Keira Knightley recalls being driven to a ‘mental breakdown’ after being hounded by paparazzi

Keira Knightley recalls the paparazzi pressure in her younger years (Picture: Getty Images)

Keira Knightley has recalled how she was driven towards a ‘mental breakdown’ after being hounded by the paparazzi when she first found fame in her early twenties.

Following her breakout role in 2002’s Bend It Like Beckham, the British actress became a Hollywood sensation when she was then cast in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl the next year.

But the attention was overwhelming for a young twenty-something Keira who was still adjusting to life in the limelight.

Referring to the incessant attention which other stars like Britney Spears and Amy Winehouse received at the time, Keira told The Telegraph: ‘The value of photographs of any famous young women at the time went up if they were of a very negative nature.

‘So if you weren’t already having a mental breakdown, they were trying to push you into doing things that kept your value as high as those who were.’

Recalling one incident, the 34-year-old continued: ‘I remember Scarlett Johansson getting forced off the road in Los Angeles, then someone trying to do the same to me in Kentish Town. I told them I was going to kill somebody; they said they’d get more money if I did…

‘I don’t know how things are now…but it was definitely a moment I wanted to run away from. It did not feel like it would end anywhere well.’

The actress feared how it would end (Picture: Getty Images)

Keira has previously opened up on her experience of fame at a young age, and once admitted the ages of 19 to 23 are a ‘big blur’ for her.

In an interview with Balance magazine back in January, Keira explained how she struggles to remember that time ‘in a linear way’ and she began blocking memories out as a coping mechanism.

‘My world crashed when I was 22. Everything stopped working and I felt as if I was broken into tiny pieces; as if my brain was literally shattered,’ the actress said.

In 2008, Keira was nominated for the best actress Bafta for her role in Atonement but she hadn’t left the house in three months when it came to attending the awards.

‘There was no way I was going to be able to get on the red carpet without having a f***ing panic attack. So I had hypnotherapy and it worked. Thankfully, I haven’t had that feeling for a long time,’ she said.

Life looks a lot different now for Keira, who is married to James Righton and a mother of two children, daughter Edie, four, and a second child whom she welcomed in September.

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