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Lily Collins Interview EXCLUSIVE: The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

Aug 16, 2013

By: Lynn Barker

When we exclusively spoke with young actress Lily Collins who was then playing Snow White in the film Mirror Mirror, we were impressed with her really friendly, open, chatty, gal/pal vibe. We’re happy to report that nothing about her has really changed. The daughter of music legend Phil Collins is more confident but her personality is the same. We’re sitting down to dish at the trendy SLS Hotel in L.A. where Lily talks fan feedback, her feelings about Jamie Campbell Bower who plays Jace in the film, her fashion and style decisions, singing, why she loves her character Clary and much more!

Picture the petite actress in a short, cute, black, sleeveless dress with lace panels by designer Thakoon and wearing sky-high Jimmy Choo, black strappy heels. Lily has a long day of interviews ahead of her and is drinking a Red Bull (in a glass, over ice and through a straw.. all ladylike).

  • Lily: Excuse me (slurp). 

Lily at our interviewLily at our interviewCourtesy of Lynn Barker

Kidzworld: No problem. This is a print interview so slurp away! Nobody will hear it.

  • Lily: Okay (big bubbly slurpy noises).

Kidzworld: Clary is more likely to go do something if someone tells her she can’t. Are you like that?

  • Lily: I like acting impulsively but I’m also extremely thoughtful about what I do. So, it’s not like someone would say “Don’t do something” and I’d automatically go “I’m gonna do it anyway.” I guess I do genuinely take time to think about things from all sides. I’ve always been a very thoughtful person just (thinking) about repercussions. Since a young age I’ve always thought that way. I don’t think that was from my parents. I’ve never acted fully impulsively. I think with my mind and my heart.

(Note: My eyes are watering so I tell her about my allergies and the street party in front of my apartment that kept me awake most of the night).

  • Lily: I thought you were going to be like “I was out partying” and I was like “Yeah!!” (we laugh)

Clary (Lily Collins) discovers a portalClary (Lily Collins) discovers a portal

Kidzworld: Did you like Clary’s hot chick wardrobe and did you keep any of it or the props?

  • Lily: I wanted to keep those (thigh-high) boots but I didn’t. It’s funny because when I was Snow White (in Mirror Mirror) and I had all the ball gowns and the corsets, that completely influenced my style and I was more fairy-tale glamorous in my style.
  • I’ve always worn heels but, when I played a Shadowhunter, all of a sudden, it was the leather and the edgier, sexier style yet, never reaching that point where it is trashy. We don’t go Ho, but it’s always very streamlined. I’m 24 and want to experiment with style. But it’s been fun on this press tour because I have so many different things to do, I can experiment and if something doesn’t work, fine. The film has also influenced my make-up choices; just to play around with hair and make-up.
  • I didn’t keep the stele (special Shadowhunter tool). I kept the blue leather jacket that I wore that got all ripped up and a pair of my Doc Martins because that is the essence of Clary. That’s who she is and how she dresses. She changes into another outfit but she’s still Clary. So, the first few days you see her, that’s really Clary.

Lily as Clary in the thigh high bootsLily as Clary in the thigh high boots

Kidzworld: Did you get any input into your wardrobe for “City of Ashes” (next in the book and film series)?  

  • Lily: Well I have a costume fitting in the next few days and (the costume designer) is like “What are your ideas on the new version of Clary the Shadowhunter?” I’m like “Humm, maybe lower boots and more clothing, seeing that we’re shooting in winter... and no more tight dresses”. 

Kidzworld: You were cast first so you kind of got to help pick your Jace. What did Jaime Campbell Bower bring to make you sure he was the best choice and then what did he do once you were working with him that surprised you? (Note: Jaime and Lily dated but claim to now be just good friends. When with me at the hotel, Jamie walked past Lily’s interview room, saw Red Bull on ice at her door and said in a cute, sing-song manner “Ah, Lily’s already drinkin’ Red Bulls”).  

  • Lily: I think he literally just walked into the room and commanded it. Being British, you are quite self-deprecating. You are not boastful like “This is me! Love me!” but when someone has a presence about them it is just inevitable and he just walked in and he was Jace. He was Jaime but he had all those attributes that Jace has. I knew that was it. Unfortunately, some of the fans didn’t know it right away but I’m waiting for the movie to come out so some of them will eat their words.
  • Surprising? He’s an extremely funny guy and very witty. He brought this kind of sassiness to Jace that was in the books but wasn’t as well-defined in the script. He would improv things that ended up in the movie that were really genius. Those things wouldn’t have been added because no one else would have come up with them. I think those things only made me be the Clary that I was because he was the Jace he was.

Clary (Lily Collins) and Jace (Jamie Campbell Bower) get closerClary (Lily Collins) and Jace (Jamie Campbell Bower) get closer

Kidzworld: Have you gotten any fan feedback so far that has been helpful?

  • Lily: They’ve not seen the film yet. But, I’ve had girls come up and say “Oh, my God, you’re the perfect Clary.” No one’s come up and said “Oh, you suck!” (we laugh). It’s been wonderful. So far it’s been positive.

Kidzworld: You sing so why didn’t you do something for the soundtrack? It’s got Demi Lovato and Colbie Caillat doing two songs.

  • Lily: I sang for Mirror Mirror. I love singing. But Clary’s into art. She’s not into singing. But never say never. Music was so pivotal when I was reading the script and the books. It does have this underground trance feel but it’s also about this teenaged girl so I think it’s perfect to have Jessie J, Colbie Caillat and Demi Lovato because they are strong, empowered women. It also has this dance track. Jamie is an incredible singer and musician and he’s a great lyricist as well as guitar and piano player. He does everything so you never know. There will be something from us at some point.

Kidzworld: I heard that Jonathan Rhys Meyers (the hottie who plays Valentine) was scary on set? True?

  • Lily: He was terrifying as Valentine but not as Jonathan. As Jonathan he’s not got a mean bone in his body. He’s very quiet. He would walk on set and you could feel the tenseness because he elevated all of us when it came to our scenes. He brought this intensity. Why would Jocelyn (Clary’s mom in the books and movie) have fallen for him if he was all terrifying? He had to be this kind of alluring character that was sexy in a dark way but also terrifying so that the audience is gripping their seat and he plays that so perfectly.

Jonathan Rhys Meyers as ValentineJonathan Rhys Meyers as Valentine

Kidzworld: What is the most valuable thing you have learned about the movie business since you made Mirror Mirror?

  • Lily: Hummm, originally, I was supposed to do this movie before Mirror Mirror. This movie got pushed (later) so I got to do that one first. (It helped me) get over the hump of playing a literary character that everyone knew, Snow White, obviously, way more world-reknowned than Clary then. I admired Snow White, so (I had to) get over that difference between fan, Lily and actor and realizing that people are going to have an idea of who Snow White should be and they’re always going to comment on whether I was good or not.
  • I got over those worries and I had the experience of being torn apart or commended based upon what people thought I should have been. That allowed me to be able to go through that before I played Clary. That taught me a lot. Any character you take on, people will always have an opinion.

Lily as Snow White in Mirror MirrorLily as Snow White in Mirror Mirror

Kidzworld: As a fan of the series, did you read all the books before you started working?

  • Lily: I read the first one and found out they were making it into a movie so that’s when I sent out emails and calls. I was like, “How can I get involved? How can I audition?” and then continued to read the series. When I was cast, I stopped reading because when it comes to a story that spans that big of a time gap, I didn’t want to get confused knowing Clary’s future. You never know your future in real life, so why would Clary?
  • Now that we’re on the second film (“City of Ashes”), it’s all about the second book and not trying to focus too heavily on the third. I’d rather just focus on one at a time because I don’t want to act differently than I should. It all gets very confusing.  

Clary uses her new powersClary uses her new powers

Kidzworld: What is it about Clary that you love?

  • Lily: I’m really close with my mom so, the fact that this relationship between her mom and herself is what spurs on this journey in the first book was something that I felt extremely strong about when I read it. I love that Clary never allows herself to be a victim. Nothing ever truly defines her, like the romance doesn’t define her. This new world that she’s thrown into doesn’t define her. Her morals never change. She’s just Clary in two different worlds and she’s trying to find herself like any young girl would.
  • It’s a story about self-discovery. It’s about finding your voice and growing up, but also realizing that your parents aren’t these otherworldly non-human things. They’re just older versions of yourself and it’s seeing your parents in a new light and respecting that. And I think that that was something I hadn’t seen in other franchises like this. And also, it’s got a comedic undertone. She’s quite sassy and feisty and doesn’t put up with Jace’s crap (we laugh).  

Isabelle (Jemima West) readies Clary for Magnus' partyIsabelle (Jemima West) readies Clary for Magnus' party

Kidzworld: The movie has aged Clary up to about 18 (she’s 15 or 16 in the books). When you were 18, what challenges were you going through?

  • Lily: I graduated high school and I always wanted to go to college but I also really wanted to work at a young age. At 18, I was pitching talk show ideas to different networks. I was a journalist. I was always auditioning while I was doing journalism but I was just waiting for that “yes”. I continued Journalism but I got told “no” all the time. My ideas were irrelevant. Basically now Twitter and Facebook have allowed for what I wanted to do which was having young people have a voice. They were like, “Who wants to hear from a young person?” I was like, “Really?” 

The Shadowhunters go into battleThe Shadowhunters go into battle

Kidzworld: So you decided on acting instead?

  • Lily: There was a moment when I realized that if people start to know me so well as Lily the interviewer, they won’t believe me as a character as much. I want that same experience of watching someone play a character, not thinking about them as the person.  

Kidzworld: How did you prepare for this role and the fight scenes and stunt work involved?

  • Lily: There is more fighting for me in the next movie but for Clary at the beginning it was all just like endurance and keeping up with the guys and not falling behind and doing it in six inch heels!  I trained three months before I got out to Toronto with a physical fitness trainer and then every day with the stunt department during work, but never in my costume. Once I got to wearing the heels and the dress it made it very difficult. But Clary’s awkward anyway in that outfit so it kind of worked for me. I could just say, “Oh, it wasn’t Lily, it was Clary.” But we did a lot of training. We all pretty much did every stunt except for one for each of us.

The Shadowhunters in Hotel Du MortThe Shadowhunters in Hotel Du Mort

Kidzworld: Jamie as Jace, did a flip! Was that him?

  • Lily: He did that flip. We all stayed behind the camera watching and I was like, “Oh my God. I don’t want to go back to my trailer. I want to watch Jamie do this. Oh my God, what’s going to happen!” We all trained together. That created such a bonding atmosphere. You’re thinking, “We can pretty much do anything together”. And that’s what the Shadowhunters are. So it really helped in that sense I think.  

Jace and Clary ride into their uncertain futureJace and Clary ride into their uncertain future

Kidzworld: What else do you have coming up?

  • Lily:  I just finished a film called Love, Rosie in Dublin. I age 10 years and have a 10-year-old child by the end of it. It was the most amazing, life-changing experience for me, playing a mom. (The movie is) terrifyingly heartbreaking and at the same time so hilarious.  It’s Sam Claflin and I. And, I’m signed on for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies to play Elizabeth Bennet. We’re just not sure when.

We ask to take a picture and she’s fine with it, commenting in a little girl tone…

  • Lily: I actually went up to a billboard for the movie the other day and took a “selfie”.

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones is in theaters August 21st, 2013!

Lily as ClaryLily as Clary

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones Trailer