Keira Knightley Said She Doesn't Know the Meaning of Mom-Life Balance

And that she felt completely trapped after her role in Pirates of the Caribbean.

Keira Knightley

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Whether you count Bend It Like Beckham or Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl as Keira Knightley's breakout role, the actress knows that fans probably see her as a complete tomboy or the object of everyone's affection (see: roles in Atonement and Love, Actually). In a new interview with Harper's Bazaar U.K., Knightley, who is set to star in Disney+'s Boston Strangler, explains that post-Beckham and post-Elizabeth Swann, she felt trapped in the sort of roles she could play.

"She was the object of everybody’s lust," Knightley says of Swann. "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. I felt very constrained. I felt very stuck. So, the roles afterward were about trying to break out of that."

The roles that came after included blockbuster films like Love Actually, Pride & Prejudice, and Atonement, a period that the actress calls "a very tricky five-year window."

"I didn’t have a sense of how to articulate it," she says of feeling powerless in her own career. "It very much felt like I was caged in a thing I didn’t understand."

Keira Knightley

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Knightley cites her drive and desire to be better and better with every role as why she felt like she had to take on certain projects, but she also says it's the reason she felt so burnt out after that five-year run.

"I was incredibly hard on myself. I was never good enough. I was utterly single-minded. I was so ambitious. I was so driven. I was always trying to get better and better and improve, which is an exhausting way to live your life. Exhausting," she said. "I am in awe of my 22-year-old self, because I’d like a bit more of her back. And it’s only by not being like that any longer that I realize how extraordinary it was. But it does have a cost."

Knightley also opened up about being a mother, which she says is just as exhausting as filming a movie. 

"During filming, the hours are unpredictable and extreme. I worked out I needed three people to do what one full-time parent did. When you hear somebody say, 'I’m just staying home with the kids', that’s not a 'just'. That’s a huge thing," she said. She explained that when someone asks her about balancing mom life with work, she never has an answer. Instead, she insists that people ask because they want to know the secret — and nobody actually knows how to juggle everything.

"What we actually want to know is, 'How are you doing it?' Because I don’t feel like I’m doing it," she said.

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