The Big Screen and The Big City: An Interview with Cara Delevingne

London Calling

This summer, Cara Delevingne wowed in her first leading role in a blockbuster, as Laureline in Luc Besson’s sci-fi banquet Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. But her ascent to fame, as she candidly reveals, wasn’t as straightforward as it first appears.

Cara Delevingne started out as a society girl. Having grown up in Belgravia, her father Charles is a successful contractor, while her mother Pandora is a former model and socialite whose father was Sir Jocelyn Stevens, the late publishing mogul. Scouted by Storm models shortly after leaving school, Delevingne was soon landing top campaigns including Burberry, Mulberry and Topshop, before finally lending her talents to acting.
 
When the catwalk queen announced she intended to pursue a career in acting, there were many who scoffed. “I heard all the criticism,” she laughs, “and I laughed along as well. I mean, it is stupid, but great decisions are born out of stupidity and I wouldn’t be the first to benefit.”
 
Sure enough, over the past few years the irrepressible 25-year-old has quietly and doggedly defied her critics, with commendable contributions to indie gem Paper Towns and last year's blockbusting Suicide Squad.
 
With such prolific success, you might assume Delevingne would continue pursuing both career paths, but she is resolute in where her future lies. “Acting,” she says firmly. “That’s not to say that I was unhappy modelling; I had a great time. But acting is my passion and what I love. Modelling happened and I was very fortunate to have success, but it's never been my passion.”
 
In preparation for her first leading role as Laureline in Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, Delevingne reveals that she ‘lived like a saint’ for six months, practising yoga and training in martial arts to reach peak fitness in order to fulfil the rigorous demands of a full-on action role.
 
The starlet couldn’t have been in more capable hands than those of director Luc Besson, whose ingenious casting of supermodel Milla Jovovich in The Fifth Element transformed her overnight into a household name. And Delevingne, recalling the moment she received her own call from the French visionary, visibly lights up with joy.
 
“I grew up on his movies. The Fifth Element was one of the films that sparked my desire to perform, then there was Léon: The Professional and so many other clever, sharp, beautiful projects. And to then be part of this man’s lifelong dream - he's been wanting to make this film since he was a young boy, ever since he first read the Valerian comics - that's been hugely rewarding… probably the most rewarding thing of all,” says Delevingne breathlessly.
 
“His enthusiasm for the story, for these worlds he's created and realised… it makes him so happy to be surrounded by that. And that's amazing to be a caught up in, because every day for him was Christmas, which made it Christmas for us.”
 
Having long-suffered from anxiety, Delevingne has become somewhat of a spokesperson for those suffering from mental health issues. She insists that despite growing up with a privileged background, confidence was not something that came naturally to her, and at age 15 she found herself mired in a deep depression. It is through her work and meeting like-minded people that she has finally learnt to accept her dark side, and with over nine million Twitter followers, she is just about ready to accept her role as an influencer.
 
“I don't think I understood the importance of being a role model, or what that really meant when I was younger, because I didn't know I was one until probably quite recently, but I just want to be a girl that girls can look up to,” she explains. “I'm a big believer that when I was growing up there weren't enough strong females that I had looked up to, so I want to be that.”

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