Mike Newell: 'Lily James was perfect combination of strong and vulnerable'

Lily James was Mike Newell's first choice to play Juliet Ashton in his new movie, but he feared she wouldn't end up with the part due her other filming projects.

Director Mike Newell cast Lily James in the lead of his movie The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society because she was the perfect combination of strong and vulnerable.

The Donnie Brasco filmmaker needed to find the right actress to play London-based author Juliet Ashton, who travels to the Channel Island in 1946 to learn about the society and how they were affected by the German occupation during World War II.

His first choice was former Downton Abbey star Lily, who he felt was the perfect fit for Juliet.

"She's got this very tough mind which suits being a writer but at the same time she's very, very vulnerable, and I love that as a combination," he told WENN/Cover Media. "She (Juliet) says at one point in the movie when she's talking writing about this great book that she has an idea for, 'I am good enough for it?' and I thought that was a great line. She (Lily) simply embodied it."

However, Mike thought Lily might not be able to do the part as she had other commitments, like 2017 movies Baby Driver and Darkest Hour.

But luckily everything fell into place and they ended up working together.

"She was the first choice but then she went away and went off to do something else and so I then went round the houses and looked at several other wonderful actresses but then she came back and said, 'Are you still making that thing that I was playing about with six months ago?' So it all ended happily," he recalled.

Lily, 29, stars alongside another former Downton Abbey actress, Jessica Brown Findlay, who told reporters that she wanted to sign on for the “complicated” character Elizabeth because she "leaves a big impression" on the society.

She also gushed about filming the movie in Cornwall and Devon in England, recalling how she enjoyed a couple of "magic" afternoons on the beach.

Lily and Jessica are joined by Glen Powell, Matthew Goode and Michiel Huisman in the drama, which hits cinemas from 19 April (18).

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