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Posted by admin on August 12th, 2020 / No Comments

Two years after director Yorgos Lanthimos turned Tony McNamara’s script “The Favourite” into a twisted, Oscar-winning look at the British court of Queen Anne, McNamara himself has applied the same sensibility to 18th-century Russia in “The Great.” The Hulu series stars Nicholas Hoult as the egotistical but inept Peter III and Elle Fanning as his young, naïve wife Catherine, who would go on to lead Russia for more than 30 years.

The opening credits to each episode call “The Great” “an occasionally true story,” and certainly there’s a distinctly modern sensibility and a load of deliberate anachronisms in the portrayal of the dysfunctional Russian court. The series is blackly comic feast centered on the delicious feuding between Hoult, played by “The Favorite” vet Nicholas Hoult, and Catherine, played by Elle Fanning with a breezy combination of innocence and steel. Fanning, who also served as an executive producer on the series, spoke to TheWrap about “The Great” on the day that Hulu renewed it for a second season.

You got involved with this before it actually was a TV series, right?
Yes, that’s true. I was sent a film script, which was written by Tony based off a (2008) play that he put on in Australia. Tony, I guess, had been thinking of me, but the young Catherine was just a small kind of sliver in that big script, because it really spanned her entire life.

And there’s so much information there, it just seemed right that this should be a television series. And I was allowed to hop on board as an executive producer of the show before it was picked up. It was stepping into that role behind the scenes, which is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, but then also getting to play an incredible character with the best script I’ve ever read.

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Posted by admin on August 12th, 2020 / No Comments

A grown-up child star finding her creative power in playing one of history’s most cunning female rulers — the metaphor would be a bit on the nose if it weren’t crafted as thoughtfully as Elle Fanning’s portrayal of Catherine II, the longest-reigning Empress of Russia, on The Great.

The actress steps strikingly into the Golden Era of the empire’s 18th century Enlightenment on the lauded Hulu series, though it takes her character a moment to see past the glitz and glamour. “She starts out as this romantic and very optimistic young girl,” Fanning tells ET of her Catherine, scripted to cunning perfection by The Favourite screenwriter Tony McNamara, who created the series, “and basically is slapped in the face with reality and realizes, ‘OK, this is not the life that I wanted, so I’m going to make the life that I want.'”

The Great’sfirst season portrays just a fragment of Catherine’s fictionalized story — spanning from the moment she meets her husband-to-be, Emperor Peter III (Nicholas Hoult, who expertly toes the line between stupidity and sadism), to the moment she makes her move to overthrow him and take the country for her own. The part was originally conceived as a smaller section in a McNamara play encompassing Catherine’s entire life, but carving out a few years of her early reign — just as The Crown does with Queen Elizabeth II — allows viewers to dive deeper into the details of the monarchy. Unlike The Crown, however, The Great plays fast and loose with historical accuracy, with colorblind casting and a bawdy, Favourite-esque tone.

“Historians probably don’t like us very much, the way that we tell it,” Fanning admits with a laugh. “I did a bit of research, but to be honest, that wasn’t where my attention mainly was. I learned that the real Catherine the Great invented the roller coaster and I was like, OK, she’s a fun person. Seems like someone I would like to be friends with.”

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Posted by admin on August 12th, 2020 / No Comments

The star and executive producer of the bawdy historical comedy on boundaries, blood, and bare bottoms.

As Emmy nominations approach, Vanity Fair’s HWD team is once again diving deep into some of the shows that struck us most, and asking actors and creators how the season’s greatest scenes and characters came together.

The Character: Catherine the Great, The Great

In The Great’s first episode, a pink-cheeked Catherine (Elle Fanning) pilots a flower-entwined swing and burbles to a friend about how romantic her wedding to Russian Emperor Peter III (Nicholas Hoult) will be. But after Catherine is delivered from her sleepy German village to the Russian palace, her girlish dreams are dashed when she meets the tyrannical and narcissistic Peter. As she solemnly presents him with an evergreen as a symbol of their love, he turns to one of his minions and barks, “She gave me a twig. She’s not another inbred, is she?”

It’s the abrupt end of her innocent imaginings, as well as the start of a young woman’s campaign, aided by her wit and charm, to plot a putsch—after Catherine learns that if Peter just happens to be killed, she can claim the throne.

“It’s been phenomenal to watch Elle grow into this character as a performer, to balance a tightrope in bringing her to life as this woman who is naive but strong, and also powerless at times,” says Hoult. “[She’s] understanding this new world she’s been thrown into, and also her raison d’être.”

Fanning brings great depth and dimension to her character’s evolution, holding fast to Catherine’s humanity and vulnerability even as she grows ruthlessly cunning—particularly in the season’s final episode, when she learns just what her power grab will cost her. Below, Fanning explains what drew her to Catherine, the toughest part of filming The Great’s intimate scenes, and the surprising request she made as an executive producer of the show.

Vanity Fair: As Catherine immerses herself in court intrigue and consolidates power, she wavers between confidence and naivete. Was that a hard balance to strike?

Elle Fanning: [The role] challenged me in a way that I haven’t been challenged before. As a character, Catherine has one of my favorite qualities, which is that she’s extremely arrogant. She has a huge ego and doesn’t apologize for it, which was so fun to play. But she also questions herself, and has these weaknesses—these moments of really not knowing if she’s up for the challenge too—which was important to me. I’m not interested in playing “She’s strong all the time. She’s the bravest and she always makes the right decisions!” I don’t want to watch that.

I also love that she’s very romantic, but she learns that her love affair over the whole season is really her love for Russia. Which was interesting. Her most important quality, too, is her youth. Youth is such a big factor in the decisions she makes—and sometimes they’re a bit rash, but she’s young and she’s learning. And she’s a different woman at the end of it.

You have known your costar Nicholas Hoult since you were 14 and costarred in the film Young Ones. Did that familiarity make things easier during the sex scenes?

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Posted by admin on August 12th, 2020 / No Comments

The English actor Sebastian de Souza knows a thing or two about making an entrance. Take, for example, his first scene on Hulu’s The Great, in which Peter (Nicholas Hoult) asks—well, orders—Leo, De Souza’s character, to pull his pants down to assess his, er, talents. Leo’s role is to please and entertain Catherine the Great, played deliciously by Elle Fanning in the series that draws loosely from the life of the infamous Empress of Russia.

The 27-year-old British multi-hyphenate—on top of acting, he’s a singer, songwriter, and screenwriter—is no stranger to edgy roles that flirt with recklessness. De Souza worried mothers worldwide with his portrayal of Matty Levan on the grimy teen series Skins. Soon after, he dove deep into the world of period pieces, appearing on Showtime’s The Borgias and the medieval Italian drama Medici, alongside Richard Madden. Lately, the actor has been seen in Normal People, Hulu’s buzzy adaptation of the hit Sally Rooney novel. Though it’s a small role, his intervention in the central romance has turned his character into “enemy number one,” he says, for fans of the show. Luckily, his sensual portrayal of Leo in The Great has won over many hearts—and the praise of critics. De Souza got on the phone with Fanning to discuss his dream of becoming the next Elton John, spinach dip, and that peach scene. Huzzah!

SEBASTIAN DE SOUZA: Hi, Elle. How are you?

ELLE FANNING: I’m good. Did you make any pies today? I watched you making that pie the other day. It looked so good.

DE SOUZA: No, you didn’t.

FANNING: Yes, I did. I’m cooking-obsessed.

DE SOUZA: What are you cooking these days?

FANNING: I did lamb recently, and I’ve made some really good spinach dip. I did that in the oven.

DE SOUZA: What do you dip into the spinach?

FANNING: Well, bread or pita chips.

DE SOUZA: Delicious. Well, I’ve got lots of questions for you, Elle.

FANNING: Oh my gosh. I have questions for you, too. I’ve never really asked you this, but why did you decide to act? When did you realize that you were going to follow this artistic life?

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Posted by admin on June 21st, 2020 / No Comments

How does Hollywood see you, Elle? And is it how you want to be seen?

ELLE FANNING When I was 14, I was cast as Sleeping Beauty in Maleficent, and that phone call definitely changed my life and my trajectory and it differentiated me from my sister [Dakota]. That role is very important to me, but also it’s a Disney princess, and I’m this blond and it comes with a certain stigma, right? And that’s the biggest movie I’ve done, so I’m recognized most for it. What was exciting for me about The Great was getting to try out the comedy world. People think of me as doing these serious, dramatic roles or just playing the kid, and I feel like I’m a funny person in real life and I love shocking people and proving that I’m not exactly who they think I am.

Elle, there are a lot of sex scenes in The Great, but there’s considerably more male nudity than female. How does that change a dynamic on set?

FANNING It’s interesting, Catherine the Great, in real life, was kind of the first woman who was slut-shamed. I mean, the whole horse rumor [that she possibly had sex with a horse] was created because she loved sex, she was very open and had multiple lovers. Obviously, our story is not a historical document, but a lot of truths are in it, and that’s a big part of Catherine’s character, so sex is incorporated into the show a lot. And of course it’s a period show, so we’re corseted up with multiple layers of skirts and just the logistics of actually getting naked — for the women, it takes a long time. So everyone’s just having fully clothed sex. It’s like, “All right, girls, we’re going to just lift up your skirt, and that’s fine.” And there was an intimacy coordinator on set, which was new to me.

SEDARIS Wow.

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Posted by admin on June 10th, 2020 / No Comments

Fanning discusses her new Hulu series, TikTok dances, how to perfect the poached egg and her reality TV obsession

In late March, Elle Fanning was supposed to go off to Budapest to film The Nightingale, based on Kristin Hannah’s bestselling novel about two sisters struggling to survive in Nazi-occupied France. Her co-star—for the first time since they made plays together at home as toddlers—was meant to be her older sister, Dakota, who is four years her senior.

But, as happened with most Hollywood movies and television series in production during the COVID-19 crisis, just a few days before the siblings were set to depart from Los Angeles for Hungary, shooting on The Nightingale was canceled, its release date postponed indefinitely.

“We’ve dreamed of this for a long time, and we talked for a while about what project could get us together,” says the 22-year-old Fanning, who underlines that they will star in The Nightingale at some point in the future. “We thought maybe we didn’t want to play sisters, but we’ve grown up in this industry and have a unique understanding of what it means to be sisters. So, at least the sister part we’ve got down.”

Though they were already quite close, at the moment, they are closer than ever, hunkered down at the family home in California’s San Fernando Valley, where Fanning usually lives with her mother and grandmother when she’s not filming somewhere on location. Now, Dakota, who was recently living in New York City, is bunking there, too.

“It’s a rare occasion that we get to be together,” Fanning says. “So we’re enjoying each other’s company.”

It will be easy, then, for the entire Fanning family to have a premiere party for her new series, The Great, which they can all binge together on Hulu. On the show, Fanning stars as a young Catherine the Great, sowing her seeds in a new marriage to Russia’s Peter III, played by Nicholas Hoult.

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Posted by admin on May 25th, 2020 / No Comments

On IMDb’s new podcast, ‘Movies That Changed My Life,’ the star of Hulu’s ‘The Great’ opens up on just that — the films she watched growing up that influenced her career.

Elle Fanning is allergic the phrase “strong female characters.”

That’s what the star of Hulu’s new MRC-produced series The Great explained on the latest episode of IMDb’s newly launched podcast Movies That Changed My Life.

“What does that mean?” Fanning asked, in reference to her character Catherine, as in Cathering the Great, to host Ian de Borja, best known for his work on The IMDb Show. She wanted to show all sides to the historical figure, who gets a reimagining in the Tony McNamara-created series in which she stars opposite Nicholas Hoult. “I was really aware that I wanted to humanize her. She makes mistakes; sometimes she waivers, sometimes she’s weak and sometimes she’s incredibly brave. There’s room for that on TV — to have complicated female characters.”

There’s nothing complicated about Movies That Changed My Life. The weekly series features actors and filmmakers discussing the movies that inspired them and helped launch their careers. The podcast joins other popular IMDb original video series including The IMDb Show, IMDbrief and What to Watch. The inaugural episode features Westworld’s Jeffrey Wright, who was followed by Joel McHale, Judy Greer, Felicia Day and Kevin Smith.

New episodes come out every Thursday wherever podcasts are found, including Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, IMDb.com/podcasts and through IMDb’s iOS and Android apps.

Says Nikki Santoro, head of IMDb Consumer: “These personal and in-depth conversations with our customers’ favorite actors and filmmakers will reveal the defining moments in their lives, ultimately providing listeners with a greater understanding of their favorite performers, as well as recommendations for new films to add to their IMDb Watchlists.”

On the episode with Fanning, she also dishes on her upcoming film The Nightingale, a role that put her opposite sister Dakota for the first time in their careers; how the first time she watched The Neverending Story was with Bijou Phillips at Sean Lennon’s apartment next to John Lennon’s piano; and how she would dress up as the iconic Sandy while watching Grease. To listen to Fanning, click here. [Source]


Posted by admin on May 25th, 2020 / No Comments

With a starring role in a new Hulu series, Fanning is now in the driver’s seat of her career, taking on edgier and more ambitious parts.

“The Great” is, in many ways, Elle Fanning’s star-making turn.

Sure, she’s been famous for about a decade, but always with the wide-eyed wonder that accompanies youthful renown. When cannibals were eating her in “The Neon Demon,” her mother was stationed nearby on the set, supervising her 17-year-old daughter’s employment. She was there when Fanning dined opposite Brad Pitt in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” ice-skated to Gwen Stefani in “Somewhere,” got alien-abducted in “Super 8,” experienced her first kiss in “Ginger & Rosa,” charmed a devilish Angelina Jolie in “Maleficent” and took a pregnancy test in “20th Century Women.”

Her parents no longer convoy her during shoots, which is probably for the best: “The Great” finds Fanning at her most adult, playing an anachronistic Catherine the Great discovering her own sexual and ideological moxie. Good thing Mom stayed home when it came time for Fanning’s big seduction scene in the second episode of the limited series, which premieres on Hulu this weekend. She was 21 at the time, having gained autonomy after years of consulting her folks on every career move.

“I was just so excited because I knew that I was pushing myself in another direction that I’d really never gone,” Fanning said during a Zoom interview last month. “I feel like I’m someone that loves being under pressure. I love feeling terrified and I thrive in those situations. And this certainly put me in those positions.”

Part of that had to do with the material. “The Great” is a dark comedy, and Fanning had never done comedy before. Tony McNamara wrote eight of the 10 episodes, channelling the same satirical spirit he brought to “The Favourite,” another farce about an 18th-century monarch. Fanning needed to capture the nuances of someone who has come of age without understanding the harshness of the real world. At once naive and headstrong, Catherine arrives in Russia for an arranged marriage to the buffoonish emperor Peter III (Nicholas Hoult). As a woman, she’s entitled to very little power. She can’t even open a library. She’ll have to force her way to the top by manipulating her husband’s intellectual shortcomings.

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Posted by admin on May 25th, 2020 / No Comments

The Great is the latest historical drama to revisit the life and rule of Russian Empress Catherine the Great. Unlike previous versions, however, creator and the Oscar-nominated screenwriter of The Favourite Tony McNamara makes no apologies about its satirical take and disregard for historical accuracy in the stylish and bitingly funny Hulu series starring Elle Fanning as a younger version of the aspiring ruler adjusting to royal life as wife to Emperor Peter III (Nicholas Hoult).

Believing she’s marrying for love, a wide-eyed Catherine is shocked to learn that she’s seen as nothing more than a means to an heir when she arrives in Russia. Over the course of the season, with the aid of her servant, Marial (Phoebe Fox), and other newfound allies in court, the disenchanted consort sets out to kill her horrible husband and uproot the depraved kingdom she’s come to call home.

Similar to The Favourite, the series mixes humor, wit and a modern point of view with plenty of sex and nudity to bring to life this darkly funny version of events. “That’s so unique to Tony,” Fanning tells ET’s Katie Krause about McNamara turning this entire world on its head. “It’s just such a fascinating way to tell that story.” Hoult agrees, applauding McNamara for transforming a genre of “dull and dry” period dramas. “This felt just completely different to all those.”

If there are any other comparisons to McNamara’s film about Queen Anne, which also starred Hoult as Earl Robert Harley, it’s all in tone. “Tony’s voice is so idiosyncratic. Having done The Favourite, I did recognize the kind of rhythm and the pacing and that humor that is in this show,” Hoult continues, adding that Peter was “a really fun role to inhabit.”

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Posted by admin on May 18th, 2020 / No Comments

There’s something to be said, given all Catherine the Great did in her lifetime as the late 18th-century ruler of Russia, that the unfortunate bestiality rumor — you know, the one about the horse — remains.

“Fake news,” said Elle Fanning on the Variety After Show, presented by National Geographic, on Instagram Live. “It’s pretty sad [that] this extraordinary, almost — dare I say — first feminist icon has been reduced to this horse rumor,” she said.

Fanning plays the Russian empress in her new Hulu satirical series, “The Great,” which kicks off with Catherine’s arrival in the country to wed the mercurial, temperamental Peter (Nicholas Hoult). Her optimism about the union is quickly dissolved as Hoult’s Peter soon reveals his capacity for cruelty and selfishness, leading to her plans for a coup. The show, as Variety critic Caroline Framke puts it, “straddles the line between period drama and slapstick comedy with acrobatic ease.”

“We’re definitely in the pocket of that dark comedy, and [creator] Tony [McNamara]’s writing is so specific and witty and irreverent,” said Fanning. “It’s so fun to play with, but you have to get the tone right — especially the rhythm of the words needs to be at a certain pace. And I think it was so important for us — the whole cast is so gifted dramatically and comedically — so we were able to go back and forth and walk that tightrope.”

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All the Bright Places

Role: Violet Markey
Release Date: 2020
The story of Violet and Theodore, who meet and change each other's lives forever. As they struggle with the emotional and physical scars of their past, they discover that even the smallest places and moments can mean something.
The Roads Not Taken

Role: Molly
Release Date: 2020
Sally Potter's film follows a day in the life of Leo (Javier Bardem) and his daughter, Molly (Elle Fanning), as he floats through alternate lives he could have lived, leading Molly to wrestle with her own path as she considers her future.
The Great (TV Series)

Role: Catherine
Release Date: 2020
A royal woman living in rural Austria during the seventeenth century is forced to choose between her own personal happiness and the future of Russia, when she marries an Emperor.
The Nightingale

Role: Isabelle
Release Date: 2021
The lives of two sisters living in France are torn apart at the onset of World War II. Based on Kristin Hannah's novel 'The Nightingale'.
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