USA TODAY – Lily James once counted herself among those shocked, positively shocked, that a movie was underway injecting zombies into Jane Austen’s classic 1813 novel Pride and Prejudice.
To add injury to insult, the Downton Abbey and Cinderella actress was asked to star in the corpse-infested enterprise.
“When that call came, I thought that this all sounded terrible. They put zombies in Pride and Prejudice? I’m British, being obsessed with Jane Austen is a birthright,” says James. “And then I realized I was just being ignorant. The script was brilliant.”
That was a very bad day for zombies.
James, 26, who had wielded nothing more than tea cups and hairbrushes as Lady Rose on Downton Abbey, transformed into a killing machine for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (in theaters Friday), based on Seth Grahame-Smith’s best-selling novel. Her feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet, called Liz in the revamped work, wields a lethal sword and dagger on zombie foes.
Actually, all of Austen’s famed five Bennet sisters — including Bella Heathcote as Jane and Suki Waterhouse as Kitty — are like a “lethal Spice Girls,’ says James, wearing a black velvet jumpsuit and towering platform pumps during a talk outside Los Angeles’ London Hotel
Even a classic Regency dance scene turns into mayhem when the undead hordes mess with the Bennet warriors.Continue Reading
MADE IN HOLLYWOOD sits down with Lily James and Bella Heathcote to discuss their latest film, “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.”
Back on January 7, Lily was guest at ‘The Talk’ promoting War and Peace. You can now watch the video of her appearance below, enjoy!
Tell us about Natasha
I agree with Andrew Davies that Natasha is the most lovable romantic character in literature. As she goes on an enormous journey from child to woman, you can see all her flaws. She’s very unabashed but in spite of that, you still really like her because she has a huge heart and a beautiful soul. She lives in the moment and she’s completely uninhibited, but of course that leads to disaster. She’s such a vast character to portray –I love Natasha so much and it’s such a joy trying to bring her to life. I’m quite protective over her too! As an actor and as a woman it’s a part that’s going to stay with me. These big parts, these big heroines, they change you as an
actor and as a person.
It was surprising that with War & Peace, it sounds so epic, but I really found myself relating to each of the characters.
What is her relationship with her family like?
Natasha loves her family and she is incredibly close to her brother and to Sonya. The only sadness is that when she gets so lost and wrapped up in her own world and her own trauma she loses her family for a while.
Natasha’s parents are amazing – the relationship with her mum is so beautiful, it’s an intimate mother/daughter relationship. Natasha’s relationship with her father again it’s a really fun one. He’s an extravagant father which she relishes, he’s over indulgent and completely wonderful.
How did you and Paul Dano play the scenes between Natasha and Pierre?
Paul is great to work with, but it’s still a difficult relationship to portray. How do we tap into the undeniable connection they have without them knowing it? When Pierre walks into a room, Natasha is instantly drawn to him.
What are Natasha’s costumes like?
They’re fantastic. I wouldn’t have been able to play Natasha without these wonderful costumes. How you’re dressed really impacts on how you feel. I’ve loved wearing her flowing dresses – funnily enough, you actually feel more freedom in those than you do in jeans. What item would I take home with me if I could? I wore a tiara for the Tsar’s Ball scene that was just amazing!
Tell us about the locations you filmed in?
The locations we’ve been to have been mind-blowing. When we were in Russia we filmed at Catherine’s Palace, outside the Winter Palace and in these huge churches. James and I also filmed a lot of beautiful romantic scenes in the snow. I’ve never seen locations like it that were actually real. When we filmed the ball in Catherine’s Palace, I walked in and was stunned and silenced.
What were the riding sequences like?
Riding side-saddle was difficult. It’s very painful – much worse than the way men ride. You have to trap your legs on the saddle – I’m very glad women don’t have to do that anymore!
Why is Tolstoy such a great writer?
Because he always finds the core of a character. He hones in on what’s important and universal, which is why War & Peace is such a classic. People always say this, but it feels very relevant.
That’s why great books are great books. This novel has stood the test of time because the themes Tolstoy discusses are eternal. The things these characters are talking about – love and death – are never going to change.
Have you read the novel?
You have to read the novel! It’s so addictive! The characters are so rich and I adore Tolstoy’s tone and the humour with which he describes people. It made me laugh, and it made me cry. I was reading it while we were filming Downton Abbey. I’d be reading between takes at the dining table. The director would call “Action!” and – bang! – the book would be back under the table. Everyone was laughing about that!
This is why Andrew is such an amazing writer and adapter because he manages to keep the essence of the story and the characters. It’s a huge book he’s condensed down into these scripts but he’s kept the vitality and it feels accessible. I think the audience will be really drawn in.