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Classic twist

Actress Lilly James packs a punch as Liz Bennet, a zombie slayer, in the latest version of Austen’s novel

PERIOD-drama Downtown Abbey actress, Lily James, will star in another period action-drama, but this time, it’s the movie Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, a spin-off based on Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice. The English actor plays Elizabeth Bennet who is a zombie slayer in the film. But why another foray into the same genre and what next? We find out.

Were you a fan of the source material before you got the role?
I hadn’t heard of it. I read the script and within the first opening sequence, when Darcy sort of gallops up on a horse and gets stripped down, I thought, “Yeah, this is cool.” Then I read the book and thought it was brilliant. It shouldn’t work, but it does.

You were in training and learned to run for Fast Girls, too. Was this more intense?
No, I don’t think anything will ever be as intense as that because for this we can hide all manner of sins in a period dress, but in Fast Girls I was in pants so we had to be toned. For this, it’s been more about a mental fighter attitude too.

Have you sustained any injuries so far?
Nope, but I’ve definitely injured others, like Sam (Riley). We had the proposal scene where I had to suddenly start beating him vigorously. I just got really swept away in the moment, and though they’re plastic swords, they hurt if you jab them at someone.

What about weapons?
The blade. I have daggers hidden everywhere. Liz Bennet is a dagger/sword ninja so I always fight with two. But she has a dagger on her at all times.

You’ve got the repartee of Jane Austen and then you make it physical. Was it difficult?
When we’re doing the scenes without any fighting, I treat it ordinarily. Where there’s dialogue and fighting, it’s been a bit of a battle. Sometimes I want to say lines in a relaxed way, but I’m saying them in a strained voice because I’m kind of punching Jane in the face.

You seem to do a lot of period roles.
I was always drawn to that as sort of a style and some of the actresses I loved growing up like Kate Winslet, I remember her in Titanic, was definitely something I wanted to do. Now having done it so much, I’d like to do something with style that slightly confines your choices and your emotions and the freedom to just let everything out.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies releases today.
— Team Indulge

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