zeta Jones, Uma Thurman and Samantha Morton.

After her rise to fame, however, Knightley said she was afraid to leave the house because of the men who would follow her. She even took to dressing in a beanie hat, baggy trousers and leaving home without make up.

"This nutter has been hanging around outside my house," she said, in 2004. "It has been really alarming. My mother has been so upset – and I just hate it." A friend said at the time: "Keira plays it cool but you can understand her mum's worry. This bloke has really shaken Sharman [Keira's mother] up.

"He is probably just a harmless fan, but you can never be too sure. There are so many weirdos in London."

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