The Guardian

Lily Cole: why I made a film about 'violent, awful' Heathcliff

Her appointment to the Brontë Society caused a storm. How will her new film – inspired by Wuthering Heights – be received? We meet the former supermodel at her Impossible HQ
‘At first, I fell for him’ … Lily Cole, who has made the film Balls for the bicentenary of Emily Brontë. Photograph: Jessie Adams

Last December, when Lily Cole was appointed creative partner of the Brontë Society for 2018, it caused a brouhaha. Brontë expert Nick Holland resigned from the society, describing the decision as “a disgrace” and “rank farce”. Yes, Cole might have a double first in history of art from Cambridge University, but what concerned him was that she had chosen to make her living as a model. “The central question,” Holland huffed, “should be, ‘What would Emily Brontë think if she found that the role of chief ‘artist’ and organiser in her celebratory year was a supermodel?’ We all know the answer to that, and anyone who doesn’t isn’t fit to make the decision or have any role in the governance of the Brontë Society.”

Today Cole says she was not shocked by Holland’s fury, but by the fact that it became a global story. “It’s not surprising when you get people with negative behaviour and attitudes. I was definitely more surprised by the shit-storm that followed. I just thought it was a nice little project to support. I was surprised by the media’s attention.”

Perhaps she shouldn’t have been. After all, it came in the midst of . Women were calling men out for inappropriate behaviour and, in this case, Holland had happily outed himself as a snob deluxe. Cole refers to him as “He who shall not be

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