TORONTO – Lily Collins says she’s long been fascinated with food documentaries and mindful about what she puts on her plate.
“I’m not a red meat eater currently, I haven’t been for a very long time,” says the Golden Globe-nominated actress, who is the daughter of singer Phil Collins.
“I love fish though. So I enjoy vegan tendencies and vegetarian food, but I’m not full either way.”
But shooting the new Netflix film “Okja,” about the strong bond between a South Korean girl (played by Ahn Seo-Hyun) and her genetically modified “superpig” created by a livestock company, added a new level of resonance for her.
“This movie just made me more of a conscious consumer, even just in regards to other types of products, whether it’s shampoos … or whatnot,” says Collins, who also stars in the upcoming Netflix film “To the Bone.”
Director/co-writer Bong Joon-ho’s fable, which also stars Tilda Swinton and Jake Gyllenhaal, hits Netflix and Toronto’s TIFF Bell Lightbox on Wednesday.
The Canadian Press spoke with Collins about her character, who is a member of an animal rights group that tries to free the animal and hundreds of other superpigs from being killed at a factory farm. Swinton plays two characters — sisters who lead the family-owned multinational conglomerate that created the pigs — while Gyllenhaal plays a TV zoologist working on behalf of the company.
CP: What drew you to this role?
Collins: The idea that I got to work with director Bong and play a character that I had never really had the opportunity to play before. To be a smaller part in a massive story like this was a huge draw, and to be a part of something that has so many different themes within this one storyline was really provocative and exciting for me.
I love doing films that spark conversation and this is definitely a conversation piece.
CP: Tell me about some of those conversations.
Collins: Everything from anti-corporate America to being a more conscious consumer in how animals are treated and our food is prepared, and also just the idea of saving the environment and how important the environment is to us. And innocence lost and best friends and love. It’s a love story as well, it’s an action movie, as well as a comedy.
There are just so many things to be taken from this story and I think that’s what Bong does so brilliantly, is that he incorporates all of these things in a way that you don’t know really what you’re watching, you just know that you’re thinking a lot, and I think that that’s such an amazing quality to have as a filmmaker — that you never feel like you’re preachy … but you’re also sending lots of different messages that sometimes are quite subliminal as well.
CP: Do you have any thoughts on the way these animal rights groups are run?
Collins: It’s interesting that sometimes when you are so zeroed in on your purpose and your mission, it causes you to do things that maybe you otherwise wouldn’t. As human beings, we can be very hypocritical at times. We’re two-fold: we have many different facets to ourselves and we have faults, and I think that all the members of this group show those faults within the context of the situation.
And I think that Bong exposed this side of humanity so interestingly, because he’s not trying to prove any point other than the fact that we’re all multifaceted and we all have our pros and cons.