‘Mirror Mirror’ star Lily Collins is an inspiration to women, both young and old(er).
Lily Collins sat down with us (the fabulous group of mom bloggers pictured here!) to chat about her new film ‘Mirror Mirror’. Lily’s interview was so great that I decided to break it up into two parts. The lovely Lily talked with us about her close relationship with her mom, why she wants to be a journalist, what she says to those who find nothing better to talk about than her eyebrows, and so much more! Lily’s wisdom and advice about self-confidence and self-worth is priceless and is something we can all learn from, no matter our age or gender!
How was the experience, when you found out you were going to be Snow White?
Lily Collins: “When I found out that I got the role, I thought it was an April Fools joke, because it was on April 1st. I was in a hotel in San Francisco, I had auditioned the day before, met Tarsem (director) that same night, flew to San Francisco to do WonderCon, and I had just got off the plane and I got the phone call. I thought to myself, “this is too fast, too weird. It’s April Fools.” When I found out it wasn’t a joke, I screamed and I started crying and laughing at the same time. They were horrific tears, laughter, and screaming combined. I couldn’t believe it. It’s definitely bizarre seeing your face on a bus or billboard.”
You were interested in broadcasting originally?
Lily Collins: “Yes. I started out acting when I was two. And when it was around 15 or 16, I started pursuing acting professionally. I got told ‘no’ so many times. People told me I was too green or wasn’t as seasoned yet, so as I was pursing acting, I also wanted to get more practice, whether it was journalism, on-air time, producing, learning about editing, anything — because I really love the whole big picture of this business. All of the behind-the-scenes work as well as the on-camera is fascinating. So I started writing, and I wanted to take it on-air. Broadcast seemed to be the perfect step from writing I started doing journalism for Nickelodeon, Extra, E, various networks. It was fun & interesting because I was interviewing the very actors I wanted to work with. And then, I was interviewing people that I had worked with. And it was like, “Whoa.” Where does there become a point where it kind of starts to be these two worlds colliding in a way that is a little bizarre?
It was around that time that I made the conscious decision to really focus on acting. Also, you should know the conscious decision came when I was finally told yes! When The Blind Side happened. I felt really fortunate be a part such a great project. But, that’s not to say journalism is out of the picture, it is something I’ve always loved and I write every night. I have a journal – where I type on a computer. It’s about 400-500 pages now, I’ll have my memoir one day (laughter). My writing has been helpful – because my way of going about character traits, seeing people that I want to emulate in a character — is when I use my journalistic skills. I’m genuinely curious and interested. I love being social and meeting people, and I ask tons of questions and I always carry a notebook around. So, it’s as if I get to be that journalist even without calling myself a journalist, because that’s never going to go away. Maybe, I’ll go back and explore that some more one day.”
Speaking from your background as a journalist, you’ve interviewed a lot of people. What’s the one question you would love somebody to have asked you?
Lily Collins: “That’s a good one. I have no idea. That’s exactly (when I was doing on-air work) what I wanted to do — ask people questions that they never get asked, because everyone wants to know about the gossip, because I hated the gossip. I love that you asked that, because that was always my angle. “What makes you tick? what’s the most important thing to you,” or like, “What from your childhood is the best memory,” you know, not necessarily the typical gossip, “Who are you dating?””
“I’ll never forget, I was working as a correspondent for the Young Hollywood Awards the year I won an award, but also was covering the red carpet beforehand. The network I was working with wanted me to ask all my peers about this scandalous photo shoot that had just come out about someone our age. I just felt strongly that we were in a positive environment — Why would I then talk badly about one of my peers and ask them what they thought about this situation? It was not what I was there to do. And the network said, “Well, then you’re not going to be doing this.” I said, “All right, fine. I don’t need to do it.” I wanted to do the on-air work it because it was fun and I enjoyed (and wanted) to show a positive side of it. However, the second you start asking the ‘gossipy’ questions to certain people, they’re not going to necessarily see you as that person that they want to talk to. And so from a young age, I just felt strongly that, “I’m not going to avidly pursue that angle.”
Is there something that people would be surprised to learn about you?
Lily Collins: “I’m a good water skier! I’ve been water skiing since I was four and a half. I love it. Lake Geneva, I would go with my dad. We’d go on a boat, and he taught me how to water ski. And so, since then, I love water. I’m a Pisces so its natural that I love swimming and everything about water. I haven’t water skied in quite a long time, and that is definitely something I never really talk about in interviews.”
Lily’s initial thoughts after reading the script and wanting to spread a positive message to young girls on body image and self confidence:
Lily Collins: “Well, the script changed so many times from the initial version I read to the very last draft. Every day pages were changing up until the last day of filming. One thing that stayed the same throughout was that Snow really had this amazing character arc of going from a young fairytale princess that you think you know — who’s almost void of personality. She is wide-eyed, innocent, and almost, in a sense, a caricature of a fairytale princess. But as you go on, Snow ends up evolving as she becomes this fighter, emotionally and physically, into a young woman who is someone that I hoped young girls would say, “That’s a friend of mine.”
And that idea that the prince doesn’t need to save the princess in the end was there from the beginning. And I thought that was cool. Don’t get me wrong, I love all the animated versions of fairytales. As a kid, I’d watch them over and over again. I knew every word, all the songs. I’m the kid that made my parents rewind every night. And so, when you have something that amazing that kids love and have loved for so many years, when you go to remake something, you think, “Well, there’s got to be some sort of element that we can add so that the new generation will hopefully react in a similar way.
That sense of female empowerment and confidence and self-esteem is something that I have always been a big advocate of promoting in young girls, and teen confidence among girls and boys but especially with young girls, and body image. And the story is the fairest of them all. And the price and the queen talk about her beauty, or the queen’s lack of beauty, or we agree to disagree kind of thing. But, Snow is never aware of her own beauty. She isn’t looking in a mirror and saying, “I can make this happen because I’m pretty.” She learns from the dwarves about self-confidence. And once you accept yourself and accept spontaneity in the world, you can then pursue things because you’re more aware of your surroundings and more confident within yourself.
I think the fact that she is so unaware of how she looks, but she finds it within herself to love herself regardless, that’s the core of self-esteem and confidence building for young girls. So, I saw that the script had potential. I thought, ‘I would love to be a part of something that gives a message like that to young girls.’
Snow White goes on this journey and she finds her place in the world. Have you found your place in the world? And who or what has helped you do that?
Lily Collins: “It became this life experience for me. This is the biggest film that I’ve done to date. It was the most I’d worked and trained and the most into a project I have immersed myself. And I walked into it wide-eyed, not sure what was going to happen, nervous, excited, just very kind of unaware. And that’s how she is at the beginning of the story. And throughout the process, I was sword fight training and fencing. And I was there on my own in an apartment, kind of making my way around and finding my place in Montreal, and being pushed and lack of sleep and just really learning how I cope in situations, and fighting to make the scenes the best that they could be, and proving myself to everybody and to myself.
I truly felt that when I left there, I left this new young woman who felt like she had just accomplished something. And the fact that people believed in me enough, like the dwarves believed in Snow, just push yourself, you have nothing to lose. They say no, they say no. That kind of really taught me a lot along the way. When I finished it and now I’m seeing the movie back. And people are seeing it and they’re telling me what they thought, it’s the weirdest thing, because I left there feeling like her and I were almost one and that I had learned so much about myself.
But, if I was to name a person that has helped me become who I am today, my mom. My mom and I are best friends. And there’s never been a topic that’s too awkward or too weird to talk about. She’s always made me feel really, really comfortable. And we share clothes. We go shopping together. I send her my scripts. We just communicate on pretty much everything. Without her there telling me that it’s okay to fail, it’s okay to try new things or you have the potential to do things above and beyond yourself that you don’t even know, that has truly propelled me kind of forward. “
How was it working with Julia Roberts? She’s an amazing actor. Did you learn anything from her, did it affect your confidence while you were shooting at all?
Lily Collins: “Yes, definitely. Our scenes together were interesting. The first scene I shot with Julia was where I’m yelling at her throne and she pulls my hair. And the shot that they used, she really did pull my hair. When I leaned in and she pulled, it actually pulled some of my hair out.
But, it was like, “It’s okay. It’s okay.” In my head I’m going, “My first hair pull. It’s okay. It’s Julia Roberts.” “I’m going to maintain composure. I’m not going to laugh because they’re not going to be able to cut.” And they used that take.
Afterwards the moment they yelled cut, Julia was apologizing and asking, “Are you okay?” She’d be mean to me on camera, in character, and the moment they yelled cut, she’s back to being this mom who is so lovely and able to switch in and out.
And her kids were on set were almost all the time with her. And first and foremost on set, she was a mother. And she didn’t want her kids seeing her being mean to me, because she didn’t want that to taint their vision of her. Whatever it was, the most important thing is that she’s a mom. And I really respected that about her, even in a work environment. “
Lily talks about working with the biggest names in Hollywood – Sandra Bullock, Julia Roberts, Julianne Moore, and Jennifer Connelly:
Lily Collins: ” Yes. I don’t know what that trend is for me. I know. It’s crazy. I feel so fortunate that all these women that I truly grew up watching and going, “This is why I want to act,” these are women that have made amazing choices. And, they’ve always gone outside of the box from their last project. You never can really pigeonhole them, because they do something unexpected all of a sudden. When Sandy did The Blind Side, it was just, “Whoa,” like a wow moment.
And to be able to just watch them treat the crew and the cast members the same, and the fact that Julianne, I think she brought some ice cream truck to set for everyone to have at 2:00 in the morning, and you’re going, “You’re cool.” Just to see these women, how they interact with everyone, as well as seeing the work that they do, they’re just amazing women and they’re amazing role models.
And so, to be able to even be in a couple scenes with one of them every once in a while on a movie makes me feel so lucky, because it’s also taught me a lot. When I was shooting with Julia, I had these moments where, like with the hair pull, she’s talking to me and she’s being mean. And inside, all I’m doing is screaming, “This is happening. This is happening.” But, I have to mask it because I’m in a scene. This is my job. I have to be professional. And so, it taught me a lot about how to really stay in the moment and kind of try to block everything else out, because your job is to be here and to do this scene and to be feeling this emotion and to not be thinking about other kind of influences outside.
To be with people that I love so much and admire and have to just mask how insane and exciting it is taught me a lot about poker face, because I don’t have a really good poker face. So, I had to really kind of gain one.”
What advice would you give to young girls about embracing both inward and outward beauty, and just that inner confidence?
Lily Collins:”Well, I think physically speaking, and they’ve become such a topic of conversation, my eyebrows. It’s so funny. When I was younger, when I moved from England to LA, it was this beachy look and everyone had thin eyebrows. And it was blond and very different than where I’d come from in the countryside in England. And so, I felt pretty self-conscious, because kids would comment about my eyebrows. I tried plucking them myself, which was really bad. But, then I started to be think, “You know what? Actually, they’re kind of quirky and they’re different.” And I idolized Audrey Hepburn and all these old movie stars who had that look, a very different look, but it was their own and no one was telling them to change it. I mean, they were classic. And I thought, “Well, there’s really no point. That’s me. I don’t want to look like everyone else.” Yes, I like this and I’m going to work with it. And I started to embrace kind of the quirky things that make you different are what make you beautiful.
All my best friends always had quirky kind of aspects to them, or they had a mole that they didn’t like but I thought, “No, that’s your thing,”. Or, their hair quirked in a weird way, but I thought, “No, no, people pay money to do that,”. People with curly hair say, “I want straight hair.” Or, straight hair, “I want curly hair.” I used to straighten my hair every day. And I thought, “Why am I doing this, waking up so much earlier for school?” There’s no point, because in the end when you accept yourself for who you are and you work with what you’ve got, you couldn’t be more beautiful because you’re confident and everyone notices. Even if you feel like you look what you’re supposed to look like but you don’t feel it inside, you’re going to have the slumped shoulders and you’re going to be sitting there not smiling. But, when you truly feel like, “Hey, this is the best I can be because this is me,” you smile and you attract people because of the energy you’re giving off. And it’s all about believing in yourself.
And that’s way the dance number was so big for me, because it was just, “I don’t care what anyone thinks. I’m just going to sing and dance.” And as an experience, that was such a beautiful thing for me, because it is all about feeling good inside. And no one can tell you how you feel. “
“Mirror Mirror” hits theaters March 30th! Stayed tuned in the next two weeks as we bring you the second half of our interview with Lily and also our chat with Prince
Charming Alcott himself, Armie Hammer!
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Photo courtesy of Relativity