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These days, mice aren't her only friends. A huge box office and legion of young fans make the Downton Abbey star the belle of the ball

cathy suhocki
Lily James, Cinderella
1 of 18 Jonathan Olley/Disney Enterprises

1. She loves how Disney Princesses have transformed over the years

Her film, Cinderella, shows the princess as a brave heroine, making her a great role model for young girls watching. And there sure were a lot watching: Cinderella opened at No. 1 in the box office for its first weekend, raking in $70 million.

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2. Playing Cinderella is a dream Lily wasn’t planning on… exactly.

Hundreds auditioned for the Cinderella role, but Lily originally auditioned for the part of Anastasia, one of the stepsisters. It was director Kenneth Branagh who requested she audition for the main role. We're so glad Lily James was selected!

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3. Her real last name is Thompson.

Her management asked her to change her last name, as there was another famous actress with the name Lily Thompson. She chose her father's first name as her "new" last name.

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4. Acting is in her blood.

For awhile her father, James Thompson, was an actor. Her grandmother, Helen Horton, was also in films and TV shows. In fact, you probably know Helen's voice as that of the ship's computer, Mother, in Alien.

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5. She’s been singing for as long as she can remember.

Another "like father, like daughter" moment. Lily's father played guitar, and she would sing along when she was a kid.

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6. Being a princess isn’t as easy as it looks.

The gorgeous blue dress worn in the ball scene was allegedly almost impossible to sit in. Plus, chilly nighttime filming for Cinderella tested the endurance of the actors.

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7. Her favorite princess is NOT Cinderella.

It's actually Belle from Beauty and the Beast. As a girl, she had long brown hair which made Belle more relatable for her.

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8. She found someone who makes her feel like a princess in real life.

She's currently dating actor Matt Smith of Doctor Who fame.

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9. She never met the real Prince Charming, but she has met Prince William.

They ran into each other at a charity event. He said hello and mentioned that he loves Downton Abbey.

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10. She lost Cinderella’s glass slipper because it didn’t fit.

The Swarovski crystal slippers made for the film did not actually fit Lily's feet. No wonder she "lost" one!

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11. She hopes you’ll see more of Downton Abbey’s Rose.

Lily plays Lady Rose MacClare on Downton Abbey. Though her character recently left for America, Lily doesn't think Rose is gone for good.

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12. She can play naughty and nice

As Lady Rose MacClare in Downton Abbey, Lily's character is sassy and a bit of a trouble maker. Alternatively, as Cinderella's main character, she is sweet and hopeful.

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13. She wasn’t overrun by rodents.

Lily found herself "talking" to little stuffed toys, tennis balls, and other mouse stand-ins during the filming of Cinderella.

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14. She’s in her mid-20s.

Lily James is 25 and has already achieved so much. No quarter-life crisis in sight for this actress!

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15. She believes in true love.

Lily James recently told People that she believes in true love. Her character on Downton Abbey, Rose MacClare, overcame family adversity when she married outside of her faith. As Cinderella, she rose above the odds to marry a prince.

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16. She’ll soon be in a movie with her main squeeze.

Lily James and Matt Smith star in the upcoming film Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which should prove to be very, uh, interesting.

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17. She loves period pieces

Downton Abbey and Cinderella were perfect parts for Lily, as she always dreamed of acting in period dramas and films. But has she conquered the past? She recently told Time she's looking forward to playing more contemporary parts

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18. She’ll soon take the stage.

She will play opposite her Cinderella co-star Richard Madden in Cinderella director Kenneth Branagh's rendition of the tragedy Romeo & Juliet. If Cinderella is any indication, this is a show that can't be missed!