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Keira Knightley, Critics' Choice Awards

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for A&E Network

Keira Knightley's life could easily be mistaken for a fairy tale. 

More than a decade ago, the brunette beauty was launched into international superstardom with her breakthrough role in Bend It Like Beckham, paving the way for a slew of other parts in major blockbusters like the Pirates of the CaribbeanPride and Prejudice and Atonement, which earned her two Oscar noms and three Golden Globe nominations. 

Knightley turns 31 today, surely celebrating a year in which the talented actress took on quite a few roles particularly different from her norm. Back in 2013, the birthday girl married her prince charming, musician James Righton, and last June, Keira traded film scripts for motherhood

But despite her years in the spotlight, Knightley has kept the lid mostly shut on her private life, save for a few major insights that have lead us to believe she really is living the dream. 

Keira Knightley, James Righton


When it comes to romance, Knightley has both feet firmly planted on the ground. The Anna Karenina star admitted to Glamour that settling down was never a major priority: "Actually my parents kept saying, 'Why bother?' I think they only [got married] to get a mortgage. But when James proposed, I just thought, Well, never done that before. It seemed like a fun thing to do." 

She attributes their relationship's success to maintaining separate interests ("You should have your own thing"), but doesn't downplay the importance of "[building] a life together." 

And as A-listers go, Knightley might just be the most humble of them all. In the same 2014 interview, the Brit revealed that she allots herself a salary of about $50,000 to avoid "alienating" herself.

"I think living an [expensive] lifestyle means you can't hang out with people who don't live that lifestyle, she explained. "Some of my best, most hilarious times have been in the least luxurious places."

Keira Knightley, James Brighton, Wedding


Keira keeps it so low-key that she even recycled her own wedding dress! Yes, that's right; her flirty Chanel frock has since made multiple red carpet appearances beyond the altar. Like the true fashion icon she is, Knightley actually made wardrobe upcycling super-chic. (Not that we're surprised or anything.) 

And while the 31-year-old's classically elegant style has remained relatively unchanged over the years, Keira says becoming a parent was a whole different story. 

In her first sit-down since welcoming baby girl Edie, Knightley told Elle the love she feels for her first born is "astonishing," adding, "It's a very primal, primal love. That's quite extraordinary. And the ability to have no sleep and continue going. It's not pleasant—I never thought that I could actually do it for the amount of time that I've done it."

Keira Knightley, Therese Raquin

Bruce Glikas/2015 Bruce Glikas

She echoed this realization in an interview with the New York Times, saying, "You give birth to something and you go, automatically, 'I would die for it,' and you don't feel like that for any other thing."

She continued, "This little thing that's screaming at me, and there's absolutely no question. And that's dark, and it's deep, and it's very, very, very strange."

As Knightley proves, treading particularly foreign soil often ushers in new opportunities, most recently with her Broadway debut in Thérèse Raquin. Keira told The Telegraph that if it weren't for the newfound "perspective" motherhood gave her, she might not have taken the role. 

"I'm very grateful to become a mother while doing something this unbelievably difficult, because honestly the worst that could happen is that you fail," Knightley said. 

Keira Knightley

Raymond Hall/GC Images

"You try your best and I've been really lucky that I have had the opportunity to be working and finding interesting things, and working with interesting people while being a mom at the same time," she continued. 

After all, Knightley isn't much different from other first-time parents. She mused on the less-than-glamorous aspects of balancing a demanding schedule, recalling, "We're doing note sessions, and I'm literally cleaning the snot off my daughter's face, and my husband's trying to change her diaper as she rolls along the floor." 

Sounds like this mama deserves a relaxing birthday. But knowing Keira's bulletproof ambition, there's no stopping her anytime soon. She's currently on set (pictured above) filming Collateral Beauty alongside Will Smith, Kate Winslet and Helen Mirren

Happy birthday, Keira! Wishing you the best day ever.