Lily James can totally relate to her 'passionate' role in new drama The Pursuit of Love

The actress stars in the BBC show alongside Dominic West

Lily James has opened up about her new role in racy new period drama, The Pursuit of Love, revealing she "instinctively" relates to her character's passion and "open heart".

The Downton Abbey actress plays Linda Radlett, a young woman living in the countryside but desperate to explore the adventures of life and love.

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"She is a wonderful character: free-spirited, passionate, impulsive, fiery, frustrating, selfish and a brilliant human-being," she told the BBC, adding: "I was attracted to the story as the two women are so linked but so different. The subject matter feels completely relevant, it's potent, nuanced…"

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WATCH: BBC's new period drama Pursuit of Love - first trailer

Lily continued: "The choices she makes at times feel harsh and quite brutal but I instinctively feel I understand her and love her deeply. I recognise a lot of myself in her."

The actress, who will appear in the new three-part series alongside Emily Beecham, Dominic West and Andrew Scott, even revealed she found her own diaries from her younger days to help prepare her for the part.

"I was texting Emily Mortimer months ago as I had found my old diaries. Some of the things I wrote were so Linda. I wish I was as brave and courageous as her, she lives for herself. I relate to her passion and her open heart. I think people want to be more like Linda."

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Lily James and Emily Beecham in Pursuit of Love

The official synopsis for The Pursuit of Love reads: "The Pursuit of Love is a romantic comedy-drama about love and friendship; starring Lily James as the charismatic and fearless Linda Radlett and Emily Beecham as her best friend and cousin Fanny Logan.

"Consumed by a desire for love and marriage, the two women are on the hunt for an ideal husband but their friendship is put to the test when they choose very different paths. Whilst Fanny settles for a steady life, Linda decides to follow her heart, to increasingly wild and outrageous places."

The Pursuit of Love airs Sunday 9 May, 9pm BBC One.

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