Keira Knightley is more likely to star in a period piece than a movie set in modern times—and for good reason. As the actress explains in the new issue of Variety, she feels female characters are often treated better in historical dramas. "I don't really do films set in the modern day because the female characters nearly always get raped. I always find something distasteful in the way women are portrayed, whereas I've always found very inspiring characters offered to me in historical pieces. There's been some improvement. I'm suddenly being sent scripts with present-day women who aren't raped in the first five pages and aren't simply there to be the loving girlfriend or wife," she says. Thanks to production studios like Amazon and Netflix, she adds, "We're seeing some strong female characters and female stories on streaming services."
In the current climate, Knightley says, it's especially important to create strong, layered roles for women. As many of her peers come forward with stories of sexual abuse and harassment, she says, "What's been really interesting is that it's not just this industry—it's in every industry."