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Cinderella Director Kenneth Branagh Addresses Lily James Tiny Waist Controversy: I Stand By It “100 Percent”

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Too much of a fantasy? In Disney’s new live-action Cinderella movie, Lily James stars as the famed fairy tale princess and shows off a waist so small in her gown that it has caused controversy. Director Kenneth Branagh addressed the drama in a new interview with HuffPost Live, standing by his film and its leading lady.

In a talked-about promotional image for the film, Downton Abbey star James, 25, wears the classic dreamy blue Cinderella dress, and appears so slight that fans raised concern that either the image was photoshopped or the actress had shrunk too small for the role. 

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“The simple truth is, we didn’t alter anything,” Branagh, 54, said on HuffPost Live. “In fact, it partly seems a little bit more extreme because it’s shadowed… the lit part feels very narrow, and it’s a bit wider on the top.” 

“It’s not a mystery — if you put someone in a corset, you’ll see also that there’s a wide [part],” the British filmmaker added. “Not that Lily James isn’t slim. But, in that wide bow of the dress underneath, basically you squeeze things in, things come out at the bottom. It all gets hidden under there. The natural body physics of it aren’t insane.”

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While Branagh attributed James’ tiny shape to a trick of the eye, the actress herself revealed earlier this week that she went on a liquid diet to fit into her Cinderella costume. 


“When [the corset] was on we would be on continuous days so we wouldn’t stop for lunch or a lovely tea like this — you’d be sort of eating on the move,” she said in an interview with E! News. “In that case, I couldn’t untie the corset. So if you ate food it didn’t really digest properly and I’d be burping all afternoon… and it was just really sort of unpleasant… I’d have soup, so that I could still eat but it wouldn’t get stuck.”

“I feel like it’s all nonsense and also can be hurtful, so it’s a shame,” James added to Us Weekly about the controversy. “I feel also it’s a fairy tale and it’s the dress — it’s the dress that does it more than anything, it’s the shape of the gown. I have a really naturally small waist and am a naturally small person… we just did it to my body and to the dress and so you know, that’s just how it is.”

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“She was slim, but she was healthy,” Branagh said of the rising star. “There’s no suggestion that we’re trumpeting this as the only shape to have. If you look at our ball, it’s full of diversity, it’s full of every kind of shape. Nothing was done mechanically to do anything about it.”

“Do I feel it’s dangerous what this is doing?” the director added of James’ shape, which is seemingly celebrated as the princess figure. “I think no, I don’t think so. I think the film is responsible, the film is emotionally mature, it has emotionally intelligence, the tale does and the script does. I happily stand by it 100 percent.”

Watch Branagh defend his film in the HuffPost Live interview above.

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