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.

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TV3 – Lily James felt inspired playing Cinderella.

Lily James was bowled over by Cinderella’s truthful retelling of the classic story.

The British actress plays the title role in the sumptuous film, which is favourite among both children and adults.
Most little girls want to be princesses when they grow up and Lily jumped at the chance to portray one. She particularly loved playing someone so inspiring.

“I think it’s sort of what we were talking about; this strength can come from within, this dignified strength and grace and also that in doing so she finds such joy and happiness in her life regardless of her situation, even if it’s just talking to little Gus Gus [mouse],” Lily smiled to Cover Media. “But when I read the script I was sort of bowled over by the fact that it was such a truthful retelling of the fairytale without any tricks or twists really. It felt really strong and a girl I really wanted to play, and [I] felt inspired playing her.”

Directed by Kenneth Branagh, Cinderella boats an A-list cast including Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham Carter and Richard Madden.

The theme of empowerment wasn’t lost on Kenneth, who embraced the message and hopes others will to.

“It feels as though it’s a different kind of empowerment but I think that it is empowerment and I think that she makes proactive choices. Even if those choices are sometimes to be thoughtful and to be considerate. So it’s a question maybe of reconsidering the notions of action and empowerment,” Kenneth mused.

BELFAST TELEGRAPH – Lily James believes there is nothing braver than dealing with growing up.

The Downton Abbey star appears in Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella, where she takes on the fairytale title role.

One of the biggest themes is courage, prompting Lily to reflect on times she’s had to combat nerves in her own life.

“I think every day you have to be brave, dealing with growing up,” she reasoned to Time Out London.

“I’d say loss is probably the hardest thing I’ve had to deal with.”

Of course romance is also a huge theme for Cinderella and her prince, with Lily confirming she’s a believer in true love.

The 25-year-old also addressed criticism from feminists, arguing that her character is actually a very strong woman.

“Yes! She’s definitely gutsy,” she smiled. “Right at the end, when the prince comes to rescue her, rather than going downstairs and falling into his arms, she’s like, ‘Right, I’m this girl. I’m not a princess. This is who I am.’ It’s all on her terms. It’s hopelessly romantic, but she’s empowered. Whether she’s a feminist or not depends on what your idea of a feminist is.”

And strong women play a huge part in Lily’s life, with the star crediting Downton co-stars Michelle Dockery and Laura Carmichael with giving her support and advice.

“[They] have been wonderful at helping me deal with all the pitfalls,” she gushed. “They’ve got such wit and intelligence.”

BBC – The star of the new big budget Cinderella movie has been talking to Newsround about what’s it’s like to play a fairytale princess.

Lily James plays the lead role in Disney’s latest version of the story and says it was a dream come true.

Cinderella first hit the big screen in the 1950s, as an animation, and now it’s back in the cinema with real-life stars and costumes – and a seven-minute (sort of) sequel to Frozen too.

In total, 1.7 million crystals were used to make the costumes and recreate the magical fairy tale world.
But what exactly goes into creating a wardrobe worthy of a blockbuster?

Jenny went behind the scenes of the Cinderella premiere to find out.

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.

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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