ContentMode Magazine

ContentMode Magazine

Lily was interviewed and photographed for ContentMode (Contents) magazine! Check out the photos below.

Interview by Allie King

CONTENTMODE“Art is healing.” Lily Collins has a history of prioritizing healing in both her writing and acting. Now, as the world struggles together, this has proved to be what we’ve all been wanting and needing. In hopes to escape from the reality of 2020, people are turning to their streaming services for comfort and solace. If this is you, you have probably had Lily Collins on your screen at least once this year. Collins, with a long list of iconic roles, has enriched our screens time and time again this year: First by allowing us to laugh with her role as Emily in “Emily in Paris,” and now by being the supportive sidekick we all need, as Rita Alexander, in “Mank.” Both are now streaming on Netflix.

Allie King: This year has been hectic for everyone but overall it seems like you’ve had a good year. I wanted to congratulate you on your recent engagement.

Lily Collins: Thank you!

Allie King: Also, you have had a lot of big projects come out this year. In my reading, everyone was considering you a household name. I have been a fan of yours for years, but that is a big title and a lot of new viewers are getting to know you. How have you been able to balance the pandemic with your work this year?

Lily Collins: Thank you. That’s very nice of you and I appreciate that. It has been interesting. First of all, I’m never in one place for this amount of time, so there’s real joy in staying put. I’ve used this quarantine as a really important time for self-reflection, introspection, and educating myself. When we are stripped away of all distraction, and we are left within our walls — the same walls for months and months — you are forced to look at these metaphorical mirrors.

Lily Collins continued: I have been saying that doing these junkets and press from home has been as equally lonely — because you are not interacting with the people that you normally would be, whether it’s your team, the interviewer, or your co-stars — as it is kind of invasive — because you are doing it from your home. There is no separation. But it has been so wonderful to be able to share everything that we did together with people.

I am super grateful that Emily [in Paris] hit at a time when people need to laugh and smile the most. Someone told me recently that it reminded them of what fun used to feel like. And that is such a weird statement in a sense. To have to be reminded of that is a very strange thing. But to be a part of someone’s remembering is a huge gift. Then you have Mank on top of it, which has such deep-set nostalgia apart of it, at a time that I have been seeking and clinging to anything that feels like history and the world that we once knew.

Allie King: I wanted to talk about your relationship with Netflix. You have always worked with them, long before Mank. It seems like you have a very good relationship with them. How has your experience been, being one of the ones who embraced the streaming service, dating back to To The Bone before streaming was as popular as it is now?

Lily Collins: Yeah, I worked with Netflix in a couple of different ways. What I love is … To The Bone, which is a subject matter that a lot of different places would shy away from — The fact that they saw the subject matter and acquired it, proved to me that they are seeking out those kinds of movies to promote conversations around important and sometimes tough subject matter. I deeply respect that. The same for Extremely Wicked.

I do love working with them and I think that their scope of different types of projects is so vast, and they don’t shy away from the more difficult subject matter. They also provide resources to people watching things about mental health. They allow you to watch something and then they guide you from there, if you know someone who needs help or if you need help. I love the follow through on that.

Allie King: Taking it back to To The Bone, on the cusp of being a millennial and Gen Z, that was the first time I was faced with that specific conversation. So I remember it very vividly. A lot of your work, including Mank, is telling very different, but important stories. Is that something that you look for in a script? How do you go about picking the projects you want to work on?

Lily Collins: Well, thank you again. That was one of those moments when your life and your art can coincide in a way that is meant to be. Both experiences — writing [Unfiltered: No Shame, No Regrets, Just Me.], as well as working on the movie — helped better the other, in terms of creativity. It helped better me and helped me heal.

I was thinking about the reaction to Emily. I was struck by the thought that art is healing. What I want to continue doing is telling stories in front of or behind the camera. Emily was the first experience that I had in producing. I have always wanted to produce more, and write. Maybe one day direct. So whether I am in front of the camera or behind, [I want] to tell stories that, in some way, provide a sense of healing and connection with people.

Then you look at something like Emily in Paris, which has made people laugh and smile at a time when it has been really hard to laugh and smile. That is healing in itself. Mank is this kind of nostalgia that we have all wanted to immerse ourselves in. I want to continue seeking out characters and stories that allow a sense of growth, whether it is for an audience member or myself. And allow me or an audience member to heal in a way that maybe you weren’t expecting. I think healing is why we all connect through art: whether it is music, physical creative art, or acting.

Allie King: Of course! Also, you guys have been renewed for Season 2 of Emily in Paris. Congratulations on that! What are you looking forward to most?

Lily Collins: We ended Season 1 with Mindy and Emily living together, so God knows what mayhem and adventures are going to ensue from inviting her into that apartment complex, with the life going on downstairs and our apartment. I am excited to get to know Savior better and mix the two worlds. I think there could be a lot of hilarious moments that ensue from that. Now that Emily is not a local — and not getting used to the shock of being there — I think there is more depth to get in to. And leaning into a lot of the comedy.

Allie King: Now taking it back to Mank … It is unlike any film that I have seen recently. I was not expecting at all for it to be the style that it was when I turned it on. I enjoyed it. How was it on set, embracing the Old Hollywood vibe? What kind of mindset and preparation went into the creation of this film?

Lily Collins: Well, I love Old Hollywood. I love a period drama. I love anything in black and white. I think it is so romantic, beautiful, and historical. I was kind of doing — at the beginning — both at the same time: Emily and Mank. I had to fly back from Paris twice, for 24 hours, to LA. So, I was going from this bright and bold world of Emily, into this more stoic, still, powerful, black-and-white world for Rita [Alexander]. It was weird at first to jump back and forth. But honestly, any world that [David] Fincher creates, is a world that I would be so silly not to immerse myself in.

Working with him, as well as Gary … It’s a dream. Gary — as stunning of a human being as he is — is such an infectious, incredible actor. So I am sitting across from him in these scenes and there were moments that I had to remind myself to respond because I was so immersed in watching Gary. He’s just such a great story-teller. There were a couple of days when he would come to work but not be on camera for a long time, if not for the whole day. But he would come, be in costume, and be there 100% present for you on the other end of the camera. As an actor, to know that you are gonna have that support from your co-star, even when they are not on screen … It seems like a thing that would be a given for an actor to have, but it is not always the case.

And you know, with black and white, there’s just like an alternate universe you are creating. I mean I had never shot like that before so it was really fun.

Allie King: That kind of showed through as I was watching: the relationship between your all’s characters, and the chemistry you all had. It was so impressive to see it thrown back to Old Hollywood style. Also, Citizen Kane is arguably the best film of all time. Did that inflict any pressure on the cast when filming this movie?

Lily Collins: I don’t think so. I felt like I knew a lot about the story, and then I realized I didn’t know anything about this specific story. I didn’t even know who Mank was. I played a real woman, Rita. But there is very little knowledge on Rita, so I had to rely on what I could find or see in photos — and then be equally imaginative of what a woman of that time would be like in England and America. Citizen Kane helped provide context in that regard. But I think because it’s a story behind the story, that provided a little less stress. Because you are creating part of the story that people don’t know about.

Allie King: What was your favorite part about playing Rita? What drew you to her role in the script?

Lily Collins: I love the relationship between Rita and Mank. I admire the fact that it is a relationship that is not at all based on romance. It is truly a comradery that they have based on respect and admiration. She cares so much and believes in Mank that she felt empowered to use her voice at a time that I don’t think many women in that position would have. She holds him accountable for his actions in a way that was unique for her and aided his journey and recovery. If Rita hadn’t been there to help him through this, I don’t know that he would have actually finished it in the way that he did. And he provided her with a sense of comradery, friendship, and strength at a time that she was terrified that she lost her husband forever.

I also loved that, in Rita, there is this fine line between being a very stoic professional — who has been hired for a job and she doesn’t want to show any awe or gossip of that world — while at the same time being a young woman who desperately also wants to know what is going on.

Allie King: When I was watching it, I noted how Mank and Rita’s relationship was my favorite in the movie because it was so unexpected. I think you all did an incredible job with that. What was the hardest part of playing Rita?

Lily Collins: I think part of what was so fun, is her having that balance of being professional and being intrigued by what was happening. Also, Mank is such a complicated human. He has his insecurities, shadows, and addictions. I didn’t want Rita to come across as condescending or dismissive or overly harsh. For me, Rita was an opportunity to lend a helping hand to Mank and to provide a moral compass and light to his storyline, but to also allow him to figure out what he needed to do.

Allie King: The release of Mank being on Netflix, is bound to introduce some younger viewers to the story of Orson Welles, Mank, and Citizen Kane. What do you hope people take away from this film, or Mank’s life story?

Lily Collins: Well the beauty of old movies — I mean the nostalgia that a black and white film can bring about. I was raised in a household that appreciated Old Hollywood. It isn’t all glitz and glam by any means. It was political and social. There were a lot of things going on that I didn’t realize at the time, that infiltrated the studio system, and the movies and that political time. But just to make it digestible and not foreign.

Some people that I have spoken to, of the younger generation, just think of it as something that their parents would enjoy. They are just not interested. So for Netflix — the hub where so many people go to be entertained and educated — to have a movie like this, that is bringing in actors of today and putting them in this world that looks as if there were of a time gone by, subconsciously is a way to connect the two worlds. To see people that they recognize from modern shows or movies in this world is extra proof that the worlds do collide. This is why and how we can learn from the old. I think it is really important to share that era with people because it seems that they don’t know it as well anymore.

Allie King: I agree. Right now it feels like a pause in our culture, with fewer movies coming out. Hopefully this movie — now that we all have time — will inspire people to go back and educate themselves and watch older movies.

Lily Collins: I would love that. It is interesting because sometimes black and white can turn someone off because they are used to color. Whereas, it is an interesting experience when watching in black and white. You are not finding yourself distracted by color. You are actually watching more details in the acting, what is going on, the sets, or the tones of everything. There is a richness in what you are watching that is more noticeable because you aren’t seeing color.

When I watched this I was drawn into the back of the shots, analyzing things more. It’s not like you are judging someone by what they are wearing. You are looking at them and listening, and paying attention to what is going on. I think that is a really interesting thing for people who aren’t as drawn to black and white because they just think it is old. It is a new way to watch something.

Allie King: What is something that you will take away from working with David Fincher and Gary Oldman on this project to the rest of your work moving forward?

Lily Collins: There is a lot to be said in stillness. With David Fincher, you know you are going to have the gift of time. You are going to be able to do it however many times it takes to get it right. When you are surrounded by incredible people — whether that is the director or cast members — and they are giving you something new with every take, you have to be awake and in the moment to react.

Lily Collins continued: This was such an amazing opportunity for me to be so present in the moment that I sometimes forgot what I had done when he would yell cut. It was almost like meditation because when you are meditating you are in a place where you come out of it and it’s like ‘Woah, where was I? Where have I been?’ and you have this element of stillness and calm. For me, to work with people who allow me to feel like it’s okay to disappear says a lot. When you are so present in the moment and you are not worried about anything else going on, there is an element of peering into what it is that you are doing that is quite like meditating.

I know it is rare to always feel that, and I am not saying I will always feel that. But [I’d like] to hold on to what that felt like and to try and pursue that moving forward. You aren’t always going to work with geniuses like Gary and David, but you can certainly put that as a goal.

Allie King: I think the movie was stunning. I feel spoiled to have gotten to see it early. So, thank you for that. How are you planning to celebrate the release on December 4th?

Lily Collins: I have no idea. It has been an amazing time to keep in touch with friends and family, with FaceTime, distance walks, and calls. I appreciate the connection that I have with the people in my life and that, for me, is to be celebrated more so than going out to a restaurant. Do I miss going out to dinner? Of course, I do. But I think at the core, it’s having people show their support that I have felt so strongly during this time. I feel like I have been able to celebrate that and my friends in new ways. For now, I am super grateful to be able to share something with people that I hope will resonate with and make them feel connected in some way.

Quick Questions
Allie King: Did you get to keep anything from the Emily in Paris set?

Lily Collins: I was given a couple of clothing items from Emily in Paris. There was a furry bag that I would joke around saying that it was like having an animal on set because it looked like a dog on my chair. I got to keep that. Stéphane Rolland — who designed the white Orchid Dress that got paint splattered on it — sent me the original dress, which I thought was so unexpected and so nice. So now I have Emily’s orchid dress.

Allie King: New habit or skill learned in quarantine?

Lily Collins: My fiancé taught me how to surf which was cool. By no means am I amazing, but it is a really fun thing to get to do together. And it’s quite calming to get in the water right now and let it all go.

Allie King: What is your go-to door dash order? 

Lily Collins: Sushi. I just love sushi so much and it is something that I can’t make at home, so I need to order it.

Allie King: Most recent TV binge?

Lily Collins: The Crown. I have loved it since the beginning. It makes me feel at home cause it’s England. The production value is so beautiful.

Allie King: Favorite winter or holiday tradition?

Lily Collins: I usually go to England, but that will not be happening this year for obvious reasons. A lot of traditions have been put on hold this year. I think it’s more about getting cozy, having a fire, and drinking hot tea. I am so seasonal. Going to England is what I would love to do but since it’s not happening, I think new traditions will be created with my fiancé, based on what is going on in the world.

Allie King: What is something you are looking forward to in the new year?

Lily Collins: So much! [Laughs] I’m excited about the Biden — Harris presidency. I am excited for Emily in Paris Season 2. Hopefully to start traveling again. I am excited to be getting married at some point. Seeing friends and family and hugging people again.