Cara Delevingne certainly knows how to spread the love around.
‘Have some Love, from Cara,’ she cried, which turned out to be not as fun as it sounded, as she proceeded to spritz rosewater and jasmine onto my forehead from a tiny bottle labelled Love.
The girl with the world’s most famous eyebrows was relaxing between takes on the set of Michael Winterbottom’s dark drama The Face Of An Angel, which is loosely based on the Amanda Knox murder case.
Cara plays Melanie, a student studying Italian and working in a bar in Siena. There, she meets and befriends Thomas, a documentary film-maker covering the murder trial, played by the brilliant Daniel Bruhl (Bafta-nominated for his portrayal of Niki Lauda in Rush).
Cara’s Melanie is a sort of tonic, and helps Bruhl, who’s going through a torrid time.
As soon as Winterbottom had set up the next scene, Cara’s ‘What larks, Pip!’ demeanour disappeared and she was right back in character, ready for action.
She served Bruhl a drink, and engaged in simple banter. The scene was shot several times, from different angles, and each time, Cara was word perfect.
She has a certain vivacity — an energy she channels through the lens — that compelled me to keep watching.
She admitted to being ‘scared to death’ about the whole experience. ‘I’ve got so much to learn, but I do know that you can’t learn to act if you don’t experience real life as well,’ she said.
So acting is her grand passion now? And modelling pays the rent? ‘Exactly!’ she agreed. ‘Modelling is a great job, and I appreciate everything it has brought me, but it’s not my passion.
‘As far back as I can remember I’ve wanted to act. We were going through all these old home videos recently, which I’d never seen before, and there were shots of me acting on a mocked-up stage.’
Has her modelling experience, that confidence in front of the lens, helped her as an actress?
‘I don’t always like the camera,’ she said. ‘The whole point of modelling is to become aware of a camera, though you have to pretend you’re not. You must be aware of where it is, and how to look good in front of it.
‘Acting is the opposite. You can’t be aware of the camera at all.’
She’s taken a couple of acting courses and particularly enjoyed doing one with a hard-core Russian drama coach who made her understand the importance of being as natural as possible.
She had to do one exercise in front of other thespians which involved brushing her teeth and hair and changing clothes. But she made the mistake of turning her back on the rest of the class when she got dressed. ‘I did that because everybody was watching,’ she said, ‘but I wouldn’t have done it if I had been alone. Simple but valuable lesson.’
Cara believes she’s often misunderstood, because she likes to have a laugh. ‘People see me as always taking the piss, or always having a good time. But why is that a bad thing?! I am also serious about what I do, and my God when I work, I work harder than anyone.’
There’s a certain irony that she wound up being a clothes horse at all, given that when she was growing up, she was a total tomboy. ‘I grew up in a house of girls and always wanted to be different. My mum tried to put us in big matching bouffant dresses and I’d cry: “I don’t want to wear dresses!” The first time I was a bridesmaid, I had to wear my Chelsea kit underneath.’
Working on The Face Of An Angel had been fun, she said, because it allowed her to settle down in one place for a little while. ‘I’ve been eating like a pig,’ she joked, of her time on location in Tuscany. ‘Look at my belly! I eat pasta, pizza every day. It’s actually disgusting. My agent was here and said I had to go running to lose the weight, but I’m so lucky because I’m naturally skinny.
‘My body is not perfect,’ she added, ‘and I love that. I have bow legs. Some people have straight legs but I have bow legs. And a thigh gap.’
She also suffers from the skin disorder psoriasis. ‘There’s no cure, but I am on a very heavy medical course,’ she told me. ‘I have been able to meet a lot of people who have it, which is good.
‘People don’t talk about it, because it’s a weird and embarrassing thing, but it can really screw you up for life if you don’t deal with it properly. The side effects of dealing with it are not pretty.’
She seems to be coping well, I said. ‘It depends on what time you catch me in the day! For instance, I woke up this morning in floods of tears, for no apparent reason.
‘A lot of girls my age do. It’s just the way you feel in the morning. I think I get very paranoid because I am doing something, the acting, that I want to do so very badly.
‘When you put so much pressure on yourself, you break, and today I was crying, freaking out. And then I downloaded Beyonce’s new album, and I was fine.
‘Women are complicated creatures,’ she sighed, as Winterbottom summoned her back to the set.
The picture, which stars Kate Beckinsale as a foreign correspondent and is being produced by Revolution Films and BBC Films, will be released later in the year.
Meanwhile, Cara’s hoping for more roles, and is happy to tackle stage as well as films and television.