She says she always felt like a “little Gremlin” rather than a great beauty. If she were an animal she’d be a monkey, instead of a swan or a racehorse, or any of those other elegant creatures that supermodels are supposed to resemble. A glance at her Instagram posts suggests that spending time in her company would be like hanging out with an emoji: Face with Stuck-Out Tongue and Winking Eye. Karl Lagerfeld called her “the Charlie Chaplin of fashion”, which is the smartest thing anyone has said about her — not because she’s a little tramp, but because she is adorable, funny and sad.
In the flesh she has the appearance of a beautiful young woman thrown together at the last minute, perhaps while hurrying to keep an appointment. Like an artfully mismatching outfit, hers is an ensemble of body parts that shouldn’t work together, but somehow do — testament to the taste and talent of the Great Stylist in the Sky. Most striking, at first, are her limbs (coltish, spidery, you choose). And then there’s her face: the Disney cuteness of her upturned nose; the Manga dazzle of her kitten’s eyes; the lips, with their comedy curl; the mouth, constantly in motion; the most assertive eyebrows to caterpillar their way into public consciousness since the Gallagher brothers’ arrival, around the time she was born.
It’s one of those faces that can appear exquisite one moment, and then, when her head turns slightly, or the light falls differently on her features, she can suddenly appear quite unremarkable. Not plain, but ordinary: Everygirl. In James Salter’s story “My Lord You”, he describes a woman whose face “was like a series of photographs, some of which ought to have been thrown away.” That’s cruel because it’s meant to be. You know what he means.
A Saturday evening in early May in the lobby of the Bulgari Hotel, Knightsbridge. Cara Delevingne is arranged on a sofa, shovelling down olives and breadsticks, ignoring a pot of green tea, and strumming a ukulele. The vision this presents is not as incongruous as it sounds. She is someone who has the ability to look at home, and herself, wherever she lands, no matter how she feels.
The ukulele, which she handles with some skill, was moments ago presented to her by her girlfriend, Annie Clark, the singer-songwriter who records under the name St Vincent. Clark, a pale, raven-haired American woman in oversized glasses and a really cool coat, has now disappeared, to wait for Cara elsewhere in the building. Their greeting had been passionate and, conscious that pressures of work ensure their time together is at a premium, and that I’ve already made Cara miss her spa appointment (she took it well), I’m feeling a little guilty for keeping them apart.
I shouldn’t be. Cara has much to say, words shooting out of her like flashes from a paparazzo’s camera, and when, closing in on two hours of conversation, I offer her a chance to bring proceedings to a halt, at least for now, she shakes her head and keeps talking: about her privileged but painful childhood; her tortured teenage years; her swift and steep ascent to the summit of the fashion industry, and her subsequent disillusion with that world; her discombobulating digital Instafame; her ongoing battle with depression; and, briefly, her new career as an actor in films modest and less so.
A few days before our meeting, she tells me, she’d been in Paris, her home for the previous six months, beating up Clive Owen. This was in her role as Laureline, time-travelling heroine of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, a comic book adaptation from the veteran French director Luc Besson. Before that movie materialises there is the small matter of this month’s supervillain extravaganza, Suicide Squad, with Will Smith, Jared Leto and Margot Robbie. To judge from the pre-publicity it’s a sort of anti-Avengers, or emo Avengers, in which Cara plays the split personalities of June Moone and Enchantress, a mad-eyed gothic hellion in a leather bra-top, possibly from the Marilyn Manson collection. Her preparation, she says, involved much research into mental illness and addiction, which she loved, as well as a spooky night spent naked and alone in the woods near her sister Poppy’s house in the country, communing with the spirit world.
Interviewer: “What? You mean you actually walked naked into a forest at night, on your own?”
Actress: “Well, I wasn’t naked when I walked there. I walked there with my clothes on, and then when I got there I took them off.”
Interviewer: “Weren’t you a bit chilly?”
Actress: “Not really. It was summer.”
And that’s about as far as we get with the movie talk. Because it is not — or not yet — for her film roles that Cara is best known, and in any case she has other things on her mind. Cara’s conversation is dominated less by the promotional platitudes one grows accustomed to hearing as an interviewer of famous people, than by memories of harrowing events and revelations of unhappy feelings, which we come to later, after she’s dispensed with the business of modelling with a few super-powered punches to the solar plexus. (Pow! Blam! Smash!)
It’s no secret that journalists, like psychiatrists and hairdressers, dread reticence and yearn for candour. And we dream of profligate beans-spilling, and no PR flimflam at all. But I hadn’t intended my conversation with Cara to be quite as freighted as it turns out to be. Perhaps I should have expected it. Her plain-speaking, her over-sharing, her refusal to play by the rules of the fashion world when it comes to publicity — “Never complain, never explain,” as Kate Moss likes to say (privately) — all are essential parts of Cara’s appeal to her huge constituency of admirers: 31m followers on Instagram alone.
In 2016, such a gift to pop cultural commentators are celebrities’ social media accounts that The New York Times has a regular column called “Social Capital”, dedicated to parsing the posts of the well-known: “Tuesday is essential-oils day on Alanis Morissette’s Instagram.”
You’ll be devastated to hear that I won’t attempt a similarly detailed critique here of Cara’s feeds — no doubt “Social Capital” will come to her in time — except to observe that from my exhaustive survey of her posts (silly videos, gawky poses, messy hair, no makeup) and of other models’ posts (perfect bodies, gorgeous sunsets, yoga poses, tiny swimsuits, quinoa breakfasts), the difference is clear, and the appeal obvious. Just as Kate Moss was the model that a generation of up-all-night Nineties ravers could claim as their own, so Cara is the girl for now. She is, in her chaotic, conflicted way, the face of her generation and the spirit of the age. If she were a comic book superhero she’d be Millennial Girl. Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No! It’s a lovable, messed-up twentysomething in a fluffy animal onesie and a beanie hat!
“Embrace your weirdness.” That’s one of her online mantras. “Stop labelling, start living”. That’s another. “Don’t worry, be happy”. A third. Yes, that last one is from the Bobby McFerrin song, one of her favourites. She has the lyric tattooed across her chest. “Under my boobs,” she clarifies.
Unlike her towering, blank-faced, airbrushed predecessors, or her strident, domineering friends — the pop icons of the day, Taylor Swift and Rihanna and the rest — Cara presents as sweet, vulnerable and flawed.
Often she is referred to as “the new Kate Moss”. It works to an extent: they are both British; they both enjoy a party; unlike most models, neither is especially statuesque (at 5ft 9ins, Cara is an inch taller than Kate). They were even first spotted by the same person: Sarah Doukas, of Storm Model Management. But there the similarities end. Famously, Kate is enigmatic, inscrutable. She does not give interviews. She embodies pre-digital age celebrity, and the icy, elitist gloss of fashion and fame before it was forced to engage with the social media demotic. Cara is a child of the digital era, in which the mundane is rendered fascinating, where “real” beats contrived, approachable conquers frosty, down-to-earth trumps fabulous. The selfie generation has two faces: the fake, Photoshopped absurdity of Kim Kardashian, and the messy, no filter quotidian reality of Cara Delevingne.
She has described herself in the past as an anti-model. “The fashion industry,” she tells me, “is about surface, it’s not about what’s underneath, it’s not about being yourself. You don’t feel you matter as a person. You feel like it’s just about your looks — and it is.”
Unlike Kate — and Kim, for that matter — Cara isn’t even particularly interested in clothes. “I mean, on a list of things that are important to me,” she says, “clothes are pretty low down.”
“I’ve never had that many designer clothes,” she says. “I would never spend a lot of money on one thing. I just think that’s ridiculous. Like, I’d rather spend less money and still be just as comfortable.”
Today, at the Bulgari, she’s wearing a black-and-white checked Chanel coat, a low-cut white vest over a negligible black lacy something, black Chanel leggings and black Chanel trainers. “Quite a lot of Chanel,” she says, apologetically. She seems embarrassed. “It’s weird for me.”
Not that weird, surely? She models for Chanel. She’s in the ads. She’s the Chanel girl. Presumably she didn’t pay for these clothes? That’s true, she says. But the free clothes are a relatively recent phenomenon. And she’s not sure she’s cool with it. I sense she feels it doesn’t quite gel with her brand.
Plus, it’s not like she couldn’t afford to buy them if she wanted to. According to Forbes, last year Cara was the second-highest-earning model in the world, making $9m (£6.2m), a sum beaten only by Gisele Bündchen, the Brazilian glamazon, 12 years Cara’s senior.
That’s because, right now, Cara is the girl who can sell anything. She can sell watches (Tag Heuer), sunglasses (Chanel), perfume (Tom Ford), make-up (Rimmel), raincoats (Burberry), handbags (Fendi), lingerie (La Perla). She can represent high fashion brands (Saint Laurent) and high-street brands (H&M).
And she can be anything they want her to be. For Saint Laurent she is an angular sophisticate. For Alexander Wang she’s a tawny sex kitten. For DKNY she’s a street kid. For Chanel she’s a sultry heiress. For Mulberry she’s a rural chatelaine. For Tom Ford she’s a naked nymph. For Fendi she’s a sulky rich kid. For Burberry she’s Kate Moss’s pouting bestie. She can look elfin, enigmatic, kooky, pensive, innocent, experienced, classic, contemporary, or, as you can see on these pages, vampish. “I know I can look pretty in different ways,” she says. “Not in real life. But in front of a camera I can transform quite easily. I don’t know why.”
The way she tells it, she became a model by accident. She’d rather have been an actor, or a singer, or a therapist. (These, she tells me, are her three exit plans, in that order.) She still takes modelling jobs, but she feels she has made a definitive break from the fashion world. Under “Occupation” on official documents, she writes “Actress.”
“Modelling is not something I love,” she says. “It always felt like a job. It was never a passion. It was more like a part I played.
“There are some girls who are beautiful all the time,” she says, “that’s just who they are. I’m not. I’m a weirdo, I’m a goofball. I just don’t ever feel like I look that pretty. And so when I do all the posing, that just feels so stupid to me.” At the beginning especially, “After about five minutes, I’d have to do a funny face, just to not feel like such an asshole. I just felt like a fucking idiot.”
She has a sense, not unknown to other human beings (or so I’m told), that the fashion world is too self-involved, too po-faced. Of her earlier days, she says, “I just remember being like, ‘This is insane. People need to lighten up. We’re not fucking changing the world. I’m sorry. So everyone should stop taking themselves so fucking seriously and just laugh at it all.’”
It’s likely that Cara’s would not have been a conventional life whatever she’d done. She was never destined for humdrum suburban conformity. It’s not as if her celebrity has provided access to a world that would have otherwise been closed to her. She grew up in a fast set, the youngest of three sisters — after Chloe, the conventional one, and Poppy, the party girl. (There is also a half-brother, Alex Jaffe, 10 years Cara’s senior, who lives in America.)
Born 23 years ago in west London, she was raised in Wandsworth and then, from the age of 10, around the corner from where she and I are sitting, in Belgravia. She went to a smart girl’s day school in Sloane Square, then briefly to Bedales. Her accent’s occasional sorties over the mid-Atlantic — “ass” rather than “arse”, “pardee” instead of “party” — do nothing to dull the impression of a frightfully nice girl, nor does her faint and charming lisp.
Her father, Charles Delevingne, a property developer, is descended from a line of titled politicians. His aunt, Doris Delevingne, was a society girl and intimate of Winston Churchill. According to Tatler, Charles “owns great swags of property around Brompton Cross.” He is, “absurdly handsome and sunshiney… loves pretty girls, any first-growth wine and lots of laughter.”
Cara’s mother, Pandora, comes from a background that makes Charles’ childhood sound hopelessly underprivileged. Her mother, Janie Sheffield, was Princess Margaret’s lady-in-waiting and a member of the Mustique set. Her father, Sir Jocelyn Stevens, Cara’s grandfather and namesake (Jocelyn is her middle name), was a figure of thunderous reputation, a millionaire playboy turned buccaneering magazine and newspaper executive. Private Eye dubbed him “Piranha Teeth”.
Pandora is herself no stranger to the social pages of Tatler. But hers has not been an easy existence. A manic depressive, she has struggled for much of her adult life with chronic addictions to heroin and prescription drugs, which frequently meant she could not be at home with her children. “Sometimes they have had to live with me being too ill to mother them, which has been agony for me,” she has said.
Cara and Pandora have always been exceptionally close. The occasions during her childhood when her mother was away she found extremely difficult. “She was sick a lot, in hospital a lot,” Cara says, “and there were times when she would leave for quite a long time and I wouldn’t know where she was.”
When Cara was about eight years old she stopped eating. “I didn’t feel like I had any control of anything in my life so I just kind of went on a food strike. I was like, ‘I’m not going to eat until someone tells me where she is.’”
Cara didn’t discover until much later exactly what was wrong with her mother. “I remember my sister, Poppy, saying something like, ‘Mum used to do heroin.’ And I was like, ‘What the fuck is that? Like heroes and heroines?’ I was a tiny child. Like, ‘I have no idea what you’re talking about.’”
It wasn’t until she was in her teens that it all started to make sense. And then Cara’s world seems to have fallen apart. “I think I properly started dealing with depression when I was about 16,” she says, “when all the stuff with my family started to make sense and came to the surface. I’m very good at repressing emotion and seeming fine. As a kid I felt like I had to be good and I had to be strong because my mum wasn’t. So, when it got to being a teenager and all the hormones and the pressure and wanting to do well at school — for my parents, not for me — I had a mental breakdown.”
This does not seem to be an exaggeration. “I was suicidal,” she says. “I couldn’t deal with it any more. I realised how lucky and privileged I was, but all I wanted to do was die. I felt so guilty because of that and hated myself because of that, and then it’s a cycle. I didn’t want to exist anymore. I wanted for each molecule of my body to disintegrate. I wanted to die.”
She tried to dull her pain by banging her head on hard surfaces. “I would run off to the woods and smoke a pack of cigarettes and then I would smash my head so hard into a tree because I just wanted to knock myself out.”
My hopelessly inadequate response to this is to murmur the following banality: “Fuck, Cara, that’s really extreme.”
Her reply: “Well, I don’t think it’s as extreme as… I mean, I never cut myself.”
“But again, like, at that point I would scratch my legs till they bled.”
I suppose much of this could come across as hysterical teenage girl stuff, but Cara tells her story matter-of-factly, without melodrama or elaboration. She sits on the sofa facing me, maintains eye contact throughout, never raises her voice or seeks sympathy. There are no tears.
“My mum feels a lot of guilt for everything,” Cara says. “She was an incredible mother, she always had so much love. And I felt like when I was a kid I was kind of like her confidante. I really felt like I understood her and how she was feeling and why.”
She was taken out of school for around six months at 16 and avoided being hospitalised by agreeing to go on medication. “After that,” she says, “until I was 18 I was just numb. I didn’t feel shit. It was horrible. I was like a sociopath. When something was funny I would go, ‘Ha ha!’, just because other people laughed, but then I’d stop immediately because I wasn’t really very good at faking it. And I was a pretty horny teenager right up until I got to 16, when I stopped having any sexual feelings for anyone. I missed out a lot from 16 to 18.
“I hate meds,” she concludes. “I think they saved my life and they’ve probably saved my mother’s life but I don’t agree with them. It’s so easy to abuse them.”
One day, when she was 18, she stopped taking them. “And that week, I lost my virginity, I got into fights, I cried, I laughed. It was the best thing in the world to feel things again. And I get depressed still but I would rather learn to figure it out myself rather be dependant on meds, ever.”
Last autumn, on stage in London, Cara was interviewed by the actor Rupert Everett. She read out a poem she had written in 2014, when she was floored by another wave of depression. It began, “Who am I? Who am I trying to be? / Not myself, anyone but myself.” It got bleaker from there, describing the “misery” she masks with “fake confidence” and the pain she keeps to herself.
“I cut a lot out of that poem, a lot of the darker stuff,” she says, to my considerable surprise. “If I’m depressed, I write the most horrible shit about myself, about what a monster I am, that kind of thing.”
I wonder why she chose to read her poem in public? And, indeed, why she is being so open with me about her problems?
“I could pretend to be someone else,” she says, “but then I’d feel like I’m just running away again.” She is quiet for a moment. “In a sense, I always feel like when I get depressed, it’s very narcissistic, right? Because you can’t stop thinking about your own problems.”
Yes, I tell her, that’s true.
“Right. But at the same time it’s not. Because you hate yourself. So it’s a very weird thing to feel… Especially when I started becoming successful, obviously my ego started to grow, but then [at the same time] my idea of myself went down. So I liked the person that other people thought that I was, but the real me I hated so much.”
She uses work, she says, as an escape: “If I stop, I go crazy. I lose my mind. I just kind of break down a little bit.
“For [Valerian], at the beginning, it was five days a week, super-focused, and then I’d have the weekend off. And I’m living in Paris, so every weekend I’d just be with my dog and watch TV and read scripts and feel like I was living a normal life again. And then some personal stuff happened, I repressed it, and I started accepting all these [modelling] jobs that I shouldn’t. And I started running away into work again.
“Usually,” she says, “I don’t feel like I’m someone who craves attention, but if I’m feeling in a really empty place I’ll be like, ‘OK, people want me so I’ll give them what they want.’ I’m like, ‘I’ll give them everything I have.’ And then I just start going a bit manic and crazy. And if I get really bad I’ll drink every day and then I’m suddenly like…” She drifts off.
“I feel like I have a void that I constantly need to fill,” she says. “In this world of very fast access to excess, I’ve always been very aware of like…” She drifts off again. I take her to mean that it’s better that she be a workaholic rather than an alcoholic or a drug addict.
Despite compelling evidence to the contrary, she says she’s no good at talking about all this. She finds it hard to tell people how she’s feeling, even those closest to her: “If I’m going through something bad I don’t call anyone. My friends don’t know when things are bad with me, not really. I’m so good at being fine and smiling. That’s the easiest thing.”
Far be it from me to further burst the babe-licious bubble, but there is a visible manifestation of Cara’s inner discomfort. When, a month before our interview, she turned up for her Esquire shoot, in a modernist house high above Los Angeles, she did so in a baggy blue sweater and loose-fitting tracksuit bottoms which she removed to reveal a rash that broke out in angry sores on her arms, her legs, even her forehead. It was painful to look at, so one can only guess what it feels like. This is psoriasis, a condition from which she has suffered since she broke through as a model, in 2012.
Today, in the Bulgari, she scratches her legs repeatedly. “It’s pretty bad right now,” she says. She believes it is psychosomatic, stress-related. “It never really started happening until I was working a lot and probably not taking care of myself. My skin just got really bad. My body was telling me to stop.
“It was horrible,” she says. “I would look in the mirror and hate the person I saw. My God, I’ve just never wanted so badly to be out of my body. I’d just be looking at myself like, ‘So disgusting.’ I still kind of feel that but now it’s part of me and I accept it.”
She is, naturally, sensible to the cruel irony that a young woman fêted as one of the most beautiful in the world hates looking in the mirror. Quite apart from the skin condition, she says, “modelling just isn’t very good for your self-image. You are judged solely on the way you look, and you never feel like you’re good enough.”
But she feels she is hardly alone in that. One of the first things she discovered on beginning her career was that the most beautiful women in the world “are also some of the most insecure.”
Plenty of highly respected actresses also work as models and no one bats a perfectly mascara’d eyelid. Kate Winslet has a contract with Lancôme. So do Julia Roberts and Penelope Cruz. Jennifer Lawrence, Charlize Theron and Natalie Portman are all faces of Dior.
It’s not always true to say that hilarity inevitably ensues when the traffic is in the other direction, and an upstart model attempts to breach the high walls of Hollywood. Charlize Theron, for one, was a model before she was an Oscar-winning movie star, and nobody laughs at her. (Too scared.) But Charlize was never a supermodel, and the history of those women on the big screen is less than distinguished. Would it be cruel to remind Cindy Crawford of her one starring role, in the sweaty cop thriller Fair Game, from 1995? (Billy Baldwin played the sweaty cop.) Is it ungallant to mention 2004’s comedy caper Taxi within earshot of Gisele Bündchen?
Clearly Cara was, at one stage, advised against trying acting. “I’m bad at dealing with authority,” she says. “I don’t like being told what to do.” Still, “I knew it was a risk.” Wisely, she has started smaller than Cindy and Gisele, and is only now building up to larger roles in bigger pictures. Her first job on a feature film was a non-speaking part in Anna Karenina (2012), director Joe Wright’s Tolstoy adaptation, starring Keira Knightley. “I just kind of stood there,” she remembers, “thinking about being pretty.”
A speaking role came in 2014 with The Face of an Angel, Michael Winterbottom’s fictional film about the making of a fictional film about the fictional murder, in Italy, of a fictional British student who is not (repeat not) Meredith Kercher. Cara played a free-spirited British waitress — she opens beer bottles with her teeth — who acts as a guide to the demi-monde of Siena for a glum German film-maker.
Her first American film was Paper Towns (2015), adapted from a hit teen novel, in which she played the free-spirited object of infatuation of a high-school geek. The character, again, was a cipher — the out-of-reach girl next door — but, also again, Cara rose above indifferent material, drawing the eye and holding the screen.
Kids in Love, out this month, is a rites-of-passage drama, set in Notting Hill, that might just as well have been titled First World Problems. One suspects it might not be enjoying a theatrical release were it not for the presence of our Cara. She plays Viola, who is — wait for it — a free-spirited party girl.
In Timeless, a short film made for Sky Arts and the best project she has been involved with until now, she starred opposite Sylvia Syms, the famous star of the Fifties and Sixties, as a young woman whose husband is fighting with the British Army in Iraq. There are others, still to be released: she’s Kath Talent, wife of the notorious Keith, in an adaptation of Martin Amis’s London Fields, and she’s in Tulip Fever, from the Deborah Moggach bestseller.
Suicide Squad is of a different order, a Hollywood blockbuster that has the potential to launch her as a movie star. And in Valerian she takes centre stage for director Luc Besson, celebrated for his many portrayals of tough action heroines, from Milla Jovovich in The Fifth Element (1997) to Scarlett Johansson in Lucy (2014).
Cara has had no formal drama training and she has had to learn the technical aspects of screen acting on the job. At the same time, she has had to unlearn some of the skills she picked up as a model. “When I take pictures I put on a face,” she says. “I do things to my face to make it look better. Even when I’m walking down a catwalk I suck in my cheeks and do looks. [As a model] you’re always aware of where the camera is. When you’re doing a movie, unless the part’s about putting on some kind of allure, you’re really trying to not be aware of anything except what the character is feeling.”
She’s not a method actor, she says, but she likes to disappear into her characters, to get inside another person’s skin. “The rush of that, the feeling of losing yourself in a moment, I love that. There’s something about it that scares me and I love things that scare me.”
Well, not everything. The possibility that the increased celebrity that film stardom would bring will further circumscribe her movements is not something she relishes. At the moment, for all her fame, she can still go about her business relatively unmolested.
“I do have a lot of friends that can’t leave places without bodyguards. And that scares the shit out of me. I don’t want that,” she says. “That would suck.”
By now somewhat desperately searching for positives, I mention Annie, her girlfriend. She is in love, she says. This is not her first romance but it is serious enough to make her reconsider previous relationships. “This one feels different,” she says. “It’s like, when you find a real love, you look back on the other loves you’ve had and you’re like, ‘Ooh, that was a bit destructive.’”
Her hopes are the same hopes as any girl’s who is shortly to turn 24: “To be happy and to feel content and fulfilled.”
In the past, she says, “It was like, ‘OK, if I get a modelling job, I’ll be happy.’ I got a modelling job, I still wasn’t happy. ‘OK, I want an acting role.’ I got an acting role. ‘OK, I’m still not happy so I need another one.’ It’s constantly searching for happiness outside of yourself, which just doesn’t work. Like, my whole happiness was based on how much I was working and that’s just such an empty place to be because it’s just really nothing to do with that.”
As for the stuff of everyday life, she knows she has far exceeded expectations for a young Londoner, even one from a wealthy background. “I bought a fucking house at 23. That’s crazy! That makes me feel like a grown-up even though I’m still such a kid.”
I wonder about her mother. Is she well? “She is now. But it’s a constant up and down. She’ll never be cured, she’ll never be fixed. It’s about all of us learning to communicate about it and constantly support each other.”
I learned other things about Cara during our time together. She may be the only wannabe vegetarian in the world who has, in addition to the many tattoos she lists for me, the word “bacon” inked on her body, because she really likes bacon; she also has “Made in England” on the underside of a foot, because modelling made her feel “like a plastic doll”; someday she’d like to have kids; she’s about to buy a 1968 Shelby Mustang, to keep at Annie’s house in LA, even though she hasn’t passed her driving test yet; she’s in favour of voluntary euthanasia; she can’t resist a dare; she loves the Spice Girls, and Coldplay’s “Fix You”.
But by the time we get to all this more trivial stuff, our hearts aren’t in it. Cara is keen to find Annie, and I’m overwhelmed by the urgent need for a lie-down. So, we shake hands and she’s gone, leaving me with a bowl of olive pips, a pot of cold green tea and the suspicion that she is both the perfect embodiment of her conflicted generation, and our confounding pop culture, as well as the person least suited to the job of standard bearer for anything.
“Social media scares the shit out of me,” she says. “There are too many girls who are growing up way too quickly, sexualizing themselves from such an early age. Everyone wants to be famous just to be famous. Everyone spends too much fucking time on their phones. It just depresses me so fucking much, it really does. So many kids now, they don’t want to meet you to talk to you. They’re just like, ‘I want a photo of you to show people.’
“They’ll literally come up to you and grab your face, take a picture of you. Like, ‘Dude, what the fuck?’ It’s kind of mad. I’ll be in a toilet cubicle and there’ll be someone waiting outside to take a picture. Or I’ll be crying at a table and someone will come up to me like, ‘Ooh, can I take a photo?’
“I’m like, ‘Oh crap. Can I, like, say, “No”?’”
Suicide Squad is released on 5 August.