TL LOS ANGELES - Lily James thinks filming on location is a 'gift'.

The former 'Downton Abbey' star spent a lot of time on the island of Vis, just off Croatia, while shooting 'Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again' and found being away from home helped her forge a close bond with her co-stars.

She said: ''When you are shooting on location, it's a gift because you don't go home at the end of work and rtetreat - you're all going to go for dinners together and getting to spent time with people and you really become a family.

''There were many similarities to 'Downton Abbey', in that there was a young cast surrounded by these legends, who we were able to learn from and spend time with, just as people. ''And that's unique fun - especially when you get to do it on an island in the middle of the Adriatic Sea.''

Lily was also pleased to have her boyfriend Matt Smith visit her during the shoot and admitted she and the 'Crown' star always do whatever they can to see one another and treasure their ''precious'' time together.

She said: ''If you're both busy, you have to be inventive with time and be prepared to travel a logn way just to see each other.

''For us in particular, because we both travel so much for work, we have to be precious about the time we spend together.''

The 29-year-old actress admitted it can be ''hard'' for them to get time for one another, but she knows no relationship is easy and she thinks theirs is going well anyway.

She added: ''It's hard sometimes, but there are things in any relationship that are hard.

''To make a relationship work, you need patience and understanding, which I do hope we have. It's going well, anyway.''