Elle Fanning Q&A / The Great
Smiling, ebullient, and vivacious – those are only some of the adjectives that one can apply to the relentlessly charming and upbeat Elle Fanning. She’s been groomed for success from the day she learned to walk. Raised by a professional tennis player mother (Joy Arrington) and minor league baseball shortstop father (Steve Fanning), Elle and her older sister Dakota were instilled with competitive fire as young children. They each made their acting debuts prior to going to kindergarten and would go on to carve out impressive Hollywood careers in their teens.
Though Dakota led the way with roles in Man on Fire and then in the Twilight films, Elle has caught up in a big way of late. In the last three years alone, she’s appeared in 12 movies including Teen Spirit, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, and Mary Shelley. Now she’s about to star in THE GREAT, the new ten part limited series in which she plays the title role of Russia Empress Catherine the Great It’s the first time she’s ever starred in a TV series and it could well turn out to be the most defining role of her career thus far.
And, having just turned 22 last month, the tall (5’9′), blonde, supremely talented Elle Fanning is on the verge of becoming a Hollywood superstar. Nicole Kidman, who co-starring with Elle in The Beguiled , is effusive in her praise of the American wunderkind: “She’s just got this supernatural talent that effortlessly flows out of her,” declared Kidman. “[Elle] has such a well of emotions that she can use; it just sits at her fingertips…she’s just had extraordinary talent since the moment she was born. I think she’s been raised with an immense amount of love, which has given her a unique self-confidence.”
Set in the mid-18th century, The Great sees Fanning invest Empress-to-be Catherine with intrepid spirit and palpable sexual tension as the young Austrian princess who embarks on a remarkable journey on her way to marrying the Russian Tsar, Peter III (Nicolas Hoult).
“Catherine the Great is a woman synonymous with female affirmation and female empowerment,” Fanning says. “She fought to bring education to Russia and modernize a still medieval country, introducing Russia to the new ideas of the Enlightenment that came from France. She was a cultured, vital, curious, forward-thinking woman. It was so exciting to play a woman like that.”