Lily James: “I Did Yoga To Prepare For Cinderella”

From Downton Abbey’s Lady Rose to playing Disney’s most famous princess Cinderella, we sat down with the lovely Lily James, 25, to discuss what it was really like wearing those glass slippers…

Was it tough playing such a nice, virtuous character like Cinderella? 

People say it’s more interesting to play bad characters because you can examine their motives. So with someone so good I had to do so much work because it had to be justified. Once I figured out her back story and how she engages with the world, it actually became quite easy.

What was it like working with your Prince Charming, former Game of Thrones actor Richard Madden?

He’s such a nice guy. It sounds pathetic but he’s a really nice guy. It was funny because [during filming] he had was clean-shaven without a Scottish accent and then on Sunday [his day off] he transformed with a Scottish accent.

This is your biggest project to date, do more people recognise you in the street now?

It’s still the same [level of recognition] but it’s just amazing that these kids want to see my stroke my dress or see my slippers. The glass heels were actually Swarovski crystal but they didn’t actually fit my foot. They had to use CGI on otherwise they would have broken.

Lily James Richard Madden Prince Charming


There’s been a lot of controversy about your tiny waist in your ball gown, did that upset you?

It’s a shame. It’s so not what the film’s about. It’s just the style of the dress… I don’t think I need to justify the amount I eat – I feel like saying, “I’m sorry I’ve got a small waist”. I wasn’t cast for my body, I was cast because I had the right soul and spirit for this part and I think our costume designer did a beautiful job.

What do you do to stay in shape?
My exercise regime varies from job to job. With Cinderella I did lots of yoga, because I wanted to feel very graceful within my body. And I just try and eat healthily – I stopped drinking beer and started drinking vodka instead

You’ve been compared to Keira Knightley a lot, how do you feel about that?
I think Keira has had an amazing career and makes really great choices. There are loads of actresses I look up to. I’m awful because I go to movies and obsess over people’s performances. I love Amy Adams and Julianne Moore

Are we going to see you return as Lady Rose in the next series of Downton Abbey?
I’ll be back. I’m pretty certain I’ll be back.

After Cinderella, Downton and your upcoming film Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, are you ready to step away from corsets?

Yes! I want jeans, no bra, a t-shirt and a cigarette. [That’s] much more like me!


Cinderella is out Friday 27 March

By Giselle Wainwright