Keira Knightley is part of a new generation of British actresses. She has the refinement and manners that non Brits assume all British people have. But she is also a performer who is moving beyond the BBC/PBS/Masterpiece type of roles that usually defines the career of a British actor or actress.
Two of her early roles exemplify her ability to choose interesting and realistic female characters.
In Princess Of Thieves (2001), Gwyn (Knightley) is the daughter of Robin Hood and the late Maid Marian. Her father (Stuart Wilson) is taken captive by the Sherif Of Nottingham (Malcolm McDowell). Gwyn must not only rescue her father, but the rightful heir the throne, Prince Philip (Stephen Moyer).
Three years later in 2004, she was Guinevere in King Arthur opposite Clive Owen in the title role. Stripped of most of the myth that is known about King Arthur, this movie is grounded in British history. Taking place in a time when the Romans were slowly receding back to the Mediterranean, the story revolves around the conflict between the Roman settlers and the native Britain’s.
I recommend both.