Lily Collins, who plays Snow White in the new adaptation of the classic tale, "Mirror Mirror," is the daughter of Phil Collins.
That's not always the kind of thing you want to bring up when you're interviewing someone. Sometimes, it makes the person you're talking to defensive; sometimes they shut down. Then there are the rare occasions -- and this is what happened when I talked to Lily Collins -- when your subject will say something so heartwarming that you're left with no response other than to remark on how heartwarming her answer was.
In "Mirror Mirror," -- yes, the first of two Snow White movies to hit your local cineplex this year -- Collins, who turned 23 on March 18, plays Snow White, a character with whom I trust you are familiar. In this version, the tone is light, comedic and definitely kid-friendly. Ahead, Collins discusses the difference between the two films, gamely guesses what Julia Roberts thinks of her, and describes the feeling she gets every time she hears a song from her dad's album "No Jacket Required."
Maybe it's the fact that there are two Snow White movies, but I wasn't entirely looking forward to "Mirror Mirror." I'll admit, it left me in a really good mood.
Oh, that's like the best compliment. [Laughs] At the beginning of your comment, I was like, This is a double-edged compliment. But at the end -- that would be great if people went to it not necessarily knowing what to expect. Even, like, guys or young boys thinking it's a "girly" movie. To go and then have fun -- that's the best.
And I have to agree, Snow White is a pretentious name.
Right. Well, luckily the movie is called "Mirror Mirror."
No, I was referring to the line in the opening narration. Once I heard that line, I kind of liked where the film was going.
It does kind of throw it at your face at the very beginning of the film. It's basically like, "We know what you're all thinking. And it's true, but we're going to tell this story anyway." It kind of calls out your uncertainties about the movie at the very beginning, in a cool way.
Did you have to be convinced to do this movie? In a "Snow White? Hasn't that been done?" kind of way?
No, no. I heard about this and I was so honored to even get a time for an audition. So I had so much fun at the audition that I just thought that this was my shot to give it my all. I grew up in the English countryside and I used to run around and create my own stories and pretend like I was in those movies myself.
I assume you've been asked "What's it like working with Julia Roberts?" quite a few times. So I will ask: Do you think Julia Roberts liked working with you?
You know, that's a funny question. Um, I think she did? She'd be mean to me during the take and then afterwards she'd apologize. She had her kids on set all of the time, and her kids and I would play around. It's interesting because Snow, in the story, just wants her approval and to feel liked by her character. It's just funny that when we were hanging out during the movie, she turned on and off her character so easily and so fluidly that she was just "Julia" when the cameras weren't rolling. We had a lovely time and I've seen her since and she's nothing but smiles -- so I would hope that she enjoyed working with me.
There was young girl sitting in front of me at the screening and at one point when Julia Roberts was on screen, the girl says to her mother, "She's mean!"
So people my age will always think of her as America's Sweetheart. And now there will be young kids who just know her as "the mean lady."
Well, that's interesting, actually. Because kids do kind of see characters and then see the actor and think that they're kind of the same. But in the sense of the way that she played this mean character, she does use that America's Sweetheart smile and laugh, but in a new twist and a new way. It's weird because, yeah, little kids really haven't seen her other stuff.
They haven't seen "Pretty Woman."
No, but I think they'll be able to separate it. It's a fairly tale that they are also all aware of anyway -- so they already know that the evil queen is evil.
You mentioned earlier how you were really excited and wanted to be part of this film. But when did you find out that there would be a second Snow White movie?
I actually knew about both of them before I even auditioned for this one.
Were you interested in both of them?
I had read both. And I knew that they were both very, very different. And it's kind of perfect that they're so different. So I was always aware that there were two at the same time, but that never deterred me from wanting to be a part of them, or a part of this one. Even, I think, ratings are going to be different and audiences are going to be different.
Do you think it helps to be first?
I guess. It's kind of the first time she's been taken from an animation to a real-life action film. So I don't know if it's necessarily beneficial to be the first one that comes out. But it's definitely people's first impression of a cartoon come to life. They're so different that I think, regardless of whose came out first, there's going to be an audience for both. I mean, I'm excited to see the other one, as well, because it is so different from mine.
If you're at a grocery store and "Sussudio" starts playing, is your first reaction, "Hey, that's my dad"?
[Laughs] That happens all the time! I'll be in a remote hut in India and the same thing happens. It's comforting! It's nice. It's like: I may not physically get to see him a lot, but all of a sudden a song comes on and I smile. It's like, "Hi, dad." I hear it and it's always nice to feel like he's there.
That might be the sweetest answer that I've ever heard while doing an interview.
I'm not joking, that was really touching.
Oh, thank you. It's true.
Mike Ryan is senior entertainment writer for The Huffington Post. He has written for Wired Magazine, VanityFair.com, GQ.com, New York Magazine and Movieline. He likes Star Wars a lot. You can contact Mike Ryan directly on Twitter