Although she always wanted to be the centre of attention, actress Lily Chloe Ninette Thomson struggles with stardom.
Known popularly as Lily James, the 30-year-old British actress went through classical theatrical training from Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London but it did not prepare her for what was to come when she started her career nine years ago.
James talked about her experiences and shared her thoughts in a special masterclass for aspiring actors conducted in collaboration with The British Academy of Film & Television Arts (Bafta) and the 4th International Film Festival and Awards Macao (IFFAM).
She explained that acting is not just a job and it is something one has to feel they have to do.
James attribute her little successes to her many mentors and she said that it was simply about letting go and learning to have fun.
The British actress said that she auditioned 7,000 times for Cinderella with her agent telling her she wouldn’t get the part. She also told James that she should just relax and have fun which was the tip she needed to just be herself.
James got the part and Allison Shearmur, the Cinderella producer who passed away last year gave James advice which she took to heart.
Shearmur told her to stop apologising, ask for forgiveness, not permission. James then continued saying that everything one does has to challenge and frighten them.
Fellow actress Helena Bonham Carter told James that it’s okay not to be okay, to have a breakdown and to cry. That way, people know that you are not a robot and that it’s okay to struggle.
James revealed that it is not all glitz and glam as many would think.
Her experience on Dowton Abbey proved otherwise.
James said it was difficult, relentless filming everyday, getting up at 5AM and then finishing at 9PM.
It becomes too much after doing that for months but according to her it’s okay as long as she is still a good person and good to work with not turning into a diva.
The star of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again added that actors need to have thin skin to be able to allow their emotions out.
One also needed really thick skin to deal with success.
James shared that when one gets a rejection, it’s best to let it hurt for a couple of hours and then let it go because it wasn’t meant to be.
Once her job is done, letting go extends to separating herself from her character.
James said it was very difficult to let go of her character for the remake of Rebecca, with British director Ben Wheatley reworking the Alfred Hitchcock adaptation.
The actress had panic attacks for weeks after.
She played Mrs. de Winter in Daphne du Maurier’s classic Gothic novel.
It was a challenge for her due to the character’s ‘difficult headspace’.
James said that she had panic attacks after she finished, and she couldn’t shake it off.
Her camaraderie among her peers kept her sane and preserved her sanity.
The supportive cast of Dowton Abbey celebrated with her and Hugh Bonneville delivered a speech to congratulate her on landing the lead role in Kenneth Branagh’s Disney feature in Cinderella.
James said it was the best opportunity she could ever have been given.
Apart from acting she plans to spread her wings in a new role.
She will be doing executive production which she said will “be really great to understand it from that side, which in itself is going to be exciting.”
James hopes to get the production rights to a book that she loves and is hoping to be ready to produce it soon. -/TISG