Once best known for her modelling career and making faces on Instagram, Delevingne has made a beeline for the box office

When supermodel Cara Delevingne declared her intention to pursue an acting career, a collective eyebrow was raised. Really?

What a dichotomy. On the one hand, she's a model, and the unwritten rule is that models make terrible actresses. On the other, she's got an impeccably upper class family tree – and right now posh British actors are enjoying something of a moment.

Her Instagram feed showed her as a woman with charisma in abundance, but along with that ran the risk that she'd do what so many It girls and boys have done over the years: crash and burn, or go out with a damp fizzle.

Three years on, that eyebrow has dropped back to the same flat levels as Delevingne's own because she's doing rather well. She left the prestigious Storm modelling agency earlier this year, and her first big film, Paper Towns, is out this week. Elsewhere, she has enjoyed roles in some of the biggest non-cinematic pop culture events of the decade, voicing a radio station in the video game Grand Theft Auto V, and appearing in Taylor Swift's record-breaking Bad Blood music video.

It's not a bad time to be Cara Delevingne: here is a guide to her films so far (and what's coming up).

1. Anna Karenina (2012)

Delevingne's first acting role came in Tom Stoppard and Joe Wright's adaptation of Tolstoy's love story, set entirely in a theatre. No lines, but a key role as Princess Sorokina, a potential love match for Anna's extra-marital lover, Count Vronski. Good face served throughout.

2. The Face of an Angel (2014)

Loosely based on the Amanda Knox murder trial, Michael Winterbottom's film was poorly received. In his review for The Telegraph, Mike McCahill said, "it just leaves you mildly troubled that a film that started and ends with the name Meredith Kercher should have wound up being chiefly about Michael Winterbottom."

Delevigne's role as a barmaid-slash-muse for Daniel Brühl didn't fare much better: she won praise for a charismatic performance, but the overall failure of the film wasn't much of a platform.

3. Paper Towns (2015)

Delevinge's big break – and the source of a recent clash with an American TV journalist – comes courtesy of YA fiction and vlogging megastar John Green, whose novel The Fault in Our Stars was turned into a hugely successful film last year. 

Starring opposite that film's Nat Wolff (here promoted to lead), Delevingne plays the mysterious object of his interest, Margo, who disappears one day apparently leaving a trail of breadcrumbs for him to follow.

While Paper Towns the novel doesn't enjoy the same crossover fandom of that book, it hasn't done badly, thanks in part to an absolutely colossal marketing campaign. It has already made back its $12 million budget five times over since its global release at the end of July. Indifferent reviews for the film in general have followed.

4. Kids in Love (2015)

Filmed in London in 2013, this low budget indie stars The Maze Runner's Will Poulter as a student on his gap year in a coming of age adventure. Jack Fox, Geraldine Somerville and the French actress and model Alma Jodorowsky also star, with Delevingne playing Viola, one of a hard-partying group of young Londoners.

5. Tulip Fever (2015)

Delevingne is back in period costume for this 17th century romance about an artist (The Amazing Spider-Man 2's Green Goblin, Dane DeHaan) who falls in love with a  married woman (Alicia Vikander), hopefully with better results for all concerned than Anna Karenina's doomed romance.

Based on a novel by The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel author Deborah Moggach, Tulip Fever has an impeccable cast. Delevingne plays an artist's model, which will be a stretch, and joins a line-up that includes Christoph Waltz, Zach Galifianakis and Judi Dench, as well as musical muscle from West End star Douglas Hodge and Glee's Matthew Morrison. Royal gossip addicts should mark Prince Harry's ex-girlfriend Cressida Bonas, making her film debut.

6. London Fields (2015)

This film adaptation of Martin Amis's acclaimed and darkly comic murder mystery has been a long time coming: David Cronenberg was originally attached to direct in 2001, but the music director Mathew Cullen took over in 2013.  Amber Heard plays a woman who knows she will be murdered by her 35th birthday, and tries to ascertain who. Delevigne's character, Kath, is the abused wife of one of the suspects: a singularly unpleasant cheat and darts aficionado, Keith Talent.

7. Pan (2015)

Cheerier waters now, as Delevingne reunites with Joe Wright in his quirky, starry take on Peter Pan, which features Hugh Jackman as Blackbeard and Garrett Hedlund as Hook. Kathy Burke, Amanda Seyfried and Rooney Mara also star, while Delevingne practises her breath control in order to play a mermaid.

8. Suicide Squad (2016)

Delevingne could hit the big time if Warner Bros and DC pull off this supervillains movie: she plays the Enchantress, one of the gang led by Jared Leto's Joker, and a woman with the ability to wield serious levels of magic. If you haven't a clue about any of this, read our handy guide to the Suicide Squad film which has everything you need to know.

9. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017)

Delevingne takes centre stage alongside Tulip Fever's Dane DeHaan in this adaptation of a hugely popular French comic series, Valerian and Laureline.

The Fifth Element's Luc Besson directs, produces and writes the screenplay for this story, set in a universe where time travel is possible, and two special agents work to protect time and space from time travel-induced paradoxes. Got that? Jolly good. 

It was previously made into a well-regarded animation in 2007, but this is the first step towards global domination for Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mézières's comic, and another strong leading role for Delevingne.