By: Mohnish Singh
Gurinder Chadha’s 2002 film Bend It Like Beckham is considered to be one of the best sports comedy dramas ever made. Featuring an ensemble cast of Parminder Nagra, Keira Knightley, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Anupam Kher, Juliet Stevenson, Shaznay Lewis, and Archie Panjabi, Bend It Like Beckham also prides itself on being one of the highest-grossing football sports films.
Now, almost 20 years after its release, actress Keira Knightley has revealed that she was mocked for starring in the film. The film sees a then-18-year-old Knightley in the role of Jules Paxton who is ready to go all out to chase a career in professional football despite their parents’ wishes. It made Knightley an overnight sensation and cemented her position as a powerful actress.
Knightley was recently reminded of the film’s anniversary during an appearance on The Tonight Show. When host Jimmy Fallon asked her if she had ever thought the film would turn out to be so big while she was working on it, Knightley surprised everyone with her response.
She said, “No. No. No, I mean, I literally remember telling people that I was doing it, and saying, you know, ‘It’s called Bend It Like Beckham,’ and them going, ‘Oh, that’s really embarrassing’. Yeah, yeah no, they were all like, ‘Don’t worry. Nobody will see it, it’s fine.’ But it was the idea of it, because you know women’s soccer was not as big back then.”
She further added, “The idea of the whole thing was sort of ridiculous and it’s amazing, because it’s still the film, even today, you know, if somebody comes up and talks to me about my work, it’s that one. It’s so loved, it’s amazing.”
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