Childhood for Lily Collins was a combination of the English countryside and Beverly Hills, so to say that life was quite a bit fairy tale-like would be no stretch of the imagination. But Lily’s upbringing in the throws of pleasantness and luxury didn’t stop her from pushing even harder towards her dreams, which sometimes means not taking no for an answer. “Never take “no” as a “no this isn’t for you,” Collins explains. “Take it as a “no, not right now.” I was told “no” so many times when I was just starting and it just made the first “yes” that I got so much better. Your passion will help keep you going—and as long as you truly love what you do, and believe in yourself, there’s no stopping you.” Read on for even more sound advice from Collins—for CR’s fourth fairy tale-themed issue, the actress gives us insight into her charmed life and why she’s so grateful to be living out her dreams.
Do you remember reading the story of Thumbelina from when you were a child?
“I remember being read the child-friendly adaptation of Thumbelina and watching the animated film when I was little. It’s definitely a good thing to have only been aware of that rendition seeing as how the fairy tale’s original depiction is incredibly dark and quite disturbing. All I knew was that she met her prince, befriended a mouse, traveled on a lily pad, and was given wings. To me, she was pretty lucky!”
What was your favorite part about the story?
“My favorite part of the version I that remember from when I was a child was that even though Thumbelina was such a tiny girl, she had an incredibly huge heart and determination to be reunited with her prince. In the end of her adventure to find him, she was rewarded with wings and became a fairy. I had always loved pretending there were fairies like Thumbelina in my garden in the English countryside. I also loved the idea that she lived outdoors and everything appeared so much bigger and grander to her because she was so small. She traveled by lily pad across rivers and streams and flew on the backs of bugs and birds!”
How do you relate to the character, Thumbelina?
“Thumbelina may have been a tiny girl, but she didn’t let her size stand in her way. I like to think that, in a way, I’m small but mighty too. She was born from a seed and grew into a young woman just as a flower would blossom. Seeing as how my name is that of a flower, I also feel a connection to the idea of blooming into a young woman. I even have a tattoo on my foot which says, ‘The nature of this flower is to bloom.’”
Can you describe your experience on set of this shoot for CR?
“I was completely in love with the concept of reinterpreting a fairytale and I had shot at the Paramour House before. It’s such an incredible location and it fit perfectly with the whimsical, yet dark, nature of the story. The clothes were extremely beautiful and delicate—and they depicted such an imaginative modern translation. Shooting with Paul [Jasmin] is always fun! I didn’t know how they’d equate me to a girl the size of a thumb, but I loved his idea of having me sit in this massive chair because it really made me appear smaller and out of place, just like Thumeblina would.”
Which other fairy tales did you relate to as a child?
“I’ve always loved Aladdin growing up because of how exotic and otherworldly the tale seemed. I knew all of the words to all of the songs and would play the singalong tape in the car over and over again. I wanted to be Princess Jasmine so badly with her turquoise outfit, long beautiful hair, and pet tiger. Plus, riding on a magic carpet with the man of your dreams and a genie would have been a major bonus.”
How do you view the fairy tales that you read as a child differently now that you’re able to fully understand their meaning?
“Even as a child, I’ve always found myself interested in the darker side of fairy tales, but I didn’t come to fully understand just how dark they truly are until I was older. I remember buying a book about the real origins of fairy tales and it shocked me to know all of the double meanings hidden in stories that I thought I knew so well. I reread a lot of them recently because of my younger brothers and they came alive in a whole new way, given my adult perspective. Even though I’m now aware of the tales’ depth and darkness, I still find the fun in reading them and watching the film adaptations through my little brothers’ eyes, who are unaware of anything other than the hope and happiness they see.”
What is your favorite memory of fashion?
“I remember going into a store with my mom in Dublin when I was four or five years old and spotting this amazing pink furry coat with a hood. I thought it was the most incredible thing ever and when we bought it they had to lift me over the register to scan the price tag because I refused to take it off.”
How would you describe your personal style?
“I grew up adoring fashion and admiring designers because my mom introduced me to so many different styles of clothing and always let me express myself through my outfits— no matter how wacky and crazy they were. Because of her influence, I have an incredible respect for vintage, classic as well as modern design. I like to look put-together while also being comfortable. I think of my style as slightly more European, having grown up in England. London is so innovative and forward thinking when it comes to fashion. I love mixing vintage pieces with new, but always maintaining a classic chicness: classic and chic, yet fresh and young. For me, red carpet fashion is all about taking risks while staying true to my own aesthetic. Wear your clothes. Don’t let clothes wear you.”
Do you think that there’s any way that your real life resembles a fairy tale?
“I feel so lucky every single day to be able to do what I love for a living. It feels like it has all happened so quickly and sometimes it all seems too good to be true, but I remind myself constantly of how fortunate I am and to take every day at a time. Being able to dress up in absolutely stunning outfits and attend events I would never have dreamed of sometimes feels like its straight out of the pages of one of the stories I grew up reading. I’m incredibly appreciative of it all.”
What is the most interesting thing about you?
“I have a huge passion for baking and experimenting with all kinds of recipes. Sometimes you’ll just find me in my kitchen with my apron on and ingredients everywhere. If it starts with a mess, but ends up tasting good, then that’s all that matters!”
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
“I’d love to be continuing to challenge myself in work and doing projects that push me in new and exciting ways, whether with acting, producing, writing, or directing, as well as have a family of my own. I’ve worked with some of the most talented and inspiring women who are first and foremost mothers, so I hope one day I too can share what I love with the ones I love.”
Can you tell us what you’ve been working on this year and if you have any projects on the horizon?
“I have a film called “Love, Rosie” coming out, which is based on the book Where Rainbows End by Cecelia Ahern—and I’m currently shooting Warren Beatty’s film in Los Angeles.”