"It's a bit of a mystery to me how charisma works, but Cara has more than anyone I've ever met. She has it by the boatload and she's great as Margo," says 'Paper Towns' author John Green of model-turned-actress, Cara Delevingne. Green also adds that: "She’s an intense, fun, person and a very good actress. One of the reasons that Cara is so good in the role is that like Margo, she understands how frustrating it is to have people making broad conclusions about you based on very limited information... Cara understands what it's like to have people treat you as a two-dimensional image better than anyone I've ever met. And I think she understands the frustration of being seen in a very limited way, as merely beautiful. People are going to go into the movie with all these assumptions because she's a famous model, but she's a really good actress."
Cara’s 'Paper Towns' co-star Nat Wolff agrees, saying: "Cara is magical. We have great chemistry and work well together. We’re both really loose. She's not too dissimilar to the character; there's something about her public persona versus who she actually is that's similar to Margo and Margo's persona in high school."
In the film-adaptation of 'Paper Towns', Delevingne plays the female-lead, Margo Roth Spiegelman, who is the centre of protagonist Q’s universe. About her character, Cara says: "Margo is an extremely free spirit and I identify with her a lot, in terms of living in the moment and not really thinking about the future. Margo cannot be caged by her parents or by anyone. She creates explosions in her world, having fun and causing chaos, without realising the damage she is doing. Like an animal, she survives on instinct and hopes for the best. She's fearless and I'm pretty fearless too."
John Green explains that: "Paper Towns is a story about what happens when you dehumanise someone by romanticising them. Quentin thinks that Margo is more than a person, that she is some kind of miracle and that turns out to be very destructive. Margo's last name is Spiegelman, which means mirror maker, and I think when people look at Margo what they see is not really Margo, they just see reflections of themselves. There are a lot of films about young men who romanticise young women and think that if they can just get the girl, the story will end happily. But that's not the way human relationships work. In real life that stuff is messy and complicated and we wanted to try to show that the point of living is not necessarily to get the girl or the boy."
Having already been in love with Green’s book and the character of Margo, Delevingne had her heart set on the part, saying that: "It was a dream role for me; it meant so much to me. But I didn’t ever think I would get it. I doubt myself constantly. I don't like to expect anything out of life because then I'm never disappointed. So when I got the call saying I had the part, I freaked out. It was one of the best days of my life and I didn't stop ranting about it for a long time. I was actually by myself in a hotel room and I ran around the room throwing things up in the air and screaming into pillows. Someone from the hotel called to check if I was okay. It was pretty funny. Then I worried that I wouldn’t do the role well enough."
But she needn’t have worried - whilst in character, Cara is Margo-incarnate; the enigmatic Manic Pixie Dream Girl whose perfect life has unravelled. Director Jake Schreier says of his decision to cast Cara: "We didn't cast her for her personality or for her fame, we cast her for the portrayal. She has an incredible talent. I also think she can relate to Margo because she knows what it's like to have the world place an image onto you that may not coincide with how you feel about yourself."
Cara concurs, saying that: "I love it when people make assumptions of me because they do it so much and when I meet people they have this whole idea of me. But I love proving people wrong. People like to project their ideas of who they think she is onto her which I guess people do to me a lot."
And Delevingne is in it for the long-haul. Not content with merely being recognised as a pretty face, Cara - who lists Meryl Streep, Charlize Theron, Julianne Moore, Patricia Arquette and Angelina Jolie as her role-models - says that her goal is to continue playing strong female characters: "I want to be a strong role model for girls. I’d love to play a serial killer, like Charlize Theron did in 'Monster'. I’d love to do a Quentin Tarantino movie and I would love to direct one day. That would be an absolute dream."
The 22-year-old self-declared adventurer - "I love adventures more than anything and I'm all about having experiences. I don't like to think about things, I just do them..." - has got it all. Delevingne is quick-witted, fearless, kind-hearted, and 100% pure unadulterated life-force. Green surmises, "I don't know what it is, but when she's in a room, talking to you, you listen very intently."
But back to 'Paper Towns', Cara says: "I think in so many ways it's going to be one of those films like 'The Breakfast Club' that will turn into a real cult classic, because it’s so realistic and the characters are lovable. It’s got the full range of emotions without any sugar coating: happiness, sadness, anger, mystery, friendship and love."
WATCH OUR INTERVIEW...
COUP DE MAIN: You’re amazing as Margo in 'Paper Towns' - you embody her spirit really perfectly. So to celebrate your first major movie role, I’ve bought you a lolly lei - snacks for when you get hungry during future adventures.
CARA DELEVINGNE: Thank you! Are you kidding me? This is the best present of my life.
CDM: Your character Margo immortalises herself amongst her high school peers by perpetuating airs of mystery about her life, so that she’s irreplaceable as a social Queen. This curation of one’s own image is something that’s universally relatable, as society disapproves of the unusual and people are scared to just be themselves. How much of real-life do you think is acting?
CARA: I don’t want to go the percentage route, but I’ll say 50% of real-life is acting. I guess it changes from person to person... I’d say all or none. I have no idea, it’s such an interesting question. I feel like monks aren’t acting! <laughs> People who are on vows of silence maybe aren’t acting? I sometimes feel like I’m not acting, but then at the same time it’s like, when I’m being weird - is it me just being weird or am I doing it for attention? See, you never really know. I feel like I’m being myself, but maybe myself is someone who likes attention. I don’t know!
CDM: Margo is fearless - she’s brave like a lion, which is something that I feel you both have in common; you and Margo’s spirit animals are both lions. So, I’ve adopted you a lion from the Auckland Zoo back in New Zealand!
CARA: This is the most amazing interview in the world. WHAT?! I have adopted an African Lion! Oh my god, I’m so happy.
CDM: Now you’ll have to come to New Zealand.
CARA: I have to! But wait! Do I only have the lion for a year? So I’m going to have to quickly... Does it look like this? OH MY GOD, THIS IS SO COOL. I’m going to find out what I’m going to do...
CDM: Friendship is such an important theme in 'Paper Towns' - Margo wonders if her life would have turned out differently if she’d hung out with a different social circle at school. Do you think that the people we choose as our best friends play a role in defining us as people?
CARA: I feel like every person-- we all reflect... I always used to say this a couple of years ago, that I’m just a reflection of everyone that I’ve ever met. I’m not actually anyone at all, I’m just everyone else. Which I feel like everyone is; everyone is mirrors for each other. Very much by the people you hang out with, they very much... If you hang out with a certain friendship group, you’ll pick up their mannerisms and you’ll become similar - it’s like people who marry, they become exactly alike. You always start to mirror each other. It’s so important the people you have around you - it’s one of the most important things.
CDM: Margo complains that no-one in Orlando cares about "things that matter". What do you personally consider to be things that matter in life?
CARA: Laughter. Love. Happiness. Doing good things. Doing things to help others as much as possible. Doing good, generally. Making other people laugh.
CDM: Margo’s first clues for Q are linked to a Billy Bragg & Wilco record. If you were to do the same one day, what album would you leave as a clue?
CARA: I have a lion and a candy necklace - this is amazing! And now I’m doing a polaroid!
HOW I FEEL ABOUT 'PAPER TOWNS'...
'Paper Towns' is out in New Zealand cinemas now!
Watch a trailer below...