Is Downton Abbey's Lily James set to star in War and Peace?

Is Downton Abbey's Lily James set to star in War and Peace?

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Could Downton Abbey's Lily James have found her next part? She's already filmed a lead role in Kenneth Branagh's Cinderella and, with her star firmly on the rise, the 25-year-old is rumoured to be in line for the lead role in BBC's new adaptation of War And Peace. 

James – who plays Lady Rose on the hit ITV drama – and Paul Dano (There Will Be Blood) are reported to be "seriously circling" the two lead roles of Natasha Rostova and love interest Pierre Bezukhov, according to Deadline

Set in 1805 against the backdrop of Alexander I's reign, the epic novel follows five aristocratic families and the events surrounding Napoleon's invasion in 1812. 

Written by Pride and Prejudice screenwriter Andrew Davies, the new six-part miniseries is adapted from Leo Tolstoy's celebrated work and will be a co-production between the Beeb and The Weinstein Co, expected to air in the UK in 2015. 

Speaking to RadioTimes.com earlier this year, Davies observed the novel is "funnier than most people give it credit for... I am drawing out those elements. I think there's a lot of humour in the relations between the characters that needs to come out and will come out."

He had previously hinted a desire to cast an unknown actress as Natasha, noting "she's so young at the start of the story that I'd like them to discover somebody we've never seen before." 

Although, he has his eye on a much bigger fish for the character of Natasha's love rival Hélène. "She's the bad girl of the story and I fancy Scarlett Johansson for her. Why not think big? 

"The Weinstein company is co-producing with us so it’s much bigger budget than the normal BBC thing – surely Harvey must know her? And perhaps he might be able to persuade her that this would be just the thing for her because it would be perfect – it’s such a sexy part and also funny and amusing. 

Downton Abbey returns to ITV at 9pm on Sunday 21 September. Watch the trailer below...

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