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A Minute With: Lily Collins on fantasy, fans and first kisses

Cast member Lily Collins poses for a portrait while promoting her upcoming movie "The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones" in Los Angeles, Cal
Cast member Lily Collins poses for a portrait while promoting her upcoming movie "The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones" in Los Angeles, Cal

By Piya Sinha-Roy

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Once an aspiring reporter, actress Lily Collins has swapped journalism for Hollywood, as she prepares to step into the spotlight with her biggest role to date: playing a heroine in a young adult franchise.

Collins, 24, the daughter of British singer Phil Collins, studied journalism at the University of Southern California but has been displaying her acting chops with films such as 2009's "The Blind Side" and 2012's "Mirror Mirror."

The actress takes a leading role as Clary Fray in the film adaptation of "City of Bones," in theaters on Wednesday, the first book in Cassandra Clare's "The Mortal Instruments" young adult series. The film is set in present day Brooklyn, where Clary discovers a hidden fantasy world that changes her life.

Collins talked to Reuters about the pressure of being part of a young adult film series, the demands of an on-screen first kiss and being compared to Jennifer Lawrence.

Q: How much pressure did you feel portraying Clary in a film adaptation of a book series with such a large fan base?

A: I didn't realize how big the fandom was when I was cast because I wasn't social-network savvy, so when the news broke that I was cast, it felt like everything blew up ... I feel lucky to have had the experience of playing a character like Snow White (in "Mirror Mirror") where everyone had an opinion, and I was able to learn how to separate myself from public opinion.

Q: Clary has her entire world turned upside down in "City of Bones" as she finds out secrets about her mother and her life. Was it a challenge for you to convey her confusion?

A: As an actor that was what scared me the most, because in reality, identity crisis at that age is normal. Every young girl is going through this 'who am I' thing, and we're also hormonally crazy at that age, so you can react emotionally because you're angry, sad, frustrated, annoyed, upset. There are so many ways emotions can come out and different reasoning, so I had to make sure I didn't act it with one note, or at least I hope I didn't act it one note and make her a victim. She's not a victim, but she is vulnerable and confused.

Q: What did you and Jamie Campbell-Bower, who plays Jace, discuss about Clary and Jace's relationship?

A: I wanted to make sure Clary didn't come across as a girl that is defined by love, because I think we've seen that in franchises where it becomes all about the romance, and this is not a romance story. Of course there is unrequited love and forbidden love that's toyed with ... but I wanted to make sure it was very much like the Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy relationship where they finally found someone in each other that they combat with, and that's what they respect in one another.

Q: How challenging was Clary and Jace's first kiss scene?

A: It's great when you have someone opposite you who you get along with so well, you're both in the same boat where there's 40 people watching you and it's awkward ... it's not romantic! But then it looks extremely romantic when you see it because the setting and the emotion and music, and Jamie and I got along so well. It's lovely when you have someone going through it with you that is also on the same page as you. As a girl reading the books, it's the moment that you want to be perfect.

Q: "City of Bones" is part of a new wave of young adult films including "The Hunger Games" and "Divergent." How does Clary stand apart from Jennifer Lawrence's Katniss and Shailene Woodley's Tris?

A: It's amazing to be in the same sentence and category as young women like that because I love Jennifer, and I think Shailene is extremely talented, and even with Kristen (Stewart), even though the ("Twilight) series is finished now. There are so many types of young women heroines in everyday life, I think there's room for everyone, we all bring something different to the table ... There's a comedic undertone to our stories that is absent in the other ones I think, and Clary is part of that sassiness and part of that comedy. She is on a quest to save her mom and she doesn't let love define her, she's not victimized. She's a fighter, but she's normal too.

(Editing by Mary Milliken and Ken Wills)

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