First Look: Disney’s Live-Action Cinderella Is Quite the Horsewoman

Here's your first look at Lily James as Disney's live action Cinderella. What do you think? Weigh in here!

Lily James Cinderella

I could make a joke about horsing around with Cinderella, but, well…

…Too late. Never mind.

Anyhoo, happy Tuesday, Bettys! To wash the taste of the horrifying Real Housewives contract out of your mouths, here’s a lovely little palette cleanser: Our first look at Lily James as Cinderella in Disney’s upcoming live action film based on their 1950 animated classic. Principal photography began yesterday in the UK, and apparently director Kenneth Branagh isn’t wasting any time throwing his actors into the thick of it.

Lily James is perhaps best known to American audiences as Downton Abbey’s Lady Rose McClare; still early in her career, she graduated from London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 2010. I also recall seeing her in the fourth season of Secret Diary of a Call Girl as the daughter of Billie Piper’s madam, so there’s also that. Anyhoo, here’s the official synopsis according to /Film:

The story of Cinderella follows the fortunes of young Ella whose merchant father remarries following the tragic death of her mother. Keen to support her loving father, Ella welcomes her new stepmother Lady Tremaine and her daughters Anastasia and Drisella into the family home. But, when Ella’s father suddenly and unexpectedly passes away, she finds herself at the mercy of a jealous and cruel new family. Finally relegated to nothing more than a servant girl covered in ashes, and spitefully renamed Cinderella, Ella could easily begin to lose hope. Yet, despite the cruelty inflicted upon her, Ella is determined to honor her mother’s dying words and to “have courage and be kind.” She will not give in to despair nor despise those who abuse her.

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And then there is the dashing stranger she meets in the woods. Unaware that he is really a prince, not merely an employee at the Palace, Ella finally feels she has met a kindred soul. It appears as if her fortunes may be about to change when the Palace sends out an open invitation for all maidens to attend a ball, raising Ella’s hopes of once again encountering the charming “Kit.” Alas, her stepmother forbids her to attend and callously rips apart her dress. But, as in all good fairy tales, help is at hand as a kindly beggar woman steps forward and, armed with a pumpkin and a few mice, changes Cinderella’s life forever.

…Huh. There’s nothing really new here, is there? We’re not looking at a retelling in the vein of 2012’s Snow White bonanza; it sounds pretty much like Disney’s version of the traditional tale minus the animation. That said, though, the cast will certainly be something to look forward to: Cate Blanchett as Lady Tremaine, Game of Thrones’ Richard Madden as Prince Charming, Helena Bonham Carter as the Fairy Godmother, Holliday Grainger and Sophie McShera as the stepsisters, Anastasia and Drizella, and Derek Jacobi as the King. How’s that for amazing?

Cinderella will continue shooting throughout the fall at London’s Pinewood Studios, as well as other locations throughout England; it’s due to hit cinemas on March 13, 2015.

Tell us: What do you think of this shiny new Cinderella?

Lucia Peters is BettyConfidential’s senior editor.

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