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Posted by admin on September 28th, 2020 / No Comments

She’s played Barbies with Michelle Pfeiffer and paintball with Angelina Jolie, but the star of The Great remains almost shockingly grounded and warm. She talks about transitioning to truly adult roles—and bonding with sister Dakota—while quarantining in her childhood bedroom.

Elle Fanning has been acting since she was two. She’s 22 now, and there are estimates that she’s logged some 60 roles in her career, which would mean she’s already headed for Streep territory. During a Zoom call, I ask if this is true, or even logistically possible.

She tilts her head. “Could that be?” she wonders. “You know what? I did write it down one time, and I think I still have it on my phone.” She whips out a pink phone emblazoned with a sticker of the cartoon juggernaut Strawberry Shortcake. Her fingers fly.

The former child star recently triumphed with what she refers to as her “first woman role” as Catherine the Great in The Great—Hulu’s raunchy, rollicking, and, at times, gleefully ahistorical account of the monarch’s bold rise to power—but, at home, her life is reeling decidedly backward through time. Like many of us, Fanning has retreated to a safe space during the coronavirus pandemic. She’s cocooning in place at her mom’s house in the San Fernando Valley with her 26-year-old sister and fellow actor, Dakota; their mother; their grandmother; and the family’s elderly pet schnoodle (mini schnauzer-poodle), Lewellen.

“Yeah,” Fanning says with a laugh. “All the ladies.”

A year ago, she was…older, somehow. For her 21st birthday last spring, Fanning downed shots of tequila at a karaoke bar with a gaggle of friends and performed a raucous duet with Dakota of the Carrie Underwood anthem “Before He Cheats.” This year? Her mom got her a Strawberry Shortcake-themed birthday cake. (The show was a favorite of Fanning’s as a kid.) In a nod to the pandemic, Strawberry Shortcake wore a tiny pink mask.

“My mom got me a Strawberry Shortcake children’s coloring book one day from the grocery store too,” she adds, then winces. “I sound like I’m five.” Fanning shrugs. “But you know what? It’s a luxury that we’re all together and taking a breath.”

She’s speaking to me from her family’s home office. She looks offhandedly chic in a pink and yellow sweatshirt, her yellow-gold hair scraped into a bun, her skin bare. Slim gold hoops dangle from her ears (“I don’t have pierced ears, and I’ve been going on Etsy and finding cute clip-ons”), and a clutch of gold bracelets encircle her right wrist. We both admit to business on top, lockdown loungewear on the bottom—gray sweatpants for her, black “joggers” for me, which have yet to see a jog.

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Posted by admin on September 9th, 2020 / No Comments

The actor’s darkly comic portrayal of a young Catherine the Great could be the role that defines her. With a second season in the works and a burgeoning career as a producer, things are heating up for fashion’s favorite polymath

Since she started working in the movie business a whopping 20 years ago, Elle Fanning, who turned 22 earlier this year, has collaborated with some of Hollywood’s most exciting directors. Among them: David Fincher for 2008’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; Sofia Coppola for 2010’s Somewhere and 2017’s The Beguiled; J.J. Abrams for 2011’s Super 8; Mike Mills for 2016’s 20th Century Women; and Alejandro González Iñárritu for 2006’s Babel.

But Fanning’s first major role in television may wind up being her career-defining moment. In The Great, she stars as Catherine the Great, Russia’s longest-ruling female leader, opposite Nicholas Hoult as the dastardly Peter III. Alongside Normal People, the series became one of Hulu’s biggest streaming successes during the pandemic, and the platform says it will commission a second season.

As viewers gleefully discovered, this is not your average, run-of-the-mill Catherine the Great — nor anything at all like the one portrayed last year by Helen Mirren in HBO’s limited series. No, this is Tony McNamara’s Catherine the Great. You might know McNamara because he co-wrote 2018’s The Favourite, which won Olivia Colman an Oscar. The Great is very much in the mold of that film, meaning it’s hilarious and absurd, offering a side of Fanning we haven’t gotten to see much during the last two decades.

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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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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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