Lily Sheen is grateful for her supportive parents — even if they might have envisioned a different path for her.
The 23-year-old daughter of actors Michael Sheen and Kate Beckinsale plays the child of a movie star in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, her first major movie role. Her character Addy is the daughter of Nick Cage (a fictionalized version of Nicolas Cage), who struggles to connect with her while searching for his next big project.
Speaking with PEOPLE for this week’s issue, Lily says her own experiences growing up with parents in the spotlight contrasts Massive Talent’s storyline. “Of course there are definitely similarities, obviously. But I think what really opened the character up for me, as an actor, was to start noting the differences,” she explains. “Seeing what would my life be like if my parents hadn’t been this way, if they hadn’t been as loving and supportive of me, and of the person that I wanted to be.”
“That was really exciting for me to be able to play, and to see this alternate-reality version of myself and what my life could have been if things had gone slightly differently,” adds Lily. Though she’s been connected to Hollywood her entire life, Lily says that as a “stubborn” kid she “wanted to shirk the expectation that I could end up in film.” However, she says she “wanted to act from a young age, for sure; it just took me a second to get there.”
Lily jokes that her mom Beckinsale, whom she’s “really close” with, “definitely would’ve preferred I became a surgeon, but I don’t think that was on the cards — you wouldn’t want me to be doing any surgeries. And I think she knows that!” “Both my parents, they would’ve accepted whatever I did, which is incredibly lucky to have,” she adds.
The actress admits her childhood stubbornness sometimes meant ignoring her parents’ advice. Now, though, she’s learned to appreciate and value their input: “When I was younger and more immature, I was more like, ‘I don’t want any help.’ But I think I’ve now grown to really appreciate how much of a lucky opportunity I’ve had, in having those parents, and just to have a helping hand through the industry.”
“Not a lot of people have parents that are understanding and have a respect for the arts,” says Lily. “My parents are great about pushing me out and letting me fly and become the person that I want to be. To become the actor that I want to be.”
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent — which also stars Pedro Pascal, Tiffany Haddish, Neil Patrick Harris, Ike Barinholtz and Sharon Horgan — is in theaters Friday.