‘They always get raped’: Keira Knightley gives searing explanation why she avoids modern roles.

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There’s a reason we hardly ever see actress Keira Knightley in roles that depict modern-era women.

Since she burst onto the Hollywood scene at just 18 years old in Pirates of the Caribbean, the actress is known to favour period pieces over films set in the modern day.

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She’s starred in Atonement, Pride and Prejudice and The Imitation Game, and in her latest film, Colette, she portrays the legendary French novelist of the same name.

In an interview with Variety, the 32-year-old mother-of-one has revealed why she’s more likely to choose to play a historical figure over a modern woman.

Keira Knightley in Colette movie
Keira Knightley plays another historical figure in Colette. Image via Transmission Films.

"I don't really do films set in the modern day because the female characters nearly always get raped," she bluntly explained.

"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.

But, she noted, "there's been some improvement".

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"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 said.

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She also spoke about the #MeToo movement taking over Hollywood, sparked by allegations that legendary producer Harvey Weinstein had a history of abusing, harassing and bullying female stars.

"What's been really interesting is that it's not just this industry — it's in every industry," she said of the number of women coming forward to share their own stories.

"I was surprised by some of the specifics. But I was aware of the culture of silencing women and the culture of bullying them, and I knew that men in the industry were allowed to behave in very different ways than women.

"What was fascinating about the #MeToo movement was I was sitting with friends who weren't in the industry, and there wasn't one of us who hadn't been assaulted at some point.

"We'd never had that conversation before. That was an eye-opener."

Keira Knightley
Keira Knightley. Image via Getty.

The actress said while she was "fortunate" that she's never been sexually abused professionally or harassed while working on a film set, she's faced plenty of inappropriate sexual behaviour in "real life".

"I've been in bars, I can count four times when I've been what I'd say was assaulted in a minor way," she said.

"I think everyone has battled their fair share of monsters. It's not just actresses. It's teachers; it's lawyers.

"I'm not talking about rape, but I'm talking about the people who had been grabbed in pubs or their breasts had been fondled by somebody they didn't know or they'd had someone shove a hand up their skirt."

She said for too long, the world has been thinking such behaviour is normal. But now, it's time for it all to change.

"We're in a period of time in which it all has to come out," she said.

"Then we need to move forward and figure out how to make sure that it doesn't happen again."

Keira Knightley Harvey Weinstein
Keira Knightley and Harvey Weinstein in 2014. Image via Getty.

Knightley also spoke of her own experiences working with Harvey Weinstein, who she worked with on films Begin Again and The Imitation Game.

"My experience with Harvey Weinstein was always very professional," she said.

"He was very good on the films we made. I was aware of his reputation of being a bully... he didn't do that to me, and he certainly never asked me for massages or anything like that.

"I wasn't aware of any allegations or rape or sexual assault against him. For the first time people are sharing their stories. People have been absolutely terrified to talk about it and were scared of retribution, so I don't think everybody knew the extent of what was going on."

If you or someone you know is in need of help, please call the National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service on 1800 RESPECT.

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