Art imitates life for Cinderella star Lily James—a beauty who is still waiting to find her crown prince. Over the last decade, the English actress has been linked to a handful of Hollywood's hottest leading men. But the pairing that fans are most fascinated with is between James and The Crown star Matt Smith. The couple has been on and off since 2014, and given a recent scandal involving married actor Dominic West, their current status is decidedly the latter.
Some are hoping for another reconciliation, while others are inclined to believe reports that they are officially over. Let's take a look at what we know so far about the relationship between Lily James and Matt Smith.
Lily James first met her future beau Matt Smith in 2014 on the set of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. But the two didn't spark rumors of romance until May of that year when they were spotted getting cozy at the Cannes Film Festival.
With the intention of keeping things low profile, the actress initially denied reports of a fling.
"Me and Matt are not together," James told the Daily Record. "He’s just my friend and we hang out a lot. We have the same circle of friends. We get on really well as we have a lot in common with acting."
But privately, she forged ahead with the relationship.
"In regards to your love life, you’re just entering into a whole [world] of pain if you talk about it," James explained in a 2015 interview with British InStyle. "If you’ve never said anything, there are no sound bites to haunt you when you’re crying into a box of Kleenex after it all goes wrong."
By 2015, James and Smith made things official by attending the Milan premiere of Cinderella as a pair.
James and Smith quietly continued their relationship for the next few years. They were often spotted together at major red carpet events, but rarely spoke to the press about their personal lives—even after Lily flaunted a magnificent rock on her ring finger at the 2018 BAFTAs.
However, in a July 2018 interview with Marie Claire U.K., the Downton Abbey actress revealed that she was at least willing to consider building a domestic life with him.
"We want to get somewhere," said James. "That's going like, 'Can we go furniture shopping?' We bought a rug...and I love getting flowers and making things look nice."
Lily hinted that between a busy career and cherished relationships, one would have to give.
"When you're an actor, it's like, 'You've got to keep the momentum up.' And I'm like, 'No!'" she continued. "You have to trust that things won't go away if you stop for a bit ... I know I can't keep working at this intensity. I finish a job; Matt starts one."
But by January 2019, she sounded as if she was starting to get cold feet.
"I’ve gone through different phases of wanting and not wanting to get married," she told the Sunday Times Style magazine. "I don’t know where I sit with it now. What matters is the relationship and how you feel about each other."
James also refused to answer questions about a desire to start a family. When asked if she was ready to settle down and move from London to the English countryside, she said the idea was a few years away. At the moment, she preferred spending her evenings at pubs and karaoke joints.
In the second half of 2019, it was reported that James and Smith had called it quits. A source close to the pair cited their busy schedules as the reason for the split. But gossip sleuths suspected that the real reason was a budding romance between Matt Smith and Claire Foy, his co-star on The Crown.
Foy, who split from her husband in 2017, had been spotted with Smith all over London and Los Angeles. The on-screen couple also recently co-starred in the play Lungs. Their chemistry undoubtedly played a part in earning the production excellent reviews.
Things got a little more complicated in October when paparazzi caught James locking lips with The Affair star Dominic West. West, who has been married to Irish socialite Catherine FitzGerald for a decade, wasn't wearing his wedding ring at the time.
"She's mortified and embarrassed by the entire thing," a source told E! News. "She wants it all to go away and is just laying low hoping it will pass quickly."
In March 2020, following the initial reports that Lily James and Matt Smith were finished, the two were seen on a walk together, offering hope for a reconciliation. But by October, a source close to James told The Sun that "it was over for good."
However, following her fling with Dominic West, James may have changed her tune again. In November, it was reported that the scandal has made her realize that she'd like a second chance with Smith.
"She knows she made a bad decision letting him go," a source told UK publication Heat.
Given the pair's ability to maintain their privacy, we may never know if they work things out. But we'll certainly be keeping our eyes open for clues.