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.
3. Yesterday (2019)
Lily James teams up with Himesh Patel and Ed Sheeran for the upcoming Beatles-inspired comedy ‘Yesterday.’ Directed by Danny Boyle from a script by Richard Curtis, the movie follows the struggling musician Jack Malik (Patel). As his dreams of making it big in the world of music fade, Jack slips into despair. His only consolation is the unconditional support from his childhood friend Ellie Appleton (James). Jack’s life turns on its head when he has an accident one day. To his surprise, the man finds himself as the only person who remembers The Beatles and their songs!
Soon, Jack realizes the opportunity and starts releasing The Beatles songs under his own name. Since others can’t remember the legends, they hail Jack for the amazing tracks. After the long period of misfortune and struggle, Jack is eventually getting closer to his dream of becoming a world-renowned musician. Kate McKinnon reportedly plays the role of Debra Hammer, the overbearing manager who helps Jack to become a global pop sensation. The movie met with positive reviews when it was premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in May 2019. ‘Yesterday’ is set to hit theaters on June 28, 2019.
2. Rare Beasts (TBA)
‘Rare Beast’ is the feature directorial debut of British stage and film actor Billie Piper, who is known for ‘Yerma’ and ‘Doctor Who.’ Lily James plays the lead role in the movie alongside David Thewlis, Leo Bill, Kerry Fox, and newcomer Toby Woolf. According to THR, the plot follows the writer and struggling mother Mandy (Piper) who finds it difficult to balance her duties of raising her son Larch (Toby Woolf) and her career. To make things more complicated, she falls for the religious and traditionalist gentleman Pete (Leo Bill). Described as an introspection of modern feminism in the backdrop of a revolutionary female movement, ‘Rare Beasts’ is written by Piper. Details of Lily James’ character haven’t been revealed yet. The movie is yet to get a release date.
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1. Rebecca (TBA)
‘Rebecca’ is an upcoming movie adaptation of the renowned Gothic novel of the same name by Dame Daphne du Maurier. Lily James and Armie Hammer play the lead roles in the movie. James reportedly dons the role of the newlywed Mrs. de Winter while Hammer plays Maxim de Winter, whose obsession with Rebecca, his ex-wife, triggers a series of unpleasant events in the couple’s life. Alfred Hitchcock made the premise and characters of the novel familiar in Hollywood with his 1940 adaptation, which was the feature directorial debut of the master filmmaker. Mrs. de Winter has to be one of the most complex characters in James’ career for its emotional attributes. ‘Rebecca’ is directed by Ben Wheatley from a script by Jane Goldman, who is known as the writer of ‘Woman in Black’ and ‘Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.’ The release date of the movie is not known yet.
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