Lily James first started acting in 2010 and since that time, her popularity has been on an upward climb. While the 31-year-old actress may be better known for her role as Cinderella in Disney’s live-action remake or in Downton Abbey, James is also making news for the wrong reasons.
Lily James is currently the highest-rated actress on the IMDB Star Meter, jumping 20 spots just this week. Professionally, she has had a decent career to this point, but her jump to this position seems a bit surprising going simply by her acting choices.
Lily James has made some bad choices in her dating history. The actress carried on a relationship with Doctor Who star Matt Smith for five years, with the couple breaking up in 2019. Apparently, things had already ended between the two when she was seen hanging around with Chris Evans. But then came Armie Hammer, with whom she co-starred in Netflix’s Rebecca.
At the time Rebecca was filming, Hammer was a married man, and this was also before his eating habits came into question. Reports – which are yet to be fully confirmed – state that Hammer’s wife, Elizabeth Chambers, may have possibly found text messages to Hammer from a woman known as Adeline. According to the Daily Mail, Lily James was referred to as Adeline on the Rebecca call-sheets.
This alleged affair is nothing compared to the pictures taken of Lily James and her The Pursuit of Love co-star Dominic West. James and West were reportedly cuddling and kissing on a plane to Rome and then were photographed engaging in PDA while dining in the Italian city. Like Hammer, West is also married.
Lily James, smartly, is now refusing to talk about her personal life. James won’t disclose who she is dating, if anyone at this point. She did tell Harper’s Bazaar U.K “Don’t be obsessed by boys!” James continued, “Hang out with your girl mates. And don’t take everything so seriously — be kind to yourself.”
Lily James was born Lily Thompson in Esher, Surrey, England. After going to school at the Tring Park School for the Performing Arts, she graduated from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, after which, James jumped right into television. James’ first acting gig came in the BBC miniseries, Just William. After that, James played Poppy in the BBC series Secret Diary of a Call Girl. Then, James landed her breakout role on Downton Abbey, playing Lady Rose MacClare for three seasons.
As Lily James’ popularity began to rise, she appeared in films such as Wrath of the Titans and Fast Girls. Toward the end of her time on Downton Abbey, Lily James accidentally landed a leading role in Disney’s live-action Cinderella. James never intended to audition for the title role, but instead, she planned to audition for one of the ugly stepsisters. “I thought it would be interesting to play an off-center character who doesn’t have to be pretty,” James recalled via the NY Post.
It took Lily James six auditions, but she won the part. “I am completely aware of how lucky I am,” she remarked about grabbing the role. But James also reflected on how her role as Cinderella ultimately touched her emotionally, which she didn’t expect to happen. “It’s weird when you get roles that coincide with your life. Cinderella touches on loss, and there was definitely a strong sense of grief.” James, sadly, lost her father, British actor and musician James Thomson, who died after his battle with cancer in 2008. She actually took his name as her stage name to honor him. In Cinderella, the title character is also dealing with the loss of her father, now that she’s in the care of her evil stepmother.
It was during a scene rehearsal with Lily James and Ben Chaplin, who plays her father in the movie, that things began to get tough for the actress. She remarked how Kenneth Branagh – Cinderella‘s director – helped her through the tough time. “I was rehearsing a father-daughter scene with Ben Chaplin that was really dark and painful. I broke down,” James told the New York Post. “Ken gave me notes with tears in his eyes — he really wanted us to find the truth in the story. Ultimately, Ken made us aware it was a simple story of this girl — and that we didn’t have to ‘conquer’ Cinderella.”
Cinderella went on to be a big hit for Disney and Lily James, with the movie pulling in over $540 million at the box office. After the success of Cinderella, James would appear in Burnt, where she co-starred with Bradley Cooper. James then went on to play the role of Elizabeth Bennet in the action comedy-horror feature Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Both Burnt and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies were box office disappointments, but it didn’t hurt Lily James’ rise.
Lily James was next seen as Natasha Rostova in the BBC historical drama War & Peace in the role of Countess Natasha Rostova. In addition to taking on this massive role, the next few years made James a star in some major projects. James would play the love interest Debora in Edgar Wright’s crime action film Baby Driver, and would star alongside Gary Oldman in his Oscar-winning role for Darkest Hour. In 2018, she would play the younger version of Meryl Streep’s Donna Sheridan in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, and in 2019, she would star alongside Himesh Patel in Danny Boyle’s Yesterday. Already this year, James has appeared in The Dig, in which she appears with Carey Mulligan and Ralph Fiennes.
Lily James has a few projects lined up. She is currently working on The Paris Trap and Peggy Jo and then James will be seen opposite Sebastian Stan in the mini-series Pam & Tommy, where Stan will play rocker Tommy Lee and James will portray Pamela Anderson. There are no release dates for any of James’ upcoming projects. The Pursuit of Love, in which James appears alongside Dominic West, has yet to debut, and she will also star in the British romantic comedy, What’s Love Got to Do With It?
For having only been acting for less than a decade now, Lily James has already amassed quite an impressive resume, packed with major starring roles and parts in some extremely popular films and television shows. While James might be at the top of the Starmeter right now because of unfortunate decisions to spend questionable time with married men, she has enough talent and exciting upcoming projects to get to the top of the Starmeter on her own merits, rather than her controversies.