FORT WAYNE, IN—According to local computer programmer and Keira Knightley fan Tom Hayes, 38, the internationally known English film actress and model responded "much too fast" to the letter he sent just a few days ago.
"All I wrote was, 'I'm a big fan and I would love it if you would autograph this picture,'" Hayes told reporters Thursday, holding Knightley's unusually prompt and thorough response to his original two- sentence-long letter. "But then, just four days later—exactly four days—there's a FedEx guy at my door asking me to sign for an overnight delivery from Keira Knightley. I just figured it was some sort of mistake or joke, but it wasn't."
"Now, think about that: I sent my letter by regular mail all the way to London, so in order for me to have received her reply so quickly, she literally must have read my letter the moment it got to her and then responded immediately," Hayes continued. "That seems a little weird, right?"
Assuming that his original letter had simply been returned to sender, Hayes was surprised to find the package contained a 12-page handwritten document, a signed color photograph of Keira Knightley much larger than the black-and-white portrait of the actress he had sent, a variety of English candies, another photograph of a smiling Knightley holding Hayes' letter, and a few small handmade pencil drawings, presumably of the movie star's pets.
Despite the fact that Hayes had actually mailed his letter to the 25-year-old performer's agent in London and not to Knightley herself, the Academy Award–nominated actress's response included her home address, her e-mail, private phone numbers for various residences in the U.K. and U.S., and 20 sheets of artisanal, pearl-foiled paper upon which Hayes was instructed to write his reply.
Hayes also confirmed that a second copy of Knightley's letter arrived a few hours later with a note attached reading, "In case the first one got lost in the mail! Yours, Keira."
"And then the actual letter she wrote—man, you should see this thing," said Hayes, shaking his head as he scanned the lavender-scented document. "She starts off talking about how my letter was a bright spot in her day and then goes on and on for pages about her childhood in Teddington, the trips she would take in the summer to visit her mother's family in Scotland, and her favorite movie memories. And at the end she goes on this long rant about how 'awesome' I am. I'm just reading this thing thinking, 'Why would she think I'm awesome? She doesn't even know me.'"
"And why is there a collage in the margins that has baby pictures of her and drawings of flowers?" Hayes added. "Seriously, should I be worried about his?"
Although Hayes has not yet responded to Knightley, he confirmed that several additional replies have already arrived from the actress, each longer and more involved than the last. A letter from Knightley postmarked two days ago contained a variety of highlighted newspaper clippings related to recent happenings in the actress's life and career. Another postmarked the same day contained an 80-point questionnaire with such queries as "What is your favorite cozy thing to do on a rainy afternoon?" and "Do you think I'm cool? Dont lie, lol."
In addition, Hayes told reporters that Knightley had sent him six separate film scripts with notes attached asking whether he thought the parts seemed right for her.
"Today she sent a message asking how I was holding up with all the construction they're doing on the house next door to me," said a wide-eyed Hayes. "Okay, that started a day and a half ago. How did she know about that? And somehow she got my work address, because the other day all these stuffed animals appeared on my desk along with a cardboard cutout of her from Bend It Like Beckham. My boss was just like, 'What is all this crap?' It was really embarrassing."
"She apologized later in one of her letters, but still," Hayes added.
While Hayes claimed he remains an admirer of Knightley's work, he admitted to reporters that his adoration of the actress had diminished considerably, especially after his parents started getting bizarre postcards from the actress signed, "Your son's biggest fan."
Hayes said he was considering sending a short, polite reply in a week or so thanking her for her letters and saying goodbye.
"Even though the whole thing has bordered on being sort of scary, I guess I ultimately do feel a little bad for her and think she really is a sweet girl," Hayes said. "Still, I really wish she hadn't given my address to Daniel Craig. Jesus Christ, that guy just won't quit."