Elle Fanning interview: ‘The Great’

“There’s not a lot of similarities, but one similarity is the quick switch of emotion and being able in just a split second to go from utter despair to being elated or vice versa,” explains Elle Fanning about starring in both the second season of “The Great” and the limited series “The Girl From Plainville,” in which she portrays two completely different characters. “I only had two weeks between the second season [of ‘The Great’] and ‘Plainville,’ which was very obviously different head space to be living in,” she shares. Watch our exclusive video interview above.

In Hulu’s outrageous comedy “The Great,” Fanning plays the infamous Russian empress Catherine the Great, a young woman with principles whose desire to transform Russia from its backwards ways is consistently stifled by a confluence of bad luck and misguided optimism. On the other hand, in “The Girl From Plainville,” also streaming on Hulu, Fanning portrays a teenager embroiled in a controversial true-crime saga involving the death of her teenage boyfriend. The two roles have marked the past 12 months as a turning point for the actress as she wows audiences and critics with her comedic and dramatic range.

“The Great” returned for an even more outrageous second season late last year to virtually unanimous “huzzahs” from critics, scoring a staggering 100% “fresh” rating at Rotten Tomatoes. Fanning stars as the title character in the genre-bending Russian royalty satire, who after initiating a coup against husband Peter (Nicholas Hoult) at the end of season 1, embarks on the show’s sophomore season pregnant with their child, while dealing with a royal court in disarray, a looming war with the Ottomans and a visit from her serpent-tongued mother, played by Emmy winner Gillian Anderson.

“The Girl From Plainville” explores the events leading to the “texting suicide” death of Conrad “Coco” Roy (Colton Ryan) and his girlfriend Michelle Carter‘s eventual conviction for involuntary manslaughter. The sordid true story was adapted from Jesse Barron’s 2017 Esquire article of the same name by writers Liz Hannah (“The Post”) and Patrick Macmanus (“Dr. Death”), with Fanning taking on the daunting task of portraying a young woman so unhinged that she coaxes her young boyfriend to end his life. Critics have embraced the series (it has scored an impressive 93% “fresh” rating at Rotten Tomatoes), particularly praising Fanning’s performance as “disturbingly powerful.”

For Fanning, striking that delicate balance between playing a mix of broad comedy and heartbreaking theatrics in “The Great” and the more serious high-stakes drama in “The Girl From Plainville,” boils down to portraying each character as authentically as possible. “It’s such a crazy tightrope to walk with the tone that Tony writes with this show,” she shares about the Hulu comedy. “When the show is emotional and heartbreaking, you have to feel the heartbreak. But then also there are super bizarre, satirical situations that are off the wall and you have to believe those too, so going into the second season, all of us really we knew the tone and we knew the sweet spot, and I think we all felt like we could push it further,” she says.

On the other hand, for the Hulu limited series, “you have to figure out how to get inside this character and how to understand them and not judge them for what they have done,” she explains. “The high drama of being a teenage girl is something that I experienced. It’s something that’s a very vulnerable specific time where everything feels like the end of the world. And then you add on to this a very troubled girl who suffered with a lot of mental health issues and isolation and the desperate need for the wanting to fit in and the desperate need for attention and living in her own fantasy world,” she says.

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UPLOADED Jul 12, 2022 7:50 pm