Keira Knightley Decides to Avoid Sex Scenes Directed by Men

'The Duchess'Credit: Paramount Vantage
Knightley wants to stop the male gaze. 

Keira Knightley is the star of many critically acclaimed films and television shows. She's worked with many different directors and has seen different habits and thought processes. Over the years, that's changed how Knightley approached the craft of acting. 

Now, that's extended to how she approaches a role and whether she will do nudity or a sex scene.

Speaking to the Chanel Connects podcast, the actress said, "I don't have an absolute ban [on filming nude scenes], but I kind of do with men. It's partly vanity and also it's the male gaze."

Knightley has recently become a mother and has thought a lot about her life. She expanded on the thought, saying, "If I was making a story that was about that journey of motherhood and body [acceptance], I feel like, I'm sorry, but that would have to be with a female filmmaker."

So much of acting is finding something to cling to within the role.

"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. But I feel very uncomfortable now trying to portray the male gaze."

The male gaze, for the uninitiated, is part of feminist theory, describing the act of depicting women and the world from a masculine, heterosexual perspective that presents women as sexual objects for the pleasure of the heterosexual male viewer.

This kind of sex scene and approach is prevalent in Hollywood, and Knightley does not want to be a part of continuing it. Instead, she wants to focus more on an honest and empathetic portrayal of being a woman.

She continued, "I don't want it to be those horrible sex scenes where you're all greased up and everybody is grunting. I'm not interested in doing that. 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."

This is an interesting and brave stance. We've often talked here about how to change Hollywood, and I think more actors taking stands is a good thing. You can pick and choose roles that you think cater to the kinds of art you want to showcase. 

Since filmmaking is the intersection of art and commerce, it's only fair that you focus on making projects you believe in with people who believe in the same things. 

Let us know what you think in the comments.     

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Your Comment


Although I support any actor making such a decision, it strikes me as odd - the absolutism of “no men”.
1) how does she know a female director doesn’t want to pursue the “male gaze” aesthetic? It’s sexist to always assume they wouldn’t. And
2) the reverse is true- a male director may have no interest in the male gaze whatsoever. Assuming all men would is sexist, no? What if the man is trans? What if the female director is trans?
The perspective shows a limited, biased viewpoint- exactly what she is complaining about. . .

February 12, 2021 at 5:23PM

Richard Gerst
Freelance stills + motion work.

In your effort to disprove Knightly's perspective. You further justified her point. This op-ed overblows her message. She's clearly had too many bad industry experiences with male Directors. Yet, you Richard would rather put her on blast than say, I don't know... the industry she's experienced in as a working film actor? How about instead of coming for her choosing not to work with Male directors, instead we all listen to an actor make a valid point, and then we as creators can aim to make the industry better now that one of our peers has made us aware of something awful.

1) she'd know what a female director wants because she's probably worked with female directors who communicate better than Men who won't surprise her on the day of shooting.

2) All men aren't sexist, typing out that response to this article as if you're saving all men from big bad scary Kiera Knightly's truth - that's sexist, Richard.

February 14, 2021 at 3:45PM, Edited February 14, 3:50PM

Sketkh Williams

Even Joe Wright?

February 14, 2021 at 11:22PM


More woke bulsh1t...

February 15, 2021 at 1:45AM

Pavel Tsvetkov