FEW people can claim their first year of work has seen them become a madam’s daughter and the wife of a warrior.
Then something suggests we might well be seeing a lot more of the fresh face of young actress Lily James beyond her current role in Sheffield’s Crucible triumph Othello.
She seems to have taken the leap from very modern television drama Secret Diary Of A Call Girl to a 400-year-old Shakespeare favourite, playing Othello’s loyal but utlimately mistrusted wife Desdemona, in her stride.
“Rightly so,” she says of her character’s dedication. “He is a beautiful, honourable, incredible man who she falls madly in love with, because of his stories and what he has gone through and experience, which couldn’t be more different from her privileged upbringing.
“He is corrupted, poisoned and destroyed by Iago and turns against her and she can’t get him to see.”
With Clarke Peters and Sheffield’s Dominic West, former stars of US cop drama The Wire, in the leading roles, Othello has proved an incredible draw for 21st century audiences.
“It sustains itself because it’s real life,” says Lily. “Shakespeare wrote incredible human beings, and there’s racism and feminism in Othello, so it’s totally current. I think actors then and now can connect to it – you can find it within yourself because they’re real emotions.”
Lily has also appeared on stage with Vernon Little Good among other productions and Just William for the BBC, as well as in the film Wrath Of The Titans.
In the “guilty pleasure” that was the final series of Diary, Lily played alongside escort boss Cherie Lunghi as Poppy, the daughter unaware of what was going on in her mum’s life until they moved in with Billie Piper’s character Belle.
“It was completely different, about an empowered young woman who chose this way of life. It was controversial which always makes people watch because they want to have an opinion on it, whether it’s a ‘ridiculous horrible thing to show young girls how to live their life’ or whether it’s something done with a twinkle in the eye.”
Until October 15 Lily says she’ll be happy listening to Clarke’s rich baritone nightly on Tudor Square and gleaning tips from some impressive fellow cast members.
“I have been lucky in my first year to do a mixture of theatre and screen. I want to do both if I can. It’s the best way to be. I am learning so much working with these guys.
“It’s a dream cast and those two are brilliant as Othello and Iago – their chemistry is so special. You do have to raise your game and work hard, but inevitably it has a real knock on effect.
“Having been given the chance to work with these great actors I feel like it’s bringing me up too.”