Lily Collins For ELLE Canada September 2013

Poised and ambitious, Lily Collins is the new reigning queen of Hollywood.

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I’m wondering if Lily Collins is as smart as she seems. At 24 years old, the actress, model and daughter of legendary rocker Phil Collins has written for the Los Angeles Times, covering a presidential election. She’s sitting now on a velvet couch in a New York studio, talking, with perfect poise and staccato diction, about her role as the cunning heroine in the summer blockbuster The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. Giving into a base impulse, I ask her if she’s game to try solving a few riddles (brainteasers that, granted, were told to me by an eight-year-old but I’d not managed to solve on the first go). Collins looks at me like she’s being Punk’d, but she rolls her head from side to side like a sprinter at the beginning of a race and then nods as if to say “Bring it on.” I launch into a riddle about a hallway with three doors, and she stops me with a serious look to summarize the important points. Then she gets the answer straight away. “Oh, my God, that’s great!” she says, clapping her hands over her face. I ask another simple one: “What gets wetter the more it dries?” She’s into this now. “A towel,” she fires back right away. “Is that right? I’ve never heard that one!” We go on like this: me lobbing out silly riddles and her smashing them back until she’s practically wiggling with glee. “You don’t understand—I never get these right,” she says with a laugh. “I don’t know why my critical thinking is on a high right now!”

\It’s probably because Collins is a little on edge during interviews—even now, as she shares a laugh and sips on the last of her latte. “I’m just alert—I’m aware,” she explains. “I witnessed a lot through the process of growing up in the industry. I grew up knowing the fine line between keeping things public and private. And that’s a cool thing—to be able to avoid mess-ups early on.”

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Born in England to Phil Collins and his second wife, Jill Tavelman, Collins spent her first birthday being serenaded onstage at one of her father’s concerts. “I don’t remember that much, but I don’t think I ever fully understood the gravity of it. But now, it’s quite funny to watch videos,” she explains, tucking her slender limbs up under her. “My parents really instilled this respect for the arts in me. I’ve always wanted to be grateful and not get jaded, because it can be so easy. I want to keep being surprised by what I get to do.”

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