THE RESIDENT – Lily James found fame with Downton Abbey, but Cinderella is a whole different level for the London actress – but, as the remake of the fairy tale hits cinemas, she tells us she’s ready for it.
Gazing down from glimmering billboards, sparkling in a cobalt blue ball gown with whirling golden locks and dazzling golden slippers, she’s every little girl’s dream in her guise as Cinderella. Sitting in front of me in a Central London hotel suite, Lily James wears a baggy cream shirt and dark harem pants, with her shaggy tawny hair tossed over one shoulder. Insistently cool. A galaxy from her fairytale alter ego.
Two seasons in as Downton’s flighty, feisty Lady Rose McClare, the rising 25-year-old, who grew up in the Surrey countryside, is already encountering incongruous press rumours. With the Disney spectacular now on release, it will only get worse (as proven when there was a real hoo-haa around claims her waist in the film was digitally shrunk). Bring it on, she says.
‘The stories they make up make me laugh,’ she snorts, twirling her hair between her fingers. ‘The funniest one was I was leaving the Groucho Club early one night because I had a play reading the next day. And I’d been there with all the Downton crew and literally didn’t drink. Because I was papped leaving, flashes going off everywhere and blinding me, the next day the story was I’d left in the early hours and apparently I was trollied. And that was only because I blinked from the flash because I couldn’t see. One blink and I’m a drunken mess.’ She claps her hands together in glee and grins. ‘I loved that. It made me laugh so hard.’
One can only hope this laissez-faire attitude remains. A relatively familiar face since joining Downton Abbey at the end of season three as rebellious Rose, the actress – who’s lived in East London since attending Guildhall in 2010 – will soon be an A-list household name after the release of Disney’s sumptuous reimagining of Cinderella.
Leading the £140 million epic – and with a cast including Helena Bonham Carter, Richard Madden, Derek Jacobi and a scintillating Cate Blanchett as a the nefarious wicked stepmother – is Lily ready for the harsh spotlight, or will she still be able to laugh it off?Continue Reading
Added a new photoshoot of Lily, photographed in Japan during the ‘Cinderella’ promo tour.
Studio Photoshoots > Outtakes & Sessions > Session 056
Lily graces the cover of Marie Claire Style Japan magazine (April 9). I have added three high quality scans in our gallery!
HELLO – Lily James has nothing but praise for her Cinderella co-star Helena Bonham Carter. Speaking while promoting the new Disney film, the 26-year-old said Helena was the perfect choice to play her fairy godmother.
HELLO! Online have two exclusive videos of the stars discussing their hugely popular new film, along with a peek at the moment where Cinderella sees her glass slippers for the first time.
Downton Abbey star Lily takes the leading role of Ella in the live-action remake of the Disney classic, which topped the UK box office in its week of release. In her moment of need Ella meets her fairy godmother, played by Helena. The actress is disguised as an old beggar before transforming into the iconic character audiences know and love.
Despite admitting that taking on the role was “tricky” because everyone knows what a fairy godmother is, Helena revealed that she had fun with the idea “that she might be not a totally efficient fairy godmother”.
Lily believes that the Harry Potter star is the best choice for the role, and said: “Helena is just wonderful and the perfect fairy godmother.”
Meanwhile the film’s director Kenneth Branagh said the character has “a fabulous dottiness”.
“She is amused by how difficult it is or isn’t to make a pumpkin turn into a carriage or a lizard into a coachman, while she’s in the middle of this rush to get Cinderella ready.”
One of the film’s most memorable moments includes Ella’s transformation as she prepares to go to the ball, including stepping into her famous glass slippers.
The iconic scene leads the fairy godmother to proclaim “I’m rather good at shoes”, while Ella expresses her shock at trading her ballet shoes for magical glass slippers.
Lily looked gorgeous in a beautiful Elie Saab Spring 2015 Couture gown as she attended the ‘Cinderella’ premiere in Tokyo on April 8, 2015.
i-D – If a dream is a wish your heart makes then Lily James must have the biggest heart of all. Starring in the lead role of Cinderella, in Disney’s latest smash hit (no seriously, its global box office taking now stands at over $336m) the Downton Abbey star has been casting a spell over everyone she meets. From her endearingly goofy laugh to her warm approachability, she’s even more likable than the character she plays.
With Kenneth Branagh in the director’s chair, Game of Thrones’ deceased King of the North, Richard Madden, as her prince, and Cate Blanchett as her evil step mother (just don’t ask her about cats), the family flick already boasts quite a dreamy cast. However, it has not been without its fair share of controversy, with a group of disgruntled feminists criticising Lily’s tiny corseted waist (you should see the size of her feet…)
Yes, Cinderella is about a girl who relies on a man to save her, but it’s also a tale of enchantment, magic and happy endings, can’t we just leave it at that? In a world where we’ve become almost too politically correct and where we’re all too eager to challenge, undermine, and unpick, something as removed from reality as a Disney film about a glass slipper, magic mice and transforming pumpkins might just be the antidote we need.
How did you get involved with the film?
I actually auditioned for the role of Anastasia. I went in and had my best stepsister act ready. But when I was there they said I should read for Cinderella, as I’d dyed my hair blonde and then it kind of went from there and I fell in love with the part. I felt that this version of her was very bold and strong.
What was it like working with Kenneth Branagh?
Amazing. I’m actually going to do a play with him next year with Richard Madden. We’re doing Romeo and Juliet. It was my first big film so it was really nice to have such a kind, generous and very specific director, with such a big heart. He’s very passionate, but he also led me through very carefully so I felt very supported.
He’s quite old school in terms of his acting method, to most he’s Mr Shakespeare. Was this the style of acting you leant towards under his direction or were you able to have a bit more freedom?
I mean yeah, when you work with a director it’s got to be collaborative. You want to bring in your own self and ideas to your part and work together. Hopefully he cast me because he likes what I did with the part. He’s not dictatorial with his directing. But I do think that the epic telling of Shakespeare’s stories translates really well into fairy tales. And actually Ken I think gave the same attention to detail as he would in any Shakespeare play, too.Continue Reading
I have added scans of Lily in the latest issue of HighEnd Teen magazine. Make sure to check them out in our gallery, enjoy!
Magazine Scans > 2015 > HighEnd Teen (April)
Lily and director Kenneth Branagh are in Japan to promote ‘Cinderella’. I have added HQ/MQ photos from the press conference on April 7, 2015 in Tokyo.
Public Appearances > 2015 > ‘Cinderella’ Press Conference (Tokyo)