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Downton Abbey’s Lily James Lands Title Role in Disney’s Cinderella

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It’s been nearly six months since Cate Blanchett was announced as the evil stepmother of Disney’s upcoming live-action version of Cinderella, but the news drought has ended.

Variety reports Downton Abbey actress Lily James has landed the lead role in Kenneth Branagh’s adaptation of the Disney classic, nabbing the part over rumored actresses under consideration such as Emma Watson, Saoirse Ronan, Alicia Vikander, Gabriella Wilde and Amanda Seyfried. While best known for her role as Lady Rose MacClare on the popular drama Downton Abbey, James has also appeared in Wrath of the Titans and Secret Diary of a Call Girl.

Branagh came onto the film following the departure of Mark Romanek, and will direct a script by About a Boy screenwriter Chris Weltz. Details are still sparse on the direction the film will take, but it has a 2014 target date. It’s a stark contrast to the also 2014-releasing Maleficent, the live-action film focusing on Disney’s Sleeping Beauty villain, which began production in June.

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