Interviews Photoshoots

HARPER’S BAZAAR – Five series in, and Downton Abbey remains one of the most successful and captivating dramas on TV, with 120 million viewers worldwide. In our August issue, we catch up with its stellar cast of actresses.

Whatever their place in the story – upstairs, downstairs, or in a lady’s chamber – women reign supreme in this most triumphantly successful of television dramas. Bazaar meets the stellar cast of actresses as they gather together again for a fifth series of the globally acclaimed show

The room is suddenly alive. ‘Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)’ is pulsing through the speakers and the ladies of Downton Abbey have started to foot-tap and hip-sway and, in the case of Mrs Hughes the housekeeper, perform an impressive shimmy, arms swinging at her sides, not quite the full Beyoncé but not far off. Except she isn’t Mrs Hughes today, she’s herself, the actress Phyllis Logan, and for once she gets to wear a posh frock and be in the same room as her mistresses, Ladies Cora, Mary, Edith, Rose. They have all (well, nearly all; just Maggie Smith and Penelope Wilton are missing) been meticulously arranged for a group photograph in the drawing-room of Firle Place in Sussex. Logan to the left, Michelle Dockery (Mary) central, Lily James (Rose) elegantly stretched on the floor – nine women in floor-length gowns – and the sudden wave of movement is like a painting coming to life. Finally, they are still and – click – they’re captured.

When you see all these women together, you realise how, both upstairs and downstairs at Downton Abbey, it is the women who rule. Carson and Lord Grantham are officially in charge of their respective domains, but there’s a growing sense in both places that the women are staging a kind of benign takeover, finding their roles in a mid-1920s Britain that is very gradually warming to the idea that women might, after all, have something to offer beyond child-bearing and adorning a dinner table, that they might have something to say.

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On the July issue of Vanity Fair, cover star Shailene Woodley headlines a portfolio of up-and-coming stars we like to call “The New Wave.” Photographed by Miguel Reveriego, these rising talents have a huge variety of major projects on the horizon, from new spins on classic fairy tales to high-profile sequels to some of the summer’s biggest potential blockbusters. And they come with just as much variety in their backgrounds; some, like Jaden and Willow Smith, are children of Hollywood royalty, while others, like Jack Reynor and Eve Hewson, have traveled from overseas to work with some of our biggest directors. No matter where these actors and actresses came from, we only see them going one place from here: Up. And up. And up. See them all in the July issue—available this week on newsstands in New York and L.A. and for download in the digital edition—and scroll down for a sample of what’s inside.

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Interviews Photoshoots

TOWN & COUNTRYWhen I sat down to talk to Lily James, I found that it was impossible to be cynical about the value of enchantment,’ says Andrew O’Hagan, who interviews our cover star for Town & Country’s inaugural issue. The Surrey-born actress, best known for her role as Lady Rose, the loveable, naughty niece to Lord and Lady Grantham in Downton Abbey, battled the elements for our covershoot at Boughton Monchelsea Place, an Elizabethan manor house in Kent, dressed in Ralph Lauren.

James confesses that her own relationship with Lady Rose MacClare has been a love-hate one: ‘She seemed shallow. But she changes. Even though her values were about privilege and having a good time, she learned to care about bigger things.’

James is soon to star in another transformative role, as the title part in Disney’s Cinderella, directed by Kenneth Branagh. ‘It’s wonderful to have these chances,’ she says. ‘I would like to be a decent example to other girls and that probably means believing in their belief in me. I want to respect the dream we’re all having.’

She is an actress on the brink of superstardom, but with true British modesty maintains: ‘I never want to be one of those actors who sits around pretending it isn’t totally exciting.’ We agree Lily, it’s all very exciting.

Read the full interview with Lily James in the June 2014 issue of Town & Country, out now.

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Behind the scenes video of Lily for Town & Country UK’s June cover shoot!

Interviews Videos

Cinderella Interviews Movies

Sizzling Downton Abbey star Lily James was involved in a blazing drama of a different kind during the filming of Disney’s live-action Cinderella extravaganza when a sumptuous wedding gown she was wearing caught fire.

The 24-year-old had been shooting a scene at Pinewood studios. The bridal dress — with its voluminous skirts, three miles of hemming and covered in Swarovski crystals — is a work of art in its own right. It covers so much square footage the actress can’t always see what’s in front of her.

She was led into her dressing room (a large tent in a corner of the vast 007 sound stage) and her hem brushed against a heater and began smouldering.

‘It had turned really cold and someone had put a three-bar heater a bit too close to where Lily was going to sit on a stool,’ explained distinguished costume designer Sandy Powell.

‘Luckily, just a segment of the silk dress got burnt. Thank God Lily wasn’t harmed,’ added Powell who has collected three Oscars and two Baftas for her screen creations.

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Nice-as-pie Lily James, who plays Lady Rose in Downton Abbey, talks through her stunning cover shoot for Tatler January 2014. She wore Dior, Valentino, Dolce & Gabbana, Moschino and Simone Rocha, and was photographed by Marc Hom and styled by Deep Kailey.