The term "It-Girl" is overused by media types like us. It should be saved for special cases – like that of Lily Collins.
Daughter of pop icon Phil, the 22-year-old was -- until very recently -- heading toward a career as, well, a media type like us, studying broadcast journalism at USC. Then the acting bug bit, and Collins won her first movie role, playing daughter to Oscar-winner Sandra Bullock in 2009's surprise hit "The Blind Side."
She's since played niece to Paul Bettany's badass man of cloth in "Priest" and love interest to Taylor Lautner in the actioner "Abduction."
Now she's the Friend of Dwarves herself, Snow White, in "Mirror Mirror" (opposite Julia Roberts' Evil Queen) and will soon be headlining the eagerly anticipated "Mortal Instruments" (as YA heroine Clary Fray), among a slew of other projects.
What was your very first acting gig?
When I was 2, I did a TV show in England called "Growing Pains" [on BBC, not the American version with Kirk Cameron].
Do you remember it?
I do. I remember being on set and I remember one day, specifically, they had just given me a new wardrobe. And then they put all this fake throw-up on me. And I remember just breaking down and crying because I had no idea what they were doing, they were just splattering it on me, tormenting me. That technically was my first job. But then movie-wise it was "The Blind Side."
How did having a father as an entertainer prepare you for Hollywood?
I grew up knowing the pros and cons of the business, and knowing what comes with pursuing what you love, in terms of being in the public eye. I also grew up among people that were considered celebrities and people that people admired. So yes, I admire those people for what they do but I see them as human beings first… They were normal people that you just respected.
Who are some of your acting inspirations?
I love Anne Hathaway. Meryl Streep. I love Helena Bonham Carter because every character that she portrays, she's just something completely different. And she has that quirky factor that she just owns. Sandra Bullock, who I had the pleasure and honor of working with on my first film. And Julia Roberts ... my co-star [in "Snow White"]. And Audrey Hepburn is my ultimate. My classic idol.
What would you be doing if you weren't acting?
I've always loved fashion design. I love drawing and creating looks and styling. Something creative. I'm a huge writer. I used to interview, and do stuff on-air, so possibly writing and interviewing.
Mac or PC?
Rock or rap?
"Potter" or "Twilight?"
I live in the "Harry Potter" world in my head – that's why I'm so excited to be doing a fantasy. I've grown up being obsessed by "Harry Potter." But I also love "Twilight." So it's a toss-up. But being British, probably "Harry Potter."
New York or L.A.?
Twitter or Facebook?
Bieber or Timberlake?
Are you recognized on the street yet?
No, but then every once in a while I'll have that one moment. Like I was walking down the street yesterday and all the sudden this girl stares at me and continues to stare and goes "That's the girl!" It's a weird thing for me because I've been doing this quite a short time.
Even when you said I was [a "Next Factor"], I still find that weird. Even if someone just knows my name, I'm like, thank you so much! So that's yet to come.
Soon, we think, looking at your upcoming roles, which include "Mortal Instruments." What can you tell us about that?
I'm Clary Fray, and we're looking at the casting for the rest of the characters, and it's based on the most amazing series of books by Cassandra Clare. And being a fan of "Harry Potter" and "Twilight," to be able to have my own franchise, and one based on a girl heroine, it's a complete honor. And I love [director Scott Charles Stewart, who also helmed "Priest"] and [Screen Gems exec Clint Culpepper].
How does it feel to hear this project could be the next "Potter" or "Twilight"?
Seriously, I read the series of books and loved it, and I forget how many fans – I mean, I'm a fan of it – but how many of us are out there. The second casting hit the internet, it's like an uproar… You read a book about a heroine and you have this vision in your mind, so the second it's cast it could go either way. So to have their support and enthusiasm behind me was a complete honor. And it's a crazy thought to think it could turn into that.
Interview originally published May 10, 2011.
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