Interviews Photoshoots

Lily is InStyle’s cover girl for January 2015 and you can read below an excerpt from her interview. You will also find a new photoshoot, now in our gallery! On newsstands on November 4.

Downton Abbey’s Lily James seems to be taking over the world. Not only has she scored the lead role as Cinderella in Disney’s live action film alongside Cate Blanchett, she’s also nabbed the role of Elizabeth Bennet in the long-awaited Pride And Prejudice And Zombies plus she’s been cast as Anastacia by Harvey Weinstein in his adapation of War and Peace. That’s in-between working the red carpet, hanging out on the front row at fashion week and date nights with Matt Smith.

On filming Cinderella…
‘At one point, it all became too much and then Helena Bonham Carter said to me, “have one breakdown a week; it makes people know you’re not a robot and remember that you’re human.”‘

On dating Matt Smith…
‘ …in regards to your love life, you’re just entering into a whole of pain if you talk about it. If you’ve never said anything, there are no sound bites to haunt you when you’re crying into a box of Kleenex after it all goes wrong.’

On watching Downton Abbey with her family at Christmas time…
‘Downton’s taken over; suddenly rather than playing charades and getting more drunk, we sit and watch me, which is quite bizarre.’

Cinderella Interviews Movies Videos


HARPER’S BAZAAR – When Lily James joined the cast of ITV’s period drama Downton Abbey in 2012’s Christmas special, no one could have guessed that she would be its next breakout star, following in the footsteps of Michelle Dockery, Jessica Brown Findlay and Dan Stevens.

Fast-forward 2 years and she’s not only the lead in Kenneth Branagh’s live action remake of Cinderella, but she’s also taking on Jane Austen’s popular heroine Elizabeth Bennet, albeit in the big screen adaptation of Seth Grahame-Smith’s novel, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

“Cinderella felt quite ensemble, like Downton,” she says, on the tangible jump she’s made from a cast of 20-plus people to the lead in a film. “It’s such an amazing cast that I didn’t feel like I was bearing the brunt of the movie at all, working with people like Cate Blanchett and Helena Bonham Carter. I was very intimidated about going on to a big show like Downton, but if you can just get your focus there on the day you can drown out the rest of that stuff. I just approach everything the same way.”

It’s certainly an exciting time to be a British actor, with a new wave of our homegrown talent taking Hollywood by storm. Indeed, two of this year’s most Oscar-worthy films feature English leads: The Theory of Everything starring Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones, and The Imitation Game with Benedict Cumberbatch and fellow Downton alum, Allen Leech.

“There are so many British actors who I think are incredible and talented who I’d love to work with,” she explains. “There’s a really cool crew of us at the moment. British actors don’t worry about what they look like – they’re uninhibited and less glamorous. It’s nice because there’s no feeling of competition.”
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Cinderella Interviews Movies

DAILYMAIL – Cinderella, as embodied by Downton Abbey star Lily James in a blockbuster new movie version, is no victim. She’s equal to any man, according to director Kenneth Branagh. ‘We wanted it not to be the film where a girl waits for a man to come along before she can be happy. She’s happy inside before he comes along,’ Branagh told me.

Disney’s epic version of the Cinders story opens on March 27, with Lily in the central role and Richard Madden as the Prince who falls in love with her when they dance at a ball. ‘Our Cinderella isn’t afraid of the love and romance between them — but she’s an equal in it,’ Branagh explained.

When I visited the set during filming, Lily told me that Cinderella had a superpower. ‘It’s something inside her,’ the actress teased. What could it be, I wondered? ‘It’s goodness,’ she said.

‘Good can also equal smart, funny and happy,’ Branagh agreed later. ‘Goodness is not about being pretty, precious, self-righteous, holier than thou. Lily as Cinderella makes goodness cool.’

The actor-director was speaking to me from Sweden, where he’s filming the last three of 12 full-length Wallander detective dramas. He said he, too, saw goodness as the ‘ultimate superpower’, able to outdo the more deliberate manipulations of Cate Blanchett’s character, Cinderella’s stepmother Lady Tremaine.

Branagh said that Cinderella’s step-family — which also features Holliday Grainger and Sophie McShera (Lily’s co-star from Downton) as the step-sisters — are not the pantomime villains usually associated with this fairy tale. ‘Cate Blanchett!’ he said. ‘Once you have her, you already know that you’re moving away from the one-dimensional, the two-dimensional . . . and you’re into the multi-dimensional. She’s an absolute thoroughbred as an artist. She has a skill level just off the charts.’
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Cinderella Downton Abbey Interviews Movies Television

DAILY MAIL – Talking to Lily James is a bit like being with a toddler in a toy shop. She’s so excited she can barely keep still in her chair. Her hands are constantly waving up in the air and her toothy grin’s almost as wide as her face. But who can blame her? Joining the cast of Downton Abbey two years ago as the rebellious Lady Rose has catapulted her straight onto the A-list.

She’s just finished making her first Disney film – as Cinderella in a Kenneth Branagh production of the fairy tale no less – and from there she’ll be fighting zombies as Elizabeth Bennet in a very modern version of Pride And Prejudice before taking one of the leads, Natasha Rostova, in the BBC’s new costume drama mini-series War And Peace.

Oh, and she’s dating former Doctor Who star Matt Smith to boot. ‘Every girl wants to be a princess but the reality of playing a Disney one is, “OH MY GOD!”‘ she practically screeches.

‘I’m having so many dream-come-true moments I can’t even count them. Getting Downton was one of them. I’d watched the show from the start and loved it so I couldn’t believe it when I got the job. Now to play a Disney princess is just silly really. It’s hard to comprehend. I don’t want to be one of those actors who can’t admit it’s exciting.’

Downton creator Julian Fellowes has said he’s going to have to write the next series of Downton around Lily’s other commitments, but unlike other former cast members Dan Stevens and Jessica Brown Findlay who left the show after Hollywood photographs: alisa connan/camera press, nick briggs, wireimage beckoned, he won’t have to kill her off. ‘I don’t want to leave; I’ll stay forever if I can,’ she insists. ‘I love it, my mum loves it and my gran loves it. That’s part of the enjoyment of it for me, knowing how much my family enjoy seeing me in it. It feels very special.’
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Cinderella Downton Abbey Interviews Movies Television

THE NEW ZEALAND HERALD – Stepping into Jessica Findlay Brown’s shoes on Downton Abbey was never going to be easy. Lady Rose MacClare first appeared in the 2012 Christmas Special and was taken under the Crawleys’ wing after their middle daughter Sybil (Brown) died in childbirth.

Now, as Lily James prepares to enter her second season on the popular costume drama playing the rebellious socialite, she is beginning to find her feet.

“I feel completely settled,” she says. “It’s like it’s my home and my family and I feel like I’ve always been there. But it’s less difficult than people would imagine, as everyone is so incredibly warm and welcoming and I felt instantly like I was part of the gang.”

Downton boasts one of the largest ensemble casts on British television, with more than 20 core characters, but James believes the camaraderie between the actors creates an intimate and relaxed environment. “It really is like that and that’s why the show has done well and why it continues to do well, because everyone gets on.”

“It’s like everyone has their place and their role, so they bring a different dynamic to the various aspects of the piece, a different flavour, if you like. I felt like Rose came in and really evoked something specific, so it was like I had something to grasp on to. ‘What is the point of me?’ was something I asked myself often.”
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Downton Abbey Interviews Television Videos

Downton Abbey Interviews Television Videos