Where you’ve seen her: The young English actress was the rebellious Lady Rose MacClare on the last three series of “Downton Abbey.”
Where she is now: Playing no less than Ella, a wealthy scion who becomes the lowly Cinderella in Disney’s lavish live action remake of their 1950 animated classic, directed by Kenneth Branagh.
Where she’s going: She goes period — again — as Elizabeth Bennet in the film version of “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” and she’s in the still-untitled next film by “August: Osage County” director John Wells, starring Bradley Cooper, Jamie Dornan and Emma Thompson.
You originally went in for one of the wicked stepsisters. It’s a bit of a change starting out evil and playing 100 percent decent.
I didn’t think the sisters were evil. I thought they were funny. They’re just pathetic. I though it’d be fun to play them because there’s such humor in them. And I liked the idea of playing Cate Blanchett’s daughter. [Laughs] The ostensible lead character is a bit quiet, but when I started reading Ella, it felt like there was so much more there than I thought. It sat right. And I decided playing Cate Blanchett’s stepdaughter was just as good.
How did you view this incarnation of the character, especially compared to the one in the 1950 version?
I thought she was a strong character, actually — quietly inspiring. In the past in animated films, she’s just this princess. She’s sweet and talks to animals and sings like an angel, blah blah blah. This version has so much backstory and she has so much strength. You see her struggle and see her grow into a woman. You see her grief, the loss. She’s a deep character. There was a lot to explore. If you have a really evil character you explore why they’re that way. Ella is so good you just had to do as much exploring to figure out why.