Lily Collins walks towards me with her arms open, ready to wrap me in the type of hug usually reserved for someone that she didn’t just meet at a post-movie cocktail ‘do the evening prior after a publicist made introductions. But Collins is actually that warm, unpretentious and available, equally comfortable in the spotlight, in conversation—and her skin.
In Toronto recently to promote her period drama-romance Rules Don’t Apply—starring, written and directed by Hollywood legend and charm machine Warren Beatty, and co-starring Alden Ehrenreich, a.k.a. the new Han Solo—Collins sat down for a tipple (okay, a green juice sans booze) to talk about her love of vintage Hollywood, writing a memoir at 27 and her ever-evolving style.
The movie takes place in the ’50s in L.A.—you’ve mentioned that you have a special fondness for that era. Where does that come from?
“My mom raised me on watching old films. She was born and raised in Los Angeles and loved Old Hollywood, so it was very much a part of her growing up. My grandmother, my mom’s mom, was a really famous ballerina in the ’50s so I got to experience film in a way most young people don’t and I got to experience that really early on. When I moved to L.A. when I was five, I continued watching old movies and then chose to watch them. It was like, ‘This is my dream, like, let me wear all the costumes!'”
The fashion in this movie is pretty spectacular. Did you like the costumes?
“Every character that I play and every movie that I do, I feel like I adapt and take from it a little bit of the look; when I did Mortal Instruments, I started wearing a bit more leather and being sexy in a different way and then doing Mirror, Mirror, it was princess-y dresses and a bit more glamourous. With this one, there is this old-school, demure quality, but there’s a way to funk it up and freshen it to be more 2016.”
This is Warren Beatty’s first movie in 18 years. Were you nervous about working with him?
“At the beginning, I was totally intimidated. I didn’t know what to expect, but he’s so charming, it’s impossible not to feel comfortable around him. It disarms you right away and it allows you to really experience the man that’s there. He’s so lovely and so warm and he’s become a mentor. He’s first and foremost this amazing dad and his wife, Annette Bening, is an amazing mother. He constantly surprised me and he continues to be a real sounding-board. I feel very lucky that I can just call him up and ask his opinion on anything.”
Your romantic interest in Rules Don’t Apply is Alden Ehrenreich, who will be leading the new Star Wars spin-off as Han Solo.
“We didn’t know at the time! We shot it two-and-a-half years ago. But I knew. This guy, Alden, he’s unlike a lot of guys out there. He’s so old-school and he’s got such a depth to him, yet at the same time, he can be so funny and goofy, and that’s rare. I could not be happier for him. He’s gonna kill it.”
Your book Unfiltered: No Shame, No Regrets, Just Me comes out in March of next year. Why write a memoir? And how did you find time between movies?!
“I came up with the concept about a year-and-a-half ago; I was in a quiet period of work and I was using that space as a self-reflective discovery period. I love writing and social media has been a place where I’ve learned a lot about myself through other girls telling their stories and I thought if they can be brave enough to put pictures of themselves next to these intensely personal stories, why can’t I do the same thing? Hollywood is seen as a place that’s untouchable a lot of the time and that’s so far from the truth.”
Are you at all concerned that as a public figure, you’re sacrificing your privacy by sharing personal stories?
“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done but I always wanted to be able to say, when I finished it, I did it from front cover to back cover, 100 per cent on my own. I wrote every single word. I’m only 27 so I’ve only learned these few things now. It will only grow. I’ve never had a problem putting myself in embarrassing situations to create a conversation with other people so that’s not any different in my writing. It’s also terrifying. But the great thing is that I am revealing all these things in my own words so I will forever be able to say that I controlled how it got out there. There’s not any stone left unturned in this; I really put it all out there.”