It’s a common misconception that Cara Delevingne has retired from modeling. Back in 2015 there were whispers that the British stunner would be stepping back from the catwalk with intentions to kick-start her acting career, having landed roles in Paper Town and Suicide Squad. But just a year later she refuted those claims, announcing on Twitter: “I never said I was quitting modeling.”
Fast forward to this week, when Delevingne bounded out of a black SUV on New York’s FifthAvenue and intro a crush of impatient fans. After dutifully posing for photos, she whipped out a Sharpie and scrawled her autograph on the wall of Tag Heuer’s flagship boutique. The notorious free spirit wasn’t vandalizing; she was simply signing her latest campaign for the watch brand. Shot on location in South Africa by fine art photographer David Yarrow, Delevingne posed for these photos alongside a live lion. With almost nothing to protect her from the wild animal, Delevingne is clearly living up to Tag Heuer’s motto, #DontCrackUnderPressure.
Here, the model-turned-actress explains how she became so fearless, being conscious of her carbon footprint and, of course, her thoughts on Prince Harry’s upcoming nuptials.
HT: We all know that lions are your favorite animals, especially based on your infamous finger tattoo. Was this Tag Heuer shoot your first time being alone on set with one of them?
CD: No, no, no, no. I’ve done shoots before with wild animals before, like bears, komodo dragons and tarantulas. I just love doing it. But lions are one of the most incredible creatures. They’re so strong and terrifying, but also the most beautiful animals. You have to respect and understand them, because they’re the kings of the jungle. I feel so humbled by being around them.
HT: So you didn’t feel any fear when you were shooting on set with David and this live lion, for Tag Heuer?
CD: Not at all! I was so focused and I understood the dangers of it. It’s certainly not something that’s recommended, especially when everyone else on the shoot is in a cage and I was the only one out there with the lion. I had my back turned to him, with a piece of food dangling above my head. When the lion would come close, I’d run into my cage. I had to put all my trust in David telling me to run. As soon as he would say ‘go, go, go,’ I’d run.
HT: Have you always been this fearless?
CD: I don’t really get scared. One of my favorite things to do when I was growing up was to scare myself. There’s something about fear that gets me going. That adrenaline, it makes you feel alive. I love skydiving. I generally love pushing limits in life and experiencing everything.
HT: So what are you scared of?
CD: Right now I’m quite scared of humans, much more than being around wild animals! I’m scared of the world and what we’re doing to the environment and the oceans and how it’s affecting the weather.
HT: What are some eco-friendly practices you use in your everyday life?
CD: I think plastic is a really big issue at the moment. Being mindful of all the straws, bottles you use is a really big thing. When you notice how much plastic you use, it’s just crazy.
HT: How do you maintain these green practices, especially when your job as an actress and a model requires you to travel all over the world?
CD: I fly a lot, but I try to give back for every time that I get on a plane. So I make sure to plant more trees or spend my time giving back to the environment.
HT: Since you started working with Tag, back in 2015, have you become one of those people who are always on time?
CD: Weirdly, with age, I feel like I’ve been more and more on time. I hope that Tag helps me do that, with a watch on my wrist—and a really beautiful one, at that. Obviously we have the time on our phones, but there’s something about watches that I think will stay. Newspapers and magazines have kind of gone out, because of the digital age, but there’s something about watches that will never get old.
HT: Why is that?
CD: It’s so much more than just a timepiece; it’s an accessory. There’s also something comforting about having a stable ticking beat on your body that’s not your heart. I spend a lot of my time in high stress situations and having a steady heartbeat isn’t a constant thing, but a ticking watch is.
HT: And finally, we have to know, have you been struck with royal wedding fever?
CD: I love weddings, generally. The celebration of love, getting married and being in love, it’s great. I’m very proud to be British and I think the royal family are incredible. I think it’s sweet and I’m really happy for Harry because he looks really happy. I don’t know Meghan, but I’m a big fan of that TV show that she’s on and she seems wonderful. I think anyone who finds love, well, it’s something to be celebrated.