‘Mirror Mirror’ star Lily Collins explains her intense fight training, talks heavy dresses, and shares her thoughts on the Audrey Hepburn comparisons.
In the second half of our chat with Lily, who plays Snow White in the film, which hits theatres on Friday, March 30th, she dishes on the physical portion of her job and the fabulous, but heavy, dresses.
What was the training like and how did you prepare?
Lily Collins: “I have always been a really physical person. I love working out and running and swimming and being outdoors and trying new things. And I love dancing. Specifically my love of dance was helpful, because it is very similar to the sword fighting — very choreographed and planned out. I have never tried any sort of mixed martial arts or anything that was very strategic and defined. Basically I was starting from scratch, even when it came to the punches.
Armie [Hammer] and I would do five, six-hour training sessions a day with all the stunt guys, and I was the only girl. My stunt double was a 16 year old, the daughter of the fight coordinator. But, she was still in school at the beginning of training, so I was the only girl. There were all these burly stuntmen, and some were from Cirque du Soleil which was amazing. I was the girl going, “Please don’t think that I can’t be as good as you,” because I was thinking I look young. We worked on sword fighting and fencing training for about four months. And the interesting part is, though, Armie and I never practiced together until just before shooting the scene. I practiced with his stunt double and he practiced with mine. I think it made those scenes that much more genuine, because I learned from the dwarves. I’m just wild and kind of vigorously trying to win, whereas Armie is a trained prince, so he’s more of very chic and stylized. So, when all of a sudden we are paired together, it was like, “What is going on here?” And when you add in your character traits. And he wanted to say a line and then do it, and it made is so confusing in a good way, because it was very real. It wasn’t too stylized and choreographed. I, by accident, would casually hit him and he’d hit me and we’d have bruises. But, it was kind of the fun of it and everyone’s laughing and yelling, “Cut.” And we’re like, “Again? Really?” But, it made it fun.
I also worked with a personal trainer in LA, to help with my endurance, not I’m going to be doing all these exercises holding a 15 pound sword, but it did help. It’s very different than just running on a treadmill”
You’ve been compared to Audrey Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor. Who do you feel is your style icon, somebody that you aspire your career to be like?
Lily Collins: “That’s a complete honour because my style icon truly is Audrey. She really influenced the way that Tarsem [Director Tarsem Singh] and I went about creating her look at the end of the movie. It definitely influenced us.
It’s funny. I did a photo shoot for an English magazine last year where they put fake bangs on me. And I’d never experimented with my hair with bangs. And I sent a picture to my mum, and she freaked out because she thought I’d cut it. And she said, “I can’t believe it. What did you do to yourself? It looks amazing. But, your agent’s and everyone are going to freak out.” I said, “No, that’s a fake bang.” And she’s goes, “You can do that?” It got me thinking. I thought, “Wow, I really like this look,” because it made me feel so different. And I felt like I could mature from a girl to a young woman with a small hair change. And Tarsem had seen the same shoot. And he and I talked about the physical look of her at the end of the movie, and we really liked going there because it was more of that classic vibe.
Also, for me, I wanted to make Snow White this relatable girl that young girls could relate to. But, also there is something about Audrey. She says so much without saying anything. And she can be so funny and relatable and sweet, and yet at the same time make you cry or make you feel with her.
And I think it’s old time movie stars that have a quality that isn’t as noticeable today because there are so many quick shots in a film. You don’t stay on one person for a long period of time. And with Audrey or Elizabeth Taylor, you stayed on someone’s face to see them go from one emotion to another.
And I studied her and just the way that she used her body and her posture and her hands. She was very much a princess in her own way. Obviously in Roman Holiday and watching all those, she is just someone that carries a grace and elegance and classicness to her, and she’s timeless.
I wanted to look to her for inspiration for the role. For people to say that they saw that is huge for me, because that was definitely an inspiration. “
What dress in the movie was your favourite to wear?
****small spoiler alert!***
Lily Collins: “All of them kind of were different phases of Snow and her personality and how she grows. And so, each one I have different memories with. But, ultimately I think the wedding dress because of the vibrant colours and the memories I have in the song and dance number. Also, that’s when I felt the most like a young woman and growing up as Lily.
But, also I remember in the fitting when the late Eiko [Costume Designer Eiko Ishioka] was making it on me, it was originally white, kind of weird, tough fabric that she was showing me with sketches, “This will look like this one day, and it will be this colour.” It was blue and orange. Then, she put this big bow on my back. And then, all of a sudden when I came to set and we had the last fitting, and I just started crying because it was, as if, “You clearly had a vision,” and it’s so iconic in a new way. It’s not the classic Snow White. It’s not the classic colours, but it is classic in itself.
I smiled whenever I put it on. It took 20 minutes to put on. And the bathroom was really hard to do. You have to take it off. And by the end of it, they either would just shove a stool under me, because I’d look at somebody and go, “The stool,” and they’d just shove it under. Or, I just came to the point where I’d just collapse on the floor. There was a picture that they just released of me in my white dress. And Tarsem’s [Director Tarsem Singh] on the floor talking to me and I’m just on the floor because I was so tired I just didn’t care anymore. But, yes, I think the last one is my favourite. “
Were the dresses really heavy?
Ms. Lily Collins: “Yes, really heavy, really tight. They were corseted every day, suctioned in. The white dress had two poufy skirts under and then the corset, and then the skirt over. They all had layers, so many layers. I was running through the forest in them with heels on through the trees that were imported and planted. They’re so close together. I’m running, looking back. It’s tight. It’s, hot. And I never fell or tripped. I was really proud of myself.
But, the second they’d take those outfits off every night, I’d just collapse. And I swore to myself, “I am never going to complain about normal clothes ever again.” Even if it’s a red carpet moment. You only have to keep it for a few hours, not 12-hour, 13-hour days. So, I gained a lot of respect for the women that used to live and wear that every day, because I have no idea how they did it. But, they were impeccable so I could never complain about wearing them.”
Did you feel any intimidation about playing such an iconic role, because those are big shoes to fill?
Lily Collins: “It is. I grew up in England in the countryside, and I would run around the yard kind of just making up my own fairytales in my head. And I think when it comes to fairytale characters, every young girl has their own interpretation of what a fairytale princess is and who she should be. Even if it’s the wrong hair colour, it’s like, “I’m her, and that’s kind of my way of doing it. So, I think the script already kind of gave way to a new vision of Snow White, that she already was a modernized version of the classic fairytale character we knew. It wasn’t as much intimidation of trying to stay true to the original, it was just making sure I was someone that young girls could relate to. I didn’t want to be this caricature of a fairytale princess that was already in cartoon form. I wanted to be someone that young girls could look at and say, “She’s a friend of mine,” you know? So, it was more trying to make sure I did relate to young girls as opposed to being fearful that I wasn’t going to live up to everyone’s expectations of what Snow White should be. “
Photos courtesy of Relativity