The Inventory: Lily Cole

Lily Cole, 25, was photographed for her first Vogue cover at the age of 16. Her film appearances include St Trinian’s and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.

What was your earliest ambition?

To do anything artistic or performance-related.

Public school or state school? University or straight into work?

Both, mostly state schools. Work, then university, King’s College Cambridge, then work again! I wasn’t sure I’d make it to university or stick it out, so I was really proud of my degree. Especially as everyone looked so surprised.

University: King’s College, Cambridge

Who is your mentor?

I’ve quite a few: my mum’s a great source of advice; a teacher has had a big influence; some of my closest friends … I feel very blessed.

How physically fit are you?

I go in phases. If I’m anywhere close to where I can hike or swim, that’s my favourite thing to do. I love yoga. I don’t do it as much as I’d like to but I feel wonderful when I do. Luckily I have a friend who’s a trainer; his programme is called Essentrics. I do a lot of that if I’m preparing for a film.

Ambition or talent: which matters more to success?

Talent is crucial. It needs to be driven by motivation but blind ambition isn’t the key.

Have you ever taken an IQ test?


How politically committed are you?

Very, but I’m not inspired by the stock political process. I’m more engaged in using economics and art to act at macropolitical levels. I’m working on a social network, Impossible: it’s about setting up a peer-to-peer gift economy. Economics runs the world; change those structures and you can change the world.

Do you consider your carbon footprint?

I do. It’s a complex issue but when green things become more viable economically, the tide will turn.

Do you have more than one home?

An apartment in New York and one in London.

Has just bought: an old Hasselblad

What would you like to own that you don’t currently possess?

Patience. And I just bought an old Hasselblad film camera. They make digital backs for them now. I’m very pro-film, anti-digital but now I think I’d like to have both.

What’s your biggest extravagance?


In what place are you happiest?

In nature – being outside is good for my soul. And at home.

What ambitions do you still have?

I’ve got a few!

What drives you on?

Love. Which sounds cheesy but I think it’s pretty essential. Love for people, the planet and life.

What is the greatest achievement of your life so far?

With no vanity, my sense of self. Managing to have faith in myself and in life. Everything else is just a manifestation of that.

What has been your greatest disappointment?

I can make peace with everything that seems disappointing. In time, things come right. That’s about the things I can control in my own life – my disappointments come from other people.

If your 20-year-old self could see you now, what would she think?

She’d be surprised. I was more focused on acting when I was 20.

If you lost everything tomorrow, what would you do?

Run, laugh, try to think myself free.

Do you believe in assisted suicide?

I wouldn’t judge anybody who chose to do it.

Do you believe in an afterlife?

I don’t believe there’s an afterlife – but I don’t believe there’s an end to life. Consciousness goes beyond the bounds of your body.

If you had to rate your satisfaction with your life so far, out of 10, what would you score?

It changes. Pretty high. In my best state of mind, 10.

Lily Cole is an ambassador for Sky Rainforest Rescue. ‘Lily Cole’s Amazon Adventure’ is on March 17 at 8pm on Sky Arts 1;

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