I was invited on an expenses paid trip to LA by Disney to cover the #CinderellaEvent in exchange for my posts of the trip experiences. As always, all opinions are my own.
As a child I think every little girl and boy want to be in a Disney movie. Not saying every girl wants to be a princess and every boy a prince because that is blatantly untrue but there is something about the magic of Disney especially movies like Cinderella. A movie where you can change your fate by being kind and generous. When Lily James walked into the room for us to interview her, I knew she was a perfect Cinderella. She was bashful at the applause and she was incredibly nice. How does one even become Cinderella?
Question: How did you prepare yourself to be Cinderella?
Lily James: First of all I started horse riding lessons because I’d never ridden before. When I first met Ken early on after he cast me he was like, “so, how do you feel about horse riding?” and I was like “great, ummm.” I had to bare back as well so every second I wasn’t filming Downton, I was at this farm learning to ride. Then I did yoga, to sort of try and feel in my body and be graceful and breathe properly.
Then I was just working on the script, on back-story. When I met with Ken as well, he was like “I want to know, does Ella sleep with the blinds open or closed? What does she dream about? What’s her favorite food.?” He wanted for me to know all those details so that I could sort of just exist on set being her.
The horse riding scenes were lovely and she certainly didn't look like someone who had never ridden before to me. I have childhood experience and not professional experience so I may be wrong but it looked pretty good. Becoming Cinderella has to be on the list of lots of people. I am sure that many people wanted the role (I know for a fact they did which you will find out in my Sir Kenneth Branagh interview) but Lily James stole the show. She was very soft spoken in our interview and I love that she also talks with her hands. I think that is an admirable quality since its one I also exhibit.
We asked what her message was. Her message from today's Cinderella to little girls.
Lily James: I think 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. She’s got this unbelievable strength and it doesn’t come from fighting or from what happens, it comes from within. The strength is her courage and her kindness and if she has that, she can deal with, as best she can, what life throws at her.
She’s being the best version of herself. 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, beautiful from within woman. That’s the idea.
Best version of herself. That is always the person to be and that is a great message from Lily James. And of course I do love her independence and pro-activeness. Disney is on a great kick with making sure their princesses and leading ladies aren't waiting for men to save them. Little girls don't need that message. Neither do little boys.
Question: Can you tell us about your experience with the dress? How you felt when you first saw it, you tried it on, what it was like?
Lily James: 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. 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 because it’s the bit where she’s the princess. It’s like the moment, and I think ‘how can anyone live up to that?’
Really, it’s this fairy tale, it’s this sort of thing that’s very far removed from me. Then I put on that gown and I just felt transformed and it felt like a suit of honor.
I think we all identified with her in that moment. I think we have all had that dress that you just wanted to swish around in and feel so beautiful and she was wearing the most iconic dress. THE DRESS. Cinderella's gown for the ball. Then we asked her if it was really heavy.
Lily James: It was really hard to wear and it was incredibly tight and it had a life of it’s own basically. Yeah, it was really heavy. It was like crazy heavy and it pulled down on my waist. It took about twenty minutes to get in and twenty minutes to get out. It was almost like a ritual every morning. The only thing was if I needed to toilet. You know, you’re always so rushed when you’re filming so it would be like a forty minute break, the crew would be like, ‘god, where’s Lily?’ In the end Helena and I had same problem, we had these like port-a-loo’s that we’d put under us. It was the most un-glamorous thing ever.
I think I would be terribly embarrassed if someone knew I had a port-a-loo under my dress but she just laughed about it. I guess you get used to stuff like that. I know her dress and corset were incredibly tight so I give her all the props for being able to dance in it. The dance, of course, is what was on all of our minds. I am pretty sure I was the one who asked the next question.
How did it feel doing the dance? Did it feel like you were really at a ball?
Lily James: The dance switched from being the most, sort of beautiful, romantic moment of my life, to being one of the most stressful and hardest. The dress was so heavy and it ripped by basically if Richard looked at it; it was so delicate. We learned the dance, we’d been doing it for months at Pinewood studios in London with this incredible choreographer. Then suddenly they were like, ‘okay, the dress’ and I almost fainted, I thought, ‘the dress, of course, how are we gonna do this in the dress?’
I had a complete nervous breakdown. Richard had to like ice skate so he didn’t step on it. He had to like slide his feet. And five minutes later, the skirt would catch up. There was a few takes where we ran it like real time. I would start outside the doors, I’d knock on the doors, I came in, I walked down the steps, the music started, I walked towards Richard and we danced.
I could not even imagine walking in a heavy dress that would break with a feather light touch. I would die. She did it though and wonderfully. The dance scene is one of my favorites. You can just tell that Richard Madden and Lily James have amazing chemistry. I really hope they get to work together in the future because it was great watching.
Next to the dress, you think about the Glass Slippers. Were they comfortable? Were they really made out of glass?
Lily James: They were really made out of Swarovski crystals, so even more amazing. They’re so beautiful but, sadly, I hate saying this, they don’t fit any human foot.
I am glad to hear it because we saw one of them at the El Capitan Theater when we were there for the Red Carpet Premiere and it looked really small. I would be very jealous if she was lovely, had great hair, and tiny feet.
It was great getting to know Lily James and how she became Cinderella. She was a great person to interview and was so polite and kind throughout the interview. I only included some of the questions but you can find out more by following the #CinderellaEvent hashtag and reading my fellow bloggers posts about the interview. You can also find out more about the Cinderella movie which releases March 13th in theaters by following them on their social media below:
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And she took a cute group photo with us before she left!
See the Cinderella trailer below!