Lily James
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Lily James

Lily James
Lilly James (35744205321) (colour edited).jpg
James at the premiere of Baby Driver in 2017
Lily Chloe Ninette Thomson

Esher, Surrey, England
Alma materGuildhall School of Music and Drama
Years active2010-present

Lily Chloe Ninette Thomson, known professionally as Lily James, is an English actress. She studied acting at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London and began her acting career in the British television series Just William (2010). Following her supporting role as Lady Rose MacClare in the period drama series Downton Abbey (2012-2015), James had her film breakthrough playing the eponymous role in the fantasy film Cinderella (2015).

James went on to play Countess Natasha Rostova in the period television series War & Peace (2016). In 2017, she starred in the action crime film Baby Driver and the war drama film Darkest Hour, both of which were critically and commercially successful. She then starred as the younger version of the character Donna Sheridan in the musical film Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018).

Early life

James was born Lily Chloe Ninette Thomson in Esher, Surrey, the daughter of Ninette (née Mantle), an actress, and James "Jamie" Thomson, a musician.[1] Her grandmother, Helen Horton, was an American actress.[2][3] She attended Tring Park School for the Performing Arts[4] and subsequently went on to study acting at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, graduating in 2010.[5][6] Shortly thereafter, she signed with Tavistock Wood management in London.[7]


Her television credits include Ethel Brown in the 2010 BBC production of Richmal Crompton's Just William, Poppy in the fourth series of ITV's Secret Diary of a Call Girl (2011), and the rebellious Lady Rose in the last episode of series three of Downton Abbey.[8] Lady Rose later became a main character in the fourth and fifth series of the programme.[9] James also appeared as Lady Rose in the series finale.[10]

In 2011, James played Taylor at the Young Vic Theatre in Tanya Ronder's stage adaptation of the novel Vernon God Little directed by Rufus Norris,[11] Nina in Russell Bolam's modern adaptation of The Seagull at Southwark Playhouse, and Desdemona in Daniel Evans' production of Othello at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield, alongside Dominic West and Clarke Peters. Quentin Letts wrote in The Daily Mail: "We may have a new star actress on our hands. ... She left drama school only last year, yet she practically sweeps all before her as Desdemona in this Othello. Poise, diction, allure - she has them all. ... Her character's love affair with a much older husband is completely believable."[12]

James at the 2015 San Diego Comic-Con

In 2012, James played the role of Katrina in Play House and Marijka in Definitely the Bahamas in a double-bill written and directed by Martin Crimp at the Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond, London as part of the theatre's fortieth anniversary. Charles Spencer of The Telegraph wrote that "it is performed with a persuasive mixture of mischief and deeper feeling by Obi Abili and Lily James, the latter combining a mixture of neuroticism and glowing sexual allure that proves extraordinarily potent."[13] James played the role of Korrina in the Warner Brothers film Wrath of the Titans and starred in Fast Girls, written by Noel Clarke, centred around a group of young female athletes competing in the World Championships.

James played the titular character in the 2015 live-action Disney film Cinderella.[14] James was photographed by Annie Leibovitz as Cinderella, in the blue gown her character wears to the ball, for the December 2014 issue of Vogue.[15][16] James also made her singing debut in the film singing "Lavender's Blue" and covering "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes" from the 1950 animated film in the end credits.

In 2016, she returned to television in the 2016 BBC historical drama series War & Peace, playing the character of Natasha Rostova. She also starred in her second major film, playing the role of Elizabeth Bennet in the action-horror film Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, a parody of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. It received mixed reviews and failed to break even at the box office. James played the role of Juliet in the Garrick Theatre's production of Romeo and Juliet directed by Rob Ashford and actor-director Kenneth Branagh in 2016.

In 2017, she appeared in several movies. She played Debora, the love interest of the main character, Baby, in the action film Baby Driver. She played Elizabeth Layton, a secretary to PM Winston Churchill, in the film Darkest Hour. She headlined the World War II drama The Exception, playing a British agent posing as a servant to the exiled Kaiser Wilhelm II.

James starred as the younger version of Meryl Streep's character, Donna Sheridan, in the sequel to Mamma Mia!, titled Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. The film was released in July 2018.[17] James played author Juliet Ashton in the 2018 period dramedy The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society who exchanges letters with the residents of Guernsey, an island off the coast of Normandy that was German-occupied during World War II.[18]

Personal life

James' father, James Thomson, died from cancer in 2008. She took her father's given name as her stage name when she learnt there was already an actress named Lily Thomson.[19][20][21][22][better source needed]



Year Title Role Notes
2012 Chemistry Ines Short film
2012 Wrath of the Titans Korrina
2012 Broken Older Skunk
2012 Fast Girls Lisa Temple
2015 Cinderella Cinderella Also performed "Lavender's Blue" and "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes"
2015 Burnt Sara
2016 Pride and Prejudice and Zombies Elizabeth Bennet
2016 The Exception Mieke de Jong
2016 The Tale of Thomas Burberry Betty Short film
2017 Baby Driver Debora
2017 Darkest Hour Elizabeth Layton
2018 Sorry to Bother You White Detroit Voice role
2018 The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society Juliet Ashton
2018 Little Woods Deb
2018 Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again Young Donna Sheridan
2019 Untitled Danny Boyle/Richard Curtis film Ellie In post-production


Year Title Role Notes
2010 Just William Ethel Brown 4 episodes
2011 Secret Diary of a Call Girl Poppy 8 episodes
2012-15 Downton Abbey Lady Rose MacClare Recurring: season 3, main role: seasons 4 & 5, guest: season 6
2016 War & Peace Countess Natasha Rostova 6 episodes


Awards and nominations

Year(s) Association Category Work Result Ref.
2014-15 Screen Actors Guild Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series Downton Abbey Won
2015 Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie Actress: Sci-Fi/Fantasy Cinderella Nominated [23]
2015 Harper's Bazaar Women of the Year Awards Breakthrough Award Cinderella Won [24]
2016 Kids' Choice Awards Favorite Movie Actress Cinderella Nominated [25]
2017 Awards Best Actress in a Play Romeo and Juliet Nominated [26]
2017 Satellite Awards Best Actress in a Miniseries or TV Film War & Peace Nominated
2018 People's Choice Awards The Female Movie Star of 2018 Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again Nominated [27]
2018 Harper's Bazaar Women of the Year Awards Editor's Choice N/A Won


  1. ^ Pietras, Emma (20 March 2015). "Cinderella and Downton Abbey's Lily James amazing rise to Hollywood star". Daily Mirror. Archived from the original on 9 October 2015. Retrieved 2015.
  2. ^ Hansen, Pal \ (23 December 2012). "Fallen angel: How Lily James is bringing scandal to Downton Abbey this Christmas". The Independent. Archived from the original on 27 June 2015. Retrieved 2015.
  3. ^ "Lily James found comfort in drama". Belfast Telegraph. 3 January 2014. Retrieved 2015.
  4. ^ "Branagh and Lily James in new venture". Tring Park School for the Performing Arts. 17 April 2015. Archived from the original on 5 October 2016. Retrieved 2016.
  5. ^ "Lily James". Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Archived from the original on 3 October 2016. Retrieved 2016.
  6. ^ Mottram, James (15 March 2015). "Disney's Cinderella: Why Downton Abbey star Lily James is not just another English rose". The Independent. Archived from the original on 5 October 2016. Retrieved 2016.
  7. ^ "Lily James to Star in Disney's 'Cinderella'".
  8. ^ "The Tatler List". Tatler. Archived from the original on 5 February 2016.
  9. ^ "Ones to Watch in 2011". Female First. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016.
  10. ^ "Lily James to return for final episode of Downton Abbey". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on 17 November 2015. Retrieved 2015.
  11. ^ "What's On - Young Vic". Archived from the original on 2 March 2015. Retrieved 2015.
  12. ^ Letts, Quentin. "A star is born as newcomer takes Desdemona to The Wire" Archived 19 November 2014 at, The Daily Mail, 20 September 2011, accessed 19 November 2014
  13. ^ Spencer, Charles. "Play House/Definitely the Bahamas, Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond, review" Archived 2 December 2014 at the Wayback Machine., The Daily Telegraph, 19 March 2012, accessed 19 November 2014
  14. ^ 'Downton Abbey' Star is New Cinderella Archived 2 May 2013 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
  15. ^ "The New Trailer, Poster and Photos for Disney's Cinderella!". Archived from the original on 21 November 2014. Retrieved 2014.
  16. ^ Camhi, Leslie. "What Would Cinderella Wear? Costuming Lily James and Cate Blanchett in Kenneth Branagh's Forthcoming Film". Vogue. Archived from the original on 22 November 2014. Retrieved 2014.
  17. ^ Jenna Busch (12 July 2017). "Mamma Mia Sequel Casts Baby Driver's Lily James". Retrieved 2017.
  18. ^ Tenreyro, Tatiana. "This New 1940s Drama On Netflix Spotlights A Heroic European Book Club". Bustle. Retrieved .
  19. ^ McElroy, Naomi. "10 things you didn't know about actress Lily James -".
  20. ^ Lee, Adrian (3 February 2016). "Lily James: Living the fairytale".
  21. ^ "Father spurred Lily James on to stardom but never got to see her name in lights". 29 January 2016.
  22. ^ "'Downton Abbey's' Lily James reveals her real-life Cinderella story". New York Post. 2015-02-11. Retrieved .
  23. ^ Staff, Variety (17 August 2015). "Teen Choice Awards 2015 Winners: Full List". Archived from the original on 2 February 2016.
  24. ^ Kallon, Catherine (4 November 2015). "Lily James In Erdem - 2015 Harper's Bazaar Women of the Year Awards". Archived from the original on 8 December 2015.
  25. ^ "Kids' Choice Awards: Adele, Justin Bieber, 'Star Wars' Among Nominees". Archived from the original on 6 February 2016. Retrieved 2016.
  26. ^ "Harry Potter leads winners of the 17th Annual WhatsOnStage Awards". Archived from the original on 20 February 2017. Retrieved 2017.
  27. ^ USA TODAY Life staff (2018-09-24). "People's Choice Awards 2018: The nominees". USA Today. Retrieved .

Further reading

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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