Lily James has been keen on being unique right from the beginning of her career. When she learned that there was another actress by the same name, she replaced her old surname Thompson with James, in memory of her father James Thompson, who was an actor and a musician. Her mother and grandmother were also actresses. Born in a family of actors in Surrey, England, James didn’t take a long time to fall into the radar of casting directors. She made her television debut in 2010 with the role of Ethel Brown in the BBC One series ‘Just William.’ She also landed a recurring role in the ITV2 drama series ‘Secret Diary of a Call Girl.’
James’ first breakthrough was the supporting role of Lady Rose in the 2012 ITV series ‘Downton Abbey.’ Her stellar performance helped the series to become a huge success. She became a series regular in the fourth and fifth seasons. The immense popularity of her character and the huge success of the show earned James international exposure. Movies like ‘Fast Girls’ (2011) and ‘Wrath of the Titans’ (2012) launched her Hollywood career.
The actress got her second breakout role in the 2015 movie ‘Cinderella’ from Disney. She played the titular character of Cinderella in the movie opposite Cate Blanchett. Directed by Kenneth Branagh, ‘Cinderella’ went on to become a money-spinner for Disney, grossing $540M from the global box office. The success pushed James into the front row of Hollywood A-listers. In the next year, she played the iconic Tolstoy character of Natasha Rostova in the BBC adaptation of ‘War & Peace.’ She played her second leading role in the horror-action flick ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.’ The movie, which starred her in the role of Elizabeth Bennet, is a parody ‘Pride and Prejudice’ written by Jane Austen.
James started to pick up more daring roles during the late-2010s. In the 2017 action flick ‘Baby Driver,’ she portrayed the lead role opposite Ansel Elgort who played the titular character Baby. In the same year, she became a part of the historical drama ‘The Darkest Hour.’ She played the character of Elizabeth Layton, who was a secretary to Winston Churchill, played by Gary Oldman. She rounded out the prolific year with the World War II drama ‘The Exception,’ in which the actress played the role of a British secret agent infiltrating the clique of the exiled Kaiser Wilhelm II. James starred in the 2018 sequel to the ‘Mamma Mia!’ titled ‘Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again’ as the younger version of Meryl Streep, who is her real-life distant relative.
In the same year, she landed another adaptation project with the flick ‘The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.’ Her portrayal of the character Juliet Ashton in the movie, which is set in the ‘40s, earned her critical acclaim. The plot follows Juliet Ashton who writes letters to the islanders of the German-Occupied Normandy coast at the peak of World War II. James rejected the script when it came to her for the first time. She wanted to move away from period dramas for a while after ‘The Exception’ and The Darkest Hours.’ But the script returned to her again and won her confidence in the second reading. At this point you must be wondering what is the next Lily James movie or TV show? Well, here’s the list of upcoming Lily James films and TV shows scheduled to release in 2019 and 2020. We can only hope that the latest Lily James movies would be as good as some of her recent ones.