Keira Knightley: ‘Iraq was the first time I’d been politically engaged’

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In an exclusive interview, the actor talks about her new film Official Secrets, in which she plays Katharine Gun, the whistleblower who tried to stop the Iraq war

• Read an interview with the real Katharine Gun

The role of Katharine Gun in Official Secrets is played by Keira Knightley. Earlier this summer, a few weeks before her second child was born, Knightley, 34, sat down and talked exclusively to the Observer about why she took the part, and why she felt she believed that the film was coming out at a timely moment.

Did you spend much time with Katharine to prepare for the part?
Not a huge amount. I had lunch with her, and she came to the set once. I really liked her. Gavin Hood, the director, had said he didn’t want a characterisation of her. I mean, I don’t look anything like her. She has an interesting accent because she was brought up in Taiwan. I really wanted to do that, but Gavin wouldn’t let me. I’m not a journalist, of course, so this was the first time I had asked anyone any questions that they legally could not answer. What is amazing about Katharine is that her point of view is so utterly clear. As far as playing her, that point of view had to come across. This is a story told through her eyes.

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