She plays the magical mermaids in the upcoming release of new adventure movie Pan – here’s a look at the route Cara Delevingne has taken to this role
According to Google, the most searched-for fashion model in 2013 was Cara Delevingne. Model, singer, musician, designer and, most recently, an actress, Delevingne is, like Brooke Shields before her, much more than her trademark eyebrows. Born in 1992, she signed up with Storm modelling agency in 2009. Over the next five years she was propelled onto the fashion A-list, landing campaigns with everyone from Burberry to DKNY and Mulberry, strutting the catwalks of Chanel, Oscar de la Renta, Dolce & Gabbana, Fendi, Stella McCartney and Givenchy, and being named model of the year at the British Fashion Awards in 2012 and 2014.
Acting has always been my dream, even more than modelling
However, despite her incredible success, Cara quit full-time modelling in 2015, saying it made her feel “a bit hollow”. She addressed the way the industry treats young women: “I am a bit of a feminist and it makes me feel sick. You start when you are really young and you do, you get subjected to … not great stuff. [Modelling] didn’t make me grow at all as a human being. And I kind of forgot how young I was. I felt so old.” Small roles in short films, TV and videos – and opportunities to work with leading directors such as Joe Wright – had whetted her appetite for something that didn’t make her feel like a “squeezed-out lemon”. For Delevingne, acting was a welcome challenge. “I feel like all of that modelling, life, rejection, everything was preparation for this,” she says, “and now that I am doing this, I am the happiest person in the whole world.”
Her first appearance in a feature film was her cameo role as Princess Sorokina in Joe Wright’s opulent adaptation of Anna Karenina starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Keira Knightley. “Acting has always been my dream, even more than modelling,” said the actress. “When I was being filmed I found myself posing, but it’s not about that.”
Playhouse Presents “Timeless”
Delevingne’s TV debut – and first leading role – came opposite British legend Sylvia Syms in the final episode ofPlayhouse Presents, a series of plays broadcast by Sky Arts. Delevingne plays the fiancée of a soldier in Afghanistan, relating to her great-grandmother, who also endured separation during the Second World War.
The Face of an Angel
Delevingne had a meaty role in director Michael Winterbottom’s psychological thriller The Face of an Angel, a part that gained her plaudits for her portrayal of Melanie, an innocent student. Many critics cited Delevingne as the main reason to see the film. The role of Melanie, the actress said, “was one of the most incredible experiences of my life … I found out that I could act, that I could do it confidently and not be nervous and die, because usually I think I’m going to die doing things that scare me.”
For her role in Paper Towns, Delevingne played Margo, a mysterious girl who changes the otherwise humdrum life of the boy next door. Based on the YA novel by John Green (The Fault in Our Stars), her role, complete with a convincing American accent, caused a tough Variety critic to write that she was “a striking actress [who] is here to stay”.
Delevingne didn’t have to memorise a lot of dialogue to play Mermaid in director Joe Wright’s reimagined origin story of one of the world’s most beloved children’s tales. She did have to spend long days wearing a prosthetic tail and swimming in the water tanks at Leavesden Studios – the former aircraft factory now famous as the home studio for the Harry Potter franchise. Being Mermaid required extensive underwater expertise and extensive stunts, but her role had to work, because Delevingne also plays every mermaid in the Mermaid Lagoon.
And still to come…
Look for Delevingne in the upcoming British period feature Tulip Fever. Set in 17th-century Holland, its screenplay by Sir Tom Stoppard and a dream cast that includes Dame Judi Dench and Christoph Waltz, as well as Prince Harry’s ex-girlfriend Cressida Bonas promises to make this romance an event movie.
Then she has a supporting role in the low-budget coming-of-age Ealing Production, Kids in Love, and will co-star with Johnny Depp and Amber Heard in London Fields, a big-screen adaptation of Martin Amis’ murder mystery. But expect to see the actress leaving supporting roles behind her, because she is set to star in Luc Besson’s Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets and the highly anticipated superhero film, Suicide Squad, where she plays a sorceress opposite Margot Robbie and Will Smith.
Whatever the role, Delevingne is following her dream to be the next Meryl Streep. “Her or Judi Dench, or maybe Charlize Theron as well.”
Watch Pan in cinemas across the UK and find out more at