«Bend It Like Beckham» may be a classic sports film, but Keira Knightley says that people initially warned her about doing it. During the «Boston Strangler» star’s appearance on «The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon» on March 15, host Jimmy Fallon mentioned that the 20th anniversary of the US release of the movie was this year. He asked Knightley if she always expected the movie, directed by Gurinder Chadha, to become iconic and beloved, to which she replied, «No. No, no, I mean, I literally remember telling people that I was doing it, and saying, you know, it’s called ‘Bend It Like Beckham,» and them going, ‘Oh, that’s really embarrassing.'»
«Yeah, yeah, no, they were all like, ‘Don’t worry. Nobody will see it, it’s fine,'» she continued. «But it was the idea of it, because you know women’s soccer was not as big back then,» Knightley added. «The idea of the whole thing was sort of ridiculous, and it’s amazing, because it’s still the film, even today, you know, if somebody comes up and talks to me about my work, it’s that one. It’s so loved, it’s amazing.»
The movie stars Parminder Nagra as Jess, the daughter of British Indians living in London. She plays soccer — or, as the Brits call it, football — with the local boys in the park, where she’s spotted by Knightley’s Jules. Jules tells her their girls team needs someone as talented as her, and she agrees to join. But Jess’s parents don’t approve, more worried about the upcoming wedding of her sister Pinky (played by «The Good Wife»‘s Archie Panjabi). The cast also includes Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Joe, the team’s coach. Knightley was just 17 when the movie was released, a decade younger than her costar Nagra. The movie is particularly beloved by many queer people, given the subtext of Jess and Jules’s relationship.
Watch the rest of Knightley’s interview above.