IN PROFILE: Downton Abbey’s Lily James channels 60s vibes

January 21st, 2013

Last Christmas, Lily James won audiences over with her portrayal of Lady Rose, the hellraising grand-niece of Maggie Smith’s Downton Abbey dowager. In an exclusive video and shoot for Wonderland, she takes off the blonde curls and shows us her best a sixties siren instead.


Lily James (Image: Jessie Craig)

Tipped by some to be the “next big thing in British acting”, James has come a long way since playing Billie Piper’s flatmate in Secret Diary of a Callgirl. Here, she tells us she’ll always be Team Maggie.

Where did you grow up? I lived in Surrey my whole life until I went to drama school and have lived in various parts of Hackney ever since.

Last lie you told? I don’t usually lie, I can’t lie, but I’ve had to tell a few big lies recently! But I can’t say…

Biggest guilty pleasure? I don’t really watch that much TV, so I guess it would be chicken and chips after a night out.

Period drama or sci-fi epic? Period drama.

Maggie Smith or Shirley McClaine? Has to be Maggie Smith.

Dream dinner date? Getting properly dressed up and going somewhere fancy is fun as I’m usually so casual.

Best comfort food? Marmite on toast.

Weirdest childhood memory? When we were on a family holiday when I was younger and the pool was so freezing cold that I spent my time dancing around it instead, attracting a steadily bigger crowd…

What’s a typical day on the Downton Abbey set like? Early call time, blonde wig which takes forever to put on, three outfit changes of beautiful vintage 1920s dresses, a lot of sitting around drinking tea and eating biscuits with a bit of acting sandwiched in.

Yourself in three words. Instinctive, extreme, friendly.


Lily James (Image: Jessie Craig)


Photographer Jessie Craig
Fashion Editor Francesca Turner
Words Zing Tsjeng
Make-up Carol Brown at DW Management using KIEHL’S
Hair Elliot Bssila at DW Management for Rossano Ferretti using KIEHL’S
Lily James wears dress by MARGARET HOWELL, A-line skirt by MARNI and cardigan by BANANA REPUBLIC