CULTURE

Mirror Mirror

Lily Collins takes us behind the scenes of her wild new snow white fantasy.


“I grew up in a fairy tale world,” says actress Lily Collins, the daughter of the singer Phil Collins. “I lived in the English countryside and would go out into the fields and make up stories for myself to act out.” Having since graduated to acting out the kind of stories that other people make up, Collins, 23, takes a turn as Snow White in the fantastical new film Mirror Mirror, out March 16. Director Tarsem Singh’s comedic adventure story, a zany and visually rich interpretation of the old Grimms tale (unlike Kristen Stewart’s darker spin on the classic, Snow White & the Huntsman, out this summer), stars Julia Roberts as the gleefully evil queen and Armie Hammer as a hapless Prince Charming. “Snow White doesn’t wait around for the prince to solve her problems,” Collins explains. “She goes after him to get his help fighting the queen. There’s a spark between them, but that’s not her main motive.” Roberts’s vain queen has, in the manner of Marie Antoinette, spent the kingdom into debt and besmirched the throne that Snow White is destined to inherit. With the aid of all seven dwarfs and a fairy godmother–like figure named Baker Margaret, the young princess mounts a coup, sacrificing her youthful innocence along the way. Meanwhile, the queen turns her powers of seduction on the newly arrived prince and his deep pockets. In their own way, both of these beautiful women—though only one can be the fairest of them all, of course—end up using the prince, a reversal of roles that strikes Collins as very contemporary. “This Snow White is empowered,” Collins says. “She has this great character arc, from naive princess to young warrior. Going into the film, I was a bit wide-eyed; looking back, I matured a lot as a young woman on set. By the end, Snow White and I had a lot in common.”

Mirror Mirror

“Me, in an outfit for a costume ball that I’m not supposed to attend—but of course, I go, because the prince will be there. The queen sends me away to my death in the woods with Nathan Lane’s character, but he doesn’t kill me. I wake up in the dwarves’ house, where I start training to battle the queen. I had to run, wrestle, and sword fight—in this dress.”

Photographer: Brigitte Lacombe

“This is Julia Roberts as the evil queen on her throne in of her many enormous gowns. Julia plays the part in such an eerie, sinister way—she’s smiling, but at the same time she’s saying something horrible, and then someone yould yell, ‘Cut!’ and she’d apologize for being mean.”

Photographer: Brigitte Lacombe

“Armie Hammer as the prince (left) with Robert Emms, his man-in-waiting. Armie played his part with a great mix of regal sophistication and goofy cluelessness.”

Photographer: Brigitte Lacombe

“Every outfit took 20 minutes to put on and was a major experience. (Also, our director, Tarsem Singh, loves the color saffron.)”

Photographer: Brigitte Lacombe

“These are the courtiers—basically, they’re the human chess pieces in the queen’s game. It was also like watching people play Battleship: Someone yells out instructions ‘A6 to 3D!’ and the right person would walk to the right spot. At the end of the game, cannons fire and blow smoke into the air. It was kind of amazing—the attention to detail on this film was fantastic.”

Photographer: Brigitte Lacombe

“Here’s Tarsem, whom I love. He’s such a visionary artist. I like to say that he ‘Tarsemmed’ something—there’s really no other way to describe what he does. The way the film was shot, it feels like you’re in a painting: very Salvador Dali or maybe Dali-meets-Gaudi.”

Photographer: Brigitte Lacombe

“Nathan Lane is supposed to be the queen’s right-hand man—he’s been order to kill me, but he can’t because he’s kind of a scardey-cat. Nathan can make me laugh without saying a word. There’s something about him that’s just so lovable.”

Photographer: Brigitte Lacombe
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