The young girl in The Chronicles of Narnia, Georgie Henley, was one of four child stars to be solidified within the pop cultural zeitgeist in 2005 through the first installment of the film franchise, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Cast at just 7 years old, the young actress immediately won audiences over with her adorable-yet-emotionally mature portrayal of the youngest member of the Pevensie family, Lucy. Alongside her on-screen siblings, as well as James McAvoy’s Mr. Tumnus and the godlike talking lion Aslan (voiced by Liam Neeson), the fantasy flick saw Henley help to free Narnia from the oppressive reign of Tilda Swinton’s White Witch, before being crowned Queen Lucy the Valiant. She later reprised this role in the series’ sequels, 2008’s Prince Caspian and 2010’s The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
While cultivating an impressive and multi-faceted career as an actress, writer, and director, Henley has gone on to become a blossoming force in the entertainment industry. So, what do you need to know about the real life and career of Georgie Henley? To start, she’s grown up to be gorgeous.
She nearly wasn’t cast in the Narnia films
It’s hard to believe, but Henley nearly missed out on her breakout role in The Chronicles of Narnia. "It came out of nowhere," the actress told WhatsOnStage in 2018. Explaining that her school’s drama teacher had landed her the initial audition, she shared, "My parents at one point took me out of the process because they had reservations about the whole experience, they’d heard about how it can corrupt young child actors, but my sisters talked them round."
And the rest, as they say, is history. However, it wasn’t until the series came to an end in 2010 that Henley realized just how much her acting debut had impacted her life. "I’ve always had a guaranteed schedule with these films and I always knew what I would be doing the following year. Now I don’t know what I’ll do," she told The Telegraph at the time. "It’s a safety net that I’ll miss. I’ve grown up with Lucy and she’s been a huge part of my life."
Transitioning from child star to adult actor is never easy
Unfortunately, most child stars don’t grow up to be as successful and well-adjusted as the likes of Harry Potter‘s Daniel Radcliffe, Elijah Wood of Lord of the Rings, or Georgie Henley herself. As such, Henley’s used her platform to speak out on the unique pressures placed on children in Hollywood.
"When you’ve acted as a child and you continue to act as an adult, for some reason people want you to fail," she wrote in a Twitter thread in 2018. While highlighting child and adolescent psychotherapist Margot Waddell’s notion of "destructive envy," Henley urged her followers to "remember these are still children, going through whatever they need to go through to become whatever they’re going to be." She concluded, "I just feel very lucky that social media wasn’t around when I was doing press junkets at 10 years old. And I’m SO lucky that I have wonderful parents who put my happiness and wellbeing above any kind of professional ambition."
She hit the books
After wrapping production on The Chronicles of Narnia film series, Henley refocused her energy on her education. "I went on and had a normal school life with some smaller film projects on the side," she told WhatsOnStage in 2018. However, the actress’ fame unfortunately made her the target of bullying during her grammar and secondary school days, which made her feel like she "really couldn’t do theatre" at the time. However, she went on to study English Literature at the prestigious Cambridge University, where her newfound anonymity became "invaluable" in terms of having the opportunity to hone her craft and rebuild her confidence.
"Getting into Cambridge was a really big achievement for me because I’ve had to juggle studying and work commitments, and making the decision to go to university meant that I could only do projects I really wanted to do," Henley told Varsity in 2016. "I decided that for the three years I’m at Cambridge I want to focus on experimentation, especially with theatre, and take time out of professional work."
She’s been picky about the roles she plays
As evidenced by her relatively sparse on-screen résumé, Henley has been picky about the film projects she’s taken on and tends to hold out for the right parts… albeit with mixed results. In 2014, she returned to the big screen with the crime-drama Perfect Sisters, which scored just 27 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. However, she received praise for her performance in The Sisterhood of the Night the following year (via The Wrap), and she later appeared in 2017’s Access All Areas, which largely flew under the radar despite being picked up by Amazon Prime.
Henley’s ultimate post-Narnia strategy was to avoid being typecast by experimenting with different roles, as she shared in an interview with Varsity. However, she later admitted to WhatsOnStage, "I do find it very difficult to find roles that I as a woman would want to see portrayed — 80 percent of the roles that I read I just go ‘really?’" She added, "I’m lucky that Lucy was a character who was independent, confident and entirely firm in her own convictions. I want to avoid being there as a device, so the lead actor can learn something. I want characters with journeys."
She’s taken on roles behind the camera
When Henley isn’t acting, she likes to keep busy working behind the scenes as a writer or director. The actress first took on these new roles in 2016 with Tide, a short film which focuses on the relationship between a lesbian couple while exploring their daily lives in a small seaside town. In addition to beginning to develop her second short film project in 2018 (via WhatsOnStage), Henley also published her first poem, "Common Ground," through Bind.
"I want to continue acting, but also being given the freedom to write and direct in Cambridge has been amazing and made me realize that it is something I want to pursue," she told Varsity. While noting that "it’s difﬁcult for women to be taken seriously in the industry," Henley added, "You just have to put yourself out there and believe in your work. You have to convey that you have a story and a message, and that’s what I want to do: whether I’m acting, writing or directing, I want to tell stories that wouldn’t otherwise be told."
She’s an outspoken advocate
While Georgie Henley devotes much of her time and energy to acting, writing, and directing, she’s also an activist who advocates for issues close to her heart, including healthcare, poverty, and human rights (via Look to the Stars). The multi-talent is also highly engaged on social media, and she has used popular platforms like Twitter and Instagram to speak out on various social justice issues, to address her own mental health struggles with acceptance and self-esteem, and to even preach online safety after impostors pretended to be her social media.
Henley’s activism has been fueled by the increasingly divisive sociopolitical state of world. "Intolerance. And incompetence," she replied in 2018 when Theatre Weekly asked what makes her angry. "And there’s one man who is the epitome of both those things who is President of the USA." She added, "I get angry about so many things I read in the news. But I think it’s good to be angry. If we stop being angry about what’s going on around us then we normalize those injustices."
She turned to professional theater
Henley made her professional stage debut in the world premiere of Philip Ridley’s play Angry in 2018. "It’s a collection of monologues which focus on different ideas of anger, whether it’s terrorism, or self-loathing masquerading as tough love, or how we normalize violence," she told Theatre Weekly at the time. "Tyrone [Huntley] and I perform all six monologues but we alternate which ones we do in each performance, so it’s fascinating how the same words take on new meanings when interpreted by a man and a woman."
The production itself received mixed reviews, with The Guardian giving it just two stars out of five. However, Henley’s performance was praised by critics. "Henley’s physical control and ability to construct countless individuals feels uncannily effortless," read WhatsOnStage‘s review, "and, for a performer making their professional stage debut, this no doubt bodes well for the future." The experience proved to be transformative for Henley, who gew more confident in her abilities as an actress. As she reflected on Instagram a year later, "I had no theatrical training or professional experience … I’m so grateful to them for believing in me."
Leaving Narnia behind
In 2018, Netflix announced plans to adapt The Chronicles of Narnia into its own film and TV series, according to Deadline. However, it seems very unlikely that Henley will play a role in these projects. "I’m very excited about what’s to come, and I hope to be moving on to new things," she’d previously told Cinema Blend in 2010. "But all good things come to an end. Also Narnia has taught me everything I know about acting, and I wouldn’t be anywhere without it."
Despite moving on from Narnia, Henley has remained close with her on-screen siblings: William Moseley (Peter), Anna Popplewell (Susan), and Skandar Keynes (Edmund). "In terms of keeping in touch, we’re all doing different things but, whenever we can see each other, we do," she told Varsity in 2016. "We spent so much time together that we genuinely are so close. It’s great, I love them so much." Following a Pevensie family reunion in December 2018, Henley playfully captioned side-by-side snapshots of the four together with, "Older! wiser? still blurry."
Looking toward the future
Georgie Henley has clearly grown up a lot since making her on-screen debut in The Chronicles of Narnia in 2005, and she has since remained as busy as ever while balancing her acting, writing, and directorial efforts. At the time of this writing in 2019, she’s been cast in the Starz mini-series The Spanish Princess (via Variety), and she is also set to appear in HBO’s Game of Thrones prequel series, according to The Hollywood Reporter. While Henley has taken to social media to gush over her involvement in both projects, she wrote of the latter, "This still does not feel real and I’ve been waiting for someone to tell me it’s a joke … I’m so unbelievably grateful and excited and terrified and and and !!!!!"
While the world waits for these highly anticipated shows to premiere, Henley herself shows no signs of slowing down. "My entire career at the moment is about wanting to learn more!" she told WhatsOnStage in 2018. "I just want to be this big porous sponge and soak up everything and then ask all the right questions afterwards." It looks like this plan has been working out pretty well for her.