With her porcelain skin, cascade of red hair, and impossibly wide blue eyes, Lily Cole is often mentioned in connection with her otherworldly beauty. In Mary Harron’s vampire film The Moth Diaries, she takes otherworldly to a terrifying new level: the model-turned-actress plays Ernessa, a gothic-looking and eerily intense new student at an all-girls boarding school in the countryside. Rebecca (Sarah Bolger), initially just jealous of Ernessa’s instantaneous bond with her own best friend, Lucy (Sarah Gadon), becomes uneasy after Lucy starts to grow weaker and weaker. After bizarre and horrific events become an almost daily occurrence on campus, Rebecca starts to suspect that Ernessa might be behind them – and might not even be human. Cole sat down with FLARE to chat about vampire metaphors (she studied art history at Cambridge), her off-set style, and playing a bloodsucking character creepy enough to rival the Volturi.
FLARE: Were you a fan of vampire movies before agreeing to star in one?
Lily Cole: It’s not something that I was ever drawn to previously, but I watched Nosferatu and read Bram Stoker’s Dracula when we started doing this film. I became increasingly fascinated by the concept of the vampire as a metaphor. One of the most interesting things about The Moth Diaries is its use of vampires to explore teenage relationships, and particularly girls’ friendships – the jealousy and possessiveness, obsession and ownership. I know from my own experience of school that before you have proper love relationships to get a bit crazy over, you get crazy over your friendships in a strange way.
FLARE: Did you draw on any past horror heroines to play Ernessa?
LC: Not really – I wanted her to be a real person, and to find out how I could relate to her. So I was actually quite surprised by how dark and creepy she turned out to be, when you watch it externally.
FLARE: What do you wear when you’re not dressed like a vampire?
LC: The dress I have on now is Alexander McQueen, and you can just see that attention has been put into all the details. I’m crazy for Chanel. I think a lot of Stella McCartney’s stuff is really beautiful, and I like that she’s an animal advocate – I like it when designers try to take some kind of ethical stance, beyond just how their clothes look.
FLARE: Was getting into acting a conscious decision, or a stroke of luck?
LC: A bit of both, for sure. I got asked by Marilyn Manson to make a film when I was 16, and went to an acting workshop in New York to prepare. I remember coming out of it just buzzing, feeling so alive, and thinking, “I love this, I want to do this.” I just graduated from Cambridge in June, so we’ll see what I can do from here.
The Moth Diaries is playing now in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.