Lily James and Sophie McShera talk trading places in Downton Abbey and Disney’s Cinderella

Downton's Daisy reveals she had "such fun" bossing Lady Rose about for Kenneth Brannagh

Sophie McShera, who plays dowdy Daisy in Downton Abbey, has undergone quite the transformation as Drisella, one of the nasty stepsisters in Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella (out on Friday 27th March).


But while she’s had the chance to go mad in the dressing-up box, her co-star Lily James, Downton’s elegant Lady Rose, has given up her fabulous frocks to take the starring role as put-upon orphan Ella, looking for her Prince Charming.

Lily James (Cinderella)

“It’s such a hoot that Sophie is one of the stepsisters. She is so brilliant and it’s great to see her with a bit of make-up on and wearing fancy dresses, because in Downton she doesn’t exactly get to dress up!

It was daunting to play Cinderella. And at first I did think, “Oh God, can I ever live up to this?” One of the themes of the story is loss and one of the things Ken talked to me about was that if this wasn’t a fairy tale, it could be a really painful, hard-hitting drama about a girl who loses her family and is virtually pushed into slavery.

At the heart of these fairy tales, there’s a message and it’s often about equipping children to deal with pain.

I loved working with Richard [Madden, who played Robb Stark in Game of Thrones]. I know two Richards – there’s the Prince with the lovely accent who looks like an old movie star; and then there’s the bearded, naughty Scottish lad. On-screen chemistry is a funny thing, but what made it work was that we immediately became matey and silly, and it took the pressure off.

do get to wear the most fantastic powder- blue gown and glass slippers when Cinderella goes to the ball. They squeezed me into the dress and I wore a corset and I could hardly breathe. But it all helped to evoke the magic. The glass slipper is made out of Swarovski crystal and is probably worth more than my flat!

I couldn’t actually wear the real one, so in the shots where I’m dancing at the ball or running to my carriage, I wear a “double” made of acrylic. The dress is also covered in 10,000 tiny Swarovski crystals that were also hand-stuck on my chest and in my hair. I still keep finding crystals at home in my shower in Peckham.


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