Zap2it : With Leo Tolstoy’s ‘War & Peace’ being one of the best-known novels in literary history, what was your experience with it in getting ready to do the current miniseries version running Mondays on A&E, History and Lifetime?
Lily James: Even though I actually found it very interesting, I had to read it several times. I was really, really drawn into the book, and I was happy that I read it.
Zap2it: How did you feel about approaching a story that has been filmed a number of times before?
Lily James: I never watched Audrey Hepburn [as Natasha], because I love her and I think it would be very counterproductive watching her being Natasha before I tried to do it myself. I idolize her so much.
I think every time they retell this story, though, it’s going to feel modern and new because it is so relevant. It has to be set when it’s set, because of the backdrop of the war and Russia, but there are so many young characters. It felt so fresh, [with such themes as] falling in love for the first time and going to battle. Everything felt very young.
Zap2it: How did your work with your ‘War & Peace’ co-stars go?
Lily James: Just being a part of this cast — not only with really young, new actors, but experienced and brilliant actors like Jim Broadbent and Gillian Anderson and Stephen Rea — was a really joyous experience.
I think the director [Tom Harper] has made it feel so epic, he’s really captured what I think needs to be captured if you’re going to attempt to remake “War & Peace.” There’s scale but an intimacy, too, and it’s one of the things I’ve done that I’m most proud of.