Keira Knightley joins Mad Men’s Elisabeth Moss for The Children’s Hour

Keira Knightley in The Children's HourIt seems that Keira Knightley enjoyed her first experience of the West End stage last year, playing Jennifer alongside Damian Lewis’s Alceste in The Misanthrope at the Comedy Theatre.

So much so that she has agreed to return to theatre next year, to star in a revival of Lillian Hellman’s controversial classic The Children’s Hour. Knightley will be joined in the play by Elisabeth Moss, who plays ambitious young copywriter Peggy Olson in hit US series Mad Men.

The Children’s Hour will open at the end of January in the West End, produced by Sonia Friedman and Scott Landis and directed by ex-Royal Court artistic director Ian Rickson (Jerusalem).

Keira Knightley, 25, comes from a theatrical family: her mother is the playwright Sharman Macdonald and her father is the actor Will Knightley. She started acting at seven years old, but her first professional role came in the love story A Village Affair in 1995 when she was 10.

Lots of TV work followed including Coming Home alongside Peter O’Toole, Alan Bleasdale’s Oliver Twist, Princess of Thieves in 2001 – her first title role, and then in 2002 her first break-out movie, Bend It Like Beckham. She was then cast by ITV’s Andy Harries in his big-budget TV adaptation of Pasternak’s novel Doctor Zhivago, playing Larisa, and followed this with Love Actually in 2003.

Later in 2003 came her casting in Jerry Bruckheimer’s Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl and the start of her starring role in this enormously successful film franchise. 2005 saw her film Pride & Prejudice and enjoy considerable critical acclaim – including her first Academy Award nomination. In 2007 she filmed Atonement playing Cecilia Tallis, followed by films including The Edge Of Love, with a screenplay by her mother Sharman Macdonald, The Duchess, and Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go alongside Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield.

Movies coming up include London Boulevard with Colin Farrell, new David Cronenberg movie A Dangerous Method and comedy The Emperor’s Children with Richard Gere.

Lillian Hellman’s 1934 play The Children’s Hour, will see Moss and Knightley play two schoolmistresses who run a girl’s boarding school in the 1930s. When a disgruntled student accuses the teachers of having a lesbian affair, a series of dramatic events unfold that destroys both their lives.

The last London production of The Children’s Hour was at the National Theatre in 1994 starring Clare Higgins and Harriet Walter. Movie director William Wyler produced two films based on the play, the first in 1936 which had to adapt the story into a heterosexual love triangle, and again in 1961 starring Audrey Hepburn, Shirley MacLaine and James Garner.

Book tickets to The Children’s Hour at the Comedy Theatre in London