Keira Knightley Had To Go Through Years Of Therapy To Get Over Trauma After Starring In Pirates Of The Caribbean

Keira Knightley reflects on the intense scrutiny and mental health struggles she faced as a young actor catapulted to fame, emphasizing gratitude and resilience.

Kiera Knightley in Pirates of the Caribbean

Keira Knightley, reflecting on her experience following the unexpected success of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, acknowledged that her journey to becoming a successful actress was a strenuous one. While grateful for the support she received, Knightley admitted that coping with newfound fame was "pretty horrific" during her youth.

In interviews conducted over the years, Knightley has been forthright about the challenges she faced, describing the period as "traumatic" due to the intense scrutiny and fame at such a formative age.

The pressure took its toll, leading Knightley to seek therapy and hypnotherapy to manage panic attacks. In 2018, she revealed a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) stemming from those experiences, indicating the depth of her struggle. Knightley's perfectionist tendencies compounded her difficulties, leading her to admit to being "incredibly hard on" herself during the early stages of her career.

Speaking about the level of fame she was dealing with as a teenager, Knightley told Variety in a 2016 interview: "I found it pretty horrific. I’m not an extrovert, so I found that level of scrutiny and that level of fame really hard.

"It was an age where you are becoming, you haven’t become, and you need to make mistakes. It’s a very precarious age, particularly for women.

"You’re in some ways still a child. It was traumatic, but it set up the rest of my career."

Kiera Knightley in Pirates of the Caribbean
Kiera Knightley in Pirates of the Caribbean

She told the Hollywood Reporter in 2018: "I did have a mental breakdown at 22, so I did take a year off there and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder because of all of that stuff. I went deep into therapy and all of that."

Speaking to Harper's Bazaar in 2023, she said: "I was never good enough. I was utterly single-minded. I was so ambitious. I was so driven.

"I was always trying to get better and better and improve, which is an exhausting way to live your life. Exhausting.

"I am in awe of my 22-year-old self, because I’d like a bit more of her back. And it’s only by not being like that any longer that I realise how extraordinary it was. But it does have a cost."

That being said, the Pirates of the Caribbean star wouldn't take anything back.

"I’m unbelievably lucky now, and my career is in a place where I really enjoy it, and I have a level of fame that’s much less intense," Knightley told Variety in 2018.

"I can deal with it now, and that’s great. But at the time, it was not so great, and took many years of therapy to figure it out."

In summary, Keira Knightley's journey through early fame was marked by significant challenges, including intense scrutiny, mental health struggles, and relentless self-criticism. However, she emerged from those experiences with resilience, gratitude, and a deeper understanding of herself, ultimately finding a more balanced and fulfilling approach to her career and life. Knightley's story is a testament to the importance of recognizing one's limitations and seeking support when necessary.