The New Potato: Actress Lily Collins

Actress Lily Collins

On Dinner With Audrey Hepburn, Earl Grey Tea & Renaissance Fairs

We sat down with the beauty Lily Collins (#eyebrowgoals) – star of Amazon’s The Last Tycoon, which comes out tomorrow – to discuss everything from restaurants, beauty routines, body image and Renaissance fairs. The actress shared her love of tea (she prefers it to coffee), her affinity for gluten-free baking, and her dream dinner party (Audrey Hepburn makes an appearance). We know you’ll be as smitten with this interview – and her authentic nature – as we are; we’d even forgo our coffee-addiction if it means tea time with Collins…

From start to finish, what would be your ideal food day?
I love oatmeal, so in the morning I would probably have some form of oatmeal with cinnamon and vanilla. I like it kind of sweet, so it tastes like a treat – like a dessert with some fruit. For lunch, I would probably try to keep it lighter, like a salad with grilled fish or a piece of salmon with some quinoa or a grain. I always have a Chai or Earl Grey tea at some point during the day. I don’t drink coffee; I’m a tea girl , that’s my form of caffeine. For dinner, I’m a huge sushi fan. I also love a really good Indian Curry. What I love the most about going out with my friends for dinner, though, is that they’ll surprise me, and we’ll go somewhere new. Sometimes, the surprise meals are the best because you can’t pre-plan your menu. For dessert, I’d go to Salt & Straw; I just went there for the first time, and they have the most amazing vegan coconut Stracciatella. I like places that have options. My ideal day would, honestly, be having someone take me out to experiment with different things.

How do you practice beauty from the inside out?
Working out is my private time. I love sweating to get out your emotions; I always feel better afterwards, always more energized and just more clearheaded. I always drink a lot of water, too, to really purify. I sometimes try to meditate with music, or just have quiet time. It really allows me to center myself and get away from the craziness of work and the city. I really believe in laughing and smiling a lot. I think it’s really important, because when you feel the most confident and the most happy, that’s when you feel your most beautiful and look your best. I always say that a smile is your best accessory.

What are your morning and nightly beauty regimens?
In the morning, I’ll wake up and splash some cold water on my face to wake myself up and then I use the Lancôme Énergie de Vie products. They’re designed to take get rid of all of the pollution your skin takes in from the environment; they’re very clarifying. I use the face wash, the serums, and the creams; they’re all amazing. I have to put on sunscreen to protect my skin; I’m really into Kiehl’s sunscreen. I use their lip balm as well. Obviously, at night, it’s always super important to take off your makeup. I must. I can’t go to bed with anything on. I’m a big fan of using the Lancôme Hydra Zen Anti-Stress Moisturizing Cream at night; it’s not too thick, but it really moisturizes.

What’s always in your fridge and pantry?
I’m a big fresh produce person, so I always have fresh apples and other fruits and veggies around. I also love my tea, so I have a collection of teas. I love baking; I always have every baking supply that I could possibly need in case I get inspired. I like to have all the different gluten-free flours, extracts, dark chocolate, quinoa, some kind of grain, and obviously San Pellegrino and sparkling waters. You’ll also always find some form of takeout. If I go out, I don’t like leaving things, so I always take leftovers to go. If I get a salad, and I really like the dressing, I ask for a few extra to go, too, so I can put them on my own salads at home.

What foods and drinks make your skin feel its best? Its worst?
Water, juice, greens, kale, spinach, kimchi, and any kind of smoothie are all good for your skin. Anything too carbonated like soda or too sugary or too salty isn’t good.

Any foods you’ve cut out? Why?
I don’t eat processed foods. I’m not strictly gluten-free or vegan because I like fish, but I do eat gluten-free and vegan most of the time. I feel cleaner and lighter when I have vegan products, mainly.

Which workouts do you love? Which do you think are overrated?
I love swimming and running. Jane Fonda workouts never get old, and ballet barre inspired workouts and isometrics are really fun. I love dancing; that’s always good exercise, whether it’s in a class or going out and partying. The 8-minute abs is overrated, and the shake weight! I think you can do that now in four or five, and the shake weight is ridiculous; I don’t know how effective it is.

A beauty mainstay that hasn’t changed since your teen years…
I think one of the first mascaras I ever used was Lancôme Hypnôse Drama Mascara, and to this day I still use it. I haven’t found anything that comes close to beating it.

What are your travel beauty routines? How do you stay fresh while traveling?
If I’m on a long flight to Europe or something, I take off my makeup right when I first get on and put on a ton of cream. Moisture is key. I’ve never done a face mask on the airplane, but a bunch of my friends do, and I think that’s amazing and hilarious. I want to do it at some point, but I’m kind of afraid that if I’m sleeping, it will fall off. I always try to stay hydrated. I’m constantly drinking water and applying a ton of lip balm and moisturizer. Exercising is super important, too, especially when traveling. You’ve got to work out the kinks in your neck and get rid of the stress. We don’t realize it, but traveling is so rough on our bodies. Get a massage and just sweat it out!

What’s always in your bag?
Lip balm, hand cream, hand sanitizer; you’ll never find me without those three things in my bag.

What or who do you swear you were in a past life and why?
I think a woman from the Renaissance; I’m obsessed with Renaissance fairs. I feel so at home! Whether we’re watching the jousting or eating corn on the cob or hanging out with the wenches, I find it so fun and hilarious. I feel like I was born back then.

What is your favorite part of working on a period piece like The Last Tycoon?
The hair, makeup and wardrobe is so pivotal to creating a character. Especially for this, in the 1930’s, everything was so glamorous. To be immersed in that every day was such a treat – and they really did it up with this project. We were immersed it in completely every day, and that was so fun.

Any funny stories you can share with us from the set?
We were always constantly joking around with a lot of the amazing guest stars and guest appearances. We would always be cracking each other up before a take. Sometimes it would get so out of hand, that we’d have to cut because we were panting and laughing so hard. Also, the outfits and the undergarments were not the most comfortable. So we’d be laughing, but we’d also be super constrained and breathing heavily.

What’s a television show you personally watch non-stop?
I love baking, and I’m obsessed with The Great British Bakeoff. Any season, any episode, are you kidding? I feel so at home watching it, and the baking is so soothing. I get so into watching it, and of course, I get so hungry.

Is there an issue in this day and age you’re most passionate about? What is it and why?
I just recently did a film called To the Bone, which deals with eating disorders. I think it’s really important to talk about things that are considered too taboo to talk about, like eating disorders, body image and confidence. I think we have to take the stigma out of those topics. As a young person, you feel like you’re alone going through them. If only we could talk about them more, you’d feel less alone. I think it’s most important to talk about self-empowerment and body image when you’re younger, because that’s when you’re most impressionable and when you’re changing the most. I feel so strongly about voicing your opinions and having open conversation.

What’s your advice to girls struggling with body image?
Voice your experiences and your concerns, especially to your friends and family. By talking about these things, you will feel less alone. Seeking help is never a weakness; it is only a strength. If you feel like you need to talk about something, you are not crazy or alone.

What advice would you give to your younger self about body image?
When my struggles started, it was at the period where you’re really turning into a young woman, where your body is changing the most. That scared me. I tried to alter the way that I looked before I allowed my body to become what it was supposed to be. Looking back on it, I would say allow yourself to become yourself, because your body needs to become what it needs to be; let your body become stronger. Let nature do its thing.

What are your current favorite cities for food? What restaurants do you go to in each?
In New York, the restaurant in Bergdorf Goodman is my favorite. I’ve been going there since I was fifteen, and I always make a point to go when I’m in New York. I love their chopped salad. I always make a beeline straight to 5th Avenue to go there. In Cranleigh, a small village in the English countryside (I’ve been going there since I was born), there’s a restaurant called The Curry Inn. They serve the best Indian food I have ever had. I just came back from the Amalfi Coast, and there was a restaurant called Garden of Eden. It was incredible, romantic and beautiful, and they served the freshest fish. In Tbilisi, Georgia, there is a restaurant called Cafe Leila. They serve some of the most amazing, fresh food I have ever had.

If you could host a dinner party with any five people living or dead, who would be there? What would you cook?
Audrey Hepburn, Meryl Streep, Anna Wintour, Irving Penn and my maternal grandfather. I never got to meet him, and he was a designer for a lot of the Old Hollywood men in the 1950’s. I’d love to hear his stories. I’d serve some sort of fish, probably, and I love baking banana walnut bread and cakes. I’m sure I would make an array of platters and pastries and salads. I love buffets and pot lucks. With that group of people, I’d love inviting them to make something specific they’d want. Can you imagine what Audrey Hepburn would bake? What’s Meryl Streep’s specialty? Who would turn that down?

In the same vein as ‘what is the new black’ in fashion, what’s the new potato right now?
Crazy patterned wallpapers. I’m a huge fan of that idea; everywhere I’ve been lately has had wallpaper! I love it.

*Lily Collins, photographed at The Whitby Hotel in New York, NY by Danielle Kosann. Lily wears a Reem Acra top and skirt.

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