Lily James

Last updated on the 8 July 2024 by Evandrus

Lily James headshot

Mini Biography

Born: 5 April 1989, Esher, Surrey, England. 

Lily James, born Lily Chloe Ninette Thomson in 1989, was surrounded by a theatrical lineage – her mother, Ninette Mantle, an actress, her father, James Thomson, a musician and her grandmother, Helen Horton, the voice of the computer in Alien – acting wasn’t just a career choice, it was destiny.

Lily James as Lady Rose MacClare
Lily James as Lady Rose MacClare

Lily James attended Tring Park School for the Performing Arts, a breeding ground for future stars. After graduating, she continued her education at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London.

Television offered James her first taste of professional success. In 2010, she landed a role in the British children’s series “Just William.” Small parts followed, but it was the period drama “Downton Abbey” (2012-2015) that truly launched her into the public eye. Playing the spirited Lady Rose MacClare, James captivated audiences with her charm and wit. The role not only established her as a rising talent but also introduced her to the world of historical dramas, a genre she would revisit throughout her career.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again - Lily James
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again – Lily James

However, it was a fairy tale that propelled James to international stardom. In 2015, she donned the iconic glass slippers as the title character in Disney’s live-action remake of “Cinderella.” The film’s success transformed James into a household name. She embodied the classic princess with a relatable blend of innocence and determination, proving she could handle both period elegance and modern charm.

Lily James’s filmography since then is a testament to her versatility. She transitioned from action-packed roles like the getaway driver Deborah in “Baby Driver” (2017) to historical epics like War & Peace (2016). She showcased her comedic timing in the musical sequel “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” (2018) and brought literary charm to life as Juliet Ashton in “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” (2018). 

When not on set, she is known for her philanthropic work, supporting charities like the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) and the British Heart Foundation.


Suggested viewing


War & Peace (2016)

War & Peace (2016)

Bftv 9.0 / IMDb 8.1

“War & Peace” is a television adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s epic novel. Set against the backdrop of 19th-century Russia, it follows the intertwined lives of several aristocratic families during the tumultuous times of war and revolution. Love, betrayal and personal growth unfold amidst the chaos, exploring the human condition in all its complexity.

Top cast: Lily James, James Norton, Paul Dano, Gillian Anderson, Olivia Ross, Jessie Buckley, Aneurin Barnard, Rebecca Front, Greta Scacchi, Aisling Loftus, Brian Cox.


Yesterday (2019)

Yesterday poster

Bftv 8.5 / IMDb 6.8

In “Yesterday” struggling musician Jack Malik wakes up from an accident to discover he’s the only person who remembers The Beatles. Seizing the opportunity, he performs their iconic songs and rises to fame. Along the way, he faces the challenges of fame love, and the true meaning of artistic integrity.

Top cast: Himesh Patel, Lily James, Joel Fry, Ed Sheeran, Kate McKinnon, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Meera Syal, Harry Michelle, Sophia Di Martin.


Cinderella (2015)

Cinderella poster

Bftv 8.5 / IMDb 6.9

In Disney’s live-action adaptation of “Cinderella” , a young Ella, mistreated by her stepmother and stepsisters, finds solace in her kindness and unwavering spirit. With the help of her fairy godmother, she attends the royal ball, capturing the heart of the prince.

Top cast: Lily James, Cate Blanchett, Richard Madden, Stellan Skarsgård, Holliday Grainger, Sophie McShera, Derek Jacobi, Helena Bonham Carter, Nonso Anozie.


Downton Abbey (2010)

Downton Abbey poster

Bftv 9.0 / IMDb 8.7

“Downton Abbey” is a period drama that chronicles the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants in the early 20th century. The series delves into the social changes, scandals and personal dramas that unfold within the grand estate, highlighting the clash between tradition and modernity in a changing world.

Top cast: Maggie Smith, Michelle Dockery, Laura Carmichael, Joanne Froggatt, Hugh Bonneville, Phyllis Logan, Elizabeth McGovern, Jim Carter, Brendan Coyle, Lily James (S3-S6).


Darkest Hour (2017)

Darkest Hour poster

Bftv 8.5 / IMDb 7.4

“Darkest Hour” is a historical drama set during World War II. It portrays the early days of Winston Churchill’s tenure as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, as he faces the daunting task of leading the country through the war. The film explores Churchill’s struggles, decisions and unwavering determination to stand against Nazi Germany.

Top cast: Gary Oldman, Kristin Scott Thomas, Ben Mendelsohn, Lily James, Ronald Pickup, Stephen Dillane, Nicholas Jones, Samuel West, David Schofield.


The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2018)

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Bftv 8.5 / IMDb 7.3

“The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” is a historical fiction novel set in post-World War II England. It follows the story of Juliet Ashton, an author who forms an unexpected bond with the members of a literary club on the island of Guernsey. Through their letters and shared love for literature, they uncover the island’s wartime history and find solace and friendship in each other’s company.

Top cast: Lily James, Jessica Brown Findlay, Matthew Goode, Michiel Huisman, Katherine Parkinson, Glen Powell, Tom Courtenay, Kit Connor, Penelope Wilton.

More from the “home front”

Gemma Arterton, Their Finest


What’s Love Got to Do with It? (2022)

What's Love Got to Do with It?poster

Bftv 8.0 / IMDb 6.4

In their thirties, two lifelong friends are faced with a pivotal decision that challenges their sense of duty and personal desires. When the man heeds his parents’ counsel and embraces an arranged marriage in Pakistan, both individuals must grapple with the conflict between following societal expectations and pursuing their true feelings.

Top cast: Lily James, Shazad Latif, Shabana Azmi, Emma Thompson, Sajal Ali, Oliver Chris, Asim Chaudhry, Jeff Mirza, Alice Orr-Ewing.


Rebecca (2020)

Rebecca poster

Bftv 8.0 / IMDb 6.0

In the this adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s “Rebecca”, a young woman marries a wealthy widower, Maxim de Winter and moves to his grand estate, Manderley. However, she soon finds herself overshadowed by the haunting presence of Maxim’s deceased wife, Rebecca. As secrets unravel and tensions rise, the new Mrs. de Winter must confront the truth about Rebecca’s death and the darkness that engulfs Manderley.

Top cast: Lily James, Armie Hammer, Kristin Scott Thomas, Keeley Hawes, Ann Dowd, Sam Riley, Tom Goodman-Hill, Mark Lewis JonesJohn Hollingworth.

Alternative Version

Rebecca (1940) poster


Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018)

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

Bftv 8.5 / IMDb 6.6

In “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again”, Sophie Sheridan is preparing for the grand reopening of her mother’s hotel on the Greek island of Kalokairi. As the past and present intertwine, the film takes us on a journey through time, exploring the origins of Donna’s relationships and the challenges Sophie faces as she becomes a mother herself. With a mix of heartwarming moments, catchy ABBA songs and vibrant performances, this musical sequel is a joyful celebration of love, family and the power of music.

Top cast: Amanda Seyfried, Lily James, Andy García, Celia Imrie, Alexa Davies, Jessica Keenan Wynn, Dominic Cooper, Julie Walters, Christine Baranski.


Mamma Mia! poster


Lily James full filmography @ Wikipedia
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