Skip to content

She’s been acting since the age of two and famous since her teens, garnering awards and accolades along the way. But ever since the phenomenal success of Emily in Paris, her career has taken on a whole new level of stardom – not to mention fandom – making her everyone’s favourite honorary Parisian. Here, Lily Collins talks to Ellie Pither about her admiration for her alter ego’s unwavering positivity, the exciting new projects she’s working on, and how she has always believed in the power of vulnerability

[image filename="image_546.png" is_full_width="no" caption="This image: dress, Taller Marmo. Opening image: coat, Stella McCartney; bralet, Else; skirt, Coperni"] [featured-products is_wear_the_change="yes" product_1_variant_id="43237957370108" product_2_variant_id="43236253696252"]

Let’s begin with the bangs. The trailer for the highly anticipated third season of Emily in Paris revolves around them, with the titular millennial marketing assistant, Emily Cooper, taking scissors to a handful of her impossibly glossy barrel curls over the bathroom sink. “Emily, no!” gasps her best friend, Mindy. “Sometimes people cut bangs when everything’s fine!” she snaps back. But Emily has a decision hanging over her: return to her native Chicago, or remain in Paris? Align herself with her pushy American boss, or her bitchy French one? Pursue Gabriel, the dreamy French chef, or Alfie, the suave British banker? The only answer we get from the teaser is: cut an ingénue French fringe and carry on.

[image-quote image_filename="image_552.png" quote="To be able to play someone like Emily can give me a BOOST when I don’t even know I need it. to be able to FEEL a sense of POSITIVITY; that’s what Emily does for me" person="Lily Collins"]

Hairdressers of the world: prepare to be cutting la frange for months. For where Emily goes, the city – or at least its tourists – follow. You only have to walk 10 paces along the Seine before spotting an Emily acolyte, instantly identifiable by her cherry-red beret, black-and-white plaid item and Eiffel Tower bag charm. Canny French tour guides are now even offering Emily-themed excursions, taking in every backdrop where the character has eaten, drunk, kissed and double-dated.

Collins got her first real taste of Emily mania this past summer. As with previous shooting cycles, she took an apartment in Paris for the four months of filming – with her husband, Charlie McDowell, a director and screenwriter, and their adopted pug-terrier mix, Redford. Between takes, the couple explored Paris on electric scooters. “We do apartments because you feel more like a Parisian – and you have your own space,” says the actor, who is finding that the French she learned (almost fluently) at school, and on family trips to Switzerland, is starting to come back the more time she spends in the city.

[image filename="image_550.png" is_full_width="yes"]

When in Emily mode, Collins was often confronted by fans who had given themselves a gamine glow-up – and things got weird. “It’s very funny and endearing, and so bizarre and sweet, to see people, visiting the city, dressing like the character and taking photos,” she says. “People came up to me and said, ‘I packed my bag according to what Emily would wear.’ If they saw me in character, it was very trippy.”

She’s become sanguine about being mixed up with her plucky alter ego. “I get called Emily all the time,” she laughs. “I respond to either one [Lily and Emily] now. I take it as a compliment.” She has a great affection for the self-confessed basic bitch she’s played for the past three years (the series has been renewed for season four). “She’s somebody who is optimistic and solution-driven, and to play someone like Emily can give me a boost when I don’t even know I need it,” she says. “Just to be able to feel a sense of positivity; that’s what Emily does for me.”

[featured-posts post_1_id="589277036796" post_2_id="163711939" post_3_id="589277069564"] [double-image image_1_filename="image_553.png" image_1_caption="This image: Blazer, Toteme; bralet, the Row; pants, Tom Ford; watch, Cartier" image_2_filename="image_554.png" image_2_caption="This image: Blazer, A.L.C.; dress, Givenchy; watch, Cartier"]

“I think I came out into the world wanting to do, wanting to tell,” she says when I ask where her drive originates. “I was very passionate, rambunctious, energetic. I’ve always been like that.” Her desire to share her lows as well as her highs has always marked her out from peers. She references To The Bone, the 2017 drama in which she played a 20-year-old battling an eating disorder, drawing on her own experiences – which she detailed in an essay collection released that year, titled Unfiltered: No Shame, No Regrets, Just Me.

Today, Collins has more than 25 million Instagram followers; how does she decide where to draw the line? “It’s hard,” she admits. “I always have been someone who is very open; I’ve always been a strong believer in sharing and discussing feelings about things that are considered shameful or confusing. It’s always a learning curve. But I feel like I am able to have that balance. And I have a support system of people that I know will help me if I need help.”

[image filename="image_555.png" is_full_width="no" caption="This image: Dress, Alaïa; gloves, Agnelle"] [featured-products product_1_variant_id="43237957370108"]

On the subject of her husband, the Collins-McDowell domestic set-up seems to be a uniquely blissful environment. She mentions dog walks with no phones as her mechanism for switching off, along with the occasional reality-TV binge. “I wanna watch my Real Housewives!” she giggles. We return to an earlier theme – how to balance work with life. “Again, it’s very much like Emily, but I am unapologetically work-driven,” she muses. “I also love life, and I want to live outside of what I do. When I met my now-husband… he encouraged me to reflect on who I am, and what I need. That was an amazing moment.”

Another similarity between Collins and her onscreen counterpart is an appreciation of scene-stealing fashion. But, while Collins revels in megawatt moments – Ralph Lauren is a particularly trusted red-carpet collaborator (he made the custom Calais-Caudry lace wedding dress for her 2021 nuptials) – she’s also perfectly happy in casualwear. Today, she’s wearing jeans and a hippyish, multicolored cardigan, knitted by her late maternal grandmother, Jane. “I have six of them! Every time I wear them, people are, like, ‘Where d’you get those?’” she says, delightedly. She cites Les Merveilles de Babellou in Paris as a vintage treasure trove where she ended up picking out pieces for Emily, along with costume designer Marylin Fitoussi.

[featured-posts post_1_id="589277069564"]

Working in Paris isn’t all Jean Paul Gaultier jackets, though. One of the quirkier days on set for season three involved a host of feathered co-stars. “The pigeons were the hardest cast members to corral,” Collins laughs, referring to a scene she shot with a bird in the Savoir office (the marketing agency where Emily works). “Because they cost so much, they have to have certain working hours. Some of them are trained pigeons, some of them are wild pigeons – and sometimes they just do the unexpected and land on you.” They poop, too. How did she handle it? “In my Emily way. Trying to be controlled while freaking out,” she smiles.