Lily James may be playing the role of Cinderella in the new live-action film, but she reveals exclusively to our sister publication in the U.K., HELLO! that she's living her own real life fairy tale. From her very own Prince Charming to working in her dream job, the actress discusses her seemingly storybook life.
Originally, the 25-year-old went for the part of ugly sister Anastasia, but was persuaded to try for Cinderella instead. To get the role, she had to go through six auditions and two screen tests, for which she dyed her hair from brunette to blonde and wore a prototype ballgown by Sandy Powell. “I remember looking in the mirror and it just took my breath away," she tells HELLO! of the dress, made from layers of fine fabric and covered in Swarovski crystals. "I felt like a princess.”
Admittedly more low key when it comes to her fashion, Lily also tries to remain anonymous in public settings. During a recent trip to Vietnam with a friend, the two tried to fly under the radar and remain unnoticed saying she worked in a cake shop. “I was traveling with my friend Joe, who’s an actor too,” she states. “But we didn’t say what we did because questions can be awkward — ‘So, you’re an actor? What have you been in?’ It’s a funny old thing. I’d much rather be ambiguous.”
That anonymity will prove to be harder once the highly-anticipated film is released. She co-stars with Cate Blanchett as the wicked stepmother, Helena Bonham Carter as the fairy godmother, and Game of Thrones star Richard Madden, who plays her Prince Charming.
But it's real-life actor boyfriend Matt Smith that's her very own Prince Charming and stands discreetly on the sidelines, allowing her to enjoy the limelight. While she wouldn't discuss her relationship, the Downton Abbey star did give her take on the idea of a Prince Charming. "Well, he exists — in the form of [actor] Richard Madden,” she jokes. “But in real life? I think there are loads of Prince Charmings out there."
She went on to describe her ideal mate. “I believe in a soulmate, but I believe there’s not only one," she says. "For me, Prince Charming is a funny person, someone who can make you laugh." If he made her laugh over a good meal he’s cooked, “that would tick a lot of boxes."
Lily, who was born in Esher, Surrey, remains close to her mother and two brothers. Her actor and musician father James Thomson died in 2008 and she chose her professional name as a tribute to him.
After Cinderella, Lily will be back on the big screen in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, alongside Matt. Next year, she and Richard will reunite, playing Romeo and Juliet on stage. “I’m so lucky that I do a job that I love,” Lily mentions, adding that for her, fairy tales are about “dreaming of more and not settling; of love and romance, travel and magic.”