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Why Mrs. de Winter from Netflix's Rebecca looks so familiar

October is the perfect time for Netflix to release its spookier offerings. One of the freakiest movies released on the streaming service this month doesn't have spirits or monsters. Instead, it's a romantic thriller — a rom-thrill, if you will — that burrows in your mind and frightens you on a psychological level. 

On October 16, 2020, Netflix released Rebecca, a remake of the classic 1940 film directed by pioneering horror filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock. The remake features an all-star cast, including Armie Hammer as Maxim de Winter, Ann Dowd as Mrs. Van Hopper, and Kristin Scott Thomas as Mrs. Danvers. Even considering the impressive supporting cast, the entire film is buoyed by a full-hearted performance from Lily James as Mrs. de Winter, a newly married woman who finds herself constantly conflicting with the shadow of her new husband's first wife, Rebecca, who's now deceased. 

Just like Mrs. de Winter can't escape Rebecca, you may find yourself unable to escape the feeling as though you've seen this actress before. She's had a meteoric rise to fame in Hollywood, and chances are good you've seen her in at least one film in the past. 

Lily James starred as Poppy on the British TV series Secret Diary of a Call Girl

Lily James is a native Brit who honed the art of acting at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Soon thereafter, she got her first role on the British series Just William as Ethel Brown. She had a short stint on the series, only appearing in four episodes, but she soon found a meatier role in the form of Poppy on the racy iTV series Secret Diary of a Call Girl

Poppy is the daughter of Stephanie (Cherie Lunghi) who remains unaware of the fact her mother helps run a successful escort agency. She appears throughout the show's fourth (and final) season. The show ending freed James up to appear in other projects, and it wasn't long until she was landing roles in Hollywood blockbusters. The year after Secret Diary of a Call Girl ended, James appeared as Korrina in 2012's Wrath of the Titans. While the Titans trilogy was never completed, James broke out into the mainstream in a much larger way by literally becoming a princess. 

Lily James became a Disney princess in Cinderella

American audiences got introduced to Lily James when she took on the lead role in 2015's live-action Cinderella. As it turns out, James wasn't the first choice for the part. The titular role was initially offered to Harry Potter star Emma Watson, who turned it down. Other actresses considered for the part include Alicia Vikander, Gabriella Wilde, and Saoirse Ronan, but it ultimately went to James. 

In an interview with Collider, James talked about how winning the role of a Disney princess was literally a dream come true. She said, "I really, really loved the princesses, growing up. I was definitely one of those girls ... I originally auditioned for one of the step sisters. Once I started reading Ella and being her, I was totally desperate to play her."

She filmed Cinderella at the same time she was playing Lady Rose MacClare on PBS' hit period drama Downton Abbey. While she didn't appear in the eventual Downton Abbey film, it wasn't for lack of interest. By the time that flick actually went into production, James was already a seriously in-demand movie star.

Lily James has been a busy thespian

It turns out playing a Disney princess was just the start of a very successful career. You've likely seen her in an array of movies over the years with some of her most well-known performances including Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Debora in Baby Driver, and Elizabeth Layton in the Oscar-winning film Darkest Hour

Despite starring in many films, she's also found time to participate in live theater. She played Juliet in the 2016 production of Romeo and Juliet at the Garrick Theatre. In 2019, she played Eve Harrington in the stage adaptation of the classic 1950 film All About Eve at the Noel Coward Theatre. 

Lily James doesn't seem to have any plans to slow down any time soon. You can see her next as Peggy Preston in the 2021 film The Dig, and she'll also make an appearance in the upcoming television miniseries The Pursuit of Love. For the time being, you can see what a talented actress she is on Netflix. Rebecca is streaming now.

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