- Rose Byrne, Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones, 2000.
- Diane Kruger, Troy, 2004. According to The Times (of London). Keira was seen for as the face that launched a thousand ships - Helen of Troy – and…
- Rose Byrne, Troy, 2004. … and also for Hector’s virgin cousin, Briseis.
- Emmy Rossum, The Phantom of the Opera, 2003. “My test was embarrassing!” - she knew she couldn’t sing. But she was forever challenging herself, desperate to prove herself to everyone - and to herself - when scared she was only being hired because of her looks. Charlotte Church, Anne Hathaway, Katie Holmes and Catherine Zeta-Jones were also on the list for Christine Daaé.
- Natalie Portman, V For Vengeance, 2005. Portman was delighted to win Evey Hammond from Knightley, Bryce Dallas Howard and Scarlett Johansson because she’d always wanted to shave her head! Evey was pronounced EV - E is the fifth letter of the alphabet, V is five in Latin and Y is the 25th letter (5 squared). Cinema is so educational.
- Coral Beed, The Rising: The Ballad of Mangal Pandey, India, 2005. Veteran Bollywood director Ketan Mehta aimed (too) high for his quite gorgeous epic - and, er, Bravehearted - view of the 1857 Sepoy Mutiny.
- Anne Hathaway, Becoming Jane, 2006. Seen, with Natalie Portman, for the look at the young Jane Austen. Keira was Natalie’s double-cum-decoy in Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace, 1999. When in make-up, their mothers couldn’t tell them apart.
- Eva Green, Casino Royale, 2006.
- Kate Bosworth, Superman Returns, 2006.
- Claire Danes, Evening, 2006. KK was considered for the younger version of Vanessa Redgrave’s character (Mamie Gummer did likewise for her mother, Meryl Streep’s role). However, Keira was working day and knightley on both the latest Pirates and Atonement. Danes met her future husband, UK actor Hugh Dancy, on this film.
- Romola Garai, Atonement, 2007. UK director Joe Wright wanted Keira to be Briony, the cause of all the horrendous trouble. Keira wanted to play her more mature elder sister, Cecilia. Guess who won? The New Yorker with the Irish name for freedom took over Briony and was Oscar-nominated at age 13.
- Natalie Portman, The Other Boleyn Girl, 2007. For the second time, Portman inherited a Knightley offer - to be Anne Boleyn, sister of Scarlett Johansson’s Mary. Portman also inherited KK’s dialect coach Jill McCullough.
- Mamie Gummer, Evening, 2007. Sure, very keen to play the younger Meryl Streep but Keira was trapped between another Pirates of the Caribbean and Atonement. Anyway, Meryl came complete with her own younger self - her daughter Mamie. (Natasha Richardson did likewise for her mother Vanessa Redgrave’s role).
- Gemma Arterton, Quantum of Solace, 2008.
- Sienna Miller, The Edge of Love, 2008. Sharan Macdonald wrote Caitlin for her daughter but Keira preferred to be the other great lover of Dylan Thomas, Vera Phillips - grandmother of her producer Rebekah Gilbertson.
- Amber Heard, The Rum Diary, 2009. Johnny Depp’s leading lady from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise was up for Chenault - opposite his second version of Hunter S Thompson. When (sorry, but it has to be said) Amber made herself heard. She wrote to the London director Bruce Robinson and his producers outlining why she’d be best. “The part didn’t call for a famous person. It called for an actress who was right for the part." (And a pricate life replacement partner for Vanessa Paradis).
- Lucy Gordon, Gainsbourg (vie heroique)/Gainsbourg: Je t'aime...moi non plus, France, 2009.
Joann Sfar, a comicbook writer-artist making his directing debut, saw more than 500” Brit girls to play actress Jane Birkin - “none of them were right” - in the film about her second husband, French composer, lyricist, singer, actor, provocateur and drunk Serge Gainsbourg. Getting desperate, Sfar wrote to Keira - “who never replied.” Then, Lucy wrote to him, having been refused by his casting director. And proved she had “the natural manner, the joy and intelligence of Birkin,” Soon after filming ended, Lucy hung herself in Paris, “deeply affected” by a friend’s suicide. “She left as she had come,” said Birkin. “With great modesty.” And in dedicating his film to her, Sfar wrote: “I think about Lucy all the time. I am not the only one. This film is for her.”
- Hayley Atwell, Captain America: The First Avenger, 2010. Knightley was approached about being Cap Am’s lover, SHIELD agent Peggy (ex-Sharon) Carter. Also missing the nine-picture deal for Cap Am sequels, Avengers movies and cross-overs were… Gemma Arterton, Emily Blunt, Alexa Davalos, Alice Eve, Rosamund Pike. Atwell had co-starred with Keira in The Duchess, 2007.
- Rooney Mara, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, 2010.
- Rachel Weisz, Oz the Great and Powerful, 2012. Disneyland is no Oz. Yet having lost a bundle on the depressing Return To Oz, 1984, the Mouse House primed the pump anew for this dangerously titled flop. Also up for Evanora: Amy Adams, Kate Beckinsale, Rebecca Hall, Kristen Stewart. Director Sam Raimi’s favourites became Hilary Swank and Michelle Williams. Then, Weisz arrived out of the blue… and blew everyone away. And Williams became Annie/Glinda.
- Sarah Gadoln, Cosmopolis, 2011. KK was first asked by Canadian director David Cronenberg to join his film. When that proved impossible, he ran to his Toronto find from his previous outing, A Dangerous Method, 2010.
- Anne Hathaway, The Dark Knight Rises, 2011.
- Carey Mulligan, The Great Gatsby, 2011. Australian director Baz Luhrmann’s hunt for Daisy in the third Gatsby movie matched all the season’s other major auditions.As if the only actresses left on planet earth were: Knightley, Jessica Alba, Abbie Cornish, Eva Green, Rebecca Hall, Anne Hathaway, Scarlett Johansson, Blake Lively, Rachel McAdams, Natalie Portman, Amanda Seyfried, Olivia Wilde, Michelle Williams. And Mulligan... soon sobbing on a red carpet, after being handed a phone. “It was Baz: Hello Daisy!”
- Julianne Hough, Safe Haven, 2012. The delightful Utah blonde from Burlesque and Footloose won the lead when Keira preferred Can A Song Save Your Life?
- Sarah Gadon, Cosmopolis, 2013. Marion Cotillard was first choice to co-star with Robert Pattinson. However, she was too close to delivering her and Guillaume Canet’s son, Marcel. Director David Cronenberg next looked at Keria and Noomi Rapace and voted Gadon.
- Rachel McAdams, True Detective 2, TV, 2014. Having proved she could hack it in Domino, 2004, Keira was a late entry for the tough, no-nonsense Monterey sheriff Ani Bezzerides in the second HBO season (changing from Southern to West Coast noir, still owing everything to Elmore Leonard/Justified). Malin Akerman, Jamie Alexander, Jessica Biel, Oona Chaplin, Kelly Reilly, Brit Marling read for creator Nic Pizzolatto. Also seen because of their recent outstanding cops (counting for or against them) were Michelle Forbes, from The Killing (also by Pizzolatto), and Elisabeth Moss, who made Top of the Lake for Jane Campion.