Lily Collins reflects on growing up with dad Phil Collins


Lily Collins made her silver screen debut in 2009’s “The Blind Side,” before going on to star in a series of movies including “Mirror Mirror” and “Love, Rosie” over just a few years.

Since then, the actor, 33, has helmed some major Netflix projects, most notably for her role as Emily Cooper in “Emily In Paris,” which became the streaming platform’s top comedy in 2020.

Beyond her acting credentials, Collins is also the daughter of Genesis frontman, Phil Collins and his second wife, Jill Tavelman. While at one point in her career, Collins considered dropping her last name to be taken more seriously in the industry, ultimately it was her father’s own career that helped her understand the life of an entertainer and the fame that came along with it.

During the most recent Sunday Sitdown, TODAY’s Willie Geist asked the actor if her own father’s career gave her a glimpse at the type of life that she could too have one day. Collins recalled one specific moment from childhood growing up as the daughter of the legendary Phil Collins, trying to understand the magnitude of her career and fame.

Willie Geist and Lily Collins pose for a selfie.Nathan Congleton / NBC

“I remember being a kid at Disneyland with my dad and having someone come up and ask him for a photo. And I think I was just so confused because I was, like, well, Disneyland has nothing to do with him,” she said. “But it was that kind of recognition no matter where he went that he had touched the life of somebody in a very profound way.”

The “Mortal Instruments” star explained that part of being an entertainer is “putting your heart on your sleeve,” adding, “You’re being vulnerable. You’re telling parts of your soul to the world through lyrics or through a part.”

“And to be able to have the kind of confidence and strength to do that, and also maintain a sense of privacy, that’s a fine line,” she continued.

Collins may know better than anyone else what that fine line is, telling Willie that she knew getting too exposed was “always a risk” after witnessing what her family had gone through over the years.

“Obviously social media didn’t exist back then so now there’s a whole ‘nother level to it,” she added. “But there’s a way to maintain a balance, and that’s not always easy, but it is something that comes with it. And it’s not by any means something that I would ever want to prohibit me from continuing to do what I love.”

The actor emphasized her love for acting and her career up to this point, telling Willie, “I feel like I grow so much as a human through what I do, that it takes the work sometimes to make it balance out. But I learned a lot.”

Sunday TODAY with Willie Geist - Season 36
Lily Collins and Willie Geist had a candid conversation at a New York City restaurant. Nathan Congleton / NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

Despite her rise to fame and roles in some of Netflix’s top hits, including “To The Bone” and her new movie, “Windfall,” Collins doesn’t often talk to her father about the fame or how to best handle it in her life.

“I don’t. I mean, he says obviously that, you know, he’s proud, but we don’t really talk about that side of things,” she explained. “I share my work, but I think I’ve witnessed and learned and grew from what I saw as a kid and continue to still see and we kind of keep it separate.”

Collins cited social media again as a big difference between the fame that her father experiences versus how she is coping with the global attention, adding, “There’s so many elements to it that didn’t exist then that exist now that I’m navigating it in a while new way than I think anyone would have 10, 20, 30 years ago, so it’s very nuanced in its own way.”

She admits that she still struggles with the concept of fame, even into her early 30s, telling Willie that if she is recognized, “I can’t compute it sometimes ’cause I’m doing what I love.”

Related: