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RADIO TIMES – Cinderella’s grand entrance at the Prince’s ball is one of the crowning moments in the much-loved fairytale – and in Kenneth Branagh’s live-action Disney remake. But when the day finally came to film it, leading lady Lily James “wasn’t really sure what was going on.”

“I was really sick,” she told RadioTimes.com. “Actors rarely do it but I had to take two days off.”

“There was this section of the film where it rains and I get wet and so I spent days on end just being hosed down. It was winter and I just got really sick,” she explains.

So rather than it being a career highlight, the ball was “all a bit hazy… I wasn’t really sure what was going on.”

It wasn’t all bad, though. Her illness “added to this delirium” and the magic of the moment, she says.

“Sometimes you get a little bit spacey when you’ve had too much Night Nurse,” laughed director Kenneth Branagh when we asked him about James’ delirious performance later on. “But it was perfect timing. It was a good thing for her, coming in and knocking on that door. She hadn’t known what we had been doing for two days with a thousand people in there. It was lovely.”

And there was no way his leading lady was going to miss out, ill or not.

“Lily got flu at the beginning of that sequence so she was late to the ball. It wasn’t until the evening of the second day that I said ‘Look Lily, we can still keep going but we really are waiting for you now so tomorrow by the end of the day I’m going to have to do a big wide shot and have the double come in in the dress. She said, ‘Stop right there. I’ll be in first thing’.”

“She came in, nose-streaming, but nobody else was getting into that dress!” he said.

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EXPRESS – Lily James is waiting for the clock to strike midnight. The actress hit her to best known as Lady Rose in Downton Abbey can’t believe her luck after landing the lead in Disney’s Cinderella.

Directed by Sir Kenneth Branagh and co-starring Cate Blanchett as the Wicked Stepmother and Helena Bonham Carter as the Fairy Godmother the film opened to a huge £47million of box office receipts in America.

It is a life-changing moment for James, who pipped the likes of Alicia Vikander and Wolf Of Wall Street’s Margot Robbie for the role: “My life definitely has a fairytale quality to it at the moment,” she agrees, as we chat in a London hotel.

“To be in this film playing the princess, directed by Kenneth Branagh and getting to wear these outrageously magical costumes, is a dream come true. It just feels like a whole other world and I keep expecting to wake up.”

It was only when returning home to the UK last week after a round of promotional duties in America that the 25-year-old actress, who grew up in Surrey, felt the enormity of her success. “When I was in America I saw the posters and went to the premieres but I felt very removed from it. It didn’t feel like me in a way. But it’s much weirder when it’s in your own country. I saw some posters just now in Leicester Square and I suddenly felt, ‘Oh my God’.”

There is an innocent enthusiasm and unaffected excitement about James which made her ideal casting in what is a charming, traditional take on the classic fairytale: no post-modern irony or knowing jokes, just a straightforward story of love and sunny optimism conquering all.

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Magazine scans

Lily is featured in Teen Vogue and Glamour Spain (April). Make sure to check the scans in our gallery!

Magazine scans

Cinderella/Lily graces the cover of eNews (March 27) magazine. Scans have been now added to the gallery!

GALLERY LINKS
Magazine Scans > 2015 > eNews (March 27)
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RADIO TIMES – Sophie McShera, who plays dowdy Daisy in Downton Abbey, has undergone quite the transformation as Drisella, one of the nasty stepsisters in Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella (out on Friday 27th March).

But while she’s had the chance to go mad in the dressing-up box, her co-star Lily James, Downton’s elegant Lady Rose, has given up her fabulous frocks to take the starring role as put-upon orphan Ella, looking for her Prince Charming.

Lily James (Cinderella)
“It’s such a hoot that Sophie is one of the stepsisters. She is so brilliant and it’s great to see her with a bit of make-up on and wearing fancy dresses, because in Downton she doesn’t exactly get to dress up!

It was daunting to play Cinderella. And at first I did think, “Oh God, can I ever live up to this?” One of the themes of the story is loss and one of the things Ken talked to me about was that if this wasn’t a fairy tale, it could be a really painful, hard-hitting drama about a girl who loses her family and is virtually pushed into slavery.

At the heart of these fairy tales, there’s a message and it’s often about equipping children to deal with pain.

I loved working with Richard [Madden, who played Robb Stark in Game of Thrones]. I know two Richards – there’s the Prince with the lovely accent who looks like an old movie star; and then there’s the bearded, naughty Scottish lad. On-screen chemistry is a funny thing, but what made it work was that we immediately became matey and silly, and it took the pressure off.

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