THE INDEPENDENT – Lily James is best known for playing the demure Lady Rose in Downton Abbey, but her portrayal of Elizabeth Bennet in the upcoming film Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is much less decorous.

The actress will play “the most kickass Elizabeth Bennett we’ve ever seen”, according to her Mr Darcy co-star Sam Riley.

The premise of the film sees the Pride and Prejudice characters transported to an alternative version of Regency era England, where an under-class of zombies threaten to overtake the British establishment.

The Bennet sisters are trained in martial arts to help fight the zombies, but Lily James’ Elizabeth likes to use her fighting expertise to defend herself against her suitor as well.

“There is a scene where my proposal to her goes horribly wrong and we end up having a fight in the drawing room where she attacks me with the letter opener and poker,” Riley said.

“I can speak from experience that she’s pretty lethal.”

In typical Mr Darcy fashion, Riley’s character turns his nose up at the martial arts training the Bennet sisters have been given at a Shaolin temple, which he deems inferior to his own.

“We look down on them because we think Japanese style is probably best,” said Riley. “It’s the equivalent of a public school looking down on a grammar school – and those sorts of things are in the film which are quite good fun.”

Riley, who most recently starred in romantic war drama Suite Francaise, said he thinks audiences will warm to James’ portrayal of the Jane Austen heroine.

“She’s going to be one of the best Elizabeth Bennets, if not the best. She’s certainly the most kickass. She’s got a very natural and unforced charm that I think is perfect for Lizzie Bennet.”

Also starring Matt Smith, Douglas Booth and Game of Thrones’ Lena Headey, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies will be released in the UK on 12 February 2016.