Hulu’s The Great was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Television Series. The drama packs a comedic punch, and its lead, Elle Fanning, has been nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Musical or Comedy. She may only be 22, but this is far from Fanning’s first awards season. The Guardian reported that she got her break in I Am Sam when she was two years old. She may have already been working for two decades, but here’s what you don’t know about Elle Fanning. She’s got family in seriously high places, and Elle isn’t really her first name.
Catherine the Great is a totally new character for Fanning. The formidable historical royal has gained her a lot of critical acclaim. Speaking to Channel 4, she said, “I absolutely love Catherine’s unapologetic arrogance. She has 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.”
Elle has grown up in the public eye, but there’s much that’s still pretty unknown about Fanning, like the fact that Elle isn’t actually her first name. Like her sister, Dakota, Elle adopted her middle name as her working name, reports Screen Rant. Her full name is Mary Elle Fanning.
Fanning’s name isn’t the only thing that you may not know about her.
Elle Fanning decided she wanted to act when she was 9
Vogue reports that Fanning started acting when she was two, so it’s very unlikely that she remembers a time before she was on screen. However, she revealed to Scarlett Johansson for Interview Magazine that acting was the job for her pretty early on.
Fanning said that it was during the filming of Phoebe in Wonderland, when she was nine, that she knew acting was for her. “It was the first time I played a main character and not just, like, a daughter or a sister. The character had Tourette’s and OCD, so it was also the first time I had to do research,” she told the publication. “The director and I met with kids who had obsessive-compulsive disorder and Tourette’s syndrome, and it hit me what it was all about, figuring out the character. I enjoyed that. To me, acting is just kind of making believe and dressing up. You put on your costume and walk a certain way and feel your character. Then cut, and you’re Elle again. So I thought, “Well, if that’s what it is, then I definitely want to do it.”
Elle Fanning could be related to royalty
She may play a royal in The Great, but Elle Fanning could actually be related to royalty. According to Vogue, a historian from Ancestery.com said that the actor is the 22nd great-granddaughter of King Edward III, who was King during the 14th century.
Her royal connections weren’t something that Fanning had explored herself. While she has checked out where her family comes from, she told Elle, “This is hilarious because I think someone did an ancestry.com 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.” Fans already knew the pair were show business queens, but it looks like a little bit of royalty runs in their blood.
Elle Fanning loves Marilyn Monroe
Finding inspiration in your industry can be crucial, and Fanning told Elle that a ’60s icon does just that for her. Speaking about Marilyn Monroe, she said, “I’m obsessed with her. I saw The Seven Year Itch when I was seven. At that time, she was the most beautiful person. She’s definitely one of my role models — even though her life was so tragic. As I got older, I researched her more. A lot of bad things happened to her. She was really strong. She put up with a lot. And she made it into something good. She became an icon.”
Fanning repeated her praise for the Hollywood starlet in the interview with Interview Magazine. She said she wasn’t sure she totally understood The Seven Year Itch when she first watched it, but, “I felt like there was something deeper. It wasn’t glossy—there were bumps. There was more to her than just her blond hair,” and that’s what captured Fanning’s imagination.
Elle Fanning has a professional and a personal relationship with her sister
Both Elle and Dakota Fanning have shared many red carpets. Vogue outlined that their career trajectory has been pretty similar, and they even starred opposite each other in The Nightingale. But did that make them each other’s competition for roles?
Dakota Fanning told Marie Claire that she and her sister’s careers progressed separately from one another. “All of a sudden, it kind of happened and we kept going because we enjoyed it,” she said. “But we don’t talk about it that much. We have our own separate relationship with what we do. We’ve never felt the need to get into it.”
Dakota Fanning also said the four-year age gap between her and her sister meant they were “both experiencing such different things; age nine and 13 — nothing in common; 12 and 16 — we didn’t know what to do with each other. Now as she’s getting older and I’m getting older we’re getting closer… and that’s really lovely.” However, that isn’t to say that sometimes they’d meet the same people for the same roles.
Elle Fanning found her acting voice in a feminist icon
Fanning told Channel 4 that playing Catherine in The Great meant getting to embody an incredibly strong-minded, powerful woman. Elle reported that the production was also a chance for her to step into a producing role. She would watch through edits and review calls. “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,” she said, “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.”
Fanning has spoken about the power of working under women in the industry before. She starred in Sofia Coppola’s gothic thriller, The Beguiled. She told The Guardian, “Sofia has this way of working that, like, comes right from her soul. … She’s really created a stamp and you can’t recreate it. And this film definitely has her stamp, but it’s different, too, because there’s blood in this movie, which is crazy, right? For her, right, it’s crazy.”
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