“Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” propelled Keira Knightley to the forefront of the Hollywood scene when it was released in 2003. A success which absolutely did not expect the actress a few months earlier, convinced that she will not do that a quick passage on the set.
Pirates of the Caribbean, The Curse of the Black Pearl : the birth of a franchise
In 2003, Disney joined forces with producer Jerry Bruckheimer to bring one of its most famous attractions to the screen. Directed by Gore Verbinski (The Mexican, Rango), Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl takes the viewer to a time when outlaws thrive on rum and freedom.
Among them, the essential Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), who disembarks at Port Royal, Jamaica, with the aim of taking possession of a vessel without notifying its owner. However, things did not go as planned. Upon arrival, the pirate saves Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) – the governor’s daughter (Jonathan Pryce) – from drowning, before being arrested by Commodore James Norrington (Jack Davenport).
Sparrow manages to escape but Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), a blacksmith secretly in love with Elizabeth, stops him in the middle of his escape. On the verge of being hanged, the sailor is overtaken by his past. The terrifying crew of the Black Pearl, his former ship, invades Port Royal led by his old nemesis Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), who searches for a way to break a terrible curse.
This character gallery meets a huge success At the movie theater. Endowed witha budget of 140 million dollars, the feature film reports more than 654 in the world. Two suites are quickly emerging, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Secret of the Cursed Chest and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, marking the return of these protagonists and achieving a better score than their predecessor at the box office. Johnny Depp then takes to the sea in two other parts, which introduce new traveling companions.
Keira Knightley in full doubt
If the future of the franchise remains unclear for the moment, Disney does not intend to abandon it. However, originally nothing suggests such a box and such longevity, especially because pirate films have a hard time finding their audiences in theaters. One of the most emblematic examples is the failure in early 1996 to Pirate Island, which only collects an unfortunate ten million dollars in the United States for a budget of around 100 million. It thus becomes one of the biggest flops of all time, seven years before the release of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.
As she began her career, notably with Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace and Play it like Beckham, Keira Knightley also fears that the feature film absolutely does not work. In an article published by Radio Times in 2017, director Richard Curtis remembers the actress on the set of Love Actually and declares:
It’s a real pleasure for me to see how brilliantly the cast has fared since Love Actually. When we were making the movie, I remember hearing Keira Knightley say that her next project was going to be “a pirate movie that (would) surely be a disaster”.
But the young actress, aged 18 when the first part of Pirates of the Caribbean, is not only worried about the possible quality of the film and its box office potential. She is also afraid of falling short and getting fired by Jerry Bruckheimer. During an event related to the BAFTAs organized in New York in 2014, the star explains, quoted by theExpress :
As a teenager revealed by blockbusters, I had the right to many criticisms. People said: “She sucks, she doesn’t know how to play.” (…) In adolescence, we read all this and we say to ourselves: “Oh my God, I am that bad!” (…) I remember my arrival in Hollywood… I only had a small bag because I was convinced that I was going to be fired.
Keira Knightley has since shone in projects as diverse as Domino, Pride and Prejudice, Never Let Me Go or Official Secrets, establishing herself as one of the most talented actresses of her generation.