Lily at a Chanel pre-Oscars dinner
Lily at a Chanel pre-Oscars dinner. Pic: Filmmagic

Lily Collins’ credentials read like something out of the movies. Famous dad? Check (take a bow, Phil Collins). Role in an Oscar-winning movie? Check (she was Sandra Bullock’s daughter in The Blind Side). Romance with a hot celeb boy? Done and done (step right up, Taylor Lautner)! You’d almost want to hate her if she wasn’t so, well, lovely!

When GF hung out with the star in LA, we discovered that she’s funny and smart, too. And did we mention she’s about to play a kick-ass Snow White opposite Julia Roberts’ Evil Queen in Mirror Mirror? There’s just so much to love about Lily!

What was it like playing a character as famous as Snow White? Did you feel there was a lot of pressure on you to get it just right?

I get nervous before any role, let alone one that everyone is aware of! To play such an iconic character feels surreal, but we modernised her from a fairytale princess to this fighter – a new aspect of Snow White. You’re watching what a real girl would be like in fantastic situations.

Lily Collins and Armie Hammer
With Armie Hammer, Mirror Mirror premiere after party. Pic: Getty

Tell us about Armie Hammer as the gorgeous Prince Charming!

He’s the perfect Prince Charming: goofy and adventure-driven, as well as this regal, sophisticated, dapper gentleman – you love him right away.

The costumes look amazing. What was it like to wear such beautiful clothes?

The first time I had a fitting, I started tearing up! I felt like a princess. My favourite was the blue and orange costume, with the crown and the short hair, in the big song-and-dance number. All the dresses took 25 minutes to get into – they had corsets, were massive and heavy, and I had to sword-fight, run and dance in them… but I loved wearing them!

You do have a lot of action scenes…

I trained for four months in fencing and mixed martial arts. I got bruises, bumps, scratches… nothing bad, but enough to go, “Wow! This is hard”. One day, I was supposed to hit a tree branch running through the woods – I black out and the dwarves find me – but instead of hitting the tree, I ran past it and into the camera!

Taylor Lautner is a GF fave – what was it like working with him?

It was amazing! Abduction was very action-oriented, and that’s his thing – he can do a backflip while standing! He’s super-funny, very cool and it was a blast.

How do you deal with the focus on your private life and the media scrutiny?

I haven’t experienced crazy paparazzi, but it is weird when I turn up on a website and I’m going, “Why do they care that I’m leaving that restaurant?”, but I’m still able to live my life and do normal things. There are stories about the Twilight cast I’ve heard that I can’t imagine happening [to me] – I don’t think there are any mums with my face tattooed on them… I think I’m safe!

Tell us about The Mortal Instruments movie adaptation.

I love the books. I wasn’t aware they have so many fans. The second I was cast, everyone was crazed with the news – so many people tweeted about it! Right now, they are doing rewrites on the script because we want to make sure we do it right.

Lily on...

Her luscious, thick hair:
I had to be a redhead for a movie. To take the red out, I had to get it dyed six times, so my hair was dry and a weird colour. Then, for Snow White, the stylist cut six inches off, which gave it more body, and added Moroccanoil to make it healthy. Now I literally shower and let it air dry!

Her amazing eyebrows:

They are my “thing” and I don’t want to mess with them. I’m afraid of waxing, and threading freaks me out; it petrifies me that they might pull off stuff that needs to stay. So I have gone to the same woman for 12 years and she plucks my eyebrows. It may take a long time, but at least it’s very specific.

We hear you had great chemistry with Jamie Campbell-Bower during the audition. What’s he like as Jace?
He stole the show when he walked in; he was amazing and so confident – the perfect mix of the characteristics of Jace. When he left, I was like, “Guys, that was him!”.

How old were you when you first started acting?
I was two and did a TV show in England. Then I did stage theatre when I moved to LA.

You’ve done magazine writing in the past – would you come and work for Girlfriend in Australia?
I would love it! I love writing. I write a journal entry every day, so you never know…

Is it true that you once threw a phone at Prince Charles?
Yes – it was a phone-shaped toy. I was playing with it, then I threw it at him! I was only two. My mum told me he looked at me and said, “People have gone to the Tower for less!”.

Do you have any quirky obsessions?

I love vintage shopping and – this is weird – I like taking old pieces of machinery and making it into art, like tables made out of cogwheels. It’s kind of quirky.

How do you make yourself cry during an emotional scene?
I listen to music – songs I attach memories to. I make a playlist, listen, and start crying. It’s weird, but it works!

You’ve studied broadcast journalism at USC, why did you want to study rather than just pursue acting?

When I started professionally auditioning at 15, I got told, “No”, a lot, I had to keep trying like everyone else. But meanwhile, I wanted to be doing something outside of that, so I thought, “I will continue doing the acting thing, but I want to learn more about journalism.”

Is it good to have the student experience?
Yes. I was never home-schooled and my best friends are from high school: one is working in the White House – I’m so proud of him! – another is in Spain, one is in New York. We are all doing our own thing, they are not in the entertainment business, so when we get together, we talk and it’s normal.

What’s been your favourite role, so far?

Snow White. I feel so connected to the character, and I look back on those months filming and living in Montreal as a life experience, as me growing up.

What do you do in your downtime? What experiences did you have in Montreal, for instance?
I’m obsessed with my camera and I went around taking hundreds of photos, from architecture to people. I went to concerts, and Cirque Du Soleil; I had friends come out, we went exploring, we went to flea markets. It was an adventure.

What’s the worst Phil Collins joke you’ve ever heard?

That’s so funny! I don’t hear many jokes about my dad. Sometimes magazines write an article and the title will be a lyric from his songs, like, “Little did she know there was something in the air tonight.” It’s kind of cringe-y.

What is the craziest thing you’ve ever done as an actor?

Fly off a train, on a wire, in 70-mile-an-hour winds, with blood all over me. That was pretty crazy. I screamed my head off.

Do you enjoy playing kick-ass women, like in Snow White?

I do. There are few roles with strong females, and to take one and show young girls you can be like that in different ways is cool.

How do you make yourself cry during an emotional scene?
I listen to music. Any songs I attach memories to, I make a playlist and listen and start crying. It’s weird.

Do you have a dream co-star you’d like to work with?

Meryl Streep because she’s fantastic, she would push me and I want to be challenged; Kate Winslet, because when she is extremely emotional, I can’t take my eyes off her; and Johnny Depp because he’s Johnny Depp! To share the screen with him would be beyond a dream.

Finally, have you been to Australia?

I have, the last time was New Year’s, 1999. I remember the Harbour and fireworks – it was gorgeous – but I haven’t been back since, so I want to visit soon!

Interview - Sarah May

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