• Golden Globe Awards

Nominee Profile 2022: Elle Fanning, “The Great”

Barely three years old, Elle Fanning was already acting in front of the camera in the film I Am Sam and the mini-series, Taken.
Twenty years later, Fanning is a full-fledged actress, with numerous films and television shows to her credit. She stars in The Great, for which she received her second consecutive Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy.
The little girl who followed in the footsteps of her older sister, Dakota, and succeeded just as well, is now also a producer. She executive produces the satirical comedy, The Great, in which she plays Catherine the Great opposite Nicolas Hoult’s Emperor Peter III.
“I’m growing up and I’m getting to find my voice a bit more,” Fanning said in an HFPA podcast conversation in 2020. “It was really interesting doing the show because I was also a producer. When you’re a producer, you get to be on phone calls that you don’t get to usually be on. You get to have input.
“I would find myself sometimes being scared to speak up on those phone calls, or I have these ideas, but I would apologize for myself. I had to learn to find my voice much like Catherine does on the show, that she’s learning her power, how to lead, and figuring all that out, much like I am as well.”
Born on April 9, 1998, in a family steeped in professional sports, from tennis (mom Heather Joy), minor league baseball (dad Steven) to football (maternal grandfather Rick Arrington), Fanning gravitated toward acting like her sister.
It all began in Georgia when the sisters’ mom, noticing Dakota’s penchant for putting on shows around the house, enrolled her in a play camp. Encouraged by comments to move to Los Angeles or New York, Heather brought Dakota, only five years old at the time, to LA where the pair slept on a relative’s couch.
When Dakota landed 10 commercials in a week, her father and sister, who was two years old at the time, also headed west. Fanning, who began by portraying the younger version of Dakota’s characters in I Am Sam and Taken, soon bagged roles on her own.
Starting from Daddy Day Care and in such TV series as Judging Amy and CSI: Miami, Fanning was unstoppable. She was reportedly so impressive in her audition opposite Jeff Bridges and Kim Basinger for The Door in the Floor that they cast her and scrapped plans to get identical twins.
The young actress managed to attend regular school and earned good grades even as she worked constantly in films by both established and indie filmmakers, including Alejandro González Iñárritu (Babel, with Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett), David Fincher (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), J.J. Abrams (Super 8), Sally Potter (Ginger & Rosa), Nicolas Winding Refn (The Neon Demon), Mike Mills (20th Century Women), Jay Roach (Trumbo), and Melanie Laurent (Galveston).
The Conyers, Georgia native starred opposite Angelina Jolie in the hits, Maleficent, and Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.
She got to work with the two Coppolas, Francis Ford and Sofia. At only 12 years old, Fanning was cast by the older Coppola as the lead in his comedy-fantasy-horror, Twixt. Fanning and Stephen Dorff anchored Sofia Coppola’s Hollywood tale, Somewhere, which won the Golden Lion award in the 2010 Venice Film Festival.
Sofia Coppola cast Fanning again, alongside Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst and Colin Farrell, in The Beguiled.
By coincidence, Fanning will star in Barry Levinson’s Francis and the Godfather, described as a drama chronicling how young filmmaker Francis Ford (Oscar Isaac) made the first installment of his acclaimed trilogy. Fanning will play Ali MacGraw who was then married to producer Robert Evans (Jake Gyllenhaal) while Elisabeth Moss will portray Eleanor Coppola.
In a rare film project together, Fanning and her sister will star in The Nightingale, a film adaptation of Kristin Hannah’s novel of the same name about two sisters during World War II in France. The movie will reunite Fanning with director Melanie Laurent.
Fanning will also have a new TV series, The Girl from Plainville, based on an Esquire article by Jesse Barron about Michelle Carter, a teen who was sentenced for involuntary manslaughter for coaxing her boyfriend to kill himself through text messages.
At 23, Fanning has the honor of being the youngest (she was 19) member of the Cannes Film Festival jury in 2019.
Looking back and forward at the same time, Fanning reflected on what she has achieved so far and the challenges ahead. “Our show The Great is about fulfilling your destiny and fate. In my life, I have fulfilled a lot of my dreams and what I’ve wanted to do. Watching young videos of myself growing up, I can see that I’m a complete ham in front of the camera. I always loved dressing up.
“So, growing up, I had a lot of different ideas for myself but acting just rose to the top completely and it is my true love. But I always like a new challenge and to try something new so I’m up for anything.”