James at the Australian premiere of Baby Driver in 2017
Lily Chloe Ninette Thomson|
5 April 1989
Esher, Surrey, England
|Alma mater||Guildhall School of Music and Drama (2010)|
Lily Chloe Ninette James (née Thomson; born 5 April 1989) is an English actress. She studied acting at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London and soon began her acting career in the British television series Just William (2010). Following a supporting role in the period drama series Downton Abbey (2012–2015), James had her film breakthrough by playing the eponymous role in the fantasy film Cinderella (2015).
James went on to play Natasha Rostova in the 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 played the younger version of Meryl Streep’s character Donna Sheridan in the musical film Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018).
James was born Lily Chloe Ninette Thomson in Esher, Surrey, the daughter of Ninette (née Mantle), an actress, and James "Jamie" Thomson, a musician. Her grandmother, Helen Horton, was an American actress. She attended Tring Park School for the Performing Arts and subsequently went on to study acting at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, graduating in 2010.
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. Lady Rose later became a main character in the fourth and fifth series of the programme. James also appeared as Lady Rose in the series finale.
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, 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."
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." 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. 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. James also made her singing debut in the film's end credits, covering "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes" from the 1950 animated film.
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 played Debora, the love interest of the main character, Baby, in the action film Baby Driver; starred as Elizabeth Layton, a secretary to PM Winston Churchill, in the film Darkest Hour; and headlined the World War II drama The Exception, playing a British agent posing as a servant to the exiled Kaiser Wilhelm II. James portrayed 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.
James' father died from cancer in 2008; she has said that filming father/daughter scenes in Cinderella was therefore very emotional for her. She changed her surname to "James" as a tribute to her father.
|2012||Wrath of the Titans||Korrina|
|2012||Fast Girls||Lisa Temple|
|2015||Cinderella||Cinderella||Also playback singer for "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes"|
|2016||Pride and Prejudice and Zombies||Elizabeth Bennet|
|2016||The Exception||Mieke de Jong|
|2016||The Tale of Thomas Burberry||Betty||Short film|
|2017||Darkest Hour||Elizabeth Nel|
|2018||Sorry to Bother You||White Detroit (voice)|
|2018||The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society||Juliet Ashton|
|2018||Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again||Young Donna Sheridan|
|2019||All You Need is Love||Ellie||Filming|
|2010||Just William||Ethel Brown||4 episodes|
|2011||Secret Diary of a Call Girl||Poppy||8 episodes|
|2012–2015||Downton Abbey||Lady Rose MacClare||21 episodes|
|2016||War & Peace||Natasha Rostova||6 episodes|
|2011||Vernon God Little||Taylor||Young Vic Theatre|
|2012||The Seagull||Nina||Southwark Playhouse|
|2016||Romeo and Juliet||Juliet||Garrick Theatre|
|2019||All About Eve||Eve Harrington||Noel Coward Theatre|
Awards and nominations
|2014||Screen Actors Guild Awards||Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series||Downton Abbey||Won|
|2015||Screen Actors Guild Awards||Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series||Downton Abbey||Won|
|2015||Teen Choice Awards||Choice Movie Actress: Sci-Fi/Fantasy||Cinderella||Nominated|||
|2015||Harper's Bazaar Women of the Year Awards||Breakthrough Award||Cinderella||Won|||
|2016||Kids' Choice Awards||Favorite Movie Actress||Cinderella||Nominated|||
|2017||Whatsonstage.com Awards||Best Actress in a Play||Romeo and Juliet||Nominated|||
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- "The Tatler List". Tatler. Archived from the original on 5 February 2016.
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- "What's On – Young Vic". youngvic.org. Archived from the original on 2 March 2015. Retrieved 2 February 2015.
- Letts, Quentin. "A star is born as newcomer takes Desdemona to The Wire" Archived 19 November 2014 at Archive.is, The Daily Mail, 20 September 2011, accessed 19 November 2014
- 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
- ‘Downton Abbey’ Star is New Cinderella Archived 2 May 2013 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
- "The New Trailer, Poster and Photos for Disney's Cinderella!". ComingSoon.net. Archived from the original on 21 November 2014. Retrieved 19 November 2014.
- 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 19 November 2014.
- Jenna Busch (July 12, 2017). "Mamma Mia Sequel Casts Baby Driver's Lily James". Comingsoon.net. Retrieved August 12, 2017.
- "'Downton Abbey's' Lily James reveals her real-life Cinderella story". New York Post. 2015-02-11. Retrieved 2018-03-03.
- Staff, Variety (17 August 2015). "Teen Choice Awards 2015 Winners: Full List". Archived from the original on 2 February 2016.
- 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.
- "Kids' Choice Awards: Adele, Justin Bieber, 'Star Wars' Among Nominees". Archived from the original on 6 February 2016. Retrieved 7 February 2016.
- "Harry Potter leads winners of the 17th Annual WhatsOnStage Awards". Archived from the original on 20 February 2017. Retrieved 20 February 2017.
- Butlin, James (31 December 2010). "Actresses To Watch In 2011".
- Joseph, Claudia (18 December 2010). "Just William's women: Be nice to them – or they'll scream and scream till they're sick!".
- Billington, Michael (8 February 2011). "Vernon God Little – review".
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