It’s strange to see Billie Lourd laughing. Her lips curled, raspy chuckles to match her whisky bottle voice. In real life, there’s a real jollity so unseen in her character Chanel #3 on the FOX series Scream Queens. No, Lourd brims with a personality totally lacking from Chanel #3, a fast-talking lackey to Emma Roberts’ Chanel Oberlin (Chanel #1), with a permanent pair of pink earmuffs and a secret—Charles Manson is her father.
But the laughter comes when I ask Lourd about a different secret, or rather what it’s like to keep secrets like the ones about her time on the set of the new Star Wars film. “It’s frustrating!” she yelps. “It’s like you have something inside and you’re just like ‘Agh! I want to tell everybody!”
Being anything in Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a dream role even for a veteran actor, but Lourd is very much at the start of her career – it’s her debut film feature-proper. The 23 year- old’s showbiz parents, Carrie Fisher (who you might know as Princess Leia from the original Star Wars trilogy) and talent agent Bryan Lourd, encouraged her into acting. “I went to NYU Gallatin, where you make your own major,” says Lourd. “So I called it ‘Art and Business as Religion.’ It was basically everything but religion that’s religion. I talked about the Grateful Dead as religion, Steve Jobs as a god, Burning Man as sacred space, baseball as a religion. I took economics classes, marketing, music, acting.”
But Fisher and Lourd aren’t the only Hollywood troupers in the family. Lourd’s maternal grandmother is comedy doyenne Debbie Reynolds, and it was after digging into Reynolds’ oeuvre that Lourd decided to give acting a shot. “I didn’t even really want to be an actress, but I started watching her films and I realised how incredible a career could be,” she says. “Actually, when I started acting, she was upset about it. She was like, ‘This is a really hard lifestyle. Maybe you should be a doctor or a lawyer; anything other than this.’ Now she’s loving it. She gets upset when people call me my mum’s daughter. She wants me to be ‘Debbie Reynolds granddaughter.’”
It was a chance meeting with Scream Queens creator Ryan Murphy that sealed the deal. “I’ve known Ryan for five years now, but didn’t really know him—just ran into him at parties and had small talk with him. I decided to go [to a party] on a whim, and Ryan was standing outside. I sat with him, and we talked for 45 minutes at dinner over wine and fancy pasta. I was telling him inappropriate stuff that you can’t print—gross stuff. He said to me at the end of dinner, ‘You are Chanel #3.’ I was like, ‘That is such a weird thing to say to somebody.’”