PageToPremiere got to chat with Lily Collins at WonderCon this past weekend, along with Erin from Fangirlish. They talked about what challenged her playing Clary, her favorite part about her character, what makes Jamie perfect for Jace to her, and doing stunts in a mini dress!
What was that like wearing that outfit, first of all?
Well, it’s funny because in the series, I say to Isabelle when she’s giving me this makeover, like, “This is a top,” and she’s like, “It’s a dress.” So already you know that it’s like some crazy skimpy little number, and, so, we did a lot of the fight sequences where I’m in this outfit. And I have like thigh-high leather boots with this mini bandage dress. You can imagine doing stunts, falling on the floor… All that stuff is quite awkward when you have very minimal attire on. But we had one version, apparently, that was longer – but it was like an inch longer – for stunts. It really was not much longer. But everyone kind of acknowledged the fact that it’s hard to move in, so the stunts were somewhat coordinated around the dress in some situations. But it was worth wearing because, you know, it just shows Clary’s transformation from this kind of tomboyish girl to a woman, and then thrust into this situation with six-inch heels, boots, and a little leather dress. It’s kind of… awkward.
What is one thing you admire about your character?
I admire how tenacious she is. She never gives up, even though she’s put in these situations that no normal teenager would ever go through. Not only is she going through kind of, you know, the question of who she likes, who she doesn’t like – normal girl stuff – she’s also conquering these questions of, you know, how am I going to save my mom from all evil? And she’s able to get through it, and she doesn’t give up.
Can you tell us a bit about the training you did for the movie?
It was insane training. I did physical fitness training three months prior to starting and then every day we would train, so even if that meant getting up literally at like 4:30 or 5:00 in the morning before set we’d go train, and then we had stunt coordinating and stunt training and sword fighting, knife fighting, some acrobatics, wire work, fight training – like combat… So it was really gruesomely intensive, but I love that. I started doing stunts on my second film and ever since then it’s been something that I always want to try to do myself. If I can’t do all of it myself, I mean, we have the most amazing stunt department behind us. I really trust them.
The sets were amazing, by the way.
Thanks! Yeah, I know, the Art Department was phenomenal. I mean, their attention to detail, everything about the sets made you feel like you genuinely were part of that world, which is what you hope for.
There wasn’t a lot of controversy about you being cast; of course, there was a lot of controversy about Jamie. When we went to set, he totally convinced me in like five minutes. I told Cassie, because I had said I was one of the biggest advocates against him, and so I told Cassie, I said, “I’m really sorry,” and I wrote him an apology letter.
Oh, you’re the one that sent that apology letter! Oh my god, how funny!
That was me! And I was like, today, I can’t go up there, there is no way! But what makes Jamie Jace to you?
Well I think it was apparent from the second – and I’ve said this – the second he walked in. He’s got this kind of perfect mix of being – or he plays Jace with this perfect mix of being like, a cocky, arrogant, very sarcastic guy, but at the same time not afraid to be vulnerable. So he’s got this mixture of being, you know, the sarcastic, cocky, kind of dude’s dude and being this vulnerable, sensitive guy who does open up and does allow someone else to help him while being this guy that wants to help. So he really had this kind of marriage of these two qualities about Jace within him anyway. He never had to just try. He never had to act. It’s just, he brought those qualities to screen by just really being natural about it, and he was so gung ho about doing his own stunts and like, the flip… You know, the flip that he does in the movie was really him doing it, and he was just really dedicated.
That was really him? I didn’t know that.
Yeah, the flip in the trailer, I think. In the teaser. That’s him doing it. We were watching and he just jumped and flipped… I mean, he wanted to do it. So his dedication to the role is, like, off the charts.
I always ask this when we do interviews, and our next one-on-one is with Kevin [Zegers]. What should we ask Kevin?
I love Kevin! What should you ask Kevin… What was it like working with Godfrey Gao? And what kind of fun did we get up to off set when we were all joking around? Because he was a jokester.
Did you get to work with Godfrey? What was it like working with him?
Yeah, no, it was really fun. I mean, Magnus is such an amazing character and he is wild and wacky. Godfrey came in for like two or three days and I don’t know how he just fit everything in. But it was fun to work with him because, obviously, we have a weird relationship in that I don’t know that I’ve known him all my life and he knows, and he’s trying to tell me things but not be so obvious about it. I’ve got a block on my mind, you know… So there’s all these kind of like factors going into our relationship, but for the scenes that we had together it was really fun to kind of play around with him. His sets were so crazy and like his bachelor pad with these weird-looking girls running around, you know. It just was like all these creatures and stuff, so it was always fun to shoot.
What do you think was the most challenging part about playing Clary?
Well, she’s constantly thrown into these situations, like, what to me felt like every five minutes during filming, of what’s going on, what do you mean that’s not true, what’s happening? There are so many whats and whys in her storyline. Having to be able to play each new what or why in a different way instead of being deer in the headlights the whole movie, it had to be kind of figuring out where each one was coming from: was it confusion, anger, sadness, nervousness… You know, whatever it was, trying to make it different so that it didn’t appear like she was a constant victim, because Clary is not a constant victim. She really, you know, pursues her quest of finding her mom and she never lets things deter her, but she’s also a normal girl going through a crazy situation, so I wanted to make her as real as possible, but also not, like I keep saying, making her this kind of “Oh, poor me” situation because that’s not her at all.
If you were to get a tattoo of one of the runes, what rune would you pick and why?
I quite like this one that’s “gift” – that stands for “gift” – and I think that just the way that it’s drawn is really beautiful, but also I love the idea that if you’re gonna tattoo yourself, it’s a gift to yourself, and it’s like every time you look down at it you just remember that your talents and things that you’re given in life, that you get to do, are really a gift and not take advantage of it, to appreciate every day.
With Cassie on set, did she give you guys a lot of advice?
What was interesting is that she… You know, when I expected a writer to come on set for a franchise like this, I thought there would be more kind of pitching in and saying, like, “Oh, you’re doing that wrong!” Or, “Do this!” But Cassie was so in awe of her books being brought to life that she really, like, respected the process of turning book into film. Because that’s really hard, when you have to edit or you have to… You pick and choose what you can have in an hour and a half to two hour film, right? Because she’s got a huge book. She was really supportive of us and really encouraging of the chances we were taking and the choices we were making. Advice-wise, it was less about, “You should do this” or “Be doing this better,” or, like, along those lines. It was more, “Keep at what you’re doing. I’m so proud of you. I’m really excited.” So it was more like words of encouragement, and she just respected us as actors taking on her character as opposed to, “You must do it this way,” which was really great because the encouragement was there, but it wasn’t like she was trying to change us.
What do you think is the difference between Jamie and Jace? Like, what are the biggest differences? Because it seems like he is Jace when you meet him.
Right. I think Jamie has more humor to him than Jace does. Jace is funny, but all of Jace’s comedy really is quite sarcastic, and even though Jamie can have a sarcastic sense of humor, he’s also just, like, a funny person, and he’s also very light-hearted at times, and there’s really not much about Jace that’s light-hearted. He’s very down to business and, like, intense. Jamie can bring that, and there is obviously elements of that to him, but he’s also just like a fun, like, lively person, too.