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Aug 19, 2022
Elle Fanning Keeps You Guessing

The Emmy-nominated star of The Great talks growing up on-screen and her deep love of Paris Hilton.

For W’s third annual TV Portfolio, we asked 21 sought-after names in television to pay homage to their favorite small screen characters by stepping into their shoes.

At just 24 years old, Elle Fanning has had a career that would strike envy in the hearts of even the most seasoned actors. Her film credits boast a who’s who of top directors, among them David Fincher (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), J.J. Abrams (Super 8), Mike Mills (20th Century Women), and Sofia Coppola (Somewhere and The Beguiled). Now, Fanning is conquering television with her Emmy-nominated turn as The Great’s Catherine the Great—a part created by The Favourite’s cowriter Tony McNamara and Fanning’s first leading role on TV. Determined not to be typecast, Fanning followed up the second season of the dark comedy with The Girl From Plainville, Hulu’s limited series in which she transformed into Michelle Carter, the real-life teenager at the center of the texting-suicide case of Conrad Roy. “With each project, I have to go from one drastic thing to the next,” she says. “I want people to expect the unexpected from me, in the words of Big Brother.” It’s an approach that’s proven to be particularly fruitful—so much so, it’s almost easy to forget that she got her start as a toddler, playing a younger version of her sister Dakota’s character in 2001’s I Am Sam. Here, she discusses coming of age on-screen and her respect for one of reality TV’s most iconic duos.

Your sister introduced you to The Simple Life, right?

Right, though every two years or so, I’ll watch the show again. I love Nicole Richie. I love Paris Hilton. I’ve gotten to meet Paris a couple times, and she is the nicest and coolest. It was so fascinating hearing in Paris’s documentary how she put on this persona for the reality show. It’s quite clever. My sister and I would watch it and act out the scenes. I would normally be Nicole Richie, and she would be Paris. We would say “That’s hot” and “Loves it.” Finally, I get to dress up as Paris and have the dog, because Dakota always had the Chihuahua

You’ve been working for over two decades now. Have you ever felt boxed in by the child actor label?

It’s maybe not so much about the child actor label. As an actor in general, no matter what age, people want to put you in a box and describe the types of roles you should be doing or what you’re capable of. That can be hard when you’re a child, because you haven’t learned your limitations yet. But that really fueled my fire, because I would always try to make the daring choice, to challenge myself and really push the boundaries. Like with The Great and The Girl From Plainville, I had two weeks between those shows, and they are polar opposites. It was such a challenge, going from one set that’s a satire comedy to this very raw, real-life-drama, true-crime story.
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Tags: Interviews

Aug 19, 2022
Elle Fanning: “I have an opinion and I’m not afraid to share it”

The actress and producer on the second season of The Great and how she’s taking control in her industry

If you want to make Elle Fanning happy, tell her how good her English accent is. “Oh really?” she beams at me. “I love that, thank you. It’s the best compliment ever when people who have seen The Great don’t believe I’m American. I’m like; ‘Yes, we’ve succeeded.’”

Her English intonation is on excellent form in The Great’s second season, which debuts on Channel 4 this week. The comedy-drama series, which bills itself as an “occasionally true” retelling of the story of Catherine the Great, was a smash hit in its first incarnation, garnering multiple awards and nominations – including a Golden Globe nod for Fanning. While season two has already premiered in the states (and has just earned her another Emmy nomination) the UK release, Fanning explains, is perhaps more meaningful. “We film in this little studio in East London and all of our crew and most of the cast is English, so I feel like we’re ultimately a British show.”

“The set is honestly probably even more fun than you even think it is,” she continues. “We just have become such a family; I genuinely love them with all my heart. And then when you add in the humour of the show, it’s inevitable you’re just going to be laughing nonstop. Wait until you see the blooper reel.” The second season was, if possible, even more fun to film, she says. “A lot of it was shot during lockdown so the only socialisation we had was when we were on set and inevitably you just get so much closer to everyone,” she says. “The party scenes were the best, because it was the only time any of us actually got to go to a party that year!” Her accent, one assumes, is not the only thing she has perfected filming this show; “Oh, the British sense of humour? Absolutely. Dry, very witty, sharp. I love it.”

Fanning is 24, but her general demeanour belies her years. She is confident and erudite while demonstrating a humility that speaks to experience rather than naivety. She has an ‘old soul’, as they say, and it is not hard to see why. Fanning began her career before her third birthday and has accrued the sort of CV that would make a freshly graduated drama student faint with glee – from Disney blockbuster Maleficent opposite Angelina Jolie to critically acclaimed cult films, like Nicolas Winding Refn’s The Neon Demon and two collaborations with Sofia Coppola: 2010’s Somewhere and 2017’s The Beguiled.
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Tags: Interviews

Jul 1, 2022
Elle Fanning Shares How Her Love of Vintage Translates to Beauty

While Memorial Day Weekend is the kickoff to the summer season for many, it’s Cannes Film Festival for in-demand celebs. It’s the day after Elle Fanning’s Cannes red carpet debut, and she’s gushing: “Cannes is such a glamourous place, but it’s also on the beach, so during the day, I try to be very glowy; I want to stay fresh, and I like a dewiness to the skin.” The Great actress is on the go—right after Cannes, she is heading to Paris and then back to London to start filming Season three of The Great. Nevertheless, she takes 15 minutes from her beach day to talk with ELLE about her summer beauty routine, which era inspires her red carpet looks, and the key to kicking nail-biting.

For Elle Fanning, journeying to the South of France means it’s time to kick up her sun protection. “My summer beauty must-have is sunscreen because I’m the palest person ever,” she laughs. Low-maintenance beauty looks are in, focusing on skin, which is in alignment with the beauty looks Fanning loves. Fanning likes to keep her off-duty routine simple when not on the red carpet simple: “I always have a concealer; L’Oreal has this kind of crayon, True Match Concealer. It’s like, the lightest one, but it’s so perfect,” she reveals. Like many fans of the affordable product, Fanning raves about the formula—“It goes on easily. I love it. That’s always in my bag.” In addition to concealer, Fanning loves blush. “That is my number one,” she states regarding her “must-haves”—“I want to look like I have rosy cheeks,” she explains.

However, when it’s time to turn up the glam, Fanning isn’t afraid to go bolder and looks to Old Hollywood to show her the way. “I have always loved [Marilyn Monroe]—Grace Kelly [too],” she shares, which is no surprise, as it’s public knowledge of Fanning’s love for vintage clothing. Her style choices are reminiscent of the era. The star was spotted wearing Lapima’s Julieta sunglasses in black days before. The chic cat-eye frame paid homage to an age she loves. “The 50s-60s are my favorite beauty era regarding makeup. I think it’s glamorous and sexy for a woman,” she coos. She’s a fan of the cat-eye, originating in ancient Egypt and popularized in the United States in the 1950s. “I think it really can make you stand out, but I’m not doing it myself,” exclaims Fanning before adding, “Oh God, I can do one [eye], I just can’t do the other one!”
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Tags: Interviews - News

Jun 24, 2022
Elle Fanning on Why She Was Hesitant to Star in Hulu’s ‘The Girl From Plainville’

Elle Fanning is Hulu’s MVP this year, in contention via both her edgy comedy series “The Great” and the dark limited series “The Girl From Plainville.” Not only does she star in both she also serves as an executive producer on the two projects.

“Hulu comments on my Instagram photos all the time,” she says. “And it’s always a boost from Hulu. They’re like, ‘Yes, Queen! You’re doing great!” It’s like, thanks, Hulu! Whoever’s running that, they’re really giving me a boost in the morning when I check my comments.”

That affirmation is appreciated by Fanning as she heads to London soon to shoot Season 3 of “The Great.” Last year, she kept a grueling schedule in which she filmed “The Girl From Plainville” just days after wrapping Season 2 of “The Great.”

“It was a complete 180,” she says. Fanning spoke to Variety’s Awards Circuit Podcast about both shows, and in particular what it took to research the story behind “The Girl From Plainville” and depict her character in an honest way. Also in this episode, we chat with “Pachinko” creator and showrunner Soo Hugh about the origins behind her Apple TV+ show, and what’s next. Listen below!

In “The Girl From Plainville,” Fanning plays Michelle Carter, the teen who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for encouraging her boyfriend, Conrad Roy III, to end his life. It’s indeed a marked contrast to playing a rebel Catherine the Great in Hulu’s wild “The Great.” And at first, given the salacious nature of how the story of Carter and Roy was covered in the media, Fanning wasn’t so sure she was interested in the role.
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Tags: Interviews

Jun 24, 2022
Awards Chatter’ Podcast: Elle Fanning

The former child star, who is now 24 and garnering career-best notices for her work on a Hulu comedy series and limited series, reflects on growing up in the industry alongside Dakota, when she took ownership of her career and what led her to projects on the small screen.

Elle Fanning is a gifted actress who is already a widely respected veteran at the age of just 24. She is the younger of two sisters — Dakota is four years older — who both made tremendous impressions as child performers en route to impressive careers as young adults, with no major personal bumps along the way. Of her work on the big screen, she is perhaps best known for 2010’s Somewhere and 2017’s The Beguiled, both directed by Sofia Coppola. But she has also starred in films big and small under the direction of, among others, Francis Ford Coppola, J.J. Abrams, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, David Fincher, Cameron Crowe, Sally Potter, Jay Roach, Mike Mills, Nicolas Winding Refn, John Cameron Mitchell, Tony Scott, Terry George, Ben Affleck and Woody Allen.

This year, Fanning played substantial parts on and executive produced two TV programs, both for Hulu, and both of which could bring her Emmy nominations to go with four prior Critics Choice Award noms, two Golden Globe Award noms, one Spirit Award nom and one SAG Award nom. The first is The Great, a comedy series on which she portrays Catherine the Great, who arrived at the Russian court of Emperor Peter III with a twinkly eyed vision of life as his wife, mother of his heir and reformer of an empire, only to get a rude awakening. And the second is The Girl From Plainville, a limited series on which she portrays Michelle Carter, a high school student in Massachusetts who encouraged her own boyfriend to kill himself, and then, after he did so in 2014, wound up on trial for involuntary manslaughter.

During a recent episode of THR’s Awards Chatter podcast, Fanning reflected on all of the above and more. You can listen to the full conversation or read excerpts of it below.


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Tags: Interviews

Jun 17, 2022
Elle Fanning: Producing On ‘The Great’ & ‘The Girl From Plainville’ Helped Her Find Her Voice

Having acted since the age of two, Elle Fanning is a unique kind of veteran. Now, at 24, she knows her way around a set but still has the energy and fervor to take on new challenges, such as producing the shows she stars in, something she began doing in 2020 with The Great, followed by this year’s The Girl from Plainville, which is based on true events. The Great will soon start filming its third season. For Fanning, these roles have kept her on her proverbial toes, while allowing her to expand her skills as a producer.

DEADLINE: You were a producer on The Great. What has producing taught you about your profession that you maybe didn’t know before?

ELLE FANNING: I think I’m still learning in that aspect of being behind the scenes, but it’s always something that I’ve been really drawn towards. I think being a child actor, you grow up on film sets, but watching everyone else around you, watching other people make the decisions and put things together, and so I’ve always been fascinated by that. So now that I get to pull back the curtain and be in those rooms and be a part of conversations that I normally wouldn’t have been, I’m really happy in that place. I do thrive when I can get creative and strategize and think of the best way that we can put this show together.

The editing room for me, I was in it a lot during The Girl From Plainville, and I really enjoyed the editing process. The postproduction of it all and how editing can change so much if you just flip things around and choose other takes, and the nuance of that, I really loved. I’ve definitely grown into my voice. Weirdly, like, The Great and playing Catherine has helped me with that because she’s a young woman, and a lot of the time, is not looked on with the greatest respect. Learning from how Tony [McNamara, screenwriter] writes her and being able to, I don’t know, speak my mind. Especially because I have to remind myself, I am obviously very young and still learning, but at the same time, I’ve been acting since I was two. So, in a lot of ways, I think people like to think, “Well, you’re young, you don’t know.” It’s like, “Well, you know what, maybe I do this time?” Just learning to speak up and building that confidence, I’m enjoying that.

DEADLINE: You say that playing Catherine has helped you find your voice a bit more—how so? Are there any moments you can point to?
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Tags: Interviews

Jun 17, 2022
Elle Fanning on ‘The Great,’ Russia

Elle Fanning joins Tiffany Haddish (“The Afterparty”), Keegan-Michael Key (“Schmigadoon!”), Natasha Lyonne (“Russian Doll”), Craig Robinson (“Killing It”) and Tyler James Williams (“Abbott Elementary”) on the Envelope Comedy Roundtable.

Full episode premieres Friday June 3, 2021 at 7PM PST on Spectrum News One.


Tags: Interviews - Multimedia

Jun 17, 2022
Elle Fanning, Star of ‘The Girl From Plainville’ and ‘The Great,’ on the ‘Responsibility’ of Playing Real People

TheWrap Emmys magazine: ”I’m sure if I watched a story of my life, I’d be like, ‘That’s nothing like what it was or who I am,’“ the actress said

There is an astonishing moment late in Hulu’s limited series “The Girl From Plainville” in which Elle Fanning seems to simultaneously twist her face into the masks representing comedy and tragedy, the perfect distillation of her character’s shattered psyche. The fact that she does so in reaction to an extended fantasy sequence involving a high school show choir performing Wheatus’ 22-year-old one-hit wonder “Teenage Dirtbag” makes it all the more impressive.

Based on the 2014 death of Conrad Roy and the subsequent involuntary manslaughter trial of his girlfriend, Michelle Carter, “The Girl From Plainville” seeks to demystify a case primarily defined by tabloid headlines screaming about the dangers of texting and her manipulation that may have led to his suicide. It brings nuance to its portrayal of the complicated relationship between the teens.

In taking the role of Michelle, Fanning was offered an opportunity to delve into a complicated character who, while infamous to the world at large, felt largely unknown, particularly with regard to Michelle’s own psychological issues. “It felt like a version of mental health that we hadn’t seen,” Fanning said. “And it’s seven years of her life, so she’s definitely in different phases at different times and showing growth, but also isolation. I think she was so alone and so desperate for attention.

“There’s probably no one in the world more dramatic than a teenage girl,” she added. “But it’s amplified in her case.”

The actress isn’t kidding, particularly with regard to just how Michelle’s dramatics are handled in the series, which features several musical fantasy sequences—like the one set to “Teenage Dirtbag”—where the character’s obsession with the TV series “Glee” bleeds into her reality. In one moment, Fanning and co-star Colton Ryan (who portrays Roy) break into an elaborate musical number, performing REO Speedwagon’s “Can’t Fight This Feeling” in the middle of a public street.
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Tags: Interviews


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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: 2022
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'.

The Girl from Plainville (TV Series)

Role: Michelle Carter
Release Date: 2022
A young woman from a small town in Massachusetts is accused of persuading her boyfriend to commit suicide.

Francis and the Godfather

Role: Ali MacGraw
Release Date: 202?
Young director Francis Ford Coppola faces off against producer Robert Evans during the production of 'The Godfather.'
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