Lily James’ role as Mrs de Winter in Netflix film Rebecca
PUBLISHED: 11:45 21 October 2020 | UPDATED: 12:03 21 October 2020
2020 © Netflix, Inc.
Rebecca starring Armie Hammer, Lily James and Kristin Scott Thomas is available on streaming service Netflix from today – October 21. Here we take a look at Lily James’ character, the second Mrs de Winter.
Unlike her naive newly married character in Rebecca, Lily James is no stranger to Hatfield House.
In the Netflix movie based on Daphne du Maurier’s classic 1938 novel, the new Mrs de Winter is shown around the Manderley estate by housekeeper Mrs Danvers, superbly played by Dame Kristin Scott Thomas.
Hatfield House is one of the English country homes doubling for Manderley in the romantic psychological thriller.
Production designer Sarah Greenwood, who also worked on Anna Karenina and Darkest Hour, skilfully brought Manderley to life by amalgamating Hatfield House, Cranborne Manor, Mapperton House in Dorset, Surrey’s Loseley House, Petworth House in West Sussex, Hartland Quay and Blegberry Farm in Devon, and Osterley House in Isleworth.
READ MORE: Filming locations for Rebecca
As she’s given her introductory tour of Manderley by Mrs Danvers, the second Mrs de Winter observes: “I’ve never seen a house like this.”
For Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again star Lily James it was familiar territory though, having previously filmed Pride and Prejudice and Zombies in Old Hatfield, Hertfordshire.
Hatfield House served as the location for Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s estate, Rosings Park, in that Jane Austen meets zombies mash-up with Lily James playing kick-ass, sword-wielding heroine Elizabeth Bennet.
READ MORE: Who is Mrs Danvers?
In Ben Wheatley’s new interpretation of Rebecca, the former Tring Park School for the Performing Arts pupil plays opposite Armie Hammer.
It’s a twisted, complicated love story and beckons an entirely new generation of viewers to discover its dark corners anew.
Producer and Working Title co-founder Eric Fellner says: “We’ve been fascinated and intrigued about the idea of trying to turn Rebecca into a film for some time.
“It has probably been 10 or more years in the making. This is a book that never leaves you.
“It has a strong female lead, great period setting and a fantastic literary pedigree… and it’s a wonderfully complex multiple-genre story.
“It is also one that was probably due a new interpretation as it’s been 80 years since Hitchcock’s version.”
The role of the second Mrs de Winter – we never discover her first name – required a performer who could run a gauntlet of emotions and psychological gaslighting while maintaining an underlying air of strength and innocence.
“There’s a lot of fear and a lot of paranoia that needs to be played with a strength to avoid becoming too needy,” says movie director Ben Wheatley.
“To track that role across all those different days is very, very difficult. We needed someone with the range and strength of Lily James to do that.”
James received her first copy of the novel from her mother and has been a lifelong fan of the story ever since. It’s one she finds utterly intoxicating.
“You’re completely in the mind of this character in the book and you get a sense of everything she touches or feels, like the tick tock of her brain.
“It’s visceral. You feel drunk on these characters and on this house,” she says.
“I think Ben Wheatley’s captured that in a way where it starts to feel almost hallucinogenic. My character increasingly can’t tell what’s true and what’s not as the story goes on and it becomes sort of overwhelming for her.”
According to co-star Armie Hammer: “Lily’s one of the most professional actors that I’ve ever worked with.
“I think before every scene that we did, Lily had her script in one hand and the book in the other and both of them looked like tattered messes, just covered in scribbles.
“She’s constantly cross-referencing all of these different source materials, which is really encouraging when you’re in a scene to be doing that with someone who puts in that level of work.”
“Finding films that have strong female leads for great actresses is something that we’re always on the lookout for,” adds Fellner.
“We’ve got a great history with Lily, and we’ve been lucky enough to make a number of films with her. Here was one where she could really grab it and own it. She has all those qualities of an old fashioned movie star and more.”
The supporting cast includes Sam Riley as Jack Favell, Rebecca’s sleazy, scheming cousin.
Riley also starred in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies as Mr Darcy. There’s no zombies in Rebecca. Just the haunting presence of the first Mrs de Winter – the Rebecca of the title – at Manderley.
You can stream movie Rebecca on Netflix from October 21.
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