Lily James clutched onto Daphne Du Maurier’s novel Rebecca “like a lifeline” while filming the movie adaptation because she wasn’t brave enough to trust her own instincts.
In Ben Wheatley’s upcoming adaptation of du Maurier’s novel, the British actress portrays Mrs. de Winter, the second wife of Armie Hammer’s Maxim, who is forced to live in the shadow of his dead first wife, Rebecca.
In an interview with AnOther magazine, James confessed that she must have annoyed Wheatley because she couldn’t let the original text go.
“I think I was really annoying because I love that book so much. I clutched to it like a lifeline and wasn’t brave enough for a while to just let it go and say, ‘This is a new version,’” she recalled. “I was like that with (TV miniseries) War and Peace, too. I’m a bit of a control freak and I don’t trust myself that much, so if there’s something there saying how it should be, I trust that rather than myself, which was a bit difficult. But then I just have to allow myself to really inhabit it.”
For example, James was initially concerned about the decision to put her character in Chanel because de Winter was meant to be “unfashionable” in the novel, and costumes play a big part in her preparation for a role.
“When I’m filming, the first costume fitting is often where I start understanding how the character moves and stands – their internal rhythm,” the 30-year-old shared. “I’m definitely a physical, sensual person. I like photoshoots – I love shapes and movement. How I move my body makes me feel something.”
James, who admitted she had “probably done too many literary heroines”, has her eyes set on moving to Los Angeles next to expand her options.
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