Lily James Reveals How Beauty Plays a Major Role in Character Development

Lily James said beauty helps her transform into the characters she plays and has made her more experimental IRL.

By Alyssa Morin Jan 05, 2023 8:39 PMTags
Watch: Lily James Felt "Braver" After Playing Pamela Anderson

For Lily James, beauty serves as the best supporting act.

The Pam & Tommy actress is known for her dramatic makeovers on the big and small screens. From undergoing a mega transformation to embody Pamela Anderson for Hulu's limited series to unveiling fiery red hair for her new film Finalmente L'alba, Lily understands the role beauty plays in character development.

"It's interesting being an actor because you get to transform all the time," she told Glamour in an interview published Jan. 5. "Sometimes it takes a while to let things shed off of you after you've pretended to be someone else or totally inhabited a different look."

She recalled sitting in the makeup chair for four hours each day in order to become the spitting image of Pamela Anderson. And while she had to drastically change her hair and makeup (and wear prosthetics) for the role, she said the process made her realize "that beauty is confidence."

Lily James' Best Roles

But Lily's dedication to channeling the Playboy model wasn't solely about nailing the look. She took it a step further by using the perfumes Pamela launched a decade ago.

"Pamela released a fragrance called Malibu," the Cinderella star shared. "There was a day and a night one. One was pink and one was blue."


She recalled watching Pamela's interviews about the fragrances, adding, "I would speak it along with her. And then I would also have the perfumes. So for that, I went in hot and heavy. I was drenching myself in it."

Lily confessed that she often turns to perfumes as a way to "draw more of myself into a character."

"Downton Abbey, I remember that was the first time I did it, and my character was called Rose," she explained. "It's quite corny, but I used a really heavy rose smell."

However, her scents aren't always on the nose. 

"When I did Finalmente L'alba, I was playing an old 1950s movie star and I had a really strong amber, kind of a heady dark smell because she was a bit crazy," Lily said. "It's a really fun thing to do, and it's like a ritual."

Daniele Venturelli/WireImage

While Lily admitted she's fairly low-key with her beauty routine in real life and can do her makeup in 10 minutes, she's become more open to experimenting with her looks.

As she put it, "I'm more playful now thanks to the roles I've played."

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