Keira Knightley says that she'll no longer do sex scenes in films directed by men

The actress says of the decision that "it's partly vanity and also it's the male gaze"

By Ashlie D. Stevens
January 25, 2021 9:46PM (UTC)
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Keira Knightley attends the "Misbehaviour" World Premiere at The Ham Yard Hotel on March 09, 2020 in London, England. (Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

Actress Keira Knightley revealed during a recent appearance on the Chanel Connects podcast, an interview series that was launched by the French fashion house earlier this month, that she would no longer do sex scenes for male directors, citing discomfort with "trying to portray the male gaze." 

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Knightley — who most recently appeared in the 2020 comedy-drama "Misbehaviour" which was set during the British women's liberation movement of the 1970s — has maintained a "no nudity clause" since becoming a mother in 2015. 

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But, as she told fellow podcast guests filmmaker Lulu Wang and writer Diane Solway, she is at a place where she would be more flexible if she was working with a female director. "I don't have an absolute ban [on filming nude scenes], but I kind of do with men,"  Knightley said. "It's partly vanity and also it's the male gaze."

She continued: "Saying that, there's times where I go, 'Yeah, I completely see where this sex would be really good in this film and you basically just need somebody to look hot,' so therefore you can use somebody else. Because I'm too vain, and the body has had two children now, and I'd just rather not stand in front of a group of men naked."

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As the conversation continued, which was partially centered on the need for strong women on both sides of the camera, Knightley expressed that she was particularly interested moving forward in pursuing projects that explore the depth of the female experience, from motherhood to the complicated nuances of body image, especially in a society that prizes youth — but those films would have to be done with a female filmmaker on the other side of the camera. 

"If it was about motherhood, about how extraordinary that body is, about how suddenly you're looking at this body that you've got to know and is your own and it's seen in a completely different way and it's changed in ways which are unfathomable to you before you become a mother, then yeah, I would totally be up for exploring that with a woman who would understand that," she said. "But I feel very uncomfortable now trying to portray the male gaze."

Knightley skyrocketed to fame as an actress following her appearance in the 2002 film "Bend It Like Beckham." She went on to star in blockbusters like the "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise and the 2005 film adaptation of "Pride and Prejudice." She will next be featured in the upcoming Christmas comedy "Silent Night," which is being directed by Camille Griffin. 

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Ashlie D. Stevens

Ashlie D. Stevens is a staff writer at Salon, specializing in culture and food.

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Aggregate Chanel Connects Keira Knightley Male Gaze Movies Sex Scenes