The actress starred in the first three high-profile Pirates of the Caribbean films near the beginning of her career, but has since shied away from such big movies in favour of smaller projects.
Knightley revealed in this month's Empire magazine that she made a conscious choice to stop making high-profile films because of the negative attention she attracted both from critics and from the paparazzi.
"It comes to a point where you think, 'What kind of film can I make that will allow me to live a proper life?'," she explained. "And those tent-pole movies make it difficult.
"I became aware of how much I was complaining about it and you can't complain about the attention you're getting while still doing the films that invite the most attention. I do actually love blockbusters but that decision has a lot that comes with it that I'm not prepared to go with."
Knightley went on to recall how "abusive" and "dangerous" the paparazzi's pursuit of her became, to the point where she was afraid to go out alone.
"Paparazzi started getting very verbally abusive towards any guy I was with, to try to get a reaction.
"The money for those pictures went so crazy that it became dangerous, being followed down the street or in a car, and not being able to go anywhere without my dad, brother or boyfriend.
"I thought, 'I'm a grown woman and I can't go out alone'. It felt ridiculous. So I was out."
Knightley became engaged to her musician boyfriend James Righton last month.
She will next be seen in Joe Wright's adaptation of Anna Karenina, and is currently filming musical drama Can a Song Save Your Life? in New York.
Watch the trailer for Anna Karenina below: