An up-and-coming starlet's work is never done even if it is her birthday. Lily Collins, who turns 23 today, flew in from the North Carolina set of her new film "Writers," late Friday night to attend the early Saturday morning premiere of her flashy fairy tale "Mirror Mirror" and was scheduled to return to set on a red-eye Sunday night.
"I haven't had much me time lately. That's what I want for my birthday -- just to relax, not have to work and have a nice, chill family birthday," Collins, whose dad singer Phil Collins came to town to celebrate with her, told Wonderwall at the premiere's after-party at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. "Nothing too fancy. I just want a good dinner and to be able to hang out with my mom and dad."
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Even with less than 36 hours of free time, Collins was content. She didn't even ask her parents for any gifts. "Both my parents have been saying for weeks, 'You're not helping us out at all. We have no idea what you want.' And I just tell them, 'It's because I don't want anything other than to hang out with my family.' I'm so happy right now. Work is great and I have everything I need."
Collins, who plays Snow White in the updated retelling that hits theaters March 30, was happy to let the "Mirror Mirror" event stand in for a big party this year. "The studio was kind enough to throw me this lavish birthday celebration [a day early]. It's a big one. Lots of people showed up," joked Collins, who was surprised with a giant cake in the shape of a poisonous red apple.
Being granted the opportunity to play such an iconic princess felt like an early present. "The second I heard about the auditions, I jumped at the chance to go in. [When] I got it, I was crying, laughing, screaming. It was a no-brainer. I grew up loving fairy tales and to play an iconic role like this was exciting and a challenge. I especially liked that we were portraying Snow White in a fresh way. It shows her as a strong young woman who fights for what she believes in and she doesn't need a prince to save her. She's not just a caricature of an animated princess. To be chosen as the girl to reinterpret an iconic character was a complete honor. I was like, 'Yes. Done. Where do I sign?'"
Playing the resplendent royal did have one setback that never crossed her mind until she started interacting with young fans at screenings and appearances. "It's so bizarre because I have started answering to Snow White. All the little girls are like, 'Snow White, will you please take a picture with me?' When I am signing autographs for children, I don't know whether to sign Lily or Snow. They haven't quite made the connection that I'm an actress playing Snow White. For them the fairy tale is real and I don't want to be the girl who ruins that fantasy. I don't know what to do in that situation. It's a little like taking the [costume] head off a character [at Disneyland]."
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Tweens and tots aren't the only ones paying more attention to the actress either. As she books more films, including her latest gig in the adaptation of the first book in "The Mortal Instruments" best-selling young-adult series, and raises her letter-list status, she has had to deal with a growing interest in her personal life. (She is currently rumored to be dating Zac Efron although remains tightlipped on the subject.)
"I'm just doing what I love. I don't want to be famous. If you seek out that kind of attention, it will come to you. I'm not seeking it out and don't really worry about it," she explained. "I know an interest in your personal life comes with the job sometimes and that is a part I've had to accept. But a certain amount of it you can limit and control. If you aren't spending wild nights out partying, then those stories and photos don't exist."