Last week Louise participated in a Q&A interview with Cinderella herself – the beautiful Lily James! Beeb posted this for me because I ran out of time but I wanted to add what she was like.
Lily was exactly what you would expect Cinderella to be. She was so kind and funny. She was cute and petite. She smiled the entire time. I took a lot of pictures of her and almost everyone was a good one. She generally loves acting and it shows in her characters.
Lily spoke about stepping into Cinderella’s shoes – literally – and her excitement in getting the role. She also discussed what the fairy tale means to little girls today, explained the fire hazard of wearing a large dress, and told us how exactly a princess navigates a port-a-loo!
LJ: Ken rang me himself and I screamed so loudly I’m sure I burst his eardrum. He said, “I’d like you–, I want you to be my Cinderella.” I was on set and I screamed. And Laura and Michelle came running over and, and they knew I’d been doing this torturous audition process and they’re like, ‘what is it, what is it?’ And then Ken was like, ‘you’re not allowed to tell anyone.’ So, I was like, ‘oh, nothing, nothing.’ And then, later that day, Hugh Bonneville announced the Downton dining room table. It was really sweet.
Q: Can you tell us about your experience with the dress? I’m obsessed with the dress.
LJ: Me too. [LAUGHS] The dress is insane. When I first put it on – there’s a scene from Runaway Bride with Julia Roberts where she puts this dress on and she looks in the mirror and, I think Richard Gere is looking really handsome somewhere and she just goes like swoosh, swoosh. She makes this sound and I put it on and I felt like Julia Roberts, it was just the best feeling ever. I was so nervous about this bit of the movie ‘cause it’s the bit where she’s the princess. It’s the moment, you know, and I think, ‘how can anyone live up to that?’ Really, you know, it’s this fairy tale, it’s this sort of thing that’s very far removed from me. And then I put on that gown and I just felt transformed and it felt like a suit of honor. But, [LAUGHS], it was really hard to wear and it was incredibly tight and incredibly – it had a life of it’s own basically.
Q: Was the dress heavy?
LJ: Yeah, it was really heavy. It was like crazy heavy and it pulled down on my waist and it took about twenty minutes to get in and twenty minutes to get out. [LAUGHS] It was kind of cool because it was almost like a ritual every morning. I’d have my dress – we’d start from the very bottom and slowly I’d, sort of, it would take a bit of time, we’d have some music on. But, the only thing was if I needed to toilet. [LAUGHS] And, you know, you’re always so rushed when you’re filming so it would be like a forty minute break, so the crew would be like, ‘God, where’s Lily?’ Me and Helena had same problem so in the end, we had these like port-a-loo’s that we’d like put under us. [LAUGHS] And it was like the most unglamorous thing ever. Um, [LAUGHS], so Helena and I would sometimes be, like, in our tent and be next door and be both using the port-a-loo’s at the same time. [LAUGHS]
Q: Was that a designer dress or was that custom for you?
LJ: That was Sandy Powell. It’s all Sandy Powell. She’s amazing and that wedding gown was – I feel like so sad that it was only in the film for like thirty seconds. I was like, ‘Ken, you’ve gotta shoot it from the back, you’ve gotta shoot it from the back.’ ‘Cause the flowers were hand painted and, you know, the detail that goes into these dresses.
And that veil, and the crown, and actually we did the hair like how Cinderella in the animation wears it at the ball, so that was a kind of like little echo. And that dress I was doing a sort of photo shoot in it one day when we were so busy and I rushed in and we did the photos. And, at Pinewood Studios it’s just, it’s England and it’s cold and it’s miserable and gray. And I rushed in, I was so cold and I was walking past this heater and my skirt caught on fire. [LAUGHS] And I didn’t care about myself I was like, ‘the skirt!’ And it was all hand painted flowers and they had to redo, like a whole section of the skirt.
Q: So, next to the dress you think about the glass slipper. How was that? Were they comfortable? Were they really made out of glass?
LJ: They were really made out of Swarovski crystals, so, even more amazing. They’re so beautiful but, sadly, I hate saying this, but, they don’t fit any human foot. [LAUGHS] So, I’m glad it’s no foot – if it was just my foot it didn’t fit I’d feel really un-Cinderella-y. But um, yes, so the prince is still looking for his princess. [LAUGHS]
Q: What would you tell young girls today that your character Cinderella – how is it relevant to them? What is the message that Cinderella has for them today? ‘Cause it is a bit of an old fashioned, some would say, out of date message.
LJ: Yeah, well, I think with our film, was being really faithful to the fairytale. This is a girl that’s not sitting around waiting for a prince to come and save her. That she’s got this unbelievable strength and it doesn’t come from fighting or from, you know, what happens, it comes from within. And the strength is her courage and her kindness and that, if she has that, she can, in a way, deal with as best she can what life throws at her. And by being this person, you know she’s being the best version of herself. And with such an open heart when she does meet the prince not knowing who he is, he falls for her because she’s a strong, powerful, you know, beautiful from within woman. That’s the idea.