Must We Concede That Keira Knightley Has Talent Now?

Film stars Jude Law, James McAvoy, Rachel Weisz, and Keira Knightley are all nominees this year for the Oliviers, London theater’s answer to the Tonys. Law competes in the Lead Actor category for his performance in Hamlet. He faces off with McAvoy, who is nominated for Three Days of Rain. Oscar winner Weisz is up for Best Actress for playing Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire.

And, in a bit of a surprise, Keira Knightley has a supporting nod for her West End debut performance in The Misanthrope. (Her co-star Damian Lewis was snubbed.) She’s the rare actress who can boast having both an Oscar and an Olivier nomination before age 25. Do we actually have to concede that she has talent now? Or did her celebrity lift her to the nomination? If you recall, the reviews for Knightley in The Misanthrope were quite lukewarm, with critics commenting more on her “fine, sculpted features” than on her acting ability.

A few nominees will be familiar to BBCA viewers:

Blackadder‘s Rowan Atkinson scored a Best Actor in a Musical nomination for Oliver!

Mackenzie Crook, known for his roles on The Office and Demons, is nominated for his supporting role in the play Jerusalem.

• Actor Ken Stott, who previously appeared in TV dramas such as The Vice, Messiah, and Rebus, is nominated for Best Actor in a Play for his role in Arthur Miller‘s A View From the Bridge.

Cambridge Spies star Samuel West, North & South‘s Tim Pigott-Smith, Tipping the Velvet‘s Rachael Stirling, and Monarch of the Glen‘s Alexandra Gilbreath also received mentions today.

Here are the top nominees:

Best actress
Gillian Anderson (A Doll’s House)
Lorraine Burroughs (The Mountaintop)
Imelda Staunton (Entertaining Mr. Sloane)
Juliet Stevenson (Duet for One)
Rachel Weisz (A Streetcar Named Desire)

Best actor
James Earl Jones (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof)
Jude Law (Hamlet)
James McAvoy (Three Days of Rain)
Mark Rylance (Jerusalem)
Ken Stott (A View From The Bridge)
Samuel West (Enron)

Best supporting actress
Hayley Atwell (A View From the Bridge)
Michelle Dockery (Burnt by the Sun)
Alexandra Gilbreath (Twelfth Night)
Keira Knightley (The Misanthrope)
Rachael Stirling (The Priory)
Ruth Wilson (A Streetcar Named Desire)

Best supporting actor
Mackenzie Crook (Jerusalem)
Rory Kinnear (Burnt by the Sun)
Tim Pigott-Smith (Enron)
Eddie Redmayne (Red)

Best new play
Enron
Jerusalem
The Mountaintop
Red

Here’s the full list of nominees

In other news:

  • The Sun has a photo of the “towering hulk” suspected of stalking Keira Knightley.
  • Towleroad has a photo of actors Ben Whishaw and Hugh Dancy snogging for the play The Pride, which opens off-Broadway in New York next Tuesday. Towleroad also notes the recent controversy about Whishaw’s sexual orientation and his level of openness about it.
  • He wasn’t announced as a writer for this season, but novelist Neil Gaiman suggests that he’s written a Doctor Who episode that “will air in 2011″. A spokesman for the show would not confirm.(BBC)
  • Actor Ian Carmichael, star of the film School for Scoundrels and the classic Britcom The World of Wooster, has died at age 89.(The Times)
  • Simon Cowell has been spotted out-and-about with his new “girlfriend,” makeup artist Mezhgan Hussainy.(The Sun)
  • Steve Coogan is close to a decision on an I’m Alan Partridge movie.(BBC)
  • Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler are on vacation together in Cabo. (Daily Mail)
  • Noel Gallagher wants to appear in court for the sentencing of the man who attacked him onstage in Toronto.(NME)
  • Waking the Dead star Trevor Eve, Cold Feet‘s Helen Baxendale, and Rebus actor John Hannah will star in a hostage drama entitled Kidnap and Ransom, written by 24 scribe Patrick Harbinson. (The Stage)
  • Heather Mills finally got booted from Dancing On Ice.(BBC)
  • On a recent episode, a Dancing on Ice judge scathingly told one of the contestants, “You look like faecal matter that won’t flush, that goes around and around but doesn’t go anywhere.” (Daily Mail)
  • EastEnders celebrates 25 years on the air with a live episode, but The Daily Telegraph‘s David Quantick finds little to love about the popular British soap: “EastEnders‘ great crime is that it poses as an honest, open look at life in the 21st century, reflecting both the downside and the upside of what it is to live now. Yet it is nothing like that; it’s still relentlessly grim and grey, it’s still nails-on-a-blackboard painful when it tries to be funny, and – despite its rigorously clichéd and mindless obsession with ‘fambly’ – a stranger to any sense of love or community.”
  • The TimesTim Teeman says EastEnders‘ long-suffering female characters are what sets the show apart: “At the center of this show, set in a square with possibly the highest murder and adultery rates in the country, are its women: Dot Cotton, Pat Butcher, Peggy Mitchell, Pauline Fowler, Angie Watts, Sharon Watts, Jane Beale, Zainab Masood, Janine Butcher, Ronnie Mitchell – if not feminists, then vivid caricatures of extreme female endurance.”
  • Sade‘s Soldier of Love album gets a five-star review from The Daily Telegraph: “This is only her sixth original studio album, and throughout it there are chord changes and patterns of vocal phrasing that could have come from any of the previous five. To some ears this might sound repetitive, unoriginal. But the effect is a gorgeous one, as if the ghosts of old melodies were reappearing in the new.”
  • Prince Harry will “deliver a video message” at next week’s BRIT Awards. (NME)
  • A “rat risotto” has cost a UK broadcaster 3,000 Australian dollars. (BBC)

Kevin Wicks

Kevin Wicks founded BBCAmerica.com's Anglophenia blog back in 2005 and has been translating British culture for an American audience ever since. While not British himself - he was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri - he once received inordinate hospitality in London for sharing the name of a dead but beloved EastEnders character. His Anglophilia stems from a high school love of Morrissey, whom he calls his "gateway drug" into British culture.

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