There are times when those of us not in thrall to the televisual crack cocaine that is “Downton Abbey” feel like we’re missing out, and Lily James’ turn as Lady Rose MacClare is a case in point. Prior to the all-conquering period drama, James had a recurring role on the Billie Piper-starring “Secret Diary of a Call Girl” and a small role in “Clash of the Titans,” along with a couple of smaller British films, notably feelgood competitive running movie “Fast Girls.” But for all that, she remained largely under the radar. But as little as we watch ‘Downton,’ it’s clear that casting directors pay it a great deal more attention, and James is about to become inescapable. Appropriately, her professional rags-to-riches story really kicked into gear when she was cast as the titular, uncomfortable footwear-sporting “Cinderella” in Kenneth Branagh’s live action version. After that we’ll see her in Bradley Cooper’s untitled restaurant film, scripted by Steven Knight and co-starring fellow 2014 On the Rise alum Jamie Dornan, and recent word has it that she’ll be back in corsets once again to play Natasha to Paul Dano’s Pierre in a lavish BBC miniseries production of “War and Peace” (billed as “the most ambitious event series ever made for the BBC”). She’s being somewhat typecast into period pieces and princessy type roles at the moment, but if Disney’s “Cinderella” does anything like the business the studio clearly hopes for, she could turn out to be the next Anne Hathaway—she has both the face and the talent.


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