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'What's Love Got To Do With It?' star Lily James talks rom-com's 'Cinderella' scene and shows off her ping pong skills

Shortly before Lily James spent four hours a day transforming into Pamela Anderson for Pam & Tommy, she got passed what does love have to do with it? , a romantic comedy set in London and Lahore, gets things back on track. Much of the filming took place in James’ own backyard in London, where her co-star Shazad Latif happens to be an old friend and former roommate. So, in hindsight, What’s Love might have been perfect normal before Pam & Tommy whirlwind) .

Written by Jemima Khan and directed by Shekhar Kapur, the film centers on Zoe (James), a documentary filmmaker who decides to document her childhood friend Kaz ( Latif’s arranged marriage, from his first Skype call with the bride-to-be, their first meeting in Lahore, Pakistan. By documenting Kaz’s “assisted” marriage, Zoe begins to examine her own dating pitfalls and confess her feelings for Kaz.

The film also includes a modern fairytale as Zoe tells her nieces (Grace and Lolly Askew) classic bedtime stories that parallel her own dating life ( until they don’t) the use of montages. One of the retellings involves Cinderella, whom James brought to life in Kenneth Branagh’s acclaimed live-action remake, Cinderella (730). Naturally, James was apprehensive about the meta moment at first.

“It’s surreal that you’re almost the first to ask this question. I thought everyone would. I guess when it comes to Disney princesses, I really am A passer-by,” James told The Hollywood Reporter . “But it’s in the script, and I can’t decide if it’s the corniest, worst thing in the world, or if it’s really hilarious. But I think it’s funny to turn those fairy tales upside down… I laugh at it in my head. Ironic Means.”

The film also gives James a chance to make her brothers proud, as she has a conversation while playing ping pong. She became very competitive in table tennis due to years of playing table tennis with her brothers, and she ended up exchanging forehands and backhands with Latif in a bar match early in their decade-plus friendship .

“I can’t wait for my two brothers to watch it because I know this is going to be my reigning moment in their eyes. It really is!” James said. “At Ping Pong On the ball, I’m a very competitive guy. Working Title does have a ping pong table during rehearsals. So Shaz and I were playing, and Shekhar [Kapur] came in and was like, ‘Ha. It’s kind of cool. We should do a scene where you’re playing ping pong. So it makes the scene better than it should be.

Below, in a recent interview with THR, James also discusses her time at What a way to pass the time Four hour hair and makeup session with Pam & Tommy.

So where did it go What does love have to do with it? WHATS LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT landed on your timeline?

So this came at an interesting time in our lives in the middle of lockdown. I was locked in my house, not sure if I would go out again. Then this script came along with an email containing my Fantastic message from good friend Shazad Latif. I’ve known him for the last ten or twelve years; I used to sleep on the mattress at the end of his bed, in his Tufnell Park apartment. ( LOL .) So we’re good friends, and it’s just a gift to be able to dream of going to work again, let alone work with my best friend. Working Title, me and He’s done a few films together and is producing it. I really found Jemima Khan’s script to be quite unique, with such an honest, non-judgmental look at culture while celebrating multiculturalism in the UK, a love letter to Pakistan .. all from her own experiences, so I’m obsessed with this one.


Shazad Latif and Lily James at What’s Love Got To Do With It?

So when you first read the script, what do you think about Zoe? Which traits are best for acting?

Differences are equally useful, but the way you can incorporate yourself and your own experiences into a character is always Very personal. I like to put myself in each character as much as I can and be as vulnerable as possible. With Zoe, it’s not that difficult. It felt very close to my experience growing up in London, in my teens, early twenties, and figuring out how to balance life, love, and ambition. Trying to figure this out and pretending you’re okay and trying to navigate your family is a mess. and motherhood. “Do you want kids?” Having a scary biological clock adds to that pressure and is doubled down by society. So I love the message that you need your village, your community and your people to take care of you in any form. So I just think that’s pretty valid stuff, especially considering we’re just coming out of the dark period of living alone during Covid.

Zoe is a documentary filmmaker, and while the film is less process-focused, do you still start with a number?

Yeah, it didn’t focus on Zoe as much as the filmmakers did. It would be nice if it could be more, but this isn’t the kind of movie that really does that. However, I did my research and one of the great things was that a lot of what I shot with that camera was on film. I’ve been recording. I was always rolling through the scenes, and it was such an amazing way to watch another character, Shazad play Kaz through that lens. So, Zoe was really able to fall in love with him through that lens, that barrier. She let her guard down, she could really look him in the eye, she wouldn’t do it otherwise, because she knows he’s on a journey to an arranged marriage. So the camera helps the character.

There are several people on the set who have done several movies with me. There was one guy, Julian [Bucknall] in particular, who was the focus puller, with whom I did Darkest Hour and Mama Mia. So he was always giving me little tips/teasers and everyone on the set was there to help me through the shoot. There were a couple of different documentarians there who would guide me and help me with the technical aspects on the days I did a lot of shooting. So it’s fun being behind the camera. I always thought I wanted to direct at some point, so it’s great to have a visual aspect and tell a story through images.

So you probably knew this was going to happen, but Zoe’s

Cinderella Bedtime stories are already in the movie when you signed? Or did they explain the situation to you later?

(laughs.) It’s already in the movie! but you know what? It’s really surreal that you’re almost the first to ask this question. I thought everyone would. ( Laughter .) I guess I’m a real Disney princess. But it’s in the script, and I can’t decide if it’s the corniest, worst thing in the world, or just really hilarious. But I thought it would be fun to turn these fairy tales upside down and lose a little respect and enjoy this modern retelling. When we first started filming, those two little girls were so cute. We have fun. But yeah, I’m laughing at it inside. ( laughs at .) Sarcasm.

Did the two young actors (Grace and Lolly Askew) playing Zoe’s niece know right away that they were dealing with Cinderella herself?

Yes, they sure do. ( Laughing .) They’re so cool, they’ve been rapping about Hamilton. They know every word, so it’s a really great moment.

So you’ve obviously played ping pong before, but I can’t imagine you ever having a dialogue scene while playing in the London wind. Were you proud of your multitasking abilities that day?

I’ve never been so proud and I can’t wait for my two brothers to see it because I know it’s going to be My moment of dominance in their eyes. it is! I am a very competitive person when it comes to table tennis. I grew up playing with my brothers but I never beat them and it hurts to admit it. (laughing.) Shaz and I hang out a lot at a bar near Angel of Rosebery Avenue, and during rehearsals, there’s actually a ping pong table at work . So Shaz and I were playing, and Shekhar [Kapur] walked in and was like, “Hmmm. This is kind of cool. We should do a ping-pong scene.” So it really came up naturally, distracting himself Always great. So table tennis really did that, it made the scene better than ever. (laughs.)

Zoe quickly judges arranged marriage. She half-jokingly likens it to Stockholm Syndrome, but there’s a reason for her second-guessing about Kaz’s cultural heritage. So where do you end up discussing this topic? Can you somehow do it justice?

Yes, I really am. I was able to learn a lot about arranged marriages and in general I just love exploring other cultures and seeing all you can learn and gain. Millions of people have arranged very successful marriages all over the world and this film really highlights and celebrates the differences between Eastern and Western cultures in a completely unbiased and authentic way. This is very important to Jemima. She did a lot of test screenings, showing it to different audiences of different age groups, and she really wanted to make sure it reflected people’s own experiences and lives. Of course, you can’t quite do that, it’s just looking at arranged marriages through this lens that explores love in a non-judgmental but celebratory way. So it’s just an angle, but I think we’re exploring it with curiosity. I found this really instructive.

Lily James in PAM & TOMMY.

Shazad Latif and Lily James at What’s Love Got To Do With It? STUDIOCANAL
Lily James in PAM & TOMMY.

In the premiere of Zoe’s documentary, her subjects respond to her choices in various ways, There’s good and bad, and you certainly know what it’s like to be on screen. You leave the performance to the director and editor until they show it in the premiere a year later. So, in general, how often are you surprised by the choices they make?

Well the best part is I don’t read reviews so I have absolutely no idea what people are saying about this movie , I can say that hand on heart. ( laughing at .) So that might be a good thing. But with regards to how your choices appear on screen, it’s actually very difficult because you as an actor have no control. You often feel like you’re really disenfranchised in the editing and filmmaking process. It all happens in clips, not just performances. I like to experiment and give a variation, that’s the way I know how to do it, but then you’re more at the mercy of the director’s choices.

However, in this film, Jemima was very keen to involve me, especially from a character standpoint. She really included me, so I don’t like being totally like that in this job. Of course, that’s really the director’s job when it comes to the final tone and all that. But I think Jemima is very accommodating and it makes me want to make sure that this is always moving forward and you do have a voice and a voice if you want to. Some actors just like to show up and do it, and then never see the movie. But I feel like I’m so attached and passionate about the role I’m playing that it’s hard for me to let go.

Yes, some of the actors are afraid that they will overanalyze the choices made by the editor or the director, and then they will start based on others Past choices inform future choices. So it’s complicated.

Yes, it’s really complicated because the last thing you want is to have a third eye and see yourself acting. You obviously want to appreciate the craftsmanship and know where your camera is so you can deliver the best performance, but at the end of the day, you just want to jump off the edge of a cliff and enjoy the moment. When you’re controlling a moment or you’re judging yourself, you’re killing it. So this is very tricky and I don’t quite know what the balance is yet. It’s really hard. Maybe it varies from movie to movie, and how much you trust the director and everyone involved. So it all comes down to trust.

Lily James in PAM & TOMMY.

Lily James at Pam & Tommy Courtesy of Erin Simkin/Hulu

So, in 01900, when half your life is spent on hair and makeup Pam and Tommy Trailer*), how do you pass the time? Do you have lines in your head? Listen to podcasts? Quarantine for two hours? What do you do alone?



.) It’s so funny. I’m dying to count the days I’ve spent in makeup trailers. About half a year. With this job, I taped almost every interview Pamela Anderson ever did, so I memorized them all. I can parrot my tongue. I have also heard ’05 Music to get yourself into the mood. I really have a great hair and makeup team. Honestly, it’s like a long meditation before work. That’s four hours, but I can barely make it through the day without it. So, weirdly, I was fine with it, but I ended up dying. I was on my knees and I never wanted to work again. (laughs.) But luckily, it didn’t last long. So it’s all part of the experience and I’m grateful for that time. I need it every day to find characters.

Tessa Thompson told me she was the one who suggested you in Sorry to bother you. Because it’s such an unusual premise, does she have to explain it to you a few times?

(laughs.) I was like, “Wait, What?” I was completely confused but curious. Tessa made such an incredible choice, she is a phenomenal actress and character. So I’m honored to be a part of it and to be invited. I was actually filming Mama Mia: Here We Go Again in Croatia, and then I went back and zoomed in on my makeshift ADR studio in my apartment in Croatia. So I’m at this session where I’m talking about her incredible performance, which is, yeah, really cool.

2022 What does love have to do with it? Opens in theaters May 5. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.



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