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by Stefan Pape

BERLIN – Elle Fanning has been in the industry for many, many yeas – and she’s only 22. Which makes us feel terribly old. Alas, she seems wise beyond her years as we sat down with the talented young performer at the Berlinale this year, to discuss her new film The Roads Not Taken, as she collaborates yet again with director Sally Potter. She comments on her strong bond with the filmmaker, and her aspirations to direct herself one day. She also comments about online trolls, and why ignoring them has been pretty good advice…

How much has this film make you think about thought your patience?

Elle Fanning: I don’t know, I never thought about that. I think that this this film was particularly so exciting and challenging for me. It is obviously the second time that I’ve gotten to work with Sally. The first time was on Ginger and Rosa and I was only 13. That’s a very important time in a young woman’s life. So much of my life changed from that movie and that experience, just like personally as a woman, meeting Sally and her coming into my life… I learned a great deal and really my life shifted. And she my everything. I love her dearly, like beyond measures, I would do anything for her. And now, you know, when she had asked me to do this film, I’m 21 now so definitely a different age and I’m a different version of myself. I learned so much on this movie and honestly pushed myself beyond limits. I think that is what Sally really truly does on her sets is that she pushes her actors to a place that emotionally a place that they didn’t even know existed.

So for me more learning, not as much about patients but more about learning about myself inside the places that I could go and opening up and truly being vulnerable and stripped down and extremely on my toes and intuitive, intuitive the whole time because Javier, obviously, I didn’t know how he was going to play the part before day one on set. I didn’t know I don’t even know if he knew he would talk we had rehearsal. And we you know, talked to each other of coursing you know about things about our lives and got close because the father daughter relationship is extremely important, but still, I didn’t know what to expect and I was completely full of surprises working with him and I had to be aware of all times to react in the way that a caretaker or daughter would to him in whatever state he was in, and you know, constantly being aware. So I learned a lot about myself in that way.

Like you said, Sally takes you to places that you didn’t know before. Where were these places?

Elle Fanning: They’re extremely human places if that makes sense. You just feel like you have no limits inside you and that you can truly do anything at any time. Like always expect the unexpected with Sally. And and in the scenes I truly didn’t feel like l like playing Molly. I didn’t feel like myself. Even when I watch it and I’m like, that’s not me. Like it doesn’t seem like me at all, and that’s the gift of Sally and her writing. This is a very personal story for Sally as her brother passed away of dementia and she was his caretaker. So I also felt a big responsibility. I have a very close friend whose mother is suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s right now and watching her and the way that she cares for her mother. You know, I’m not personally affected by it, but you feel the responsibility for those caretakers and those family members out there who were just unpaid you know, carers who have to sacrifice their work, their personal life is completely secondary.

I didn’t really answer the question, but I mean, it was very deep, just a very deep time. Obviously my story was a slither and the last one that Javier shot. So he had experienced the other lives and then coming into this one last. By the time you’re there, when you got to get the moments all you want is to do it. It’s just like you’re on this adrenaline high, you know? And so, yeah, you just feel like you’re a superhero. You know, she, she almost gives Javier’s character superpowers, through his illness, he kind of has a superpower to see other versions of himself, which is kind of a beautiful thing.

The crux of the story is the father-daughter dynamic. And I mean, there’s lots going on, but I feel that is the main thing in this movie. I was wondering when that became apparent to you, or if you always saw it on those terms?

Elle Fanning: That was my reality. Salma said a beautiful thing in the press conference yesterday and I was like, oh yeah, that it was very interesting in how Sally intricately wove through editing and we were always aware, Javier had to be super aware of like the cutting points, which sometimes you don’t as an actor, you don’t necessarily think about cutting but it was all very much in the script. So you’re a part of the movie. But still, I was just focused on my story. You know, as my character. I’m someone who doesn’t know anything about that night. I actually am trying to trying to know but the whole time she, you know, she’s not in his mind. She’s trying to figure it out. So, for me, my whole world was the father-daughter. And I was completely enveloped by that and making that completely real. And also it has kind of the humorous parts to there’s a lot of levity in it, as well as, of course, but that’s, you know, tragedy and comedy, can’t have one without the other. But I really appreciated Sally’s input on the scene where he wets himself and we’re in the bathroom and Sally allowed us to kind of ad lib and she’s like, just get Javier to take his pants off. And so like little moments like that were so sweet. And the father daughter story, to me, was the most important for for my world because it had to be you know, in order to make it work.

We can see how the city has become a kind of aggressive place for them. So wanted to know if you ever feel overwhelmed by the city. What’s your relation with New York?

Elle Fanning: Oh man. Yeah, New York. I live in LA so definitely very different. I know my sister lived in New York for seven years, so I would visit her her a bit. So yeah, maybe it is too aggressive for me. I like visiting but I could never live there probably because it’s a little bit too hectic and I’m a hectic person anyway. So when when you put those two together it wouldn’t do you any good.

You are 21 years old, but you’ve you almost spent two decades of your life in this profession. Do you ever feel like a veteran on set?

Elle Fanning: There was a weird thing that happened not too long ago where I wasn’t the youngest person on the set. And that was so freaky. Like, there were kid actors. You know what their mums on the set. I was like, that used to be me and they had to go do school. I’m not that… I don’t feel old, but I’ve always used to be the youngest on the set. On this one I was, though.

So did you find that just by proxy of working with Sally again for the first time since you were 13, it made you quite reflective over your career? The last time you worked with her you were a child. So I guess the dynamic between yourself and Sally and your role on the films that would have been so wildly different?

Elle Fanning: Yeah, definitely reflecting for sure. Just thinking of the memories of those days, but I actually I really feel like our dynamic is the same, our dynamic is completely the same. And I hope it always stays the same. We’re extremely affectionate with each other, like hugs and staring, there’s just something we’ve talked about before, this weird kind of energy connection that I just feel like I’ve known her my whole life. I guess I have. I saw her getting an award for something, and they showed a clip of Ginger and Rosa and I mean, I haven’t seen it since I was at the film festival back then or something. And we looked at each other. I was like, I look so young. I was thinking like, wow, all the things that I I didn’t know yet or what Sally taught me and how I don’t know.

You’ve grown up on screen. Is it weird for you to go back and see yourself as like a 10 year old in a movie. How does that feel to see that?

Elle Fanning: Yeah, it’s I guess it’s not weird for me. Yeah, I wouldn’t say it’s that weird because it’s just a part of my life. It’s like a photo album or something. Of course it’s a bit embarrassing because you’re like, oh, no, I looked like that? Or I did that? It’s a bit cringe-worthy sometimes. Just like in a normal sense, but I don’t know. It’s kind of nice, most kids don’t get to watch all that. Like, that’s neat. It’s pretty neat. Not everybody has that. And to really see the evolution of yourself, when your body of work is laid out from such a young age. I think you can you can really learn from that. But I’m not because I can’t watch any movies that I made.

When you started it was all more or less a game or was fun. When did it become serious? When did it become a job? Or was it always serious?

Elle Fanning: It was always like, this is a professional thing that I knew was a job, but it was fun. I knew that it was a job, but it was also like, oh, I got to just do what I do at home which is just dress up and play things? I was a total ham growing up, I looking at the home videos of me, I’m dancing in the camera and performing. So if you’re gonna put me in a setting where I get to be a character and have a whole set, and perform literally in a giant dollhouse, That was the life, and that’s how I looked at it when I was young.

I’ always had this sort of sports mentality. I mean, my family are all sports people, so before big scenes it feels, I don’t know, it feels like very athletic. You have to do the home run, like a boxer before the fight. You have to prepare yourself for that, it doesn’t just fall into place. It’s not a physical thing like it is for athletes, but it’s mental.


Did you ever have a back-up profession?

Elle Fanning: Oh, gosh. I’d probably just do something else in the profession you know. I want to direct, I’m starting to produce. I’ve produced things now. I want to get a little bit more behind the scenes. Because when you grow up as a young actor, you’re also watching the mechanics of the films that work. And it’s like, I’ve seen that my whole life and I’m so curious about the inner workings of it and I always try to talk to the crew, I get involved and I really enjoy that. I would like to pull the curtain back.

How do you navigate social media, being a young woman in the public eye?

Elle Fanning: People don’t really know what people go through, you know. People don’t know what I go through. So of course, it’s not something that I’m going to say doesn’t affect me because I have Instagram. That’s the only thing I have, but it’s like fine just like all my friends do. It’s like, it’s just images and it’s great. But then it can also be really not great people commenting and I was talking about this the other day, it’s like people want to say, ‘oh, don’t read the comments’ or whatever. It’s like, actually, that’s honestly healthy. We need to not read the comments. But at the same time, people saying rude things about you, they need to be held accountable. They say nasty stuff. I was taught that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all. They need to be held responsible for that because they’re honestly ruining a lot of people’s lives. A lot of young people are hurting themselves or depressed. It’s horrible.

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How would you describe the show and your character?

The Great is a historical satire that follows Catherine the Great’s rise to power in 18th century Russia. Catherine is an idealistic young woman who finds herself in a backwards world, married to a tyrant. She quickly realises she would be a better ruler and plots to take over the throne. Catherine is romantic and naive at the start, but throughout the series her ruthlessness grows.

What drew you to the script?

I was drawn to Tony McNamara’s singular voice. The tone and world he created was one I had never read before. The effortless blend of dark, bizarre comedy and emotional realism. I read the script before I saw The Favourite so I really had nothing to compare it to. The elaborate period setting, over the top situations, yet still grounded characters all set in a high stakes environment. He truly is a writing genius! Above all, Catherine as a character was what made me have to be a part of the show. She is such a dichotomy of a person. Each page surprised me with what she was willing to do. Tony captured her struggle as a woman trying to navigate a patriarchal society and not always succeeding. She isn’t a perfect character. She is learning as she goes along with the guidance from the court.

How much did you know about your character before filming and what research did you do?

I have to admit I did not know much. I knew she was the Empress of Russia, but I did not realize all the amazing things she did for her country. Sadly, the world has reduced her legacy to a false rumour about her and a horse. She brought art, science, and women’s education to Russia. And she invented the rollercoaster! I stopped there once I learned that. Anyone who invents the rollercoaster has got to be fun! The Great does play loose with history. Our show is by no means a historical document, but hopefully captures the essence of the real Catherine the Great and what she achieved and stood for.

What are you most curious about regarding your character?

I absolutely love Catherine’s unapologetic arrogance. She has a youthful confidence, which translates to always having a way to problem solve. She loves herself and truly believes she is best for the job. Her optimism pushes her through some extremely tough situations. Throughout the series, destiny plays a beautiful role. Catherine’s love affair is not really with a man, it’s with a country. Her driving force is for Russia and fulfilling her destiny to help find reason and democracy. I would say Catherine is an activist in every sense of the word. There are two types of people. Those who sit back and watch and those who take action. Catherine runs into the flames every time.

The script knowingly plays fast and loose with history – did that mean you approached your character differently than you normally might?

Very early on, Tony told us to put away our history books. I wanted to create my own version of Catherine. I still approached her like I would any character. I guess the most different was it being a 10-hour series instead of a two-hour film. Having the luxury to explore and pace myself with a character was a blessing. Tony is also super strict with our lines. There is absolutely no ad libbing! In a way, being married to the words makes for a whole other kind of freedom. Freedom in the movement and in the rhythm of scenes.

The series is set in Russia but is filmed in English. How did you hit upon the accent you went with?

Since we are not following the history books and in actuality, we would be speaking an entirely different language altogether, it made most sense to go with an English accent across the board for all characters. Tony writes for the rhythm and cadence of the English accent. It sounds much more delicious.

What was surprisingly difficult or challenging about inhabiting this role?

The comedic timing and memorisation. Tony writes us some meaty speeches. My memorising muscle was stretched to its limits. I have never done theatre, but I would think our scenes felt a lot like doing a play. And the comedy of it all was a new challenge. Nicholas Hoult was no stranger to Tony’s writing, having just come off The Favourite, so Nick helped me a lot to get the speed and banter required for scenes.

The period costumes look terrific. What were your reactions to your costumes?

The costumes are drop dead gorgeous. I wish I could say they were as comfortable as they were beautiful. The corsets take some getting used to. I do not envy the ladies of the time. All of us women were so jealous of Nick [Hoult] and the other guys because they would saunter around shirtless or in robes! Corsets aside, the way my costumes tell Catherine’s journey is vital. Her silhouettes stay pretty simple and practical compared to the ladies of the Russian court. My main colors were pale blue and green. But of course, at the end there is an electric pink dress (my favourite) that summarizes Catherine perfectly. It is her birthday dress and the dress she’s going to kill her husband in! It incapsulates her femininity, youth, and boldness.

The Great is a LOT of fun to watch. At the same time has a lot to say in a world still living in the fall out of #MeToo; would you agree?

There is a particular scene I’m thinking of when Catherine says to Marial (Phoebe Fox): “if they invent something easier than buttons, we’re in trouble.” Our show is about a young woman expressing her opinions loudly and being shut down for doing so. But Catherine persists in making herself heard.

Has any of Tony’s way of seeing the world crept into your daily life?

Definitely! I now use “Huzzah” and “indeed” quite often! I haven’t started smashing glasses yet, but when the occasion calls for it, I’ll be ready! I definitely have had enough practice!

Did you have a favourite scene to film and most memorable line of dialogue?

In episode two, Nick and I have a scene at the breakfast table. It was one of our first long back and forth scenes. We’re just sitting and firing back at each other. I remember feeling so elated and having so much fun with Nick. He is such an incredible actor and human. We work very similarly and like to try off the wall ideas whether they work or not. He has made Peter entirely three dimensional. A character who on the page is so nasty and vile, Nick makes likable and charming. Also, we are always the first to crack and laugh in scenes. Once we start it’s hard to get us to stop! My favourite line of dialogue, I have to say, was, “the horse said no, and nay means nay.”

What Christmas or Holiday traditions do you always abide by or look forward to? Is there a Christmas film you return to?

My grandma’s Christmas cooking is what I look forward to most! She is from Georgia, so the more butter the better! Christmas morning, she makes these cinnamon rolls called “sugar babies” that are essentially pastry wrapped around a melted marshmallow! My favourite Christmas movie is Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

2020 has been quite a year; how would you describe your own experience of it? The Great will TX in Jan of 2021 on Channel 4; How would you describe your expectations of 2021?

2020 has affected everyone. We will always remember this particular year. It has been a time of fear, loss and sorrow, but has hopefully brought us all together. Everyone on this planet has been affected by the pandemic in one way or another. It has given us a commonality that hasn’t existed for so long. This year has certainly made me more grateful and reminded me not to take the small things for granted. I hope 2021 brings peace and unity and many, many hugs!

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by Julie Kosin

Palace intrigue, canopy bed sex, tiny corsets and ballooning skirts—what more could you ask of a period drama? For screenwriter Tony McNamara and actress Elle Fanning, quite a lot, actually. He already elevated the genre beyond Masterpiece Theater chintz with his Oscar-nominated script The FavouriteFor his treatment of Russian empress Catherine the Great, who famously unseated her husband Peter III with a coup in 1762, McNamara recruited Fanning as star and executive producer. “I love being terrified by a role,” she tells, her chirpy American twang a contrast from Catherine’s polished British cadence (disregard the fact that the sovereign was technically German). “If it’s a challenge or I feel a pressure, it’s probably the right choice.”

Like its spiritual cousin, Apple TV+’s Dickinson, Hulu’s The Great is a risky endeavor. The 10-part series parleys in the anachronistic, marrying history with ribald dialogue, farcical fictions, and a decidedly modern cadence. McNamara molds Catherine and Peter (Nicholas Hoult, unselfconsciously brilliant as the insecure ruler) into a clash of wits; he is a toddler-like philistine driving the country into decay, spending his days hunting, fighting, smashing glasses of newly drained of vodka, and “eating pussy” (his favorite phrase, second only to “huzzah!”). Catherine, idealistic but level-headed, refuses to be yoked by the expectations of her dim husband, wielding her intellect like a knife and surrounding herself with a brain trust possessing the urgent desire—though not always the organization or the guts—to save her adopted country. “[With] shows about women, I think people want a ‘strong female character!’ I’m allergic to that,” Fanning says. “Catherine doesn’t always have the right answer. Sometimes she’s not the strongest or bravest person in the room. These characters like Killing Eve or Fleabag or Russian Doll—they make mistakes. Those are the characters I want to see. I wanted to make sure Catherine fit into that.”

But also, it’s a lot of fun. The Russian court is populated with an eccentric cast of characters who flesh out this delightfully absurd world, from Peter’s sexually ravenous aunt Elizabeth (Belinda Bromilow, gloriously kooky) to Catherine’s cunning lady-in-waiting Marial (Phoebe Fox, the series’ breakout star). Fanning and Hoult clearly enjoyed every moment. “There would be times we’d be like, ‘We have to get it together. We’re laughing too much,'” Fanning remembers. “The moment he even sees my mouth twitch, it’s all over.”

Below, Fanning breaks down the on-set antics and how she’s spending her time in quarantine.

What went through your mind when you first read the script for The Great?

It was an immediate reaction, like, “I have to be in this and I have to play Catherine.” It was such a gift that Tony had thought of me. The script I read was for a film he wrote. It only had the young Catherine as a little sliver and it spanned her entire life. Tony was like, Let’s do a TV series. The first season can be all about young Catherine’s rise to power. [He] asked me to help build it from the ground up. We got to go out and pitch the pilot to different streaming services. To be in those rooms was a real learning experience for me.

When you sat down with Tony for the first time, what sort of insight did you want to get into this character that he created?

Tony and I talked about making sure that there are times where Catherine’s questioning herself and figuring it out. Because of course, Catherine the Great is a historical character. We know what she did—she overthrew her husband. She is this feminist icon completely. She took on the man. That’s so powerful. But what did it take for her to become that person? What did she have to sacrifice?

What was your biggest takeaway from operating as a producer?

Just seeing how much editing comes into play. As an actor, once you’re done on set, you go home and you’re done. Then post-production comes in and you have nothing to do with that. But I would get dailies and watch different cuts of the episodes. Seeing how they could change so many things was really interesting.

And I also felt a lot like Catherine in finding my voice. I’d be on calls and I’d have to have the courage to speak up in situations that could be intimidating. I was learning to speak my opinion, even if it was an opinion someone was disputing. I can go head-to-head. That was a real confidence builder.

When you watched the show back, were you able to see your influence?

It’s mostly in the writing, but the scenes I had with Nic were my favorite because the relationship between Peter and Catherine is so layered. Nic and I wanted to make sure it wasn’t just two enemies. She’s learning from him and sometimes she’s charmed by him and pities him. He starts to fall in love with her, but she’s learning to manipulate him. It’s very complicated.

I love in episode 2, the breakfast scene we have together—Nic and I had so much fun doing that. It was our first big scene and we go at it. We work in a very similar way, and we love to challenge each other and push each other’s buttons. Sometimes I would try something out [and] I’d be like, “All right Nic, was that too much?” And he’d always do the same with me. We had such good support [for] each other.

I read online that you’re the 22nd great-granddaughter of King Edward III. Does your family talk about that at all?

No, we did not know this. [Laughs] Kate Middleton, is she related to him or something? This is hilarious because I think someone did an on us. We didn’t ask for it, a fan or something put it on the internet, and then we’re like, “Oh, okay, this is true.” I mean, I guess it is! I don’t know. Me and Dakota did the 23 and Me thing, and we have a lot of English.

How are you getting dressed in the time of quarantine?

I’ve been wearing a lot of comfy stuff honestly. If I have an interview or things with friends on Zoom, I’m like, how do I dress from the waist up in different ways? What you normally wouldn’t choose: good necklines, bright colors. I’ve been doing a lot of makeup, posting on my Instagram. [Laughs] I don’t know if you follow Chelsea Peretti, but she does those weird, funny makeup tutorials. I love her. And she has them on TikTok too, making fun of makeup tutorials. So I’m like, “All right, I’ll do some wax makeup.”

Are you spending a lot of time on TikTok?

I will look, and I have done some [challenges]. I can do some dances, but I’m like, I can’t put these out. But I have learned. I do confess I’ve learned the “Savage” one. I know “Renegade.” It’s embarrassing, but yes.

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by Natasha Wolff

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.

The series marks Fanning’s first real foray into comedy. But it’s a specific kind of comedy—a satirical, genre-bending romp through 18th-century Russia in the vein of 2018’s The Favourite, which The Great creator Tony McNamara also co-wrote, earning him an Oscar nomination.

“Being asked to play Catherine in this show was a gift,” says Fanning. “Tony wrote a play in Australia that was very much in this witty, irreverent voice.” McNamara had originally planned to adapt his play into a feature film, but in this time of peak streaming television, decided to develop it into a series. He asked Fanning to play Catherine and help produce the show.

“As Catherine is gaining her voice on The Great, I was gaining mine,” she says. “I went to pitch meetings and saw the mechanics of the series from the beginning.”

Fanning lived in London for six months while filming the series. She loved the opportunity to flex her comedic muscles with the wordplay, banter and rhythm in McNamara’s scripts. “That was hugely appealing for me. I love challenging myself,” Fanning says. She believes the experience was a boost for her abilities, even in a career that includes two Sofia Coppola movies (Somewhere and The Beguiled) and roles opposite co-stars like Annette Bening, Bryan Cranston, Angelina Jolie and Jeff Bridges. “It’s all very Shakes­pearean and I had to get used to it and not be embarrassed.”

Fanning believes the hilariously dark show is exactly the entertainment we need right now. “Fun, laughter and escapism are really important,” she explains. “But it also grapples with themes that are super relevant, even though it’s historical,” she adds, especially in its depiction of Catherine attempting to gain her footing in the patriarchal and misogynist Russian court.

Despite the seemingly elevated historical setting, “I think it’s totally bingeable,” Fanning continues. There’s plenty of bawdy humor and surprising twists: “With shows like The Handmaid’s Tale, you need time to process between episodes; it’s heavy. But with The Great, it’s light enough that you can watch it all in one go.”

And Fanning knows a thing or two about bingeing. She has a taste for reality television and has been watching the Michael Jordan documentary series The Last Dance (“We’re huge sports people,” she says of her family) and old standbys like MasterChef Junior and 90 Day Fiancé with her mom. “We have a whole ritual around it,” Fanning says of 90 Day Fiancé. (Dakota, meanwhile, is watching The West Wing from the beginning.)

Being in quarantine has given Fanning more time to keep up with her Campbell Hall friends via Zoom happy hours. Their group meetings are called “See You Next Tuesday” because they meet on Tuesdays. (It’s the kind of joke you’d find in The Great.) Fanning sips Aperol spritzes while they reminisce about high school, just like the sophisticated 22-year-old that she is.

Indeed, Fanning turned 22 in April amidst the shelter-in-place restrictions in Los Angeles. How did she celebrate? Not necessarily with an Aperol spritz; she says she listened to the Taylor Swift song “22” and ordered in Chinese food from Chin Chin. To top it off: a strawberry shortcake from Big Sugar Bakeshop featuring the cartoon character Strawberry Shortcake wearing a quarantine-friendly facemask.

“I do sort of have a strawberry obsession,” Fanning explains. “I’ve been doing Strawberry Shortcake coloring books while in quarantine.”

Friends sent her a recorded birthday message via Cameo from some of her favorite cast members on a recent season of Love Island, while Coppola sent a birthday video over text from Napa.

“She’s way too chic for Zoom,” laughs Fanning. Fanning was embraced early on by the fashion industry. She loves Miu Miu, Dior, Gucci and Valentino, while the Rodarte designers, sisters Laura and Kate Mulleavy, are friends. But she isn’t dressing up at the moment. “It’s mostly sweatpants and T-shirts, like everyone else,” Fanning says. As the weather gets warmer, she’ll start pulling out her sundresses, and she’s having fun with her hair, blowing it out and curling it at home to pass the time.

“I also dyed it pink myself,” she says.

Social media has become a welcome distraction. “It’s a nice place where we’re all together,” she says of her high school friends and the pals she’s made in the business over the 20 years she’s been working. She’s been learning TikTok dances, “but I won’t post them,” she says, and has gotten into Chelsea Peretti’s comedic makeup tutorials and Karen Elson’s singing clips on Instagram.

She’s been using her own account to show off her photography skills and picking up some cooking tips. “My grandmother loves hearty Southern food,” Fanning says. “I’ve always loved cooking and helping her in the kitchen.”

They’ve been meal planning, ordering groceries, mixing spinach dip, making lamb chops and perfecting the poached egg. Fanning is also finding inventive ways to use leftovers, including quesadillas made from, well, anything. “Just add whatever you have in the fridge and fry it up,” Fanning says.

If she’s not quite Julia Child, we can let it slide. She happens to be one of the best actors of her generation, so forgive her if she’s already looking forward to her first meal out of quarantine: guacamole, sweet corn, hard-shell beef tacos and churros from Casa Vega in nearby Studio City.

“Also, just hugging someone that you haven’t been able to in a long time,” Fanning says.

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Eu estou andando atrás de Elle Fanning em direção ao L.A’s Chateau Marmont — não de uma forma medonha — e a primeira coisa que percebo é o quão perfeitamente, bem, “Elle Fanning” ela é. Ela está vestindo um mini vestido pastel xadrez fofo e sandálias Gucci, e seu cabelo está preso em um topete. O look completo é finalizado por um par de brincos vintage com pingentes de margarida. Ela também está 10 minutos adiantada. O que é tão atraente em
Fanning — além de margaridas e pontualidade — é a sua franqueza, particularidade que ela irradia aonde quer que vá. Um desejo genuíno de experimentar coisas, de atuar, de se lançar ao mundo. E, claro, o seu apreço exuberante pela moda é o motivo de ela estar na capa desta edição de Best Dressed. Fanning já vestiu vestidos de baile de princesa (que ela também usará em Maleficent Mistress of Evil, divulgado este mês), peças da brilhante Rodarte, e também da artística Miu Miu, porém a sua glória final foi um renovado Dior New Look no Festival de Cinema de Cannes em maio. Em Fanning, porém, todo visual é novo.

LAURA BROWN: Elle, você se joga de cabeça em tudo o que faz. Eu lembro que você chegou ao InStyle Awards em 2017 em um vestido Versace, rindo como se você tivesse 6 anos de idade.

ELLE FANNING: [Rindo] Oh meu Deus, eu odiava profundamente a franja falsa que eu estava usando naquela noite. Mas, hey, aquela era a fantasia! Era uma estampa Warhol de Marilyn Monroe, e eu a amava tanto, então, obviamente, vesti aquele vestido.

LB: Parece que esse sentimento de “Eu irei presenciar essa experiência” é algo que a governa.

EF: Sim, eu sempre fui uma pessoa curiosa e arteira. Quando eu assistia Friends, eu adorava Phoebe. Eu amava o quão desajeitada ela era. Também passei por uma fase realmente esquisita. Eu cresci 30 centímetros em um ano, e não queria ser como as outras pessoas da minha escola. Considero que eu possuía certa confiança que me permitia ser assim: “Quero que você tire sarro de mim porque isso me faz sentir bem.”

LB: Ah, o velho “Agora sou uma deusa: desajeitada e estranha.”

EF: Exatamente! Existe um toque de contos de fadas nisso, então sempre foi algo presente em mim. E, bem, eu já estava gravando filmes.

LB: Você teve a oportunidade de estudar em uma escola com muitos artistas?

EF: Eu estudei em Campbell Hall, que fica no Valley [em San Fernando]. Porém, fui educada em casa até a terceira série. Então, a minha mãe entendeu que, “Ok, você precisa conviver com outras crianças” [Risos]. Eu fui para a quarta série, e ali fiquei até o terceiro ano. Eu fui a todos os meus bailes de formatura.

LB: O que você vestiu nos seus bailes de formatura?

EF: O primeiro baile aconteceu no nono ano. Eu escolhi um vestido branco da Ralph Lauren que encontrei no shopping. Era longo e fluido, com um decote em V. Para o segundo baile eu fui ao Paper Bag Princess [em L.A.] e comprei um vestido vintage John Galliano rosa com corte enviesado.

LB: Você usou um Galliano no seu segundo baile de formatura! Isso é bem avançado.

EF: Oh, sim! Eu não o vesti desde então. Eu deveria, talvez, para o red carpet. Você sabe, eu sempre fui interessada em moda. Eu amo me vestir e brincar com personagens diferentes. Minha irmã Dakota e eu, quando éramos pequenas, costumávamos criar cenas apenas uma para a outra. Muito Miranda Priestly de O Diabo veste Prada, e muitos trabalhos de escritório.

LB: Oh, poetry. Was your desk job always in fashion?

EF: From what I remember it was. We would dress a certain way and then put Coca-Cola in wineglasses. It was a lot of Dakota screaming at me.

LB: Well, that’s what it’s like. [laughs] Who were some of your style heroes as a kid?

EF: I loved Samantha from Bewitched. I would put a Brownie uniform on for some reason and make tea. That was me playing Samantha. I also loved Alexa Chung and her ’60s tomboy style. My mom would take me to [the clothing store] Opening Ceremony all the time. That was a big deal.

LB: I remember seeing you really wearing fashion when you were just 16.

EF: Yes, that was for the first Maleficent. That was a very important moment because it involved a huge press tour. That’s when I learned how to express myself through clothes.

LB: Alongside that, when did you first compute that your life was getting bigger, externally?

EF: I saw things happening to my sister, so it wasn’t completely foreign to me. People would confuse me with her all the time. It was a relief when people saw me as myself. Super 8 [written and directed by J.J. Abrams, 2011] was a big film, and we went to a couple of award shows, and experiencing all of that was extremely new. I also love seeing celebrities. I’m not jaded by that at all.

LB: I remember seeing you really wearing fashion when you were just 16.

EF: Yes, that was for the first Maleficent. That was a very important moment because it involved a huge press tour. That’s when I learned how to express myself through clothes.

LB: Alongside that, when did you first compute that your life was getting bigger, externally?

EF: I saw things happening to my sister, so it wasn’t completely foreign to me. People would confuse me with her all the time. It was a relief when people saw me as myself. Super 8 [written and directed by J.J. Abrams, 2011] was a big film, and we went to a couple of award shows, and experiencing all of that was extremely new. I also love seeing celebrities. I’m not jaded by that at all.

LB: Worse than an audition?

EF: Oh, auditions, I can’t [do them]—I mean, obviously, sure, I can, but they make me so nervous. I fainted in an audition once. It was with Jessica Chastain. I didn’t get the part.

LB: You literally just fell down in front of people?

EF: I was young, but, yeah, I fell down in front of people. It was very odd. There were glaring lights, and I felt so hot. I fainted in Cannes this year too. Fainting is something I do. I was on my period. It was such a crazy feeling. It honestly happened at the best moment because I wasn’t on the red carpet. Could you imagine? That would have been kind of epic, though.

LB: She’s so Best Dressed that she fell down. Aside from that, how was being on the grand jury in Cannes? You killed it on the red carpet.

EF: I was there the whole time, two weeks. It was intense. You also have to watch the films and be serious about it. Cannes is the biggest red carpet in the world and is the moment that you can kind of pull out all the stops with the clothes. My stylist [Samantha McMillen] and I didn’t have that much time to plan, probably a month. We went to different designers, and I had the idea about the Dior, complete with the hat.

LB: That was your idea?

EF: Yes! It was one of my favorite things I’ve worn. I love feeling confident in what I’m wearing. You can tell when somebody is forced into something.

LB: What was it like walking in the Miu Miu show last year?

EF: Oh! That was crazy! I was so nervous. It wasn’t a planned thing. I was attending anyway, and then Mrs. Prada had that idea. Her team said, “You’re starting the show, so you have to be very serious.” The whole theme was rockabilly-grunge. I tried to keep a straight face, but that’s not my go-to. I was cracking up.

LB: You’re young and visible, so how do you handle when people ask you to be politically engaged publicly?

EF: Sometimes I feel like I don’t know all the information. Like, am I qualified to speak on this? But I also think it’s OK for people to say that they don’t know or aren’t sure yet. Angelina [Jolie] said that to me after a recent interview we did for Maleficent 2. She said, “You know what? It’s OK not to answer things.” I mean, I’m still learning.

LB: You’re 21 now. What was your first official beverage?

EF: I think it was a martini at Craig’s [in L.A.]. I loved it, except they didn’t give me my olives. I love olives. We had dinner there. Then we went to karaoke in Koreatown, and we drank a lot.

LB: So proud. Who was there, and what did you wear?

EF: I wore a dress from For Love & Lemons. It was long-sleeve and pink with a heart. Dakota was there. [Rodarte designer] Laura Mulleavy was there. [Film director] Gia Coppola was there.

LB: Now that you’re getting older, what are you ambitious for?

EF: Oh, man, I’m ambitious for a lot of things. I love game shows and want to create one. All I watch is Game Show Network. I love America SaysIdiotestChain ReactionFamily Feud. I don’t know exactly what my show would be, but I really want to do that. I want to direct something, maybe sing a country album. I love Johnny Cash, so I could possibly do a cover album. And a clothing line.

LB: You also have a very fancy L’Oréal contract. What’s your idea of “worth”?

EF: My mom, my sister, my grandmother, and I, we all live together. So, there is a strong sense of female empowerment that I’ve always had in my life. It’s significant to know that there are so many different types of women. I hate that in order to be strong you have to look like this or to be soft you have to look like this. Those stereotypes are just not true. My worth is knowing I can be anything. In Maleficent I play a princess [Aurora] who is strong in being completely feminine and isn’t afraid of that feeling. It’s a quality I also have. And, obviously, this version is different from the first one. I’m not fighting with a sword just so I can be stronger.

LB: To be worthy.

EF: Yes, exactly.

LB: I read that you’re a cousin of Kate Middleton. Have you interacted or gotten in touch with her?

EF: That came from somebody doing an [search] on me and my sister, but no. [laughs] I’ve never met any of them. She probably doesn’t even know who I am.

LB: Are you obsessed with the royal family, like everyone else in the world seems to be?

EF: I’m in London a lot, so I feel like I’m in the know, and I do read the Daily Mail. [laughs]

LB: Click bait! Last one. What did you learn from working with Angelina and Michelle [Pfeiffer] on Maleficent 2?

EF: When I heard that Michelle was going to be in the film, I realized that the second movie is going to be about power. It’s about three generations of women in power and how they represent it in different ways. And, with Angelina, I was so young when I did the first film with her. I was very nervous then. My mom was with me. Now that I’m grown up, she sees me in a different way. We talked about different things. We went paintballing.

LB: Are you an aggressive paintballer? Is she?

EF: Oh, she’s aggressive. [laughs] We would do outings because her kids were there, so she was trying to schedule activities on the weekends. I had never gone paintballing before. We were in full-on armor. We were the only people in the place, with all of her kids. She and I were not on the same team. I was so bad. I hit their security guard in the neck, and he was on my team! [laughs] Angelina’s really good.

LB: I mean, I’ve seen Salt. She’s a trained assassin.

EF: Totally. I was good at hiding. I would just hide.

Entrevista original aqui.