Forget about those cross-eyed selfies on Instagram. World-famous supermodel Cara Delevingne is one of the smartest actresses around (yes, that’s right, actresses….
Things you probably know about Cara Delevingne. 1. She has the world’s most famous eyebrows. 2. She has a lineage where most of us have families (the UK’s Daily Mail called her ‘pure Chelsea posh’.) 3. She is the supermodel who built her brand on 2.2 million Twitter followers and having fun with her supermodel besties. 4. She invented the boss-eyed selfie. Now add point number five to the list: she can act.
No smirking. The 22-year-old is brilliant in the new British drama The Face of an Angel. And the acting came before modelling. At 17, she was close to landing the lead in Alice in Wonderland (so close that she met with director Tim Burton), while boarding at boho public school Bedales. Then she was spotted by the woman who discovered Kate Moss and the rest is supermodel history. Michael Winterbottom, director of The Face of an Angel, calls her a ‘screen natural’: ‘After I met Cara for five minutes, I knew she was perfect.’
The film is not – as has been reported – ‘the Amanda Knox movie’. Instead, it explores how high-profile trials like Knox’s descend into popularity contests. Daniel Brühl plays a film director who wants to make a movie about a similar case. Cara plays happy-go-lucky English student Melanie, who’s in Italy for a year and acts as his guide.
We’ve got to admit, we’re feeling schoolgirl nervous before the interview. It’s like being put in a room with the coolest girl in class. But Cara is as open in person as she is on Twitter, a likeable mix of goofy, thoughtful and chatty. And she is Emma Thompson articulate about issues that she cares about. And she’s got one thing money can’t buy and publicists can’t fake: personality. Cara Delevingne is a woman with opinions and is not afraid to shout about them. Is Hollywood ready for her?
Your character in The Face of an Angel is all energy and positivity. Would you say there’s a bit of you in Melanie?
Definitely. She’s more positive than me. I have a lot more to worry about. Not in a bad sense, but she’s on her first adventure after school. She’s gone to Italy by herself to be a student, making friends and getting a job. That’s probably the least worry she’s ever going to have. But I am that way. I always try and have fun.
Is it weird having this huge success so young?
Yes, definitely weird. I always wanted to go to drama school. But I thought I was going to be the one stuck on a gap year for two years, lost in India. I never thought about the future. I’ve only started thinking about it in the last six months, purely because I’m doing a film until September and then another one next year. All I knew was that I wanted to act and I wanted to do music.
Do you care if people rant about your transition from modelling to acting?
No. As soon as I got my first role I was like: I don’t care what people say. The work speaks for itself. People can call
me whatever they want, and put me in whatever category. I just hope I can do good work and make good movies with people who inspire me. But it’s been pretty terrifying. It hasn’t been chilled.
Did you ever think: I’ve done too much modelling, it will be impossible to become an actor?
Oh yeah. The first time I did Fashion Week, I was like: ‘Right, I might as well give up on acting.’ And as soon as I became a model, I was being sent typecasting roles as the stupid blonde who gets killed really quickly, or the cool girlfriend, or whatever. Roles I would rather die than play. I was ready to give up on it. Or not give up, but take a break. When I finally got a serious role to audition for, I cried on the phone, I was
so happy. I wasn’t even given a film, just an audition…
So it’s difficult as a woman in your 20s to get decent roles?
Yes. And every movie I’ve done I’ve had to fight for lines and fight for point of view. Usually it’s a male director, male producers. It’s all very much a man’s point of view. I speak up and say, ‘Girls don’t do that.’ Or, ‘That’s not something a girl would say in that situation.’ It’s about how men perceive women and it’s not accurate. It annoys me! I don’t think people speak up enough. Even if I’m wrong, even if I get shut down, I know that I’ve done my part to get a woman’s voice out there. It’s important that when girls watch movies they’ve got strong female role models.
What roles are you drawn to?
Right now I’m playing a supervillain [in comic book movie Suicide Squad]. I don’t want to take roles that don’t make me want to cry or don’t inspire me. I want to feel that I would pay a lot of money to play the role that I’m playing.
You’re the social media supermodel.
You have two million followers on Twitter and ten million on Instagram. Do you ever feel like just turning it all off and becoming a recluse?
Oh yeah. Not that I ever will. People comment on the way I look or they think that I’m doing something that I’m not. People hear rumours and they comment on them. And I have no control over it. Sometimes I get sad and think: ‘I can’t ever turn back from this. I can’t switch it off. There is no return.’ And it freaks me out. But at the same time, I wouldn’t be living any other life. And to be honest, I don’t care what they think. I’m happy.
You covered yourself in fruit to celebrate getting ten million Instagram followers. What will you do when you hit 20 million?
That’s a good question! I’ve no idea. What am I going to do? Skydive!
Do you enjoy living out of a suitcase?
No! At the moment I’m sitting in a hotel room with three suitcases. I used to pack like a messy teenager, shoving everything in. But now, it’s like a ritual. I spend a couple of hours, music on, putting everything in piles. I never loved being organised until now.
At Paris Fashion Week you only walked one show, Chanel. Are you retiring from modelling?
No, I don’t like the word retiring. I would never retire. I want to be able to do everything. I’m taking a break. I wasn’t going to do any shows, but I love Chanel. I’d do anything for Karl [Lagerfeld, creative director and head designer at Chanel]. He’s a genius.
What are you reading at the moment?
I’ve just finished reading Lena Dunham’s book [Not That Kind of Girl], which is good. And I’m re-reading Hermann Hesse’s poetry at the moment. And short stories by an amazing woman called Lydia Davis. My attention span is tiny when I’m working, so I like to read a short story.
Joan Collins is your godmother. Is she good at it?
She’s the best godmother ever. She gave me truly great advice about being an actress. She was the one who told me
I didn’t have to go to drama school.
What’s the secret to your eyebrows?
If I’m about to get a monobrow I pluck them; but otherwise I don’t touch them. That’s my grandmother’s secret.
The Face of Angel is out in cinemas later this year.