Eight Things We Learnt From Lily James’ AnOther Magazine Interview

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Lily James Rebecca Interview 2020 AnOther Magazine SS20
Stylist’s own silk slipAnOther Magazine S/S20 Photography by Casper Sejersen, Styling by Katie Shillingford

As James’ cover story for AnOther Magazine S/S20 is revealed, we share eight things we learnt from Sophie Bew’s interview with the British star

1. She comes from acting stock

Both James’ father and grandmother were actors. The latter, Helen Horton, was “an actress through and through”, says James. “She was so glamorous, really beautiful … she acted all the way through her life, and when she got shaky, she did radio and audiobooks … As a person, she was just actressy – she embodied it, there was a dramatic flair about her.”

2. She wasn’t always the English rose

“I didn’t play those roles at drama school, or in my first theatre job. Over time, I’ve sort of morphed into a version of myself that I’ve been cast as. I think largely it’s because of England, because I’m based here. There’s a lot of period drama and England does it really well – it’s our history,” the actress says.

3. Filming the upcoming adaption of Rebecca – in which she plays the second Mrs de Winter – was an intense experience

“I found it really hard to let the second Mrs de Winter go,” James says. “God, the inner workings of her mind. She’s in such conflict, such turmoil. I started having real panic attacks. My heart would beat so fast. For a while after filming I felt unsettled and discombobulated. It’s certainly the role I’ve inhabited the most. Even talking about it, I get kind of breathless. It’s crazy. It was a really powerful experience. I’m definitely an insecure person and the character is so deeply insecure that playing her preyed on my own insecurities. But that was quite an amazing dichotomy.” 

4. In fact, James finds it hard to let go of the heroines she has played

“It’s like, if you read a book again and again at different times in your life, you pick up on different things. They’re so deeply personal, those heroines, but somehow connect to us all in a profound way, where we recognise ourselves in them. I know that if I played all of those characters now, I’d play them differently. But it’s such a gift – as a young actor and a young woman – to be able to explore these characters at different points in my life. I’ve definitely grown through playing them and through inhabiting them.”

5. She feels like she’s “probably done too many literary heroines”

But she’s not escaped them yet. This year, she will star in two more 20th-century-set dramas: The Dig, in which she plays Peggy Preston, an archaeologist present at the discovery of the ancient burial site at Sutton Hoo in 1939 (alongside Carey Mulligan and Ralph Fiennes); and The Pursuit of Love – Emily Mortimer’s adaptation of Nancy Mitford’s landmark 1945 novel, for the BBC.

6. She’s desperate to work with David Fincher

“I love to do things 250 times, until I can’t walk and I’m crying and I’m a broken human being,” she says. James’ masochism extends to dream roles: she’s desperate to work with David Fincher (the director of The Social Network, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Fight Club and Gone Girl, among others).  

7. But for now she wants to work with more female directors

Greta Gerwig and Olivia Wilde rank high on her wish list, too – and she’s positive about the future for women in film. “There’s now a general initiative to support, foster and nurture female writers and female directors, and inevitably by doing that we’re going to capture women in a different way from through a male lens. There are definitely new voices coming through that are finally being encouraged. So that’s going to change everything and it’s so exciting.”

8. She’s currently securing rights to a book she’s read

But she’s holding its title close to her heart – the aim is to both produce and star in the film, which would mark her first foray behind the camera.

Head here to read the interview in full.

Sophie Bew’s interview with Lily James appears in AnOther Magazine Spring/Summer 2020, which is on sale internationally from February 13, 2020.

Hair: Malcolm Edwards at LGA Management. Make-up: Hiromi Ueda at Art and Commerce using Burberry Beauty. Set design: Jabez Bartlett at Streeters. Manicure: Chisato Yamamoto at David Artists using Burberry Beauty. Digital tech: Larry Gorman. Lighting: Matt Moran, Barney Curran and Stefan Ebelewicz. Styling assistants: Molly Shillingford and Ruby Cohen. Seamstress: Carson Darling-Blair at Karen Avenell. Hair assistant: Lewis Stanford. Make-up assistants: Sunao Takahashi and Chloe Holt. Set-design assistants: Ellen Wilson, Harry Stayt and David Konix. Production: Artistry. Post-production: Frederik Heide.