TEEN – Lily James got to do what all girls have totally fantasized about: become Cinderella. Between the ball and the magic, the guy — pshh, we wish Richard Madden could be our prince — and the enchanted romance that follows, it’s hard NOT to be jealous of this British beauty. Luckily, in Cinderella, Lily sets the bar so high, we practically forget how envious we are of her and get completely captured in the movie magic.
Whether she’s gracing us with her presence as Lady Rose on Downton Abbey or playing a beloved princess, Lily knows just how to capture that old-fashioned charm, while still adding a fresh touch to her characters. And, playing Ella gave her an otherworldy freedom she was super excited to experience.
To make add onto all the excitement, We got to chat with Lily and she gave us the whole Cinderella scoop on the complicated (but totally gorg) dress, her hottie co-star and way more. Plus, the Lily and Richard on-screen romance doesn’t end here! She told us all about her upcoming projects and a reunion we can hardly wait for.

Congratulations on Cinderella! It really held up to the high standards. Were you a fan of the tale growing up?
“Yeah, I was actually. I think it was because of the music. Growing up I loved to sing and I think more than anything I remember the mice and the singing. I remember the music more than I remember the story of the film. But, of course the fairytale was something that I grew up with. My dad would always read them to me.”

What was your initial reaction when you found out you got the role?
“I was completely overwhelmed and shocked. it wasn’t because I was Cinderella or a princess, it was because I completely loved this version of the story with Ella. I found her quite inspiring and I really wanted to be her and play her. Disney made her story really exciting and quite beautiful so that’s what I was most excited about.”

Your used to playing characters from a different time period. But, since Cinderella is a fairytale, how did you prepare for the role?
“It was nice because I didn’t feel bound by any time in history or a particular etiquette. I felt very free and open. I did a lot of work on physicality — I started doing yoga about three or four times a week. It helped me to get stronger and really feel my inner body. I got a sense of grace and also felt really grounded. Ella lives so in the moment. She’s engaged and open-minded to the world around her. I think in order to play that you need to be a bit like that yourself. So I did yoga so that I could center myself.”

You and Richard have such great chemistry. Did you audition together beforehand?
“No, I actually never met him or read lines with him until after we both got the part. We got along well and have such a similar sense of humor. We became really good friends. It was really, really easy working with him. I’ll be in Romeo and Juliet with him next year and Kenneth [Branagh] is going to be directing, so we will all be reuniting.”

Were you familiar with any of Richard’s work? Are you a Game of Thrones fan?
“I’ve never seen Game of Thrones — that’s my sin! I feel like I’m missing out on a huge cultural phenomena, so I have been really tempted to watch it. I actually bought the box set, so that will be my plane-watching show during all the travelling and work with the press.”

Ella’s look for the ball is stunning. Tell us about that dress! Was it a process to get into?
“Yes, that ball gown was a wonderful, complicated masterpiece. It really was so beautiful. I had a corset, I think about eight layers of skirt, a cape and petticoats. But, it felt like this magical garment. When I put it on I really did feel transformed and like a princess. And all the difficulties that came with it — getting into it, balancing on this stool that was under my skirt, and moving in it — were really worth it once I put it on and felt like a real princess. They did so well with the costumes and set. All the colors and textures kept that feel of a fairytale. It was kind of like the studio had exploded off of the storybook pages. It made it all so easy.”

Cinderella is a story of rags to riches and overcoming hardships. Has there ever been a huge obstacle that you were faced with that you had to overcome?
“Of course. I’m nearly 26 years old, so I think anyone my age is pretty lucky if they hadn’t faced anything that they need to overcome yet. I think that is just a part of growing up and there have been lots of obstacles that I needed to face.”

When Ella has a bad day, she sings or talks to the mice. What helps to get you out of a bad mood?
“I actually sing as well. And, sometimes, when I’m not singing or humming, it means I’m a bit sad. When I sing I feel this kind of relief, so that was something I could relate to with Ella. Also, when I’m sad I watch movies to distract myself. I’ll just sit there and watch three movies in a row — that’s a really bad day. Sometimes, I’ll go to this local independent cinema where I live and it’s my perfect idea of a solo date.”

That sounds great! And a lot of the dialogue for Ella was talking to the mice. Was that difficult for you?
“I have a cat and I talk to her all the time. So it was really quite easy!”

Ella has to take a leap of faith and trust her heart. Do you consider yourself a romantic?
“I’m definitely a romantic and I always try to trust my heart when it comes to decision-making. I believe in true love and I don’t have to search for it to find it within myself.”

What’s the craziest thing you’ve done for someone you like, or something someone has done for you?
“When I was in my teens, my boyfriend at the time came to my family home and rang me. He told me that I had to answer the door, because he didn’t want my mom to. So, I opened the door and he had done that whole scene from Love Actually with the cars. And he wrote, “To me you are perfect.” Then he moved the cars and had a little portable stereo. And I was kind of mortified and slightly embarrassed. It was so sweet though.”


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