Best known for playing Snow White, Lily Collins is on the brink of a new kind of stardom with her movie "The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones." Like "Twilight" and "The Hunger Games," "The Mortal Instruments" is based on a wildly popular book series with a fierce fan following -- and Collins, who plays the reluctant warrior heroine Clary Fray, is already attracting crowds.
But the 24-year-old actress couldn't be more prepared. Collins has already played a wide variety of roles in such films as "The Blind Side," "Abduction," and "Mirror, Mirror."
Moviefone caught up with Collins at Los Angeles' SLS Hotel as she navigated a long day of media interviews with the poise that has made her a leading lady. Below, Collins talks about the inevitable "Twilight" comparisons to her movie, playing a badass, and what she learned from such A-list co-stars as Sandra Bullock and Julia Roberts.
Moviefone: Why did you decide to take this role?
Collins: I was a fan of the books before I was cast so for me, I really admired Clary's tenacity and feistiness, passion, compassion, and vulnerability. She just was a real girl growing into a fantasy situation and never lost sight of who she was. Of course, she finds her voice in this new world and realizes that most of her childhood was a lie but she doesn't let that define the way that she continues on her journey. She's really close with her mom ... and I'm really close with mine so it was just something that I could always relate to in that sense.
Are you prepared for a comparison with "Twilight"?
Yeah, but it's nothing like "Twilight." [Clary's] not defined by a romance; it's a love cube, it's not a love triangle. There's more than three people involved but it's not a romance. It's an action/adventure. Clary is a shadowhunter, she just doesn't know it. She's not choosing to be something that she's not. In "Twilight," Bella chooses to be a vampire. They're both going on journeys of discovering themselves as young women but that's kind of it, really. There are werewolves and there are vampires, but the story's not about vampires and werewolves. The story's about a young girl trying to find her mom, and demons and werewolves and vampires and fairies and pixies -- they all come into play but even without all of that, the movie wouldn't be the same story.
Do you feel the weight of expectations because the books were so popular?
Yeah. I'm going on all these mall tours with everyone and seeing the excitement and the crazy fandom and the expectations. Of course, there are parts of you that go, This is really big. Being a fan myself, I want to live up to their expectations, but having Snow White, another character that is even more renowned and iconic, I think I got over, or dealt with already -- the idea of having people have ideas about a character and commenting on how I portrayed her. So I've kind of been there, done that. It's not that it gets any easier but at least I dealt with it before so I kind of know how to separate myself from that.
You've worked with Taylor Lautner of "Twilight." Did you see how crazy it can get when you're part of a big phenomenon?
Oh, my God! With Taylor, it was madness because we'd be shooting ["Abduction"] in Pittsburgh in like a suburb or something and we'd be doing part of a night shoot and literally, one night, 500 people showed up and waited by our base camp and regardless of how tired he was, he went out and signed everybody's whatever they had for him to sign and that was like a big moment because for me, I didn't even have to ask advice. I just saw it happening. I saw he was so appreciative of his fans and how he took the time to show appreciation for those who put him where he was and I thought that was really amazing to see.
Since you're well known for playing Snow White, how do you think people will react to you being more badass in "Mortal Instruments."
I think it's okay. I've already been experimenting with my fashion lately, so I think it's already showing. It's funny because Snow White wasn't the first thing I'd done. [I went] from "Blind Side" to "Priest" to "Abduction" to "Mirror, Mirror" and then two independents, one of which I play this very sassy sexual young woman who is just overt and blunt about things. I've never really been able to pinpoint it as one particular thing because the characters have really been all over the map. That's what I always wanted to do. As an actor, you love playing around.
What have you learned from the iconic co-stars you've had in the past, like Sandra Bullock and Julia Roberts?
And Julianne Moore and Jennifer Connelly, also! Four women who -- Sandra wasn't a mother at the time of filming but obviously since has become a mom -- but the other three women were mothers when I was shooting with them and they were first and foremost mothers, and they brought their kids to set and when their kids were around, they were mommy. And it was so amazing to see them have this amazing career but at the same time, have this amazing home life and that they take so much time to make sure that they're nothing but mommy to their kids and that this world doesn't affect them. Also, though, with Sandra and Julianne -- Julianne brought a food truck to set one day just to say thank you to the crew on a random week and Sandra is just the funniest thing ever and she would treat everyone the same.
I asked Sandra advice on how she goes from one emotion to the other so quickly and she had said thinking about a specific memory or specific song. It's one thing to say that, it's another thing to try it. It takes practice but mostly I learned the most just by witnessing them treat everyone the same, and ask questions.
How did you like working with Jamie Campbell Bower?
Oh, it was amazing! He's such a talented actor and I knew from the second he walked in the room to audition as Jace that he was Jace and we all became such a tight-knit family on the set. I'm so excited to go back [to Toronto for the sequel]. I feel like I'm going back to shoot with my best friends and it's like summer camp.
What would you expect teen girls to get out of this movie?
It's okay to be confused when you're growing up. It's okay to be vulnerable. It's okay to show a weakness but don't let those moments of weakness define who you are and to continue on with what you're passionate about and what you believe in and you have the potential to get over even the darkest of moments if you have the passion to get through it. Clary doesn't know how to deal with situations but she is so determined and so passionate and that fuels her through any situation.