Walt Disney Pictures announced today that principal photography has begun at Pinewood Studios in London, on Cinderella, Disney's first-ever live action feature inspired by the classic fairy tale.
Directed by Academy Award-nominee Kenneth BranaghJack Ryan), the film stars Lily James (Downton Abbey) in the title role, Richard Madden as the Prince, Oscar-winner Cate Blanchett as the infamous stepmother Lady Tremaine, and Academy Award-nominee Helena Bonham Carter as the Fairy Godmother. Holly GraingerSophie McShera play Ella's stepsisters Anastasia and Drisella, respectively. Stellan Skarsgård and Nonso Anozie play the Arch Grand Duke and the Prince's loyal friend, the Captain. Tony Award-winner Derek Jacobi portrays the King.
The timeless story of Cinderella dates back to 1697 when first created by Charles Perrault, although it truly came to life for millions all over the world in 1950 with Walt Disney's celebrated animated feature.
Director Kenneth Branagh says:
"It is impossible to think of Cinderella without thinking of Disney and the timeless images we've all grown up watching. And those classic moments are irresistible to a filmmaker. With Lily James we have found our perfect Cinderella. She combines knockout beauty with intelligence, wit, fun and physical grace. Her Prince is being played by Richard Madden, a young actor with incredible power and charisma. He is funny, smart and sexy and a great match for Cinderella."
The story of Cinderella follows the fortunes of young Ella whose merchant father remarries following the tragic death of her mother. Keen to support her loving father, Ella welcomes her new stepmother Lady Tremaine and her daughters Anastasia and Drisella into the family home. But, when Ella's father suddenly and unexpectedly passes away, she finds herself at the mercy of a jealous and cruel new family. Finally relegated to nothing more than a servant girl covered in ashes, and spitefully renamed Cinderella, Ella could easily begin to lose hope. Yet, despite the cruelty inflicted upon her, Ella is determined to honor her mother's dying words and to "have courage and be kind." She will not give in to despair nor despise those who abuse her. And then there is the dashing stranger she meets in the woods. Unaware that he is really a prince, not merely an employee at the Palace, Ella finally feels she has met a kindred soul. It appears as if her fortunes may be about to change when the Palace sends out an open invitation for all maidens to attend a ball, raising Ella's hopes of once again encountering the charming "Kit." Alas, her stepmother forbids her to attend and callously rips apart her dress. But, as in all good fairy tales, help is at hand as a kindly beggar woman steps forward and, armed with a pumpkin and a few mice, changes Cinderella's life forever.
Production on Cinderella will take place at Pinewood Studios and locations throughout England.
Cinderella will be released through Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures on March 13, 2015.