Keira Knightley explains the reason she loves period dramas

'That’s always something I’ve really identified with. I feel like I sit somewhere else'

Clarisse Loughrey
Friday 28 December 2018 09:30 GMT
Colette - Trailer

Keira Knightley has voiced her support for the period drama once more, after previously claiming that there is something of a sexist double standard around the genre.

The actor’s latest film is Colette, based on the life of one of France’s most famous authors, who was renowned for challenging the boundaries of gender and sexuality during La Belle Époque in Paris.

“Almost every character I’ve played has tried to break out of that image of femininity,” the actor told The Guardian. “That’s why I like period films, because it’s such an overt cage you put the woman in. That’s always something I’ve really identified with. I feel like I sit somewhere else.”

Knightley described herself as a tomboy who, at age 11, was “obsessed by The Godfather. I wanted to be Al Pacino and that’s where I was heading. The great parts are the guys’s parts. You don’t want to be the pretty girl in the corner or the mum being lovable and supportive. Of course, when you grow up you are, but you still want to have the adventures.”

While attending this year’s Toronto Film Festival to promote the film, Knightley said of the period drama: “There’s a negativity around them, because predominantly they’re female.”

Earlier this year, Knightley wrote an essay titled “The Weaker Sex” for a collection called Feminists Don’t Wear Pink and Other Lies, which railed against the contradictory expectations placed on women and, especially, mothers.

She said of the piece: “Before motherhood, you’re sexy, but if we talk about the whole vagina-splitting thing then that’s terrifying; there’s no sex there, so what we do is go into the virgin-mother retrofit, that’s nice and safe.”

“The problem with those two images is I think very few women actually identify with them. Women are meant to play the flirt or the mother in order to get their voice heard. I can’t. It makes me feel sick.”

Colette is released in UK cinemas on 12 January.

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