Interviews

Interviews Television War And Peace

WAR & PEACE PRESS PACK

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.

Interviews Magazine scans Photoshoots

Check the new “CALIFUK” issue (september) of Flaunt magazine featuring Lily. You can also read her interview below, she talks about her role as Natasha Rostova in the BBC adaptation of ‘War and Peace’.


GALLERY LINKS
Magazine Scans > 2015 > Flaunt (September)
Studio Photoshoots > Outtakes & Sessions > Session 067

FLAUNT – Though Lily James grew up antithetically to Cinderella, she wears a gown sewn with similar thread: grace and charm, humility and wisdom. While the CALIFUK editorial team awaited a call from the 26-year-old actress (and impending talk of the globe), hushing gossip dominoed down the hall, murmurings bounded from office to office. “Is Cinderella calling?” Yes, the star of Disney’s latest incarnation of Cinderella (2015) carved time in her shiny schedule to briefly talk about what the princess does after the ball. A Google image search of the future superstar yields a catalogue of marvelous gowns for Cinderella’s summer premieres in Tokyo (Shinderera), Berlin (Aschenputtel), Paris (Cendrillon), and Mexico City (Cenicienta) and every other metropolitan fiefdom thrilled to screen the big-budget fantasy masterpiece. The Guardian praised the film’s “straight-faced sentimentality” and “unashamedly old-fashioned” nature, even offering contrarian commentary supporting the protagonist’s modern spirit of independence. Written with anti-revisionist mentality, and maintaining the trope-ish ethos—i.e. 18th-century European baroque-ness meets good ol’ pack-the-station-wagon Disney Americana—the film grossed $132 million on its opening weekend. Director Kenneth Branagh skipped fixing what wasn’t broken, and James—true to her hallmark character—filled the allegorical slipper perfectly.

Refined audiences might have found James’ success in the rags-to-riches princess role a refreshing switch. During her “day job” as Lady Rose Aldridge (née MacClare) on Downton Abbey (2012-2014), she’s recognized moreso for her disregard of mores, as the rebellious youngest daughter of the MacClare family. James’ character means well, though, balancing capable charm and innocent curiosity, arcing from an illicit rendezvous with jazz singer Jack Ross to a safe-but-loving marriage with Atticus Aldridge. She told Zap2it in March, “Part of me wants her to like lose her shit and come back completely wrecked and a ruined woman, and part of me wants her to keep her happily-ever-after.” But happily ever after is subjective. Fans might beg Lady Rose fair stay, while James’ real-life happiness—in the vein of Flow’s Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi—could require roles of increasing challenge, rising to her performative level.

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Interviews Television War And Peace

THE TELEGRAPH – When it was last on television, it took an epic 20 episodes to tell the sprawling story of love, family and Napoleonic war in Tolstoy’s Russia.

The BBC’s latest version, more than four decades on, has enlisted Lily James, Andrew Davies and a cast of hundreds to convince a new generation that War and Peace is for them in just six hours.

The BBC aims to broadcast the “definitive” War and Peace for the 21st century, executives said, as they unveil the first-look images from their far-from-cosy new period drama.

It will aim to encapsulate Tolstoy’s magnum opus in a six-part adaption that will showcase the “humour, energy, light and love” of the original story, while syphoning off the philosophical musings.

First announced in the Telegraph two years ago, prospective fans can now get their first glimpse of the drama with new images of Natasha Rostova, played by Lily James, Paul Dano as Pierre Bezukhov and James Norton as Prince Andrei Bolkonsky.

Executives hope the adaptation, by “master” of the genre Andrew Davies, will convince a new generation that War and Peace is not a daunting, dry book to be consigned to history, but full of the modern-day dilemmas affecting teenagers through time.

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