LILY JAMES (Ellie) is one of the most in-demand young
British actresses working today. Since graduating from the Guildhall School of
Music & Drama in 2010, James has caught the industry's imagination with
performances across stage and screen with a succession of iconic roles such as
Cinderella, Natasha Rostova and Juliet. She is comfortable across all mediums,
moving between film, theater and television.
James can currently be seen back on stage in Ivo van Hove's West End
production of All About Eve, starring opposite Gillian Anderson. The show
re-imagines the classic Joseph L. Mankiewicz tale of Broadway backstabbers Eve
Harrington (James) and Margo Channing (Anderson). It runs at the Noel Coward
Theatre until May.
It's been announced that James is set to star in Netflix and Working Title's
Rebecca, alongside Armie Hammer. This adaptation of Daphne du Maurier's classic
Gothic novel will be written by Jane Goldman and directed by Ben Wheatley. James
takes on the role of Mrs. de Winter, a newly married young woman who finds
herself battling the shadow of her new husband's deceased first wife. Production
will begin later this year.
James was most recently seen in the summer hit Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again!
as Young Donna, alongside Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried, Jeremy Irvine, Dominic
Cooper and Pierce Brosnan. The sequel to the 2008 musical comedy Mamma Mia! was
released last summer with James receiving high praise for her role. Last year,
she also appeared in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mike
Newell's adaptation of The New York Times best seller of the same name. The
story was set in the aftermath of World War II and saw James in the role of
journalist Juliet Ashton who forms a life-changing bond with the eccentric
society when she decides to write about the book club.
Last year, James also shot the indie flick Little Woods in Austin, Texas. The
film was the directorial debut of Nia DaCosta, who also wrote the script. James
and Tessa Thompson play sisters who are driven to work outside the law to better
their lives. The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2018 and was
released in the U.S. in April 2019.
The year 2017 saw James in the award-winning Winston Churchill drama Darkest
Hour, which saw Gary Oldman in the role of Churchill. The drama was directed by
Joe Wright (Atonement), written by Anthony McCarten (The Theory of Everything)
and produced by Working Title. James played the Prime Minister's personal
secretary Elizabeth Layton opposite Oldman, Ben Mendelsohn and Kristin Scott
Thomas. June 2018 also saw James star in Edgar Wright's Baby Driver, where she
played the role of Deborah, girlfriend of music-loving getaway driver Baby,
played by Ansel Elgort. The heist movie with a twist also starred Jamie Foxx and
The year 2016 was fantastic for James with a variety of roles marking her
versatility. She took on the much-heralded role of Natasha Rostova in War &
Peace (BBC) for which she received glowing reviews, with The Hollywood Reporter
remarking upon her performance: "James takes Natasha believably from nervous
teen to radiant young adult." James was then seen in Pride and Prejudice and
Zombies, the quirky re-imagining of Jane Austen's classic. She played Elizabeth
Bennett opposite a stellar cast of young British actors, including Douglas
Booth, Matt Smith and Sam Riley. On stage, James took on the role of Juliet
opposite Richard Madden as Romeo, in Kenneth Branagh's acclaimed staging of
Shakespeare's classic tragedy Romeo and Juliet.
James' breakout film role was in Disney's award-winning worldwide hit
Cinderella, directed by Branagh. She was praised for her magical turn as the
Disney icon. The cast included Cate Blanchett as the evil Stepmother and Richard
Madden as the Prince.
In 2012, James joined the cast of Golden Globe Award and British Academy of
Film and Television Arts Award-winning period drama Downton Abbey, in which she
played the mischievous Lady Rose for three seasons. Other notable films include
Wrath of the Titans, starring Sam Worthington, Rosamund Pike, Liam Neeson and
Ralph Fiennes; Burnt, starring alongside Sienna Miller and Bradley Cooper; and
the Noel Clarke-penned sports drama Fast Girls.
Upon graduating from drama school, James cut her teeth on stage. Most notably
in the leading role of Taylor in the Laurence Olivier Award-nominated production
of Vernon God Little, directed by Rufus Norris at the Young Vic Theatre. Her
performance as Desdemona in Daniel Evans' stage production of Othello, which
also starred West, was much celebrated with one reviewer stating, "We may have a
new star actress on our hands... She left drama school only last year, yet she
practically sweeps all before her."
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