“I was leaving my apartment one day and someone I’ve known for a long time, my mom’s age, said to me, ‘Oh, wow, look at you!’ I tried to explain [I had lost weight for a role] and she goes, ‘No! I want to know what you’re doing, you look great!’ I got into the car with my mom and said, ‘That is why the problem exists,’ ” Collins, 28, tells the magazine.
In fact, her weight appeared so low during filming that magazines didn’t want to shoot her for any stories.
“I was about to embark on press for Rules Don’t Apply and I was told that a lot of media did not want to put me in their magazines. Not just on the cover — they wouldn’t put me inside looking the way I did, even though it was for a movie,” Collins says. “I told my publicist that if I could snap my fingers and gain ten pounds right that second, I would give anything to do that. I never thought I’d ever say anything like that!”
The actress, who plays a 20-year-old woman battling anorexia in the Netflix film, says the role aided in her own recovery.
“When I went through my eating disorder, I never sought medical assistance. I created myths in my head about how I should get through things, so the idea that I could surround myself with truth and feel comfortable enough to speak mine allowed me to breathe,” Collins says.
“There’s a scene in the film when we’re in group therapy talking about the euphoria we experience – I’d never heard that weird enjoyment we feel from being in the disorder worded that way before – and in that moment, you caught Lily understanding it as opposed to just Ellen, my character.”
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Collins says that she’s finally let go of the need to be ‘perfect.’
“From a young age, I’ve had a desire to put forward this perfect image, whatever perfect was,” she says. “So even though there was all this un-prettiness going on inside of me, I wanted to make sure that my appearance and composure were a certain way … Now that I’ve put things out there I feel like I’m starting from a clean slate, so when I play a character I can let go more.”
But watching Collins play a character dealing with such a similar disorder was tough for her mother to handle.
“The first time she was a bit in shock. The second time I looked over at the end and she was sobbing; it really hit her hard,” Collins says of her mom. “I never wanted her to feel responsible; she’s like my best friend. When she saw the movie, I think she recognized so much of me in Ellen.”
“There’s a scene where I’m taking my clothes off to be weighed by Carrie Preston, my stepmom in the movie, who takes a photo on her phone and shows it to me. I didn’t think she’d actually take one but she did. I saw myself in the photo and my heart dropped. So when my mom saw the film, she saw Lily’s reaction because she knows me the best.”
To read the full interview with Lily Collins, read The EDIT at Net-A-Porter.com, and/or download The EDIT’s free app for iPhone, iPad and Android.