Lily James


Since 2010, when Lily James began acting, her popularity has been on a steady climb. It was a star that reached its crescendo a couple of years ago when James hit the top of the IMDB Starmeter as the number one actress in the world.

Though it might have been her “unconventional” private life (which became very public) that helped push her to the top rather than her acting choices. Let’s take a look at what made Lily James the most popular actress in the world.

To the American public, Lily James may best be known as Cinderella. It was that role in the 2015 Disney live-action remake that truly introduced her to American cinemagoers. Her appearance as Cinderella did nothing but help James’ star rise, but what truly gave her the boost was the fact that her personal life was outpacing her professional one, which in turn made fans more curious about her works.

Lily James Has Dated Matt Smith, Armie Hammer, and Chris Evans

We won’t beat around the bush here. 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 Captain America, Chris Evans. Then came Armie Hammer, with whom she co-starred in Netflix’s Rebecca.

Lily James Rebecca

At the time Rebecca was filming, Hammer was a married man, and this was also before his “eating habits” came into question. Reports at that time claimed 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 was also married (and still is, thankfully).

Lily James, smartly, stopped talking about her personal life. At the time, she told Harper’s Bazaar UK, “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.”

What we do know now is that Lily James had been in a steady relationship with musician/songwriter Michael Shuman for the past two years. Shuman plays bass in the rock band Queens of the Stone Age and also part of the band, Mini Mansions. Before both of those gigs, Shuman played for Wires on Fire and Jubilee.

Unfortunately, James and Shuman ended their two-year relationship in February 2023. Sources claim that it was as simple as the two just growing apart. “Lily and Michael have grown apart in recent months and have now decided to end their relationship,” the source told ELLE. “They just couldn’t make it work as a couple, but they both wish each other the best for the future.”

She Was Born In 1989 In England

Lily James

Lily James, soon to be 34 years old, was born Lily Thompson on April 5, 1989, 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.

Cinderella Was Her First Starring Role

Lily James Cinderella

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 Continued To Take Major Movie Roles

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 in 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

Most recently, Lily James was seen in the 3-episode mini-series, The Pursuit of Love, in which she co-starred (aka got in trouble) with Dominic West. After that came her controversial performance as Pamela Anderson in the Hulu mini-series, Pam & Tommy, opposite Sebastian Stan’s Tommy Lee. The story tells of the combustible relationship between Anderson and Lee that began with the two marrying after only knowing each other for 96 hours.

Lily James followed that up with the feature What’s Love Got to Do with It? The film also co-stars Emma Thompson and told of an award-winning filmmaker who is on hand to document her best friend’s wedding, an assisted one that follows his Pakistani heritage. During the journey, she begins to take a deeper look at how she views relationships.

Lily James continues to remain active. She has three projects ready to hit the big or small screen that includes the Italian film Finalmente l’alba, The Iron Claw, and Providence. She is also currently working on a feature titled Relay.

As Lily James enters her 13th year of acting, she has amassed quite an impressive resume, packed with major starring roles and parts in some extremely popular films and television shows.

While James’ personal life may have helped propel her to the top of the IMDB Starmeter at one time (she currently hovers around #100), don’t think her talent didn’t also play a big part in it as well. Unfortunate decisions aside, James has proven time and again that she can act.

Latest Lily James News


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