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Lily James says 'Cinderella' wouldn't have been possible without 'Downton Abbey'

"I really, really don't think I would've got Cinderella if it hadn't been for Downton. I think that show enabled me to be seen for more," James says.

By
Karen Butler
Cinderella director Kenneth Branagh and the movie's star Lily James at the 2015 Berlin Film Festival. Shutterstock
"Cinderella" director Kenneth Branagh and the movie's star Lily James at the 2015 Berlin Film Festival. Shutterstock

LOS ANGELES, March 13 (UPI) -- British actress Lily James says she doesn't think she would have landed the lead in the live-action version of Cinderella if it wasn't for her past portrayal of Lady Rose on TV's Downton Abbey.

"I think it just has changed everything in a way," James told reporters in Los Angeles about her time on the small-screen costume drama. "Not in ways that people would expect, of like lifestyle or being recognized, because I'm quite anonymous from that show. I don't really get [recognized,] especially not in England. But it's changed my life in that I really, really don't think I would've got Cinderella if it hadn't been for Downton. I think that show enabled me to be seen for more. And that's what you really want, as an actor, to be able to be seen for stuff. And it gives you that kind of profile that you can be. And, so, I'm so grateful."

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James said she was also happy to reunite with Sophie McShera, her former Downton Abbey co-star, on Cinderella since the movie offers them the chance to play a bit of a role reversal. On the TV series, James played a wealthy aristocrat, while McShera portrayed the lowly kitchen maid Daisy. In Cinderella, McShera plays the vain and bossy step-sister, who delights in ordering James' Ella about after her parents died and she is left in her step-mother's care.

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"I think she loved it," James said of McShera. "She loved getting to, like, boss me about. But then I actually feel like that I came out [on] top because I had that moment when I was tightening her corset. So, I was still able to be cruel, yeah."

Directed by Kenneth Branagh and co-starring Cate Blanchett as the evil step-mother, Richard Madden as Prince Charming and Helena Bonham Carter as the fairy godmother respectively, Cinderella is in theaters now.

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