Knightley began acting on television and made her feature film debut in 1995, before making her breakthrough with the 2002 film Bend It Like Beckham. She then starred in the 2003 fantasy swashbuckler film Pirates of the Caribbean, playing Elizabeth Swann, a role that she would reprise in the subsequent films of the franchise. A significant turning point came in her career when Knightley received wide recognition a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actress for starring as Elizabeth Bennet in Pride & Prejudice (2005). She became known for starring in several other period dramas, including Atonement (2007), The Duchess (2008), A Dangerous Method (2011), Anna Karenina (2012), and Colette (2018). Knightley received her second nomination for the Academy Award for portraying Joan Clarke in the historical drama The Imitation Game (2014). Her contemporary film roles were in the romantic comedy Begin Again (2013), the action thriller Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014), and the adventure film Everest (2015).
In its 2008 list, Forbes identified Knightley as the second-highest-paid actress in Hollywood, with reported earnings of US$32 million in 2007, making her the only non-American on the list of highest-paid actresses that year.    In 2014, she was nominated for a Golden Globe , a SAG , a BAFTA Award , and an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the historical thriller The Imitation Game . In October 2015, Knightley made her Broadway debut in the title role of Thérèse Raquin .
Fledgling writer Briony Tallis, as a thirteen-year-old, irrevocably changes the course of several lives when she accuses her older sister's lover of a crime he did not commit.
I had an actual "aha" moment with my youngest. It had nothing to do with her having reached a physical milestone. But at the moment it occurred I suddenly felt certain that I'd just witnessed her crossing over into womanhood.