Elle Fanning on the hunt for her voice while producing ‘The Great’ – WWD
She’s been in movies and on the judging panel, and had some major fashion moments on the red carpet. Elle Fanning is back in Cannes to celebrate 25 years of L’Oréal Paris’ partnership with the film festival at a gala dinner on Tuesday evening.
The evening included the ladies of L’Oréal, with Viola Davis, Eva Longoria and Katherine Langford among them.
“They really lead by example. Everyone is very strong, opinionated and powerful women and L’Oréal Paris never stops anyone from expressing themselves and being their true sense of self. So I think for me, I learned the most from watching them all be entirely themselves and they’re entirely true to who they are, and I tried to live by that,” Fanning says.
She admits it’s hard growing up in the age of social media, which brings a whole different kind of pressure than being in the spotlight.
“You try to conform, you know, and especially with young girls these days, you want to tell them you don’t have to. There’s no mold in life, although sometimes you see a mold that you don’t necessarily fit in, and that’s okay. Everyone is completely different. We should celebrate the power of the individual.
Fanning prefers to leave it all on Instagram, including documenting a recent battle with eczema. “I posted this and showed that it is [what’s happening to] my eyes. I accept that and I’m just trying to be honest. I try to be myself and not go to the dark side that you can fall into, which I have, by looking at pictures and comparing myself. But you have to remember that it’s not real. It is an organized life. And yeah it can be hard sometimes for sure, but that would be my message [to young girls].”
Fanning, who grew up in film after her first appearance at age three, branched out into producing shows for “The Great” and “The Girl From Plainville.” Her years of experience on film sets – and her constant curiosity about what was happening behind the camera – led her to take on the leading role. “I’ve grown up and I’m not afraid to speak up anymore,” she says.
Fanning will admit to the bullying moments she has to go through, but credits her on-screen role for giving her some strength. “Weirdly through my character that I play [Empress Catherine in ‘The Great’] she was a very young female leader and navigated among people who perhaps didn’t take her as seriously as they should. And so by playing it, I learned my strength and found my voice a little more.
To create more powerful projects, she started a production company with her sister Dakota Fanning, named after their late family dog, Lewellen Pictures.
To that end, she credits a lesson to her sister L’Oréal Longoria, who now produces and directs her own projects. “For the female roles, the conversation has opened up, so it’s getting a bit better. But still, if the part isn’t there, do it yourself, find the story you want to tell, and that’s what I try to do.
It also means hiring female directors and crew members as producers. “It’s not a lack of female directors, that’s not the problem. It’s the lack of opportunity. So you just have to create that space.
Even being a producer on “The Great” doesn’t get her out of uncomfortable corsets, though, she jokes, noting that her character was pregnant in the last series and even that state offered no relief. “I’m, like, ‘Oh, my God, what’s this doing to my insides?’ So they’re not the most comfortable, but they’re pretty good looking and they can’t help but transport you back to that time, your posture and the way you walk and move.
She flies from Cannes to shoot the third season of “The Great” in London, a place she now calls her part-time home. This influenced her California style, adding Doc Martens and flannel to her wardrobe. “Everyone is just very cool, easygoing, just has messy hair. There’s like a real London girl like the kohl-rimmed eyes. She’s the Kate Moss, like she’s the ultimate cool girl. Who doesn’t want to be her?
Thanks to Lewellen, the Fanning sisters have acquired several IPs in development, she says, and Elle is working on the second season of her podcast, “One Click.” The duo have their fingers in all kinds of media.
“When you find a story, you have to decide which medium will best serve that story. And both [Dakota] and I’m interested in different things too, so we can mix that together. It’s sort of a fun puzzle, putting it all together.
Although she has no projects in the immediate pipeline, directing “is the dream”.
“I know I will one day,” she said. “And one day maybe I will be in Cannes.”