Lily Cole: 'I grew up climbing trees - I was the clambering queen!'


I'm not modelling any more It's been a crazy journey since first being spotted but modelling never felt like a long-term plan. I've wanted to act since I was a child [Cole has appeared in films including The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus and last year's Snow White and the Huntsman]. I've also got a geeky side, so I'm now involved in a project within the tech industry.

Doing things for free is a powerful social force It creates bonds between people, which is why I set up this social network, Impossible, to create a gift economy. I mean, how unintuitive is it that society can be paralysed by our economic situation when we all have time and skills to offer? The site uses social-networking technology to get people in contact with one another and give one another goods or services for free. What would I have to give? I've joked about baking cakes – I once did a banana cake – or maybe yoga training!

The rubber trade could be an answer to Amazonian deforestation I encountered this extraordinary process travelling through the state of Acre, in the Amazon, for Sky's Rainforest Rescue initiative: workers cut lines into rubber trees, like etching tribal markings on a face, and dig through to the reservoirs of this white liquid, which bubbles up through the bark and runs down the trunk for collection. It's a surreal sight, but also inspiring in terms of what it means for making the forest economically valuable.

Nature had a big impact on Alexander McQueen's last collection He found nature inspiring, and on my visit to the Amazon, fashion crossed my mind: the forest was so rich in crazy details: intricate leaves shaped like butterflies. Someone said to me the other day that art aspires to be as powerful as nature in terms of its impact on us but, walking through a rainforest, I don't think it ever can be.

I'd love to have a wild house filled with plants and small trees I grew up climbing trees – I was the clambering queen!

Our interest in celebrities irritates me The UK has made an awful contribution to that industry, which I'm not proud of. Fortunately the press doesn't follow me too much and what coverage there is, I try to ignore.

I hope I'll have a healthy attitude to ageing I think marks of age look beautiful on older people, but the test for me is yet to come. I remember seeing myself looking old in this scene in Snow White and the Huntsman [where Cole's character has the life sucked out of her by Charlize Theron's evil queen]. I thought, oh my god I'm going to look old and I'm going to die! It made me think about my own mortality and it depressed me.

Lily Cole, 25, is an actress, activist and model. 'Lily Cole's Amazon Adventure' airs on Sky Arts 1 at 8pm on 17 March ( Her series 'Lily Cole's Art Matters', also on Sky Arts 1, begins on 19 March