The director working on Keira Knightley's upcoming stage debut has been forced to defend her decision to hire the Hollywood actress - following criticism about theatres using big names to sell tickets.
The Pirates of the Caribbean star is to make her first appearance in London's West End in December (09) to tackle the role of fictitious, flirtatious actress Jennifer in Moliere classic The Misanthrope.
She will appear alongside Damian Lewis and Tara Fitzgerald in the play, which is scheduled to open in the British capital on 17 December (09).
But director Thea Sharrock is adamant the production will not trade on the actress' high profile.
She says, "It's not the Keira Knightley show. She's the leading lady because she has the biggest female role, but she's not the lead part. This is Damian's show. I signed up to work with Damian Lewis because it's brilliant to get him back on stage. And along the way we happened to get Keira Knightley, which is fantastic and I'm very excited but, you know, it's in that order."
And Sharrock admits she has been pleasantly surprised by Knightley's dedication to the role.
She adds, "It's not a whim on her part. She's absolutely ready to come into this vulnerable position - and I'm interested in working with her, to push her in a way that I don't think she has been pushed before because although she has worked with amazing directors, film doesn't work like that."