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All the Leads That Proved to Be Letdowns in the Natalee Holloway Case


Dave Holloway on Daughter Natalee Holloway’s Crime Series

When shards of bone were discovered in Aruba a few years ago, Dave Holloway hoped against hope that DNA testing would prove the remains were of his daughter, Natalee Holloway, who went missing in 2005 while on a high school graduation trip to the Caribbean island. It would be sad, and it would be disturbing, but at least it would be an answer in a case that remains largely composed of questions.

It took a year and a half of working under the radar with the help of an informant to locate the spot where the remains were found, behind a house that had been previously mentioned over the course of the sporadically eventful investigation.

“We’ve had a number of disappointments and I’ve put up a wall trying to find something that’s not gonna disappoint me,” he said on Today in August 2017. “And when we determined that these remains were human, I was shocked, and I know that there’s a possibility this could be someone else, and I’m just trying to wait and see.”

But that October it was revealed that the mitochondrial DNA wasn’t a match to a sample provided by Natalee’s mother, Beth Holloway. The bones didn’t belong to Natalee.

Another dead end.

“Out of the four individual bone samples only one was found to be human,” forensic scientist Jason Kolowski, who tested the samples, explained to Oxygen, which chronicled Dave’s journey with private investigator T.J. Ward as they followed what felt at the time to be their most promising lead in years.

“We don’t know if the person is male or female,” Jason added. “We don’t know how old that person is. We don’t know how long that person has been dead.”

For nearly 16 years, the investigation into Natalee’s disappearance has carried on in fits and spurts, with light occasionally appearing at the end of the tunnel, only to be snuffed out at the first whiff of closure. In the meantime, books have been written, Lifetime made two movies about the case, news-magazine shows have covered it top to bottom, and every theory in the book has been floated—including that Natalee is still alive, or at least was for years after the events of May 30, 2005, transpired.

Whatever those events were, exactly.

Despite all the media attention and so many law-enforcement hours spent trying to find out what happened, definitive answers have remained out of reach. But numerous times, authorities and Natalee’s family seemed to be getting closer. “We always felt like with every lead, with every tip, it was always as if we were about to get her,” Beth previously told 20/20. “They just always turned up nothing.”

Here, all the twists that turned into letdowns over the course of 16 years…

The Missing

Natalee Holloway grew up in the well-heeled Birmingham, Ala., suburb of Mountain Brook. The teen was the oldest child of Dave and Beth Holloway (later Beth Twitty), who divorced in 1993. She and her younger brother, Matthew, lived primarily with Beth. Natalee was an honors student and member of the school dance team and American Field Service, which helps exchange students adapt to life in the U.S. She had earned a full academic scholarship to the University of Alabama, where she planned to get on the pre-med track. 

She was also a regular churchgoer, according to her uncle Paul Reynolds, who told the AP days after his niece went missing, “Natalee’s naive. She hasn’t dated a lot. She doesn’t party a lot.”

After graduating from high school on May 24, 2005, the 18-year-old went to Aruba for a celebratory trip with more than 100 other classmates. “We were on the beach. We stayed outside all day. You’d usually take a nap, get dressed, go eat dinner, and then go to one of the bars. Come home whenever you wanted,” friend Claire Fierman told NBC’s Dateline in 2008.

They were due to return to Alabama on May 30, but Natalee didn’t show up for the flight home. Her passport, cell phone and packed bags were still in her room at the Holiday Inn. “Natalee being late is a tip-off,” her aunt Marcia Twitty told reporters, noting how reliable Natalee was known to be.

When the plane took off without her, classmate Laraine Watson told Dateline, “It felt like I was leaving something behind. It was just a horrifying feeling knowing that she was supposed to be there and she wasn’t.”

Remembering the phone call that informed her Natalee had missed her flight, Beth Holloway told Dateline, “I knew instantly when I received that call that just from Natalee’s history and character and just her record, I knew instantly that she’d either been kidnapped or murdered. There was no hesitation. Absolutely none. Absolutely none.”

Separately, she and Dave, who lived in Mississippi, flew to Aruba, as did Beth’s husband at the time and some friends.

Investigators soon determined that Natalee was last seen by classmates leaving a popular nightspot called Carlos ‘N Charlie’s with soon-to-be household name Joran van der Sloot, then 17, and two brothers, Deepak Kalpoe, 21, and Satish Kalpoe, 18. Numerous witnesses saw her leave with

Holloway Family

Seven Arrests, No Charges

When Aruban authorities first questioned the Kalpoe brothers and van der Sloot, they said they took Natalee to California Lighthouse, near Arashi Beach on the northwest tip of the island, to shark-watch, then dropped her off at her hotel at around 2 a.m., the morning of May 30.

Two former hotel security guards were arrested on June 5 after Joran and the Kalpoes claimed they saw a guard approaching Natalee outside her hotel before they drove off. The young men were arrested on June 9 and held on possible charges of first- or second-degree murder and kidnapping resulting in death. Aruban Attorney General Caren Janssen explained that they had been hoping that one of them would lead police to definitive evidence and that’s why they weren’t taken into custody right away. 

The beach was searched on June 14, and Joran’s house was searched the next day, where investigators seized two vehicles, computers and cameras. “You have to build up an investigation. You can’t just go in there like a cowboy,” Janssen told reporters in explaining the perceived delay.

The guards were released June 18, and one told police that a Kalpoe brother had told him while they were both locked up that they hadn’t taken Natalee to the hotel, but rather he and his brother had left her with Joran at a beach near the hotel. 

Police also questioned Paulus van der Sloot, Joran’s father, and arrested him on June 22. Multiple reports also noted the arrest of Steve Gregory Croes, a party boat DJ, in connection with the case; both Croes and the elder van der Sloot were released on June 26.

Satish Kalpoe admitted to lying to police at first; he changed his story to say he and Deepak dropped both Joran and Natalee off at the hotel and that was the last they saw of them. Meanwhile, a gardener at the Aruba Racquet Club gave police a sworn statement that he saw all three men in a car near the club at around 2:30 a.m., when the Kalpoes claimed they were already home.

Aruban police, Dutch marines, FBI agents and thousands of locals combed the area, but that was on land. Ultimately a volunteer group dispatched divers and sonar equipment on June 25.

Six weeks after she vanished, the family’s offered reward for Natalee’s safe return was $200,000, and the reward for information that could help lead to the truth was $100,000. By the end of July, the reward was up to $1 million if Natalee came home alive.

AP Photo/Courtesy of Beth Twitty

Parents’ Worst Nightmare

Upon arrival on Aruba, Beth Holloway went to the Holiday Inn to ask questions about a guy named Joran van der Sloot, who some of Natalee’s friends had met. When the night manager knew right away who that was, Beth asked to see casino security footage and then called police. Everyone went to Joran’s house, where his dad Paul kept close watch as authorities questioned his son.

With Beth and a growing number of interested parties along, Joran guided authorities back to the hotel to illustrate where he dropped Natalee off, and claimed that she fell and hit her head getting out of the car.

Dave Holloway remembered to Dateline being assured by a cop that sometimes tourists just missed their flights, and his daughter would probably turn up in a few days.

When Joran and the Kalpoes were arrested, Dave and Beth felt that had to be case closed, but that obviously turned out not to be true. Furthermore, as days and then weeks went by, it stated to sink in that Natalee in all likelihood wasn’t coming home.

Beth stayed in Aruba for two months, leaving a few weeks before the Kalpoes, who had been released on July 4, were arrested again on Aug. 26. The brothers and Joran were all released Sept. 3.

Divers from the Aruba Search and Rescue Foundation searched again in late August after getting a tip that a radar machine had detected human bones about a mile off the coast, but they came up empty.

In 2008, Beth told Dateline, “I mean, I’ve had calls since, you know, I couldn’t even— just—you know? I’m… from ‘Natalee’s in a freezer at the van der Sloot house’ to ‘Natalee’s in a boat in Venezuela or Colombia.’ It was hell at first.”

AP Photo/Rob Carr

No Longer a Rescue

In March 2006, 10 months after Natalee disappeared, Aruban authorities said witnesses had told them the teen was drinking heavily that night and had drugs in her possession, though no one said they saw her taking any of them.

“We feel strongly that she probably went into shock or something happened to her system with all the alcohol—maybe on top of that, other drugs, which either she took or they gave her— and that she… just collapsed,” Gerald Dompig, deputy chief of police for Aruba, told 48 Hours Mystery.

Believing her to be dead, they were searching the beach where Joran claimed he last saw her, as well as a salt pond near her hotel, for forensic evidence.

All the while, Joran’s story kept changing.

AP Photo/Pedro Famous Diaz

No. 1 Suspect

Joran, born in the Netherlands, was an honors student and athlete at the International School of Aruba. His attorney father was in the process of becoming a judge on the island when Natalee disappeared. According to her friends, she first met Joran at the Excelsior Casino in their hotel.

“He just looks like an average, normal high school guy,” Natalee’s friend and classmate Laraine Watson told Dateline in 2008. “I mean, I remember he’s really tall. I remember looking at him thinking, ‘Oh, who’s that guy?’ You know, he’s hanging out with my friends.” She added, “I wasn’t really suspicious. I mean, he’s going to come out with us later.” Watson said she didn’t remember seeing him have any interaction with Natalee that night.

Laraine didn’t see them leave together, but other classmates did. “They didn’t think anything of it at the time, but she had gone off with Joran and some of his friends,” she recalled. 

Right away, Joran was readily identified by a Holiday Inn staffer as a regular known for going after young female tourists. He spent three months in jail and was released without any charges being filed, a judge having ruled there wasn’t enough evidence to hold him any longer.

Toward the end of 2007, he and the Kalpoe brothers were re-arrested, but again, nothing came of it and they were all released. 

Joran proceeded to freely travel the world, living in Thailand for a few months, acting suspicious. He reportedly talked about the case all the time, seemingly pleased that it had made him famous, but his temper was easily triggered. Sitting for an interview with Dutch crime reporter Peter de Vries in January 2008, he threw a glass of wine in Peter’s face when the reporter questioned why people should believe anything he said. 

AP Photo/Leslie Mazoch

More Witnesses, More Confessions

Even more dramatically, however, the journalist engineered a hidden-camera sting that captured Joran telling Patrick van der Eem—who said he was paid $35,000 for his role in the operation—that he’d been on the beach with Natalee, they’d had sex, and then right after she suddenly started shaking and lost consciousness.

“All of a sudden, what she did was like in a movie,” he said in the clip, which aired on RTL Boulevard in February 2008. “She was shaking, it was awful… I prodded her, there was nothing.” So, he claimed, he had a friend take her out on a boat to dispose of her body. “He went out to sea and then he threw her out, like an old rag.”

In a tease for the episode, Peter promised, “The mystery of Natalee Holloway will be solved Sunday.” 

However, Joran’s attorney objected: “They act quite frankly like clowns. If they have a resolution, they should bring a case and stop talking about cryptic information.”

Joran, then living in the Netherlands again, phoned into another Dutch program, Pauw & Witteman, to say that what he told Patrick wasn’t true. “That is what he wanted to hear, so I told him what he wanted to hear.”

In November 2008, CNN reported that Aruban authorities had two new leads to follow. First, a witness had come forward who could place Paul van der Sloot—who had told police he was home asleep until 7 a.m. on the night in question—and his son near a pond on the island at 4 a.m. on May 30, 2005. The witness said a young man, wet from the waist down and wearing only one shoe, was running from the pond toward a fast-food restaurant. Then the witness said the young man and an older one drove by in a red Jeep about 10 minutes later.

The other tip came from Joran’s former girlfriend, who told police Joran had said to her one night, “‘Who knows? You may now be on the beach with someone who is able to get rid of a corpse?'”

Aruba’s chief prosecutor, Hans Mos, told CNN he considered what Joran said on the hidden camera to be a confession, and they were taking all of the new evidence into consideration as they determined their next step. 


More False Leads

The family hired a private investigator, Tim Miller, who spent almost a year knocking on doors and searching for Natalee in Aruba, sometimes with Dave Holloway. On Oct. 21, 2005, Natalee’s birthday, they had been in Aruba literally digging in a garbage dump when the deputy police chief told them he had a hunch that they needed to take their search to the sea. A fisherman’s hut had been broken into and among the items missing were a fish trap and tools that could have been used to weigh a body down.

Entrepreneur Louis Schaefer, who had been following the case, volunteered to finance an expedition to search the ocean floor within a certain radius. A boat named Persistence set off for Aruba in November 2007. On Dec. 24, they came across what appeared to be a fishing trap about 90 feet below the surface, and on Dec. 29 sent a remote-operated vehicle down to investigate. They spied what looked, to them, like a skull.

On Dec. 30, a diver from the boat joined two Aruban police divers. They did not find anything having to do with Natalee. “That’s probably about the time that—the chest pains intensified to an extreme. I mean, how many times can I take this?” Dave recalled.

Then, in early 2008, a person who identified himself as Marcos sent Dave a message, claiming he knew that drug runners had been paid to get rid of Natalee’s body at sea and instead took the remains with them to Nicaragua and hid them on land.

Miller went to Nicaragua and met with Marcos, who offered to go to the hiding place with a GPS tracker and look for the remains. As reported on Dateline, Marcos called Miller, claiming to have found her. 

“He says that she was wrapped in a blanket and her body fell apart,” Miller told NBC News. “He said, ‘but we had to put her in two ice chests.’ And he actually said, ‘call Mr. Holloway right now and tell him I’ve got Natalee.'” Miller did not call, not wanting to instill Dave with more false hope.

Marcos subsequently disappeared, never to be heard from again.

AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Alleged Extortion and a Seeming Gotcha Moment

Paul van der Sloot died suddenly of a heart attack in February 2010, leaving his son adrift. According to Holloway family attorney John Kelly, a desperate Joran emailed him that March, writing, as Kelly told Dateline, “‘I want to come clean. My father’s dead now. I have nothing to hide. I want to help Natalee’s family, but at a price, you know, for a quarter million dollars…I will tell you what happened to Natalee, where she is now so you can help Beth bring her home.'”

With Beth’s permission, John Kelly met with Joran in Aruba, promising to start with $25,000. The young man said he knew where the body was; John asked what would happen if they didn’t pay him. Joran allegedly replied, “‘Beth can wait another five years.'” The family then turned to the FBI, which helped orchestrate a plan to make Joran think he’d be getting paid in order to catch him committing wire fraud, which would at least be something to hold him on.

John and Joran met again, and this time John wired him a total of $25,000. In turn, Joran led John to a house near the Aruba Racquet Club, where he claimed he had stashed Natalee’s remains in what was then a freshly poured foundation, before the house was built. John said on Dateline that Joran claimed he had been on the beach with Natalee, he wanted to go, she resisted, and then he “got angry and actually threw her. He actually made the gesture in the car, on video, showing me how he threw her in anger, because she wouldn’t leave at that point. And according to him, she hit the back of her head, lots of blood and she was dead.”

John said he was skeptical of Joran’s overall story, which was that he first hid Natalee’s body at the beach with his father’s help, and then the next day they buried her. But he still hoped they had shaken something loose.

“When I got on the plane May 11 [2010], I thought it was a done deal,” John said. “And he was going to be arrested at some point. That he’d be talking at some point, and we’d get some closure at some point.”

But the house Joran pointed to hadn’t been under construction in 2010, according to the authorities who said they didn’t find his story credible enough to make an arrest. He wasn’t even arrested for wire fraud.

John said that Joran remained in touch with him up until May 25, claiming he would turn himself in. Instead, he flew to Peru.

AP Photo/Karel Navarro

A Young Woman Is Murdered

Joran approached 21-year-old college student Stephany Flores at the Atlantic City casino in Lima, Peru. As seen on security footage from various locations, they played poker for about two hours, then Stephany cashed in some chips and went with Joran to Hotel Tac, where he picked up his key from the desk. At 5:33 a.m. they went upstairs and disappeared together into room 309.

At 8:36 a.m. on May 30, 2010, five years after Natalee disappeared, Joran, apparently locked out, called the front desk to be let into his room. He left by himself 20 minutes later, carrying a backpack. The TV in his room was turned up and, according to Dateline, he told the clerk at the desk, “Don’t disturb my girl,” before he went out.

Two days later, Stephany’s badly beaten body was found in room 309. Her neck was broken.

Her parents had reported her missing. Ricardo Flores, Stephany’s father, was a prominent businessman and former race car driver, so the case was doubly sensational to the local media.

Joran fled south and was ultimately arrested in Chile. He at first insisted he was innocent, but then confessed to Stephany’s murder four days after his arrest, Lima police told the press. In fact, police said, he told them that he left Stephany briefly alone in the room and, when he returned, she was looking at his laptop and had found information linking him to Natalee’s disappearance, after which he killed her in a rage. Police also stated he told them he knew where Natalee’s remains were, but he would only tell Aruban authorities. “How could this happen?” Beth Holloway reportedly said when informed of Stephany’s death.

In addition to being charged with first-degree murder and robbery in Peru, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Birmingham, Ala., charged Joran with wire fraud and extortion.

His attorney argued the crime was manslaughter, but Joran ultimately pleaded guilty to murder, claiming he was suffering from “extreme psychological trauma” from the Natalee investigation, and was sentenced in 2012 to 28 1/2 years in prison. Upon his release, he faces extradition to the United States, and could face 40 more years in prison if convicted of extortion and fraud.


Face to Face

Beth Holloway went to Peru to visit Joran in prison in 2010 with a Dutch documentary crew in tow, five years after seeing him the first night after Natalee had gone missing. “Leading up to May of 2010, that’s when all the extortion was going on with Joran,” she recalled to B-Metro magazine in 2015. “So at that point, I was not in a good place, so to speak.”

She recalled, “I think once I visited Castro Castro, Joran in prison, and was able to walk away from there, it was almost a freeing experience for me to know that it was time now. Joran was in prison, and this is what I had worked so hard for, for five years. This was what I had wanted in ’05.”

He didn’t provide answers, but Beth considered that moment a turning point all the same.

“It allowed me then to move onward….” she said. “I hadn’t found peace and joy and happiness yet—but I began to recognize it and learned how to embrace it, and then I think it just led to place where I am now, which is a good place.”

Further looking back on the prison visit, Beth said on Dr. Oz in 2017 that she didn’t expect “the empowerment that I would feel when I stood up from him and left him in prison… I almost saw him as this pathetic person, so I didn’t feel any hate. I saw him as so pathetic.”

Dave Holloway told in 2015 that he might go to Peru one day to talk to Joran. “I still hold out hope that with hard prison life, maybe he’ll change,” he said. “I don’t think at this point and time he’s ready to do anything, but we’ll probably one day make a trip to Peru.”

An Endless Search

Dave returned to Aruba in 2015, this time with private investigator T.J. Ward, after a man named Jurrien De Jong came forward claiming he witnessed Joran chasing Natalee into a building that had been under construction—but didn’t report it in 2005 because he himself was involved in criminal activity. Again, authorities said the building in question hadn’t been built yet in 2005.

Dave told in 2015 that he was pretty convinced of the theory that Joran had paid a bartender to drug Natalee, after which he killed her and then paid drug runners to dispose of her body elsewhere. “The answers lie in Peru and Aruba,” he said. “Those three [van der Sloot and the Kalpoe brothers] know exactly what happened. And nobody’s ever gotten anything out of them.”

The Strangest Twist Yet

On the 2017 Oxygen series The Disappearance of Natalie Holloway, John Ludwick claimed that Joran paid him $1,500 to help dig up Natalee’s remains in 2010. They crushed most of the bones, but doused the skull with gasoline and set it on fire, to destroy any hair follicles, he claimed. Ludwick also said Joran told him that Natalee died of a bad reaction to a drug he had slipped her.  

Going on the tip from Ludwick, Dave and T.J. found remains which turned out not to be Natalee’s.

In March 2018, Ludwick, 32, was fatally stabbed by Emily Heistand, who said Ludwick was trying to kidnap her at knife-point from her driveway outside her Florida home. She managed to wrestle the knife from him and wound him in the abdomen. Ludwick fled the scene but died of his injuries at a nearby hospital. Authorities concluded Emily acted in self-defense and she was not charged with a crime.

Days after the attack, Emily went on Dr. Phil and said that she once briefly dated Ludwick and he had been stalking her prior to the attack. She also said that Ludwick told her a few months after she first met him that Joran old him that Natalee had died after he drugged her. According to Emily, Ludwick then told her that he helped Joran  get rid of her remains.

“He told me that Joran did do it and hid the body. John told me that Joran got this Natalee girl all drunk at a bar,” Emily told Dr. Phil McGraw, “and Joran took her to the beach, and they were having a good time, and she started seizing and foaming at the mouth. And Joran called his dad and helped them dispose of the body.”

As for Ludwick, “I was just kind of creeped out by him after that and wanted to stay away from him,” she said, later adding,, “Sometimes I feel like I’m a murderer, but then sometimes I’m like ‘I did what I had to do.’ I don’t know how I made it out, but I’m just glad I did.”


Behind Bars

Before agreeing to plead guilty, Joran said he was intimidated into confessing to killing Stephany, and that Peruvian authorities promised him he’d be extradited to the Netherlands if he cooperated.

In September 2010, Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf quoted Joran saying (per CBS News) about the extortion allegations, “I wanted to get back at Natalee’s family—her parents have been making my life tough for five years. When they offered to pay for the girl’s location, I thought: ‘Why not?'”

In July 2014, Joran was set to marry his pregnant Peruvian girlfriend, Leidy Figueroa, who told CBS News’ Crimesider that she met him in 2010 when she went with her cousin to visit another inmate. Conjugal visits were allowed at Piedras Gordas, the maximum-security prison north of Lima where he spent the first few years of his sentence after being transferred from Miguel Castro Castro.

According to Leidy, her future husband had transformed “into a new person.”

That August, however, Joran was transferred to the more remote Challapalca in the Andes mountains, where conditions are reputedly rougher, after allegedly threatening to kill the warden at Piedras Gordas. Leidy, who gave birth to a daughter in September, told Dutch newsgroup RTL that November that Joran had been stabbed by a fellow inmate at Challapalca—but the director of Peru’s National Penitentiary Institute denied it, calling her a compulsive liar in an interview with Peru news network Channel N.

In 2015, Leidy gave Fox News Latino a letter Joran wrote her from prison, in which he alleged that Stephany’s father had put a $10,000 bounty on his head. “I don’t want to die,” he wrote, entreating authorities to take action to secure his safety behind bars.

“Joran is a pathological liar who will say anything to better his condition and get what he wants,” Ricardo Flores said in a statement to Fox News Latino, per People. “Now that he can’t get his way, he will say or do anything to get attention and get transferred to an easier location.” 

Meanwhile, the family of Natalee has had to do everything in its power not to feel trapped in a different sort of prison.

In January 2012, the day before Joran was sentenced to 28 years in prison, a judge declared Natalee legally dead—a necessary move so Dave could access the money he had put into her college fund in order to pay for her younger brother’s tuition. He needed a death certificate. “I guess most people do look at anniversaries, but I still think about it every day,” Dave, who in addition to his and Beth’s son Matthew has two other daughters from his second marriage, told in 2015 as the 10th anniversary of Natalee’s disappearance approached. “That’s something you’ll never get out of your mind.”

“The emotional trauma has a way of healing, and a person doesn’t realize it until time goes on,” he said. “When something comes up significant, you fall back down into that emotional state of trauma. I try to avoid those things as much as I can.”

“I look back on it and I wonder how I even made it through,” he added. “You’re always thinking we’re going to get an answer quickly and it never comes. I never dreamed it would be 10 years, and we would not have a solid answer.”

As for Beth, she told Today in 2016, “I have my answer as to what happened to Natalee, and he’s sitting in prison in Peru… Justice is being served for Stephany Flores, thank God. And he is in prison in Peru. But justice has not been served for Natalee.”

Beth has credited her faith for helping her accept her loss, and she eventually returned to work as a speech therapist at schools in Cullman County. She also traveled the country speaking publicly about Natalee, grief, her family’s journey and how to look out for one’s personal safety.

“It’s a message of hope, and my definition of hope is that inexplicable empowerment that enables us to move successfully from challenge to resolution with courage,” she told B-Metro magazine in 2015. “It’s more than just wishful thinking. It is real that there is light at the end of the tunnel. No matter what you’re trying to find your way through—It could be loss of a loved one, it could be terminal illness, it could be a financial loss. It’s a powerful inspirational message that I share that teaches perseverance and hope and that you can endure.”

Dave Martin/AP/Shutterstock

Going back to Aruba in 2019 was painful, but also cathartic. She has long since accepted that missing Natalee is a part of her daily life. “Every time I looked out at the ocean [on other trips over the years], I couldn’t handle it. It just disturbed me greatly,” Beth told 20/20. “Because it made me feel as if I was never going to get an answer as to what happened to Natalee. But I feel like I have accomplished a huge feat… I can come back now to Aruba. I can get in the water… It feels great.”

She added, “You’re never going to get over the…loss of losing your loved one. But life does move on. Natalee would want us to enjoy what life we have left.”

(E!, Oxygen and NBC are all members of the NBCUniversal family.)

(Originally published May 30, 2019, at 3 a.m. PT; updated Nov. 23, 2019, at 12:30 p.m. PT)

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Where the Heck Do Stars Really Keep Their Awards?


Golden Globes 2021: By the Numbers

Of all the spectacular features on offer at John Legend and Chrissy Teigen‘s on-the-market eight-bedroom Beverly Hills home, one is a true trophy piece. 

Just to the left of the musician’s beloved Yamaha piano is an entire set of shelves installed to house the family’s impressive collection of awards. Legend’s 11 Grammys, a Tony, an Oscar, a Golden Globe and an Emmy—the last of which was added to the tippy-top shelf just hours after he received it in 2018 for his work as the titular savior in Jesus Chris Superstar—are all accounted for.

But the honors aren’t his alone. Teigen’s trophy from when she was named one of Glamour‘s Women of the Year is on display, as is the plastic bauble her mom Pepper received for surviving the Hot Cheetos and Takis Fuego Challenge.   

Though with the ledges overflowing, Teigen has accepted that some of her accolades may have to find a new home, the model-cookbook author-television host-entrepreneur joking ahead of Legend’s Emmy victory, “If he wins, he will complete his EGOT and my spike tv award will probably be moved. But it’s ok I AM SO PROUD!”

And she’s not alone in searching for a spot to house her hardware. Not all stars have a trophy case or mantle or even a shelf dedicated to their achievements. 

Some celebs see their award behavior as an act in humility, stashing their Tony or Grammy or Golden Globe or even Oscar in the, uh, s–tiest of places. Others have passed it off to their parents, either as a show of gratitude for all the work they put in to helping achieve their dreams or because they don’t quite trust themselves to be responsible for its safekeeping. And, actually, a few aren’t entirely sure where their statuettes are at the moment. 

But they’ve all got a story. So before the trophies get handed out at the Feb. 28 Golden Globe Awards, see what happened after these stars thanked the Academy, the Hollywood Foreign Press and a room full of their couture-clad peers. 

Jeff Vespa/WireImage

Reese Witherspoon

Now that‘s a statement necklace. Though the Walk the Line lead flirted with the idea of turning her 2005 Best Actress Oscar into a piece of jewelry or a very showy door knocker, “Neither one of those options was very practical,” the star, who nabbed a Golden Globe for the same role, admitted to People. “I just keep it in my living room.” 

Frederic Lewis/Archive Photos/Getty Images

Goldie Hawn

Any time the actress needs to clear her head, she pays a visit to the statue she claimed in 1970 for her supporting role in Cactus Flower. “My award is in the room where I study and practice meditation,” she explained to InStyle in 2005. “Sometimes it’s on the mantel, sometimes I put it away.” Which makes sense, you know, out of sight, out of mind…

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Gina Rodriguez

The Jane the Virgin lead has a unique you-break-it-you-buy-it policy regarding the Golden Globe she won for her work on the CW hit in 2015. “It lives on my TV stand. In the box,” she told People. “Any time someone comes over, it’s the first thing they ask.” And while she’s happy to show it off, she admitted she gets nervous each time someone picks it up. “I go, ‘Why are you holding it like that?! Be careful! If you drop it I’ll have your first child!'”

Getty Images/Bob Riha, Jr.

Dustin Hoffman

Be he ever so humble, at first, the two-time Oscar winner didn’t want to set out the statues he’d picked up in 1980 for Kramer vs. Kramer and 1989 for Rain Man. By the early aughts, though, he told InStyle that they’d earned a place on his study’s mantle next to his six Golden Globes (including 1997’s Cecil B. DeMille Award). “What made me change?” he asked. “Probably years of therapy! I am proud of them, but they are not what propels me in my work.”

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Jamie Foxx

Blame it on the vodka, blame it on the Henny, blame it on the blue top that got you feeling busy, but Foxx didn’t feel entirely comfortable keeping his 2004 Oscar for Ray at his 40-acre California estate. “My manager holds the Oscar. He keeps it at his crib,” the actor told InStyle. “I got too much traffic at my house!”

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Jennifer Hudson

And she is telling you, she’s not going…to stand for any touching of the trophy. “Where I come from, no one has ever seen an Oscar,” the Chicago native told InStyle of her 2007 prize for Dreamgirls. “So I let people take pictures with it—but I do not allow them to touch it. Sorry, no touching the Oscar! It’s the ultimate honor, and I need to protect it.” Not to mention, give the hardware its proper due: The 13.5-inch piece sits atop its own pedestal, said Hudson, “that I keep lit.”  

Bob Galbraith/AP/Shutterstock

Kevin Costner

After Costner finally got over his fear that someone might walk off with the two Oscars he won for Dances With Wolves in 1991, he retrieved them from his underwear drawer and built them a home inside his screening room. Calling it the “perfect spot,” he told InStyle, “As you go to my screening room, you pass posters of movies that have influenced me (Gone With the Wind, Lawrence of Arabia, Bridge on the River Kwai). And it feels appropriate that you have to see a movie to see them.”

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Sean Combs

Wait, you don’t have a Sunday Room? Because that’s where Puff has placed his three Grammys. For those not in the know, he told Us Weekly, it’s “this room that just feels intimate, that just feels like it would be the perfect place to do a photo shoot reading the New York and L.A. Times on a Sunday. I don’t get to use it a lot, but I fantasize a lot about myself being calm enough to sit down and read the papers and have some coffee and just act really sophisticated and look up at my Grammys. I just haven’t gotten to doing that part of it yet.”

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Audra McDonald

TBH, when you have six Tony Awards it can be kinda tough to keep track. “Eh, they’re spread out around the house,” she admitted to Broadway Roulette in 2017. Between them, she and husband Will Swenson “have four kids and two dogs—and the oldest kid is 16 and the youngest kid is 6 months—so you can imagine all of the stuff that’s around our house! We still have more Tony Awards than kids, but we have many more Legos than Tony Awards.”

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Timothy Hutton

Well, this certainly brings new meaning to “grab a cold one.” When Hutton nabbed an Academy Award at age 20 for his work in 1980’s Ordinary People his sister “thought that would be kind of funny to put the Oscar in the refrigerator when people would go grab a beer or something,” he admitted. “It’s still there.”  

John Sciulli/Getty Images for InStyle

Tracee Ellis Ross

Not gonna lie, this sounds like quite the s–ty situation. Mere moments after the actress was honored for her work in black-ish at the 2017 Golden Globes, she popped into the ballroom’s bathroom with a pal to change out of her beaded Zuhair Murad and into her Paula Ke after party gown. “I couldn’t get in and out of the dress by myself,” she explained on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. “My friend took me out of the dress. We went into the handicap stall because it had enough room for two of us, laid the dress on the floor, standing there in a G-string and pasties with no service on my phone. She ran out to go get my stylist, I stood there for 20 minutes naked in the bathroom.” Flustered as people began knocking on the stall, she accidentally left her new trophy behind. “I went back in. It had been given to security, and they couldn’t find it. It was so dramatic,” she continued. “It did get returned. I was sweating profusely, but I do have it.”

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Claire Foy

Bragging just isn’t the done thing, the British actress offered as reason for keeping her Golden Globe in the loo. “You can’t put it somewhere noticeable,” explained the star, who reigned as Queen Elizabeth II on The Crown‘s first two seasons, “because that would be showing off.”

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Olivia Colman

Though sometimes a queen deserves to wear her crown proudly. Colman keeps all three of her Globes—including one for serving as the monarch on The Crown‘s third season—on display. “Cool people put their BAFTAs and things in the downstairs loo but mine are on the mantelpiece,” she told BBC News. And she had a spot all picked out for the trophy she won in abstentia, film commitments keeping her for accepting her win for 2017’s The Night Manager. “Gutted” to have missed out on the chance to party with costars Hugh Laurie and Tom Hiddleston (“I could have got wellied with them all last night”), she was nonetheless pretty pumped that her category had been presented by Kristen Bell and Cuba Gooding Jr. “Don’t wash it! Don’t polish it if they have touched it!” she said. “I’m clearing everything off the mantelpiece, it’s going right in the middle.”

Paul Drinkwater/NBC

Michelle Williams

My Week With Marilyn‘s star didn’t want to wait for baggage check after winning a Golden Globe in 2012. After going to the ceremony with her Los Angeles-based bestie Busy Philipps, “She had a very early flight the next morning and carry-on luggage and she was like, ‘I can’t deal, keep it at your house,'” Philipps explained of the Brooklynite. Nine years on, it seems the Dawson’s Creek alumni have adopted a sharing is caring policy. “It’s on our really nice bookshelf,” Philipps told People of her pal’s hardware, “and I love it.” 

Paul Drinkwater/NBCUniversal

Darren Criss

This is a mama’s boy we can get behind. Though the The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story star keeps the Emmy and SAG Award he won in 2019 for his portrayal of the fashion designer’s murderer atop his piano (“To remind me of where they all spring from: creativity”), the Golden Globe found an even more special place to hang. After dedicating his win to mom Cerina Bru, the Glee alum gave her the trophy to keep. “It’s narrative of not just being a woman or a Filipino woman, but an immigrant woman coming to this country,” he explained to StyleCaster of honoring his mom, the youngest of seven kids growing up in the country’s Cebu province, “which is a story that millions of people in this country have.”

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Jane Fonda

Somehow we missed this Jane Fonda’s Workout video. Speaking to InStyle in 1998, the acting legend joked of her Academy Awards for 1972’s Klute and 1979’s Coming Home, “What’s great about having won two Oscars is that I can do a workout with them!” Still wed to media magnate Ted Turner at the time, she told the mag that when they met “he showed me his wall-to-wall sailing trophies in an office big enough for a skating rink, I turned to him and said, ‘Honey, I’ve won a few trophies too. Where am I going to put mine?’ So we built a trophy case in Montana and keep them all together.”

Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

Nicole Kidman

The Big Little Lies star literally couldn’t give her two Emmys away. Winning in 2017 for both producing and acting, the actress offered up her precious metals to daughters Sunday and Faith. “I was like, ‘OK, I can put one on your shelf, Sunday, and one on your shelf, Faith, and they’re yours,'” Kidman recalled on Jimmy Kimmel Live. Except her then-10-year-old wasn’t having it. “Sunday didn’t want it,'” she continued. “She said, ‘Oh, I want to earn my own.’ I’m like, ‘You go, girl!'”

Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage

Ben Affleck & Matt Damon

How ’bout them trophies? Well, Damon reportedly misplaced his 1998 statue after a flood in his New York City apartment, while his Good Will Hunting cowriter took a more go-with-the-flow approach. “At first the award lived in my apartment in L.A.,” Affleck told InStyle in 2004. “Then I gave it to my mother. I allowed her to hold it hostage in Boston in lieu of a grandson.” After awhile, though, “I stole it back and it kicked around from office to office. I’ve kept it in pretty mundane locations, on desks or bookshelves.”

Ron Galella/WireImage

Shirley MacLaine

After nabbing a Best Actress Oscar in 1984 for Terms of Endearment, the five-time Golden Globe winner put that little guy to work. “I live more simply now. I don’t care about clothes, and many of my awards are in drawers or in storage,” she explained years later to InStyle. Her Academy Award, though, lived in her den next to a statue of the Hindu God Siva that she got in India. “Oscar serves a very practical purpose,” she continued of the eight-and-a-half-pound trophy. “When the winds blow through my New Mexico ranch, he keeps The New York Times from blowing away.”

TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images

Gwyneth Paltrow

A regular Shakespearean tragedy. Though the actress emerged victorious at the 1999 Oscars thanks to her lead part in Shakespeare in Love, she never truly felt great about her win, telling Contact Music she stashed the trophy “at the back of the bookshelf in my bedroom because it weirds me out.” For whatever reason, she continued, “I haven’t been able to feel really good about it. I just feel sort of embarrassed and it brings up weird, traumatic feelings. It’s associated with a tough time in my life.”

Jim Smeal/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Catherine Zeta-Jones

Life’s a beach for the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award the Chicago star picked up a month before giving birth to daughter Carys in 2003. “He’s in our home in Bermuda,” she revealed to InStyle of the island spread she shares with husband Michael Douglas. “I figured that not many Oscars have lived there. Of course, everyone who visits wants a photograph with him.”

Alberto E. Rodriguez/WireImage

Alicia Vikander

Someone turn this into a movie. With the Swedish actress not settled into a permanent pad at the time, she left her 2016 Best Actress trophy for The Danish Girl with a friend in L.A., prompting her pal’s daughter to turn the experience into an adventure. The little girl “has been sending me photos to prove she’s taking good care of him,” Vikander told People. “I love my little updates from her!”

Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

Tom Hanks

Sounds like Hanks and wife Rita Wilson‘s trophy shelf is a bit like a box of chocolates. You never quite know what you’re going to get. At one point, the actor said his two Oscars (for 1993’s Philadelphia and 1994’s Forrest Gump) were holding court with some soccer awards. Added Hanks, “I think the World’s Greatest Mom trophy from Mother’s Day is up there as well.”

Aaron Poole / ©A.M.P.A.S.

Emma Stone

Stone has got her little man covered thanks to an assist from pal Jimmy Kimmel. After hosting the ceremony 2017 when the actress won for La La Land, Kimmel “sent underwear for [my Oscar], like rubber underwear, so he’s wearing tighty-whities,” she revealed to People. “Jimmy said, ‘I’d like to bring some decency into your home.'” Well, her mother’s home, really, Stone sharing that mom Krista “holds on to it.”  

A.M.P.A.S./Michael Yada

Lupita Nyong’o

Ridin’ solo: “It’s just on a shelf on its own,” the 12 Years a Slave star told Variety of her 2014 Best Supporting Actress Oscar. But she doesn’t mind sharing the wealth. Asked if friends try to hold the hardware, she replied, “Yeah, and they’re allowed to.” 


Anna Paquin

As a teen, The Piano actress didn’t want to make a whole song and dance about the Academy Award she won at age 11. “I keep it next to my boots at the back of my closet,” she told InStyle five years after her 1994 victory. “I don’t display it because friends would think they had to comment and I don’t want that kind of attention.”

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Cuba Gooding Jr.

In the two-plus decades since his 1997 win, the Jerry Maguire actor’s Oscar has aged like a fine wine. For the first six years, the statue sat on a shelf in his temperature-controlled wine cabinet, remaining like new. “Now that I keep it out in the open in my screening room,” he told InStyle, “it has become tarnished—which is kind of cool. It’s starting to age and get character. Like me.”

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Viola Davis

The Oscar winner has her a man who doesn’t miss an opportunity to pump her up. The Fences lead says husband and producing partner Julius Tennon urged her to keep her 2017 trophy in their office, next to the Emmy she won for How to Get Away With Murder and her two Tonys. “If it were up to me,” she admitted, “I’d keep it in my garage to keep me humble.”

Paul Drinkwater/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Rachel Brosnahan

With a small space, the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel actress struggled to find a spot for her best actress trophy to take a seat. Hence why, “My Golden Globe from last year is on my toilet,” she confessed to reporters at the 2019 show after notching her second win in a row. “I live in New York. Truly, it was the only available shelf and it’s cute in there.” Besides, she continued, “It livens up the place. I’ll probably put this one next to it.”

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Julia Roberts

Cross-examined by Ellen DeGeneres about the “parlor” where she houses her 2009 Oscar, the Erin Brockovich actress testified, “It’s in a room that has a piano in it, that my daughter plays, that we call the piano room. I thought it might sound pretentious, so I said ‘parlor.” Responded the talk show host, “So you thought ‘parlor’ sounded less pretentious?” 

Watch E!’s Live From the Red Carpet coverage of the 2021 Golden Globes this Sunday, Feb. 28 starting at 4 p.m. ET/ 1 p.m. PT followed by the live Globes telecast at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on NBC. For a recap of all the winners and biggest show moments, watch E!’s After Party special after the Globes at 11 p.m.!

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Inside Lily Collins’ World: From Celebrity Kid to Finding Her Own Spotlight and Falling Madly in Love


Lily Collins Reacts to “Emily in Paris” Golden Globe Nominations

Sure, 2020 wasn’t one for the books for most people. But it ended up being Lily Collins‘ year.

She spent most of it in sweatpants, like so many others, but that just meant she was extremely comfortable as the results of her very busy 2019 unfolded. The veteran actress and Lancôme brand ambassador heads into the Golden Globes Feb. 28 having played a key supporting role in the old-Hollywood epic Mank, which leads all films with six nominations, and as a nominee herself for Best Actress in a TV Series, Musical or Comedy, for one of the most talked about shows of quarantine, Emily in Paris.

“Words cannot express how extremely grateful and excited I am to be nominated for my role in Emily in Paris and for the show’s nomination!” the 31-year-old told E! News in a statement when she got the good word. “I’m beyond thrilled the series was recognized and I feel so lucky to be in a category including such incredible women who have kept me laughing and smiling all year long. The greatest gift of playing Emily has been providing a sense of escapism and fun during a time when we all needed it most.”

Lily did indeed provide people with a lot of joy (and serious travel inspo for…someday) and she was duly rewarded with joy—and a second season renewal. And before either production had even premiered last year, she got engaged!

“You know what’s really funny?” she said in December on E!’s Daily Pop when asked if wedding planning with director fiancé Charlie McDowell was underway. “I wasn’t that young girl who, like, had it all figured out…but I am someone now who’s like, ‘I think I know exactly what I want.’ So it’s fun.”

Dominique Charriau/WireImage

It’s not surprising that they’re eager to tie the knot, Lily having written when announcing their engagement, “I’ve been waiting my lifetime for you and I can’t wait to spend our lifetime together” (and she’s really looking forward to having Charlie’s mom, Mary Steenburgen, and her husband Ted Danson for in-laws). But it would be a bit surprising to learn that Lily wasn’t the girl who had it all figured out at a young age—if she hadn’t already opened up about her very personal struggles in a raw, unusual-for-an-It-Girl way.

Born in Surrey, England, and raised in Los Angeles by mom Jill Tavelman after her parents split up when she was 5, the raven-haired beauty did seem to have all the elements in place to glide through life like a certain social media maven who takes the City of Light by storm. And she spent much of her formative life acting, modeling, writing (she made her on-camera debut in a BBC series when she was 2 and had an Elle Girl column at 15) and wielding a microphone—not as a singer, like her famous father Phil Collins, but as an on-the-ground host for Nickelodeon’s Kids Pick the President election series in 2008. She dropped out of USC, where she went to study broadcast journalism, but won the Young Hollywood Award for Newest Red Carpet Correspondent instead.

Warner Bros Pictures/Kobal/Shutterstock

Though she has said that she never spent very much time in Paris before moving there for a few months to shoot her Netflix series, she had made some memories in the French capital, such as when she made her society debut at the Crillon Ball (now the Le Bal des Débutantes) in 2007. Phil shared a photo of their father-daughter dance at the event in his 2016 memoir, Not Dead Yet, a tradition that’s also been experienced over the years by Bruce Willis, Forest Whitaker and Sylvester Stallone with their respective debutante daughters.

After just one two-episode guest spot on the CW’s 90210, Lily got her big-screen break playing Sandra Bullock‘s daughter in 2009’s The Blind Side. She went on to star in films such as Mirror Mirror opposite Julia Roberts, Rules Don’t Apply co-starring and directed by Warren Beatty (for which she earned her first Golden Globe nomination), To the Bone with Keanu Reeves and the Bong Joon Ho-directed Okja. All the while, she also became known, if not more so in some circles, for her smart style and cool-best-friend-vibe Instagram account.

Citizen Snow Film Productions/Kobal/Shutterstock

“I don’t know,” she told The Guardian in 2012. “I look at what I’ve done and I go: ‘What? Really?’ It still feels so abnormal not to have had to do those particular sorts of projects [kid-and-teen fare, that is] to get here.”

But the outward evidence of a charmed life didn’t always reflect the vulnerable person at the heart of it, so she decided to really introduce herself to the world with her 2017 essay collection Unfiltered: No Shame, No Regrets, Just Me.

“I’m still young but I’m older than I was 10 years ago and I’ve learned more about myself,” Lily explained her intention behind the book to Flare in 2017, “so I thought these are the most relevant things that are going on with me right now and chances are if I’ve been through them, someone else will have and it may help spark conversations among other people if I speak up and tell my truth.”

The stories she told ranged from poignant but lighter fare, such as how she finally came to embrace her enviably full eyebrows (she, eek, used to tweeze and shave them!) and the lessons she’d learned from being ghosted, to her struggle with body image issues that led to her developing eating disorders and an addiction to diet pills and laxatives when she was in high school.

Lily also wrote, without naming names, of an abusive relationship that started off feeling passionately romantic before devolving into “deceit, infatuation, codependency and some pretty dark s–t.”

Admitting that she chose to ignore the many red flags, Lily ended up having panic attacks, breaking out in stress rashes and living entirely for this guy as she grew increasingly isolated from friends and family. Jill eventually encouraged her daughter to talk to a friend who’d managed to get out of his own destructive situation, and Lily subsequently broke up with the bad boyfriend. But after not speaking to him for awhile, he convinced her to talk it out in person and they got right back together.

And though she was increasingly unhappy, it took a group-call intervention from her mom and friends to finally get her to cut the guy off for good. Then came the process of wondering why she’d stayed with him for so long, followed by the realization that all the issues were not her fault, she had just been successfully manipulated by a person “dealing with his own identity crisis and insecurities.”

Sometimes, she concluded in Unfiltered, “We need to be with the wrong person to recognize who the right one is, how he should treat us, and what kind of respect we deserve.”

She acknowledged, however, that 28 was a young age at which to be reflecting on her life.

“I’m not saying that I’m all knowing or wise,” she told Flare. “The book is not a tutorial or a how-to—these are truths that I’ve come to realize about myself, and about growing up, as I’m still growing up.”

Lauding the “incredibly supportive, encouraging community of young women” who’d gathered as fans of her Instagram page, Lily also told Teen Vogue, “I’ve always been a huge advocate of young people helping other young people through open conversation, and I’ve never had a problem being a conduit through which honest conversation can happen. If that means being in an awkward situation or being vulnerable, that’s been something I’m OK with.

“I thought, ‘Well, this might be my opportunity to talk about a lot of things that I’ve gone through or experiences that I’ve had.’ It’s taken me to this point to come to terms with certain things and become comfortable enough to talk about them. I just felt that now was the right time for me to get some of these things off my chest.”

Bruce Talamon/Lionsgate

Having grown up not exactly famous but very much spotlight-adjacent and the daughter of a thrice-divorced father, Lily knew at an early age that there would be certain things that she wouldn’t want to share—such as intimate details of her dating life.

“I entered into this business knowing your private life can’t always remain private,” she explained to the Belfast Telegraph in 2013, when she was rumored to be dating her Abduction co-star Taylor Lautner. “I don’t feel the need to profess anything publicly or confirm something that in a normal situation you wouldn’t have to speak out about. If I’m out and photographed with someone, then that is what it is. We took that chance and, whatever… it is what it is.”

She continued, “That’s always my natural feeling. My family went through a lot of very public situations and I saw that side of it from a young age. My mum raised me to be normal, and I wanted to grow up and find out who I was and who I wanted to spend time with before anyone else did.”

Todd Williamson/Getty Images

Having spent her youth primarily with her mother and eventually shedding her British accent, it took some years to develop the sort of bond with her dad that she craved as a child. But they have a solid relationship now, Lily writing to the Grammy winner on his 70th birthday Jan. 30, “Words aren’t enough to express how much love and pride I have for you. After 7 decades on this planet, countless trips around the world, 5 kids, endless memories and a lifetime of stories… you’re not done yet! You mean so much to me and I can’t wait for all the adventures and years to come. I love you so much, to the moon and back again…”

In 2012, she told The Guardian she had fond memories of summers with her dad in Switzerland, where he moved after the divorce, and Christmases at the family farmhouse in West Sussex. “It’s the best place to be for the holidays—all cold and wintry. Love the food, love the tea. I still feel very European,” she said. And, despite her parents’ rough split, “I’ve only ever known growing up across different countries—to me it’s just fun.”

Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage

Pressed on what sort of relationship she really had with her father growing up, she said, “I know the truth and I know how it was for me, and I know how much I love my family—and that’s all that really matters.”

Perhaps the publication of Phil’s own warts-and-all memoir in 2016 partially inspired her decision to dig deeper and share that truth.

Writing about the end of his marriage to Jill, Lily’s mom, Phil—who admitted to cheating but firmly denied the prevalent rumor that he dumped his second wife via fax—reflects on feeling “so sad for Lily, who is trying to make sense of all this mess her dad has made. I will always be sorry for that. I know that confessing to these feelings will unmoor Jill and Lily’s lives, so I make the difficult decision to take the coward’s way out: I say nothing.”

Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Moet & Chandon

Which is why Jill is the “total bad ass rock star” in Lily’s actual book. She traveled the world with her mom, and credits her in Unfiltered for not only always being there for her, but for exposing her and her friends “to people from all walks of life,” encouraging them “to step outside our comfort zones and experience the unknown.”

They were so close, she explained, that she felt both inordinately excited to venture out on her own and a little guilty for leaving her mom (though when Lily first moved out she only went as far as down the street). But at the end of every day, Lily wrote, “She’s my best friend, inspiration, role model, confidante, and partner in crime.”

Meanwhile, her dad “may have still been alive, but most of the time it felt as if he were completely gone,” she wrote. Lily recalls being constantly worried about living up to his expectations, craving approval that he wasn’t there to give. Not being able to tell him how she felt only made her angrier, and she says it took about a decade before she drummed up the courage to speak her mind.

Not that having one huge talk solved everything (dads aren’t always the best listeners, she notes), and Lily wrote in a letter to her father included in the essay about him in the book, “I forgive the mistakes you made. And although it may seem like it’s too late, it’s not. There’s still so much time to move forward. And I want to. I’m inviting you to join me.”

So, the situation was far more complicated than Lily had been ready to share five years beforehand.

They’ve settled into a groove now, though, Lily telling W last summer how she immediately texted her dad when the video of twin YouTube stars Tim and Fred Williams listening to “In the Air Tonight” for the first time went viral.

“I remember having this conversation with him when I was younger,” she said. “I would share with him the music and the new bands that I was listening to at the time. He was just as inspired by young musicians and young artists, just as much as when you read interviews of up-and-coming artists and they talk about who they admire.”

Lily has also never tried to pretend that growing up as she did, with the father she has, was bad for her career—either in terms of opportunity or being able to go with the star-studded flow.

“I don’t get that feeling of panic or of being star-struck,” she told The Guardian in 2012, talking about how people “like Elton” would go up to her and have memories from when she was a baby. “I grew up acknowledging these people as human beings who have a talent that is public. They’re not some other species. But it doesn’t mean that I get any less excited.”


No wonder she doesn’t find the accolades for Mank—in which she plays Rita Alexander, the stenographer tasked with keeping Herman Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman) sober enough to hammer out the screenplay for Citizen Kane while laid up with a broken leg—or the prospect of all the Oscar nominations the David Fincher-directed film will get particularly nerve-racking.

“I’m just really proud to be part of such an amazing ensemble,” Lily said on Daily Pop. “And to be a part of something that people are responding to like this is really special.”


So after shooting both Mank and Emily in Paris in 2019, she wasn’t entirely averse to slowing down in 2020—though she hadn’t planned on quite so much free time. For instance, she was excited to inject more of Emily’s joie de vivre into her own wardrobe and there promised to be a long list of appearances for both projects, not to mention award season.  

“Aaaaand then we went into lockdown,” she quipped on Daily Pop

At least that allowed for some sweet alone time with her fiancé, whom she met in 2019 when she was cast in his upcoming film, Gilded Rage—and then promptly fell in love with him.

“It was kind of one of those situations where I knew the second that I met him that I wanted to be his wife one day, and so it was just a matter of when really,” she recalled on Live With Kelly and Ryan.

Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images

During quarantine he taught her how to surf, which, she told InStyle, served as “a fun way to get over a fear of failing publicly.” She read up on meditation (being able to savor the moment hasn’t always come easy to her) and listened to Unlocking Us With Brené Brown, growing ever more in touch with herself always near the top of her to-do list. And it came in handy to have a boyfriend who knew his way around a camera so, when came calling for a story, he could photograph her himself

“I know it’s super strange, but I haven’t been stationary in one place for this long in—I can’t remember how long,” Lily told the magazine.

But though all was obviously going well 18 months into their relationship, she was still completely surprised when Charlie popped the question while they were on an RV trip through New Mexico and Arizona with their dog Redford. He had told their families ahead of time, but managed to keep her entirely in the dark—even when he was planting a camera to capture the moment for posterity.

“What’s funny is that he totally wasn’t [acting weird],” Lily shared on The Kelly Clarkson Show in December, “and he is the first to admit he’s not an actor. He’s a writer-director and usually he is just, like, very much emotions on his sleeve, you can tell what’s going on. And he was so cool and I had no idea.”

“Now looking back on it, though,” she added, “he had taken his jacket off, put it back on, taken it off, put it back on, and I was like, ‘I guess it’s hot out, he’s fidgeting with this clothes.’ He had set up his camera for a self-timer so he got the whole thing on video but I thought he was just deciding whether he wanted to keep his jacket on…I didn’t understand!”

“In hindsight I realized there were certain things I could’ve read into, but he was so cool, calm and collected.”

As she said on The Drew Barrymore Show barely two weeks after the proposal during another stop on her virtual press tour, flashing the rose-cut diamond ring McDowell helped design with jeweler Irene Neuwirth, “I am the luckiest. I am so grateful and truly feel the happiest I’ve ever been. I am very, very lucky.”

Lily Collins/Instagram

And while neither time nor a Golden Globe nomination nor even falling madly in love has made her life struggle-free, Collins knows it’s all about who you choose to take the journey with and having that support system.


“We all have our insecurities,” she told Kelly Clarkson. “For me, body image was a really big thing. I’ve been very vocal and open about my experiences with eating disorders and, just, now my fiancé is so supportive, and it’s about finding new ways to feel centered and not reverting back to old ways…We all just need to say, we all go through these things and we’re not crazy, and no one of us is alone. I think we all have those little things.”

And when Drew Barrymore asked Lily how she had come to be “this person who exudes and conveys kindness and goodness,” she again credited her mom for instilling her with her moral compass from the beginning. “I don’t know,” the actress said, “I’m just so grateful for every opportunity that I get and I’m just an innately happy, optimistic person, I guess.”

They both agreed that being born into that world came with certain advantages, but it also could mean that you feel the urge to prove yourself that much faster.

“It gave me such a drive to want to feel like I deserved to be where I am,” Lily said. “For a certain amount of time, a last name could be something that’s interesting but, at the end of the day, you’ve got to bring something to the table. And yeah, I maybe had to grow up a little bit quicker, but I was also exposed to the pros and cons at an early age and I still chose it for me.”

The people have spoken—23.1 million on Instagram and counting, 676 million minutes of Emily in Paris binged in its first week—and they’ve chosen her right back.

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