A retrospective look at Lily James movies and TV shows

Lily James might be most popular for playing Disney’s live action Cinderella, but the actress has a filmography which spans 11 years because of other films and television shows.

Real name, Lily Chloe Ninette Thomson, the English born actress would come into prominence as Lily James. The 32-year-old actress was born on 5 April 2021. Ahead of venturing into a professional career in the dramatic arts, James studied the profession at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. Acting and the drama arts has been a part of James’ lineage, as her grandmother is the acclaimed American actress, Helen Morton.

Due to her educational training, James is also a trained singer. She is considered a mezzo-soprano, a skill which she utilised as part of the cast of the film musical, Mamma Mia, lead by acclaimed actresses, Meryl Streep and Amanda Seyfried. Ahead of enrolling with the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, James graduated from the Arts Educational School, Tring Park, in Hertfordshire, England, in 2008. She formally made her acting debut in 2010 and has been a working A-list actress ever since with film and television show credits.


Although she is popularly known for films, James does have an impressive television series filmography. In fact, her first recognised acting stint was a television show in 2010 with the limited-English comedy series, Just William. James played the character of Ethel Brown, who was the older sister to the protagonist of the show as the pretty, redhead who was popular due to her looks and enchanting personality.

James went on to land her second role in the same year as Poppy on the television series, Secret Diary of a Call Girl. A story, which according to IMDb is, “Based on the popular diary of the anonymous sex worker known only as Belle de Jour.” Thereafter, she returned to television shows with the 2012 critically acclaimed English period drama series, Downton Abbey in 2012, as the lovable character of Lady Rose MacClare. She would continually return to her role until the end of the show in 2015.

Her subsequent television series did not yield the same global success as Downton Abbey. Moreover, due to her film success, she did not take up many television series roles. However, in 2016 she played the character of Natasha Rosotova in War & Peace. It would be five years later in 2021, that she would return to television acting, with the mini-television series, The Pursuit of Love as Linda Radlett. James is currently expected to feature in the upcoming 2022 television mini-series Pam and Tommy, in the lead role of Pamela Anderson.

Television shorts 

A sometimes-unacknowledged fact about James is that she has featured in many short films for television. Her first was in 2012, as Ines on Chemistry. Thereafter she landed the lead role as Chloe, in Chloe and Will’s Hot Date Night. In the same year, 2013, she was Then Girl in the short film, Silent Treatment. Four years later, in 2016 she played the role of Betty in The Tale of Thomas Burberry, and in 2019 she played Miranda in One Red Nose and a Wedding.


As a film actress, James worked hard in the years before cementing her A-list status. Starting in 2012, she landed three movie roles in that year with films including Wrath of the Titans, Fast Girls and Broken. In 2015, she would then make her breakthrough as a bona-fide leading lady as Cinderella, in Disney’s live action blockbuster. Not resting on her laurels, in the same year, she played the character of Sara in Burnt.

In 2016, she built on her film success with the sci-fi blockbuster, Pride and Prejudice and Zombie as Elizabeth Bennet. In the same year, she would go on to feature in another film, The Exception. In 2017 she continued to grow her resume with films including Darkest Hour, Baby Driver, and voiced the character of Detroit’s British voice in Sorry To Bother You as her first credit for 2018.

The rest of 2018 was filled with film roles including The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Little Woods and closed off the year with the star-studded musical Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again. She started 2019 on a high with the drama film, All About Eve, and concluded the year with Rare Beasts and Yesterday. In 2020, she began with Rebecca, which was her only acting credit that year due to the pandemic.

In 2021, James returned to her work ethic with film, The Dig, and has been working on other projects expected for release in 2022. These include What’s Love Got to Do with It? which is in post-production and The Paris Trap, which is currently in pre-production.