“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.”

“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.”