The Real Reason Lily James Changed Her Name

Actor Lily James' career has continuously thrived throughout recent years. She starred as the title role in Disney's "Cinderella" in 2015, played Lady Rose MacClare for 21 episodes on the series "Downton Abbey" from 2012 to 2015, and most recently took on the transformative role of Pamela Anderson in the new show "Pam & Tommy," per IMDb. But her success in the entertainment industry isn't surprising when looking at James' family history, as both of her parents, as well as her grandmother, were actors, according to Biography. In 2010, James followed their lead and completed her studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, after which she quickly took Hollywood by storm.

Although her name has become well-known throughout the world, James has not always gone by the same moniker she uses for her acting career. As reported by PopSugar, James' birth name is actually Lily Chloe Ninette Thomson, and it's only been since 2008 that the actor has taken on the stage name Lily James. And there's a very heartfelt, moving reason behind why James decided to adopt the last name she now uses for her stage name.

Lily James changed her name to honor her late father, James Thomson

Lily James has continued to gain popularity over the years through her top roles in film and television, and her name has become recognizable as a result. Although born with the given name of Lily Chloe Ninette Thomson, PopSugar reported that, in 2008, the actor decided to alter her stage name to Lily James after her devastating loss. At this time, James' father, whose name was James "Jamie" Thomson, died of cancer. Like James, Thomson was a gifted actor who enjoyed the artistry of his work. In a 2022 interview with the Los Angeles Times, James opened up about memories of her late father, revealing that his humor has inspired her to consider pursuing more comedic roles in her career.

"My dad was such an artist — I barely ever heard him speak in his voice. It was always accents, always stories, always songs," she said. "He was a clown, though. I'm less of a clown. I really want to do a comedy." James' father is still a strong force in her life and in 2018, James posted an image of herself as a child with her father on Instagram (above), captioning the photo "Greatest love x."

Lily James' father is a source of inspiration in her career

Lily James has been the subject of much media attention lately for her portrayal of Pamela Anderson in "Pam & Tommy," which she discussed during a "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" interview with co-star Sebastian Stan in February 2022. 

"I just studied her and watched her. I love her," James said of researching Anderson for the part, adding, "I used to watch [Kimmel's] interviews with [Anderson] the whole time to learn how to do her accent." Newsweek reported in February that one of James' co-stars, Nick Offerman, called her transformation and delivery in the role "unfathomable." 

In addition to mastering more intense roles like this one, James voiced to the Los Angeles Times that she would be open to the idea of doing more work in comedic film and television parts, as her late father, James "Jamie" Thomson, was a performer with a great sense of humor. New projects under this genre have already begun for her, as one of James' upcoming movies, called "What's Love Got to Do with It?" is a romantic comedy, as listed on IMDb. Here's hoping that the multi-talented actor will continue with some more comedy ventures in the future, as well as serious roles.