Keira Knightley’s Broadway Debut Went Smoothly — Except When it Was Stopped by a Screaming, Proposing, Bouquet-Hurling Fan

For most theatre actors, opening night jitters usually come from the fear that blocking or lines will be mistaken, that chemistry will seem underdeveloped, or that, immediately following, critics will run their performance into the ground. These jitters usually do not involve fears that a crazed fan will interrupt a performance to profess their love. But for a megastar making their Broadway debut, this scenario is probably far more likely, and was, indeed, what Keira Knightley faced on the opening night of previews of her Broadway debut in the Emile Zola adaptation, Thérèse Raquin. 

According to Playbill, Knightley — who plays the titular lead in the production — was in the middle of her performance when a man reportedly rose from his seat in the mezzanine, made his way to the railing, from which he began shouting. According to Ghostlight composer/audience member, Matthew Martin, the subjects of his cries were “Jesus and Keira Knightley.” (One Twitter user said the exact words he used were, “Christ was born of a virgin! Keira marry me!”)

Martin alleges that he yelled marriage proposals, and the repeated claim that she had five seconds to respond. When the actors (Knightley was onstage with her co-star, Gabriel Ebert) attempted to continue the performance without breaking character, he again screamed, “5 seconds is too long to wait for a response.”

An usher made him sit back down, and the actors still managed to stay in the moment. When security guards escorted him away, he hurled a bouquet onto the stage, which Knightley’s co-star kicked away. The audience allegedly began applauding, and after they finished up the last two lines in the scene, they left the stage, and a stage manager announced a break in the performance — though the play resumed quickly after. Playbill claims the whole thing “didn’t seem to throw [Knightley] in the slightest.”

A representative of the Roundabout Theater Company told the AP that “extra security measures will be added beginning tonight.” Studio 54 Theater — where the play is being performed — is also, incidentally where Shia Labeouf famously left a production of Cabaret in handcuffs after he’d started smoking and being “loud and disruptive” in the theater.