While 2020 has been a challenging year for everyone, Lily Collins is looking on the bright side of things and definitely has plenty to be grateful for. She got engaged in September to her fiancé, director Charlie McDowell -- the son of actress Mary Steenburgen and English actor Malcolm McDowell -- and also has a hit show on her hands thanks to Netflix's Emily in Paris.
ET's Rachel Smith spoke to Collins about her new film, Mank, streaming on Netflix beginning on Dec. 4, and she also talked about her engagement and the year she's had.
"I'm so excited," she says, giving ET a look at her stunning engagement ring. "You know, I think it's been a really interesting time to self-reflect and to think about prioritizing, and kind of just thinking about so much stuff while we've been at home, and to be able to bring two projects to people right now through Netflix globally is a huge gift. And to make people laugh and smile with Emily in Paris, God knows that's what we all need to do more of right now, and then with Mank, I feel like there's a nostalgia for the world that once was that we're already all feeling, so there's that way to connect with people through that."
"And it's so funny when we got engaged, so many friends and family were like, 'Thank you,'" she continues. "I'm like, 'Why?' They're like, 'Thank you for giving us something to look forward to. I'm like, 'Oh yeah, we totally did it for you guys.' But it has been ... yeah, I'm very grateful. I'm grateful for a lot of things right now."
Collins said she and McDowell were enjoying wedding planning.
"It's like, this is like a fun part," she says. "You get to think about all those things, you know, as a young girl, thinking like, 'Ooh, what do I want one day?' It's like, now you get to actually play and have conversations about it."
Meanwhile, Collins' latest project is Mank, which tells the story of screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz's notoriously tumultuous development of Orson Welles' 1941 classic, Citizen Kane. Collins plays Rita Alexander, a secretary hired by Mankiewicz, who edited his script.
"I grew up loving Old Hollywood, being immersed in life in L.A. at a young age, you know, you'd see the Hollywood sign and it's like, it's just magical," Collins says. "And I used to love watching black-and-white movies and loving Old Hollywood movie stars. I even went to Hearst Castle with my mom when I was younger, so I really felt already very attached to this subject matter. And then when I read the script, I had no idea of the making of, and I just, I did not know who Herman Mankiewicz was. I knew Marion Davies, William Hearst, Louis B. Mayer. I didn't know that Rita Alexander existed, that she was a real person. So, it was really fun to actually feel like I knew the world because I had also done a movie and a TV show that dealt with a similar period in Hollywood, but then to also go, 'Oh my god, I had no idea of this other side to it.' So, I found it really fun to do research and to kind of envelope myself in this world in a whole new way."
Later, Collins talked about dealing with being in the public eye.
"I mean, honestly, I'm a pretty open person when it comes to ... I mean, I wrote a book that divulged a lot of personal things about myself, and with social media, I'm a very open book as well," she notes. "I'm a social person who likes to connect with other people, and I grew up in a high school where I was a teen therapist, and I know that connecting with other people your age is what can help heal you and realize that you're not alone. And we're all craving that now more than ever, because there's something very, you know, lonely about where we've all been in our homes, not being able to see people that we love as much as we have been. So, I think that owning your own story is just really important, and to me, the most important thing is that the people that I love and respect and that love me and that I know, they know who I am, they know what's true -- that's the important thing. You can't always live your life to write the truths of what you're hearing, you know?"