Usually the words “celebrity” and “unfiltered” indicate a series of explicit photos, the involvement of a tabloid magazine and a juicy exposé. Not for Lily Collins. The 27-year-old (turning 28 on March 18) English-American actress’ first book, Unfiltered: No Shame, No Regrets, Just Me. ($14, Harper Collins), which releases March 7, is an honest look at the person behind the public persona and the glamour of the silver screen. But those salivating at the thought of behind-the-scenes gossip may want to simmer down. This is not a tell-all. In her debut essay collection, the actress pens a poignant, honest conversation about things young women struggle with, including body image, self-confidence and relationships. Nevertheless, Collins has jitters. “I’m anxious,” admits the petite actress, looking impeccable in black Paige jeans, Stuart Weitzman suede boots and a loose white Tularosa top.
Her nerves are understandable. The last time we chatted with Collins about her award-nominated turn in Warren Beatty’s Rules Don’t Apply, she said: “Keep private whatever you hold dear,” a reasonable mantra in a celebrity-obsessed world where privacy is hard to come by. Now, she’s about to willingly open the door to some of her deepest secrets, from her yearslong battle with eating disorders to an emotionally abusive relationship.
“I still believe that,” she says, when reminded of her mantra. “But these are things that I felt I wanted to put out there. Not necessarily so people know that I experienced them, but to create, hopefully, a space for more open conversation about the topics I discuss.” And some things are still off limits: “When I talk about relationships, I don’t reveal any details about it or names because that is not important. That was not the point of why I was going there.”
Collins’ life has certainly appeared charmed from its inception. The daughter of English musician Phil Collins and American Jill Tavelman was born in England and moved to Los Angeles at the age of 6. Collins has always been a self-starter. She cold-called magazine editors as a teenager, which landed her a column in ELLE Girl UK, and initially pursued a career in broadcast journalism before her role in The Blind Side took her on a different path. Leading roles in Mirror Mirror; Love, Rosie; and The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones followed, but it is in the past year or so that Collins’ career has really hit its stride, with Rules Don’t Apply (for which she received a Golden Globe nomination); the upcoming Amazon series The Last Tycoon, based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s last book about 1930s Hollywood; the Netflix original film Okja, in which she stars alongside Jake Gyllenhaal and Tilda Swinton; and To the Bone, which premiered in January at Sundance to rave reviews and was purchased by Netflix for $8 million. Even her colleagues can’t stop gushing over her. “She’s very much in charge of her life and her professional life in a way that I think is really admirable,” says her Rules Don’t Apply co-star Annette Bening, who refers to Collins as a “badass” who “has her sh*t together.”