The “Downton Abbey” actress will star in the Mouse’s upcoming live-action version of the classic fairy tale that Kenneth Branagh will direct, based on a script by Chris Weitz and a pitch by Aline Brosh McKenna (“The Devil Wears Prada”). Cate Blanchett co-stars as the evil stepmother.
Emma Watson had been considered for the role, but a deal could not be worked out.
“Cinderella” is the latest fairy tale Disney is getting into the megaplex after Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland,” Sam Raimi’s “Oz: The Great and Powerful” and Angelina Jolie vehicle “Maleficent,” based on “Sleeping Beauty’s” villainess. Studio also is developing a live action version of “Beauty and the Beast,” with “Trance”-scribe Joe Ahearne writing the script.
Studio hopes to begin production on “Cinderella” this fall and release the film in 2014.
James is repped by Charles Collier at Tavistock Wood in the U.K. and UTA in the U.S.