ITV has released their Press Pack for Season 4 of ‘Downton Abbey’. Here is an interview with Lily:

Lady Rose MacClare (Lily James)
The young and spirited daughter of Violet’s niece, the Marchioness of Flintshire. With the twenties now beginning to roar, Rose’s attraction to the bright lights of the city stands little chance of abating and, as she starts to explore the new world only recently opened to the post-war generation, the threat to the Crawleys’ social standing is ever present.

Downton’s newest arrival above stairs is Lady Rose MacClare, the Dowager Countess’ great niece whom we first met at the end of series three. Now that her parents have moved to India she has been taken under Cora’s wing.

“She has come to live at ‘Downton’ with the Crawley family and so I think she is grateful to have been taken in by them,” says James. “It gets her away from the thought of her horrid mother in India. So at the start she is on her best behaviour. She may be a bit of a troublemaker but she doesn’t want to cause trouble at the beginning.”

Naturally, trouble soon follows.
“I don’t think she really fits in that well!” laughs James. “She is different from other girls in that she doesn’t want to behave. She feels a bit on edge a lot of the time and Edith is quite nasty to her too.”

Yet at a time when Downton is suffused with gloom, Rose is also a breath of fresh air.

“Yes, she definitely brings a bit of light to the place. At the start of the series because of Matthew’s death there is a real weight and dejection to everything. I think that is also why Rose is trying to tow the line because you have got to be sensitive in those sorts of situations. But she does try and encourage a bit of life and music around the place – she is obsessed with music and dancing. And I think that the house needs that actually.”

James admits to being a complete music obsessive and that she used period recordings to help her get in to the role. “I always listen to music to get into character, especially if it is period – it immediately takes you into the world of the piece. I love listening to Al Jolson, so I’ve been watching loads of old YouTube clips and that’s helped me make a real connection.”

Her period costumes helped her get in to the mood as well, she says. Mercifully she’s been spared the corsetry that some of the actresses had to endure in the early series. “Caroline (McCall, Downton’s costume designer) is just a genius. Rose has loads of sailor outfits. Wool was very in vogue and so I have a lot of wool outfits which are beautiful. They’ve all been made from scratch by the incredible dressmakers. I wear a lot of pink and a lot of blue but actually, the most risqué numbers she’s worn were in the last series. I think this season being at Downton she is more conservative. I mean her hair is totally changed from this kind of wild frizzy blonde mess now she has a maid to fix it. You could say she’s been Downtonised.”

Yet unsurprisingly Lady Rose’s Downtonisation hasn’t knocked the spirit out of her – she still loves to dance. “My dancing has really improved,” says James. “I seem to do a lot of dancing but I guess for young girls in the period that would be the thing. At that time for someone that’s young and wants to meet boys and wants to be free, it’s probably the single most exotic, exciting way to do that. So she’s always learning new dances. I’ve learnt so many different ones this series. I really like the waltz: there’s a beautiful waltz I do in episode two. Well, the music is beautiful. I wouldn’t say my dancing is.”

Just as Lady Rose has been welcomed in to the fictional Downton Abbey, so Lily James has been welcomed in to the real-life cast as a series regular.
“I’m learning so much every day, from being on set with these actors and actresses. It’s a crazy, wonderful experience to have as a young actress to be around these people like Maggie Smith and Penelope Wilton. Laura (Carmichael) and Michelle (Dockery) are absolutely amazing and watching them too, has just been so inspiring. Obviously I feel more at home and more comfortable and more confident now – I’m so lucky, it’s such a great job and it’s so much fun as well.”


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