Keira Knightley Said People Told Her 'Bend It Like Beckham' Would Be "Embarrassing"
"Women's soccer was not as big back then, and so the idea of the whole thing was sort of ridiculous."
Keira Knightley had no idea that a little movie called Bend It Like Beckham would have the impact that it did — and says that even now, people remember her for that soccer film more than anything else. During an appearance on Wednesday's epsiode of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon to promote her new Disney+ movie Boston Strangler, she explained that when she took on the project more than two decades ago, she (and just about everyone else around her) figured that nobody would actually watch it. Whether that's because it starred an unknown actress or the fact that it was a movie about women in sports, nobody will ever know, because, of course, it ended up being a star turn for Knightley and a box office success, raking in $76.6 million at the box office and becoming the highest-grossing soccer film, ever, as of 2020.
"I literally remember telling people I was doing it and it's called Bend It Like Beckham, and them going, 'Oh, that's really embarrassing,'" Knightley explained to host Jimmy Fallon. "And they were all like, 'Don't worry. Nobody will see it. It's fine.'"
She went on to say that when the movie premiered in 2002, the world wasn't as enthusiastic about women's soccer, so many people just dismissed the film and figured that it wouldn't be such a smash hit.
"No, but it was the idea of it because, you know, women's soccer was not as big back then, and so the idea of the whole thing was sort of ridiculous," she added before saying that she still has people remind her that they love the movie and that it gets mentioned to her more than her other work, Pirate-related or not. "It's amazing because it's still the film even today, you know, if someone comes up to talk to me about my work, it's that one. It's so loved. It's amazing."
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Earlier this month, Knightley opened up to Harper's Bazaar U.K., saying that after launching to stardom thanks to the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, she felt uncomfortable and unsure of what films she should pursue after playing a character that was the object of everyone's lust.
"There's a funny place where women are meant to sit, publicly, and I never felt comfortable with that. It was a big jolt," she said, noting that she remembers "being judged on what I was projecting" in her films, especially as Elizabeth Swann.
"She was the object of everybody's lust," she said. "Not that she doesn't have a lot of fight in her. But it was interesting coming from being really tomboyish to getting projected as quite the opposite."
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