Lily Collins takes a walk “on the wild side” for Vogue Hong Kong’s December cover, rocking Celine! The 32-year-old actress captured the hearts of many as Emily Cooper in Emily In Paris, which is set to return to Netflix on December 22 for season two. “After a year and a half of standing still, embracing Emily’s bubbly, bright, fun, positive energy was so refreshing,” Lily tells us in an exclusive interview. Stay tuned for the full interview and the coverstory reveal!
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How did you get to know Emily and truly become her as a character? What are the biggest similarities and differences between the two of you?
It initially took me a while to find Emily because I saw a lot of similarities between us which made it hard to distinguish her as a character. I wasn’t sure exactly where Emily ended and Lily began. However, the more I thought about us, the more I found the qualities that set us apart from each other. Unlike Emily, I grew up spending a lot of time in Europe, specifically England, France and Switzerland. Emily is louder and more experimental with her fashion choices than I am. Plus, she’s far more social-media savvy than I am. For similarities, we are both optimistic and passionate humans. We’re both unapologetically work-driven and also romantics.
What was it like filming Emily in Paris in the midst of a pandemic? Did this change anything about how you approached the character or filming with the cast in general?
When we first got to Paris, the city was still closed to tourism and travelers so it felt like a forbidden land. It was so quiet, and the streets were emptier than I’ve ever seen. It was calming and quite serene albeit a strange, unfamiliar feeling to experience. It was so lovely to finally be back after having dreamed of the opportunity during quarantine. There was a period of time when I didn’t know if it would be possible again. After a year and a half of standing still, embracing Emily’s bubbly, bright, fun, positive energy was so refreshing. It felt like coming home. All of us, cast and crew, were so happy to be back together in familiar places, having fun. I think we all appreciated the experience even more than usual because we’d missed it so much. I am so grateful to our health and safety team for all their efforts to keep us safe during filming too.
In terms of fashion, Emily is certainly partial to Chanel, Celine, Balmain, Kenzo, Miu Miu, ASOS, COS, Cartier and Louboutin, and many other designer brands. Where do your style choices overlap? What is your favorite outfit of Emily’s from Season 2?
Emily and I both see clothing as art and designers as true artists. We love mixing high end items with accessible brands and highlighting special, vintage finds. One of my favourite outfits in season 2 is my birthday party look which consisted of the dress with a bright pink bow and a fabulous oversized colourful kimono. It was the perfect collaboration between Patricia and Marilyn and really showcases Emily’s personality. Of course she would wear a present to herself on her special day!
What was it like to work behind the camera as a producer of the series? How did it help to enhance your role and character? Did it change your perspective on playing Emily?
Working as a producer on this show has been such a special experience for me and I’ve learned a lot, especially in the transition from season 1 to season 2. It’s so eye-opening being part of both creative and logistical conversations as well as seeing what it takes to make such a huge production come to life. I have an opportunity to really mould Emily from the ground up and play a part in her creation in all the aspects of her character. It’s helped encourage me to use my voice and speak up with ideas, concerns, and thoughts on not only Emily herself but all characters.
Despite some of the controversy, Emily Cooper had certainly captured the heart of the global audience. Where do you think the charm of Emily lies?
Emily’s charm lies in her wit, smarts, and warm, optimistic spirit. She isn’t afraid to ask for help which makes her relatable and real and she never shies away from a challenge. She knows how to speak her mind while always being kind and approachable. She’s a bright light and a kind soul.
You wrote a book on mental health and your experience having an eating disorder. Can you offer any advice on how to stay positive and what helped you the most on your journey?
Surround yourself with people who make you feel good in your own skin and who remind you that being you is enough. Therapy, reading and journaling have also really helped me. A hot bath and cup of tea are always a nice moment of calm whenever I may feel anxious. Having the openness and willingness to share and ask for help is so incredibly important. It’s also so important to remember it’s a journey and a different process for everyone. It’s OK if you don’t figure it all out right way and even if you find you still need extra help or additional resources over time. It’s never a weakness to seek out new ways to heal and process.
Congratulations on your recent wedding to director Charlie McDowell! How is newlywed life and does it change some of your perspectives on life and work?
Thank you! It’s been such an incredible journey to find a real balance between my work life and personal life. It’s opened my eyes to new experiences and perspectives. And to now have such a supportive partner who makes me feel like I can do anything, be anyone, and go anywhere by my side, makes it even more special and memorable. Having that security and stability allows me to have more of that balance. I have seen it firsthand that one can have both, be successful and have a beautiful life outside of work. And I’m so grateful for having my little family unit to share it all with.
What is happiness to you? Can you share with us a moment you felt happy recently?
Happiness is being surrounded by those you love, friends and family, and celebrating all you have to be grateful for. Our wedding was definitely the happiest weekend of my life and I am eternally thankful for all the laughs, memories, smiles, and joy I felt. I was so present, soaking in every moment, and just so purely genuinely happy.
You have always been open about the importance of destigmatizing mental health and reaching out when you need help. Why is this increasingly important to you?
We all need to be reminded occasionally that we’re not alone. The more we openly communicate without shame, the more we feel connected to one another and the deeper the relationship within ourselves gets. Asking for help isn’t a weakness. It’s a strength. It takes so much courage to know when we need to reach out for help and seek resources to grow and learn. Even as someone who has written a book about her journey, I’m still evolving and learning every single day. And that’s ok. It’s normal and it’s a journey I’m grateful to be on.
You are known for your full brows and flawless skin. Can you share a few secrets or holy grail products from your beauty routine?
I always make sure to wear plenty of sunscreen, drink lots of water, and use Genefique serum (morning and evening) as well as the face masks whenever my skin needs a little extra love. When it comes to my brows, I maintain their shape myself, tweaking them a little bit here and there when I see that they need it, I also make sure to brush and hydrate them by applying Lancome’s Lash Serum. I try to wear as little amount of makeup and coverage as I can when I’m not working so my skin has the opportunity to breath and stay as healthy as possible. When I do, I apply my foundation just on the areas that I need to achieve a fresh look. For touchups during the day, I like Teint Idole Ultra Wear All Over Concealer.
Who or what inspires you?
My husband, my friends, and all those who openly share their mental health struggles with the world. Those who unapologetically share their stories without shame but instead, with acceptance and bravery.
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Photographer: Greg Swales @AGP NYC
Creative & Fashion Director: Sean Kunjambu
Stylist: Mariel Haenn
Makeup Artist: Fiona Stiles
Hair Stylist: Gregory Russell @The Wall Group
Manicurist: Thuy Nguyen
Casting: Jill Demling
Producer: Alexey Galetskiy @AGP NYC
Cover Wardrobe: Celine
EditorVogue Hong Kong