Keira Knightley’s Broadway Debut Interrupted By Screaming Man

Hollywood actress Keira Knightley recently made her official debut on the Broadway stage in the play Thérèse Raquin, but the performance was disrupted by an audience member who began screaming from the mezzanine.

As reported by the Guardian, the play had just begun preview performances, which means the show has not officially opened, but some audience members are allowed in to watch the final dress rehearsals. It was only a few minutes into the Thursday preview performance when Keira Knightley and co-star Gabriel Ebert were interrupted. An audience member left his mezzanine seat and started yelling directly at Keira Knightley from the railing. The rest of the audience reportedly assumed the screaming was part of the show until it became obvious that he was specifically addressing Keira Knightley.

According to Entertainment Weekly, the man pointed out to Keira Knightley that she was in a play and nothing happening on stage was real. He then tried to propose to her.

“Keira, none of this is real!” he said. “Will you marry me?”

The young man tried repeatedly to get a response from the actress, but Keira Knightley stayed in character and did not even acknowledge the belligerent audience member. After all, Keira Knightley is already married to composer James Righton.

Keira Knightley with her husband.

Frustrated that he couldn’t get a reaction out of her, the man shouted, “Five seconds is too long to wait for a response!”

An usher came over and escorted the man back to the seat while he continued to mutter things to Keira Knightley about her failure to respond. The man remained in his seat under the usher’s supervision until venue security came to take him out of the building.

But his disruptive outbursts didn’t end there. Keira Knightley continued with the performance as though nothing had happened, but she was forced to react to the man once security started to take him away. While he was leaving the theater, he grabbed a bouquet of flowers and chucked them onto the stage. Keira Knightley remained rigid as the flowers landed by her feet, but cast mate Gabriel Ebert promptly kicked them off the stage. This drew a round of applause from the audience.

Broadway cast, photo by Bruce Glikas.
Keira Knightley and company.

He and Keira Knightley continued the performance normally for a few more minutes, but a sudden intermission halted the play shortly after. It isn’t clear why the performance was stopped, but it’s possible that the audience outburst had something to do with it.

The theater made no comment about the disruption. However, according to ABC News, a spokesperson for the Roundabout Theatre Company addressed the issue of security within the building, claiming that more security personnel will be added to protect Keira Knightley and her co-stars.

“Roundabout takes the safety of their actors and audiences very seriously and extra security will be added beginning tonight. For obvious reasons, we cannot comment on the exact nature of the additional security measures.”

Thérèse Raquin is a stage adaptation of an Emile Zola novel. Keira Knightley plays the titular role in the story, a young woman stuck in an unhappy marriage to her first cousin. Thérèse soon begins a dangerously passionate love affair with one of her husband’s friends, but that passion only lasts so long.

You can see Keira Knightley in Thérèse Raquin starting October 29 on Broadway at Studio 54.

What would you do in the same position as Keira Knightley? Would you try to remain in character? Or would you take the route of her fellow Broadway crossover actor Hugh Jackman, who broke character to call out an audience member using their cell phone?

[Image credit: Jason Merritt, Bruce Glikas, Pascal Le Segretain Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images]