Lily James

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Lily James
Lily James photographed at the Australian premiere of Baby Driver in 2017
James in 2017
Lily Chloe Ninette Thomson

(1989-04-05) 5 April 1989 (age 33)
Esher, Surrey, England
Alma materGuildhall School of Music and Drama
Years active2010–present
RelativesHelen Horton (grandmother)

Lily Chloe Ninette Thomson[1] (born 5 April 1989[2]), 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 career in the British television series Just William (2010). Following her role in the period drama series Downton Abbey (2012–2015), her film breakthrough was the title role in Cinderella (2015).

James went on to portray Countess Natasha Rostova in the television adaptation of War & Peace (2016) and Pamela Anderson in the biographical series Pam & Tommy (2022). She has had starring roles in several films, including Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016), Baby Driver (2017), Darkest Hour (2017), The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2018), the musical Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018), Yesterday (2019), Rebecca (2020) and The Dig (2021).

Early life[edit]

Lily James was born on 5 April 1989 in Esher, Surrey,[1][3] the daughter of Ninette Mantle, an actress, and James "Jamie" Thomson, a musician.[4] She has two brothers, one older and one younger.[1] Her paternal grandmother, Helen Horton, was an American actress.[5] Her maternal grandmother was French, and fled her village near Paris because of the Nazis, later marrying James' grandfather, a minister in the RAF.[6] After finishing her studies at Tring Park School for the Performing Arts, James went on to graduate from London's Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 2010.[7] Shortly thereafter, she signed with Tavistock Wood management in London.[8]


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 Lady Rose Aldrige in Downton Abbey.[9] Lady Rose became a main character in the fourth and fifth series of the programme.[10] James also appeared as Lady Rose in the series finale.[11]

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,[12] 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, with Dominic West and Clarke Peters.

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 40th 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 Cinderella in Kenneth Branagh's 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] James also made her singing debut in the film singing "Sing Sweet Nightingale," "Lavender's Blue" and "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 Natasha Rostova. She also starred in her second major film, as 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 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 major films. She played Debora, the love interest of the main character, Baby, in Edgar Wright's action film Baby Driver. She played Elizabeth Layton, a secretary to British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (played by Gary Oldman), in Joe Wright's war drama film Darkest Hour. She also headlined the World War II drama film 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.[16] The same year, James played author Juliet Ashton in the 1940s period drama 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.[17]

In 2019, James starred as Eve in Ivo van Hove's stage adaptation of All About Eve alongside Gillian Anderson.[18] The play opened on 15 February to positive reviews, running at the Noël Coward Theatre in the West End until 11 May.

In 2020, James played the second Mrs de Winter in an adaptation of Daphne du Maurier's Gothic romance Rebecca directed by Ben Wheatley and co-starring Armie Hammer.[19] In 2021, she played Peggy Piggott in The Dig, a British film directed by Simon Stone, based on the 2007 novel of the same name by John Preston.[20] In late 2020, she was cast to play Pamela Anderson in the miniseries Pam & Tommy for Hulu.[21]

Personal life[edit]

Lily's father, James Thomson, died from cancer in 2008. She took her father's first name as her stage name when she learned there was already an actress named Lily Thomson.[22][23]

She was in a relationship with actor Matt Smith from 2014 to 2019.[24][25][26]

Acting credits[edit]


Year Title Role Notes
2012 Chemistry Ines Short film
Wrath of the Titans Korrina
Broken Older Skunk
Fast Girls Lisa Temple
2013 The Silent Treatment The Girl Short film
2015 Cinderella Cinderella
Burnt Sara
2016 Pride and Prejudice and Zombies Elizabeth Bennet
The Exception Mieke de Jong
The Tale of Thomas Burberry Betty Short film
2017 Baby Driver Debora
Darkest Hour Elizabeth Layton
2018 Sorry to Bother You White Detroit (voice) Cameo
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society Juliet Ashton
Little Woods Deb Hale
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again Young Donna Sheridan
2019 One Red Nose Day and a Wedding Miranda Short film
Yesterday Ellie Appleton
Rare Beasts Cressida
2020 Rebecca Mrs de Winter
2021 The Dig Peggy Piggott
2022 What's Love Got to Do With It? Zoe Post-production


Year Title Role Notes
2010 Just William Ethel Brown 4 episodes
2011 Secret Diary of a Call Girl Poppy 8 episodes
2012–2015 Downton Abbey Lady Rose Aldridge née MacClare 21 episodes
2016 War & Peace Natasha Rostova 6 episodes
2021 The Pursuit of Love Linda Radlett 3 episodes and also executive producer
Beauty and the Beast Rose Television pantomime[27]
2022 Pam & Tommy Pamela Anderson Miniseries[21]


Year Title Role Venue
2011 Vernon God Little Taylor Young Vic Theatre
Othello Desdemona Crucible Theatre
2012 The Seagull Nina Southwark Playhouse
2016 Romeo and Juliet Juliet Garrick Theatre
2019 All About Eve Eve Harrington Noël Coward Theatre


Year Association Category Work Result Ref.
2014 Screen Actors Guild Outstanding Ensemble in a Drama Series Downton Abbey Won
2015 Won
2015 Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie Actress: Sci-Fi/Fantasy Cinderella Nominated [28]
2015 Harper's Bazaar Women of the Year Awards Breakthrough Award Won [29]
2016 Kids' Choice Awards Favorite Movie Actress Nominated [30]
2017 Awards Best Actress in a Play Romeo and Juliet Nominated [31]
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 [32]
2018 Harper's Bazaar Women of the Year Awards Editor's Choice N/A Won
2019 Gasparilla International Film Festival Grand Jury Best Performance (shared with Tessa Thompson) Little Woods Won [33]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Mahalia Chang (14 July 2017). "Everything You Need To Know About 'Baby Driver' Star Lily James". Elle. Retrieved 12 January 2019.
  2. ^ "Lily James: Actress (1989–)". (A&E Networks). Archived from the original on 30 December 2018. Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  3. ^ Kaleem Aftab (12 July 2017). "Lily James: "You're at the Mercy of Circumstance"". The Talks. Retrieved 12 January 2019.
  4. ^ 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 28 September 2015.
  5. ^ 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 16 March 2015.
    - "Lily James found comfort in drama". Belfast Telegraph. 3 January 2014. Retrieved 2 February 2015.
  6. ^ Collin, Robbie (6 January 2018). "Lily James interview: How my grandmother's war diaries helped me in my Darkest Hour". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 11 January 2022.
  7. ^ "Lily James". Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Archived from the original on 3 October 2016. Retrieved 3 October 2016.
    - 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 3 October 2016.
  8. ^ "Lily James to Star in Disney's 'Cinderella'". 30 April 2013.
  9. ^ "The Tatler List". Tatler. Archived from the original on 5 February 2016.
  10. ^ "Ones to Watch in 2011". Female First. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016.
  11. ^ "Lily James to return for final episode of Downton Abbey". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on 17 November 2015. Retrieved 17 November 2015.
  12. ^ "What's On". The Young Vic. Archived from the original on 2 March 2015. Retrieved 2 February 2015.
  13. ^ Spencer, Charles (19 March 2012). "Play House/Definitely the Bahamas, Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond, review". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 2 December 2014. Retrieved 19 November 2014.
  14. ^ "'Downton Abbey' Star is New Cinderella". Archived from the original on 2 May 2013. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
  15. ^ "The New Trailer, Poster and Photos for Disney's Cinderella!". ComingSoon. 19 November 2014. Archived from the original on 21 November 2014. Retrieved 19 November 2014.
    - Camhi, Leslie (19 November 2014). "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.
  16. ^ Jenna Busch (12 July 2017). "Mamma Mia Sequel Casts Baby Driver's Lily James". Retrieved 12 August 2017.
  17. ^ Tenreyro, Tatiana. "This New 1940s Drama On Netflix Spotlights A Heroic European Book Club". Bustle. Retrieved 12 August 2018.
  18. ^ "West End Review: Gillian Anderson and Lily James in 'All About Eve'". Variety. 14 February 2019. Retrieved 24 October 2020.
  19. ^ Kroll, Justin (14 November 2018). "Lily James, Armie Hammer to Star in Daphne du Maurier Adaptation 'Rebecca'". Variety. Retrieved 6 March 2019.
  20. ^ Wiseman, Andreas (8 October 2019). "'The Dig': Johnny Flynn, Ben Chaplin, Ken Stott & Monica Dolan Join Carey Mulligan, Ralph Fiennes & Lily James In Netflix Pic Now Underway In UK". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 8 October 2019.
  21. ^ a b "Lily James, Sebastian Stan to Play Pamela Anderson, Tommy Lee in Hulu Series About Sex Tape". Collider. 15 December 2020. Retrieved 16 July 2021.
  22. ^ McElroy, Naomi (8 April 2021). "10 things you didn't know about actress Lily James".
  23. ^ "'Downton Abbey's' Lily James reveals her real-life Cinderella story". New York Post. 11 February 2015. Retrieved 3 March 2018.
  24. ^ "Lily James unsure of marriage". Associated Press. 7 January 2019. Retrieved 20 June 2020.
  25. ^ Hodge, Gavanndra (15 June 2019). "Lily James: 'We are trying always to be happy, but unhappiness is just as real, just as important'". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 11 January 2022. Retrieved 20 June 2020.
  26. ^ Heawood, Sophie (24 October 2020). "Lily James: 'I got sucked into the vortex. I didn't know which way to turn'". The Guardian.
  27. ^ "Beauty and the Beast". Retrieved 16 December 2021.
  28. ^ "Teen Choice Awards 2015 Winners: Full List". 17 August 2015. Archived from the original on 2 February 2016.
  29. ^ 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.
  30. ^ "Kids' Choice Awards: Adele, Justin Bieber, 'Star Wars' Among Nominees". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 6 February 2016. Retrieved 7 February 2016.
  31. ^ "Harry Potter leads winners of the 17th Annual WhatsOnStage Awards". Archived from the original on 20 February 2017. Retrieved 20 February 2017.
  32. ^ "People's Choice Awards 2018: The nominees". USA Today. 24 September 2018. Retrieved 25 September 2018.
  33. ^ "Past Award Winners". Gasparilla Film Fest.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]