Lily Collins pens damning open letter to dad Phil Collins but forgives him


We talked about Lily Collins’ memoir, Unfiltered: No Shame, No Regrets, Just Me. At the time, many of us questioned a 27-year-old writing a memoir. But it seems Lily had a lot of things to get off her chest and it sounds like she could fill a couple of books, even with her few years here on earth. Lily is the third of musician Phil Collins’ five children. Her mother is Collins’ second wife, Jill Tavelman. Collins and Tavelman divorced when Lily was five and apparently, Collins was not around much during Lily’s life. As a result, their relationship is fairly strained. Among the many things in her memoir, she wrote an open lLetter to her father to address how his absentee fathering has affected her life. She pulls no punches.

In Lily Collins‘ new book of essays, Unfiltered: No Shame, No Regrets, Just Me, the actress aims to express her truth to inspire her young fans. In it, she opens up about one of her most painful truths: the tumultuous relationship she’s had with her famous father, Phil Collins.

“Because my dad was often gone, I never wanted to do anything that would make him stay away even longer,” she writes in an open letter in the new book, released Tuesday. “I became extra careful about what I said and how I said it, afraid he’d think I was angry or didn’t love him. And the truth is, I was angry. I missed him and wanted him there.”
In a section of her book titled “A Letter to All Dads,” she goes on to explain that her parents divorced when she was five years old. Her musician father then “moved from our home in England to Switzerland, where he stayed for more than twenty years.”

The Golden Globe-nominated actress writes that although she always knew her father loved her, their estrangement deeply affected her.

“I’ve realized that many of my deepest insecurities stem from these issues with my dad,” she writes. “It’s taken me over a decade to resolve some of them (others I’m still resolving) and to finally build up the courage to speak my mind to him.”
In her letter, Collins holds nothing back.

“We all make choices and, although I don’t excuse some of yours, at the end of the day we can’t rewrite the past,” she writes, “I’m learning how to accept your actions and vocalize how they made me feel… I now understand that my frustrations surrounding our communication are not about changing you, but accepting you as you are.”
Throughout her letter, she asks her dad to take the time to meet the woman she’s become.
“I forgive you for not always being there when I needed and for not being the dad I expected,” she writes. “I forgive the mistakes you made.”

Just as her book is an expression of the new woman she’s become, the letter ends with an invitation for a new start to their relationship.

“There’s still so much time to move forward. And I want to. I’m inviting you to join me,” she concludes. “I’ll always be your little girl.”

[From People]

I am very fortunate that my parents still enjoy a pretty successful marriage. I cannot imagine what it would be like to think that you are the reason that one of your parents stayed away. That’s an incredible amount of pressure on one so young. I’m really happy to read that Lily has come to the place that she realizes it wasn’t her and took the steps to enable herself to have healthy relationships. You may have known this but I didn’t, Collins’ own memoir came out in October. Lily says the timing is purely coincidental – actually, she said “ironic.” So far, at least one wife is seeking legal action against Collins for his portrayal of their marriage in his book. I feel for Lily.

Lily also wrote about her eating disorder, which we covered when she was publicizing her movie To The Bone. As with so many topics, it is vital that these subjects be brought to the forefront so that others may benefit from a community of support. Lily recognized this by saying, “You go, ‘Wow, I went through this for a reason.’ As long as I know other people are going through the same thing, that makes that struggle a little bit better.” I’ve said this before but I value celebrities who are willing to open up about these kinds of things. I do think it helps to know that we are not the only ones out there feeling like this. As a writer, I also know the catharsis of putting all your frustrations and past demons to paper so I hope that Lily got as much out of writing this as others who share in her struggle get out of reading it.




Photo credit: WENN Photos

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34 Responses to “Lily Collins pens damning open letter to dad Phil Collins but forgives him”

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  1. ell says:

    i’ve come to like her so much. nowadays celebs either seem too manufactured by pr and it comes across as insincere, or overshare uninteresting crap on twitter/ig. she’s talking about things that matter, and lots of young women can relate to that and i like it.

    my parents split when i was a teen ager and i was lucky that both of my parents were still very much present in my life, but i have friends who have been in situations similar to lily’s, and it really sucks.

  2. Margo S. says:

    It’s great that she’s talking so openly about this. Daddy issues are a huge burden that so many girls (and guys) go through. I also liked that she’s accepted her father for who he is. It took me awhile to do the same with my father. He wasn’t absent, but an alcoholic (in its own way I guess that is kind of absent) and accepting that has helped me move forward and just be a better parent to my three kids.

    • Millennial says:

      I work at a university largely attended by the wealthy. One thing I’ve learned is even rich, privileged kids can have a crappy home life.

      It really makes me look at Phil Collins differently too. If you choose to bring children into this world, and you botch it, the rest of the stuff you did doesn’t amount to much, IMO. “Sussudio” wasn’t worth missing out on your kids life.

  3. Aims says:

    I can only speak for myself here. I am a child of divorce and I learned how to be a adapt. I had two very different parents , with very different homes . Later , my mom said that she would notice how I behaved when I came home from the weekend with my dad. On the plus side though , I have learned how to interact with different people from all walks of life .

  4. Chaucer says:

    I am unabashed in my life for her. She’s lovely, not particularly talented that I’ve found, though I’m interested to see her new movie. I think she’s very genuine and sincere and abhor the common idea that a 20 something year old has nothing to write about in a memoir. A lot of people go through really difficult things as children, and sharing their stories is always a positive in my book.

  5. serena says:

    I really like Lily, at first I couldn’t stand her (another famous daughter) but I’ve seen her movies and enjoyed most of them. Props to her for speaking up on these difficult issues.

  6. Jayna says:

    That is a deeply personal open letter to her father, a famous musician/singer. That letter should have been sent in private, imo

    • Pumpkin Pie says:

      Imo2. The first thing that came to my mind was why is this public?

    • Kasia says:

      But then how would she make money off of it?

    • HK9 says:

      Typically people tend to write open letters because the person they want to talk to isn’t available/willing to speak to on a regular basis. I don’t live in her house, but this might be a factor.

    • SM says:

      Yes. Thank you. Because I felt like a heartless ice cube reading though all these comments. Call me a skeptic but who forgives someone so publicaly someone who is as famous as her dad? Maybe someone husling to sell her story. Seriously forgiveness is an act between two parties and it usually is very intimate so I have to side eye the public plea. It is great to be able to skpeak out about family issues and how divirce and absent parent affects the life of a young person. But that form of public apology…. just no

    • Lucinda says:

      That’s exactly what I thought. If you are truly interested in mending the relationship, you don’t put your dad on blast to the world.

  7. Zeddy says:

    The more she has out there, the more I want to read her book. She comes across as very sincere, intellectual, and intuitive. I quite like her!

  8. Celest says:

    I hate when people say things like “boys need a father” as if girls dont. Growing up, my mum asked her brother to be a father figure to the boys. He would come and take them to ball games, look over their homework, have long talks with them, call them “little man”, tell them to look after me even though I was older etc. I feel that was even more painful than not having my dad around. I was hearing that I wasnt smart enough or athletic enough or brave enough to be worth my uncles time. And I hated the condescending protectiveness my brothers adopted from that. Interrogating me when I came home late, demanding to know who the new bf was. I just have a very bad, domineering and excluding experience with masculinity. If I had a choice I would honestly live my life surrounded by only women.

  9. Lucy says:

    Lily seems sweet, strong and humble. I, too, side-eyed her when she announced she was releasing this book, but now I see why she did it.

  10. Lillian says:

    I didn’t have a great father figure growing up and now I see him every so often but I forgive him because I realized for me, being angry and upset doesn’t help me at the end of the day.

    Every situation is different

  11. Donna says:

    The longstanding story is that Lily’s mom, Jill, was dumped by Phil, via a fax, while he was on tour. He denied it prior to his memoirs being released and bemoaned the fact that “the rumor” hurt his career. He didn’t want to part with any money for Jill and Lily. It was an ugly divorce. I’ve disliked him ever since.

  12. Natalia says:

    Even though Phil Collins wrote a very wonderful song called Another Day in Paradise, I still have felt through the years that he’s been and may still be a huge jerk in different ways. I’m glad she’s trying to resolve this in a healthy way. And I do support her going public with it.

  13. ellieohara says:

    I’m sad that she can’t really act but is still successful because of nepotism. That’s what really saddens me.

    • Celest says:

      How much influence does an aging pop star who hasnt had a hit in twenty years and lives in Europe have on casting directors? His own acting career barely got off the ground for goodness sake. It probably helped her to never be a starving artist and to have gone to school with people whose parents were insiders but dont act as though the name Collins was a magical key to Hollywood.

      • Granger says:

        He may not have had a number 1 pop hit in a few years, but don’t underestimate how famous and influential Phil Collins is. He’s especially well known among Hollywood execs of his generation — and there are a lot of them. No doubt having his last name and pedigree opened a lot of doors for Lily, doors that would not have been opened to a regular struggling actor who doesn’t have any connections. However, for all kids whose parents are famous, it’s what you do AFTER those doors have been opened for you that counts. You’ll never get anywhere if you don’t have talent. I think Lily does have talent, and she’s an intelligent, interesting young woman, so I hope she does well.

  14. Cali says:

    I interviewed her back when she was promoting Mirror, Mirror. The movie was awful but she was absolutely lovely and won me over. I’m looking forward to reading her book.

    I really liked her in the movie version of Mortal Instruments and wish they would’ve made more with her and JCB.

  15. Nancy says:

    I’m sure Phil appreciates her letter. How fabulous it must be to be “famous” and have intimate, personal pieces of your life exposed. A nice face-to-face meeting together or personal letter would have sufficed, but I guess she feels to need to share her feelings with us in her memoir when she is still on the light side of thirty. I think twenty years from now, when dad will probably be gone, and she will be near 50, she will look back and say I wrote a memoir at 27, sorry dad. Face it Lil, if your father wasn’t Phil Collins, this memoir would probably be your diary.

    • KB says:

      You reap what you sow. Maybe if he’d forged a better relationship with her she’d have told him this stuff to his face.

    • Celest says:

      He wrote about his exes in a very unflattering way just last year. Is this really the hill you want to die on?

      • Nancy says:

        He earned his fame. She got his name. He wrote songs about his past, my favorite being I Don’t Care Anymore. Maybe he doesn’t care that his daughter is venting her rage so eloquently on paper. I have the problem with what seems like every child of every artist penning their angst against them. Daddy Dearest. My opinion only ladies.

    • Kym says:

      It doesn’t sound like she owes him anything.
      Plus, she’s going make mistakes at her age and she’s allowed that- he sure did.
      I don’t see anything wrong with this.

  16. xena says:

    When I read the comments, I started to wonder. I am a divorcechild too and I can totally relate to her description except the forgiving part. She’s not calling him out the way she could – by no means. All what she’s doing is bringing up the inconvenient perspective of the child her father left behind. A perspective he obviously ignored. And she’s doing that in a nice way without going into very private details. What she says is not even particulary upsettingly unique, it is similar to the sentiment of trying to be on your best behaviour in the desperate attempt to stop your parents from yelling at each other the moment the entire family comes together for once having a feeling of being a family.
    If anything, than I would hope for divorcing parents to understand from such statements that they can’t force their children to adapt into everything. And if they think, they can force them or ignore their arguments or needs – than they are set up for a not so nice awaking once the children are adults whom one can’t shut down so easy anymore.

  17. Mimz, says:

    My father… my parents are still married to this day, 41 years to be exact, and i have known for a long time that they aren’t happy. Still, they made it possible for me and my 2 sisters to have a big home and food on our table and etc. However, being the youngest, I got a huge deal of anger underlying.. I think I have forgiven him, over time, for messing me up so badly, psychologically. He was never ever physically abusive or gross or anything, thankfully he is not like that, but he damaged me so much, by being cold, distant at times, and fat shaming me my whole life. Yelling at me for not being fit, or smart like my middle sister… because “no one would ever date me looking like this”, and, lo and behold, here I am, 31 years old, fat, single, but reasonably content with life — got a good job, renting my own apartment and paying my bills. But every time I put something sweet in my mouth i remember that I am not worthy of anything, so my will to actually do something to better my life is pretty much non existent. Another thing he taught me is that i feel like everything i do is a mistake, that i need to apologize for existing, and taking space, and that whatever i do is never good enough. Worst fear is that I actually think I have his worst qualities.
    So yes, I got daddy issues and I need to see a psychologist about it ahahaha even though I do a pretty good job by myself (at psycho-analyzing me).
    He has been trying to make amends for his past behavior, i think, hes been much less distant, and reaches out almost on a daily basis, and i kind of forgot many of our incidents in the past, and i forgave him long ago for many terrible things he has said.. but the scars, the scars won’t leave me.

    So yes, Lily, sometimes I think the only way I will ever be able to let out all i have inside is by penning an open letter and see what happens. and get some closure.

    • Tata says:

      Mimz I am so sorry. I consider fatshaming child abuse and I consider not being there emotionally for your kids neglect.

      One of the things I learned In child development classes is all children idolize their parents. It is crucial to their survival.

      However, when parents fat shame us, criticize us as stupid, ignore us, it creates a very strong stress response and anxiety in ALL children, because their survival (being able to trust their abusive family) is at stake.

      Most people who have been abused emotionally struggle to admit it. We think abuse is getting beaten, or very clear. But it is not. Words matter too. Being called dumb, being made fun of for a bigger body (my friend was size 15 jeans, 5’7 by age 11 and C cup and her doctor said sometimes that just happens and you cannot control it. She had for ‘puppy fat’ that came off in her 20s.) is not okay. Another friend i know had acne and her parents made fun of her and she almost became suicidal. Not ok.

      I think we struggle because there is the bible and culture saying honor thy father and mother. But also I find that even as adults, we still deep down hope our parents will admit they were wrong and that they love us just as we are. It is hard, no doubt.

      You are so worthy, you are so deserving of love, you are so beautiful. Ugliness is a patriarchal myth. You are everything.

      And you don’t ever have to forgive your father, until you are ready, until you can love yourself without hearing his emotional abuse in your head.

      Hugs mimz.

    • India Andrews says:

      Amen Mimz. Mental and emotional abuse and neglect is very damaging. This abuse is only starting to be recognized for what it is. Until very recently only sexual or physical abuse was noticed.

      In my case it was both parents. I too have remained single and have a good job and pay my bills. I have a hard time shutting down the negative, critical tape in my head, have a hard time trusting people, have a hard time interacting with other people because of social isolation at the hands of my mother, and have a hard time with the fallout from not being allowed to develop into a woman naturally.

      I was simultaneously parentified by being forced to grow up quickly and be super reponsible and serious and infantilized on the other extreme by a parent who insisted I stay a little girl forever. Even as a teen my mom wanted me to never develop past elementary school. As I developed into a woman, my mother’s discomfort with my budding body and sexuality rubbed off onto me. I felt terrible and ashamed of my own skin. The damage was terrible. I even had boyfriends who thought I was a lesbian because I was so uncomfortable in bed.

      I will spend the rest of my life unspooling and untangling the damage from my childhood. And this is with parents who remain married after forty-five years. They never divorced and my dad was home every night at 5:30 pm. My mom worked part time at my school and was a homemaker the rest of the time. It should have been an ideal situation.

      I can recommend some great books on childhood neglect. You can find them on Amazon. Just type in the key words emotional abuse neglect mothers or fathers and daughters and they start popping up. One of them is The Trauma of the Gifted Child.

    • Casey says:

      You just wrote what I came here to say. It’s amazing to see a comment that reflects my experience so closely and we’re the same age (I’m 34). A good reminder that sharing experiences has so much value.

    • Mimz, says:

      Thank you all for your support and … for understanding and unraveling what I was trying to say… there’s so much more to unpack. But this is not the place, however, it might be the time to do so. Which is why I need to speak to a professional.
      This self-defeat mode i live in is… not sustainable in the long run.
      Thank you all, much love to you.