Cara Delevingne On Her Stage Debut: ‘Anything That Is Scary Is Worthwhile’

Having wowed critics in Cabaret, Cara opens up about her pre-show rituals - and the advice Sienna Miller gave her...

CABARET. Cara Delevingne (Sally Bowles) and Company. Photo Marc Brenner

by Hanna Woodside |
Updated on

When it comes to making your West End debut, few roles could be more challenging than Sally Bowles in Cabaret - the dark, decadent musical set in the twilight of Berlin's Jazz Age, as the shadow of Nazism looms larger. Following in the footsteps of Jessie Buckley, Aimee Lou Wood and Maude Apatow, Cara joined the seven-time Olivier winning production at London's Kit Kat Club in March, opposite Luke Treadaway as the Emcee. And what a debut it's been, with glowing reviews praising Cara's electrifying performance.

Did you feel daunted taking on such an iconic role? What gave you the confidence to go for it?
'I think anything that is scary, difficult and challenging is always the most worthwhile. I think for me in life I’ve always had a sense of wanting to grow and learn constantly and always keep trying to evolve and better myself, and the only way you can do that is by getting out of our comfort zone and taking risks. This has been one of my dreams for a long time – to be on stage doing a musical – to combine the things I love most, which is acting and music. There was no question about it; just to have the opportunity was such a gift.'

Had you seen any of the previous performances of Cabaret? Did you get advice from any of the previous actresses who played Sally?
'I saw both Aimee-Lou Wood and Maude Apatow in the role, and they were incredible. Before that I had also seen Sienna Miller do it in a previous production of Cabaret on Broadway. It’s so incredible how anyone can make the part so different, and I think that’s what is so special about this play, it’s the people that come in and how it changes. That was what was so exciting for me about taking this on. 
'I spoke to Sienna a lot about it, she was one of the people who first said to me that I should play Sally one day, before I had even auditioned. She also came to my opening show, which was lovely. Maude is also a friend, so I spoke with her about it, and we’d been texting during the rehearsal process and the show. I think it was nice to have Maude having already done this production to tell me about the first week of rehearsals – I’ve never done a play before, so I had so many questions.'

Photo: Marc Brenner

What are your pre-show rituals?
'I like adding my own make-up, like the little stamps on my cheek and my little beauty spot. I play music, I eat. I also try to stretch out as much as I can.'

How do you cope with any nerves?
'I just bring it back to my breath and trying to get out of my head and into my body. It’s when the nerves make my thoughts race, that’s the hard part. I don’t know if stage fright ever goes away, but you learn how to use it and navigate it.'

And after a show – how do you unwind after a very intense performance?
'I eat soup pretty much as soon as I can. I steam my voice. I warm down and stretch out again. I have a bath, if I can, and try and settle. Underneath all the adrenaline is exhaustion so I have to peel myself off the ceiling a little bit.'

What's a Cabaret cast night out like?
'We usually just to go The Ship & Shovell around the corner, and catch up on the week. It’s nice because we all have got to know each other being in the theatre. It’s such an incredible environment because it really smooshes you all together, so you know each other so quickly and so well. It’s such a lovely cast and crew, and the support has been amazing.'

How are you finding being back in London during the show’s run? 
'I love London, I grew up here so it’s lovely to be back. The traffic I do not miss, but everything else is wonderful. I’ve been to a lot of shows while I’ve been here. I recently saw The Picture of Dorian Gray with Sarah Snook which was incredible, and Operation Mincemeat – what a show! Just being able to go to the theatre has been lovely, but I haven’t done much else outside of that. I always miss being in the UK. I miss my friends and my family, and just that accent – I miss it a lot.'

Are there other dream theatre roles you’d love to take on in the future?
'There are a few, but I’m so pigeon-holed on Sally Bowles right now I can’t think of what’s next...'

Cara's run at Cabaret finishes on 1 June; for tickets visit:

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