The Many Eras of Lily James

Posted by Eve Legato

It’s hard to say what it is about Lily James that makes her seem timeless. Is it her classic look, or spirited acting that reminds us of a storybook heroine? Whatever it is, she’s played more characters in period costume than modern fashion, and we’re not complaining. Let’s take brief tour through time with Lily.

Ancient Greece

Early in her career, Lily James played Korra in The Wrath of the Titans, sequel to The Clash of the Titans. Greek mythology reigned in this film where James played a soldier of Andromeda. Not a major character, but the fact that she played a fighter boded well for roles to come.


The Roaring Twenties

Lily’s character Lady Rose in Downton Abbey is the quintessential flapper: forward-thinking, free-spirited, and always raring to dance to (gasp!) jazz, played by a band. Half the fun of Lady Rose is her ability to shock other members of her family, which was probably a huge part of the appeal of becoming a flapper for any twenties gal.


Romantic Era Fantasy

Being fantasy, it’s hard to pinpoint when Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella was set, but we know the costume designer was going for the look of a nineteenth-century period film that was made in the 1940s or 50s. And Lily James’s characterization of the quintessential rags-to-riches princess echoes that mashup of relative modernity and fantasy–she’s no medieval victim. She’s all about survival, inner strength, and making the most of a bad situation. Plus, for a dose of romanticism category, she really likes her magical ball gown. And with that twirl factor, we so don’t blame her.


Alterna-Reality Regency

We’ve read the book, we’ve  seen the trailer, and we’re so ready to watch Lily James slay (literally) in this movie mashup. As is required in Austen’s England, James’s Elizabeth Bennett can quip, dance, and hold her own at society events. But additionally, she’s trained in “the art of war.” Against zombies. The big screen is made for bringing a world that combines early 19th century dress and conventions with action and horror to life, where Elizabeth Bennett can be fierce, and not only in her wordplay.


Napoleonic Era

Another literary role for Lily! The BBC is just now premiering a miniseries adaptation of War and Peace. Lily James will be playing Natasha Rostova in this costume drama with an epic scale. We can’t promise we’ve read the novel cover-to-cover, but this, we will definitely be watching.

Eve Legato

Eve Legato enjoys gifs, trashy reality TV, literary fangirling, and cheese. Follow her on twitter @evelegato.