Keira Knightley is convinced women in the movie industry will continue to face an up-hill battle in the fight for gender equality for a long time to come, because leading female roles are still "pretty few and far between".

The actress became a household name in her native Britain after starring in 2002's Bend It Like Beckham, and has gone on to star in box office hits like Pirates Of The Caribbean, Pride and Prejudice, and Atonement.

Knightley is pleased more conversations regarding feminism in Hollywood are taking place, but she insists the industry still has a way to go before women are offered the same kind of opportunities in film as their male counterparts.

She tells Harper's Bazaar magazine, "I think it's great, what's happening at the moment. I think it's great that the discussions are finally being allowed to be had (about feminism), as opposed to anybody mentioning feminism and everybody going, 'Oh, f**king shut up'. Somehow, it became a dirty word. I thought it was really weird for a long time, and I think it's great that we're coming out of that.

"(But) Hollywood has a really long way to go. I don't think anyone can deny that, really, and I think as much as you are getting more women playing lead roles... they're still pretty few and far between."