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Keira Knightley on being the ‘best mother’ to daughter Edie

Actor Keira Knightley poses at the 25th annual ELLE Women in Hollywood in Los Angeles, California, U.S., October 15, 2018. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Keira Knightley on being the ‘best mother’ to daughter Edie

Keira Knightley on being the ‘best mother’ to daughter Edie

Keira Knightley is not acting when she says that she’s being the best mum and wife she can be – raising her young daughter to break the mold when it comes to gender stereotypes.

Keira Knightley evokes an image of high glam, elegance and impossible beauty. In person, it’s no surprise that people assume her to be a little precious and standoffish. But MiNDFOOD’s candid, eye-opening Five Minute interview will certainly change that view. Like the titular role she plays in Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, she typifies the old adage that you should never judge a book by its cover.

You play a novelist from the early 20th century whose gender prohibited her from publishing her work under her own name. Her confidence was inspiring against the obstacles thrown her way. How did you find your own confidence?

Oh blimey. I think confidence is a process. I think what I loved about Colette is I didn’t think that she was fearless, I thought she was courageous and in a way that’s more impressive because I feel like fearlessness… it’s very lucky if you are, but most of us aren’t, whereas courageous means confronting your fears and getting over them and going with it and I loved that about her. I suppose I have a lot of fears. I think what I want to teach my daughter is more about being courageous in your choices in life and that’s what I got from this and that’s what I loved.

I saw you on one of the late night shows talking about your daughter and how she knew very early on when to use the right swear words.

(laughs). Twice she said [the F word] which was in the perfect place, so I haven’t told her off about it. Once when Trump came into power and she was 18 months old, and we were watching the election, she’d slept through the night. Suddenly he was giving his acceptance speech and she looked at it for a really, really long time and she was really, really focused and then she turned around on her back and she just went, ‘Oh, F***.’ I was like, ‘Well, I mean, yeah.’ (laughs)

You’ve talked about gender discrepancies in the past and it’s played out in various films –if you could come back, would you like to come back as a man?

No! That would be too easy. If you’re a white male you’ve got the whole [edited out] world at your feet. It’s not interesting. It’s much more interesting having to fight for it.

You’re a wife, a mother, how much is your life defined by your gender?

Well, they’re choices, which is very important to me. I chose to have my daughter when I had my daughter. I chose to be with my partner who I love, who I want to be with. If it didn’t work, I would choose to leave. Your life is made of choices. I am a mother. I am her mother. There isn’t a role to play there. It’s simply what I am. I’m going to try and be the best mother I can. It will be with a lot of mistakes and a lot of ups and downs but I will always be her mother, so I don’t think I play-act. It’s quite an interesting thing in the film, she talks about playing a wife, playing a mother. I don’t feel like I play either of those, I just feel like I am both of those.

You’ve said that you feel like a woman now and not a girl – what qualities do you encourage in your daughter?

I think there’s a quality of just not giving a [damn]. There’s no [BS] with a kid, you go, ‘Okay, I will work my hardest.’ And as long as my kid is cool and she feels good and my husband’s good and my family is good, everything’s good. I think that there’s a sense where you take everything on when you’re young and everything feels very important that actually isn’t important and when you suddenly find that you’re a grown-up you suddenly go, ‘Oh, I actually do understand what’s important over here.’ The rest of it is nice and noise and if it goes well, that’s great and if it goes badly well, [things] happens.

What do you like about getting older?

I think it’s the joyous thing of not being like in the extreme end of youth but when you’re kind of in your late-teens, early ’20s you’re still forming as an individual and part of that formation is that you hugely listen to the pack opinion. You just want to be normal whatever the [hell] normal is. For me, and I don’t know why, but when I was 25 there was a real like ‘Oh, God. I’ve just realised I don’t have to care,’ and if you don’t care then life is so much easier. I mean, I really care about the opinions of people that mean a lot to me and who I love but all the rest of it, but ultimately, I can only be myself. You ask me a question I’ll give you an opinion. You might not like the opinion but really the world has not ended (laughs). It’s all fine.

Have you ever had a girl crush?

You mean, girl crushes like I wanted to sleep with someone? I’m obviously not going to answer that but yeah, I’ve had girl crushes. No, I’m not saying who. I don’t think my husband will be particularly appreciative if I say, ‘Oh yeah….’ (laughs)

Do you remember the time when you realised that some women happen to love other women?

Well, my mum used to organise marches in Scotland because Scotland had rules against homosexuality much later than England did and my mother would help do marches that were pro I suppose what would be now LGBTQ+ communities. That’s how I was brought up so I didn’t have like a moment of being like ah ha, you know, that’s literally always been how we’ve lived.

How do you view the importance of what you wear and how you appear to the world?

I enjoy clothes a lot – but a lot of the time I also don’t give a [damn] (laughs).

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