How Long Did Keira Knightley and Jamie Dornan Date?

Keira Knightley is known to many fans around the world as one of Hollywood’s most dynamic and interesting actors. A star who made a name for herself for her work in period dramas, Knightley marches to the beat of her own drum — always remaining outspoken and charming, no matter what scandals she might be forced to deal with in the press.

These days, Knightley is happily married to a musician named James Righton, with two young children. However, back in the day, when Knightley was beginning her rise to fame, she was linked to another actor, who wouldn’t ultimately hit his stride in Hollywood until after he and Knightley split. 

Jamie Dornan and Keira Knightley in front of a tree
(L-R) Jamie Dornan and Keira Knightley | Dave Hogan/Getty Images

What is Keira Knightley best known for?

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Keira Knightley began her career as a child actor, appearing in various television shows well before she reached maturity. A few of Knightley’s early television films included Innocent Lies, Coming Home, Oliver Twist, and The Treasure Seekers. Knightley’s first big leading role was in the 2001 Walt Disney movie Princess of Thieves, where she played the young daughter of Robin Hood. Knightley made an impression on fans, and in 2002, she was cast in the high-profile film Bend It Like Beckham

Knightley rose to global superstardom in 2003, after her role in the smash-hit blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. The actor went on to appear in multiple franchise sequels, but to many fans, her work as Elizabeth Swann in the first movie is what solidified her status as a star to watch. In the years that followed the release of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Knightley appeared in movies like Pride & Prejudice, Anna Karenina, Colette, and The Duchess

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Just as Keira Knightley’s career was really taking off, she began dating a young model who had acting ambitions of his own. Jamie Dornan first entered the entertainment industry as a model, appearing in campaigns for brands like Hugo Boss and Calvin Klein. Dornan began acting in 2006, but it took several years before he was able to break through to the big time, landing roles in TV shows like Once Upon a Time and The Fall.

Dornan became a worldwide superstar after getting cast as Christian Grey in the Fifty Shades film franchise. He played Grey in three films, and while the films themselves weren’t always well-received by critics, fans loved them — and especially appreciated Dornan’s intense portrayal of the eccentric millionaire. 

When did Keira Knightley and Jamie Dornan date?

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On the surface, Keira Knightley and Jamie Dornan might not seem to have much in common — however, close to two decades ago, the two actors were involved in a romantic relationship. Dornan and Knightley were first linked in 2003, after meeting on the set of a photoshoot and started dating not long after that.

They stayed mum about their romance while they were dating, but remained together for two years until breaking up in 2005. Dornan himself might have indirectly referenced the reason for their breakup in a 2008 interview, admitting that “You can feel a bit second-rate and that’s what started to happen. It’s not like I was bringing the bread to the table — and that can start to affect everything,” according to InStyle.

Dornan later admitted that his statements might have been taken out of context — and ultimately, both Dornan and Knightley went on to find love with other people, with Dornan marrying musician Amelia Warner in 2013 and Knightley wedding her musician boyfriend that same year.