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HARPER’S BAZAAR UK – There is something about Lily James’ enchanting beauty that makes her the perfect heroine of period drama – but it’s her vivacious spirit, warmth and intelligence that bring these roles to life for a modern audience. She talks to Sophie Elmhirst about being inspired by her grandmother’s life in occupied France in World War II, the importance of having more female directors in Hollywood, and the positive changes already underway.

There’s a story that Lily James has heard her French grandmother tell over the years. In World War II, James’ grandmother was a child, living in the French countryside. The Nazis took over the house during the occupation and the family were forced to flee to Paris in convoy with the French army. When they finally returned after the war, they found their home destroyed, the cellars flooded, a fur coat floating on the water. ‘When I talk to her,’ says James now, in amazement, ‘I think of how their lives were completely turned upside-down, the horror of it all, and how she carried on and could be here sitting having a cup of tea with her granddaughter.’

There’s something about that fur coat: how a detail can summon an image, an insignificant moment in an epic chronology of destruction that for some reason lingers. Lily James and I are sitting in a Highgate café talking about World War II because she is, once again, starring in a film from that time, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, adapted from the 2008 book of the same title, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. (In fact she’s in two, released in quick succession: the other is Darkest Hour, in which she stars as Winston Churchill’s secretary.)

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Magazine Scans > 2018 > Harper’s Bazaar UK (April)
Studio Photoshoots > Outtakes & Sessions > 2018 > Session 001
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