Jul, 4 Posted by Admin

Indie Wire – The delicious words of writer and series creator Tony McNamara are what drew Elle Fanning to star as the titular Empress of Russia, Catherine, in Hulu’s series “The Great.” In this wild comedy, Fanning turns Catherine into a modern feminist icon up against the foul-mouthed royal boys’ club led by Peter III (Nicholas Hoult), a misogynistic dolt who she’s been forced to marry to escape a dreary life in Prussia.

Fanning said that coming into the role, she didn’t know much about the Empress of Russia, except of course for that rumor that Catherine died while trying to have sex with a horse. “Sadly, that is all I knew,” she said. “Tony’s script isn’t the blueprint for everything that happened and is not a historical documentary. But he’s done a lot of research on Catherine and taken out the bits that would service him.”

If you’re looking for a biography of Catherine the Great, who ruled in the 18th century during the Enlightenment Period, look elsewhere. This series uses her story as the foundation for a revisionist tale of Russian political history, as Fanning’s Empress quietly begins to mount a coup from the inside out, accompanied by her dry-humored handmaid Marial (Phoebe Fox), the obsequious Count Orlo (Sacha Dhawan), and her lover on the side Leo (Sebastian de Souza).

“We wanted to make sure that we were creating our version of Catherine, and the essence of that person, but with all the things that she did do,” Fanning said. “It’s true, she’s the longest woman ruler of Russia. She brought female education, art, and science to Russia, vacillation [from] the smallpox.”

Read More For fans of “The Favourite,” Yorgos Lanthimos’ Oscar-winning black comedy about the folie a trois between Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) and two women in her circle (Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone), “The Great” is a brazen treat, giddily stomping all over the patina of world history with muddy boots. Fanning said that the series’ flippant tone, which has more F-bombs and C-words than an Armando Iannucci script thanks to “The Favourite” co-screenwriter Tony McNamara at the helm, “is important to bringing it to modern audiences, and showing her as a feminist icon. I really came to know her as one of the first feminist icons. And I don’t know what’s more modern than that story.”

The Great” marks Fanning’s first bona fide foray into leading a comedy, though she did have a supporting role as a daffy journalism ingénue in Woody Allen’s canceled 2019 film “A Rainy Day in New York.” As Catherine the Great, she oscillates between steely reserve, fierce determination, wide-eyed naivety, and gleeful rebellion, which she captures masterfully in her line readings, and through a willingness to debase herself with slapstick setups.

“People perceive me probably as a dramatic actor, whatever that means,” Fanning said, which made “The Great” a unique challenge. “You have to have the comedic timing. The rhythm of [McNamara’s] words is very specific, which was something that obviously Nick Holt was more used to because he was in ‘The Favourite,’” she said. “There’s an element of not being embarrassed. I had to let my walls down to kind of go for it, and be spontaneous and be a bit crazy. You can always come back from that and try to be truthful and let the words speak for themselves. I think the moment you try to make anyone laughs, it’s like crickets.”

Thanks to that big Hulu money, “The Great” features rich, period-specific costumes designed by Emma Fryer and Holly Waddington, and production design by Francesca Di Mottola and Kave Quinn, which were built from top to toe in an East London studio “next to a McDonald’s,” Fanning said. That also meant that Fanning and her female co-stars were very much sucked into real corsets. “It was very constricting, but also helps you know the time, of how we all must have been feeling in that period.”

With films like “The Favourite” and shows like Apple TV+’s “Dickinson,” there’s a surge of interest in revisionist period stories that Fanning said are “going to be around for a long time. People are realizing you can tell these historical stories in a way that will be relatable, and not feel like homework. Sometimes, I feel like watching very accurate, somber, a bit boring and dull at times [period movies], sometimes it’s a bit like, ‘Oh, there’s someone tying a shoelace very dramatically.’ It’s good to spice it up.”

A second season was just green-lit by Hulu this week, and Fanning, who also produces, said that she and McNamara have plenty of ideas and that the story they’ve established in Season 1 still has a lot of mileage, thanks to the bawdy, irreverent approach to the storytelling. “The lives of these historical figures, they must have had so much fun,” she said. “If you look at Catherine the Great’s furniture online, it’s very explicit, but very naughty and hilarious. They had to have a sense of humor. Just because they’re from back in the day doesn’t mean that they didn’t have wild parties, and a lot of fun. They probably had more fun than we do.”

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Jun, 30 Posted by Admin

Vanity Fair – The star and executive producer of the bawdy historical comedy on boundaries, blood, and bare bottoms.

The Character: Catherine the Great, The Great

In The Great’s first episode, a pink-cheeked Catherine (Elle Fanning) pilots a flower-entwined swing and burbles to a friend about how romantic her wedding to Russian Emperor Peter III (Nicholas Hoult) will be. But after Catherine is delivered from her sleepy German village to the Russian palace, her girlish dreams are dashed when she meets the tyrannical and narcissistic Peter. As she solemnly presents him with an evergreen as a symbol of their love, he turns to one of his minions and barks, “She gave me a twig. She’s not another inbred, is she?”

It’s the abrupt end of her innocent imaginings, as well as the start of a young woman’s campaign, aided by her wit and charm, to plot a putsch—after Catherine learns that if Peter just happens to be killed, she can claim the throne.

“It’s been phenomenal to watch Elle grow into this character as a performer, to balance a tightrope in bringing her to life as this woman who is naive but strong, and also powerless at times,” says Hoult. “[She’s] understanding this new world she’s been thrown into, and also her raison d’être.”

Fanning brings great depth and dimension to her character’s evolution, holding fast to Catherine’s humanity and vulnerability even as she grows ruthlessly cunning—particularly in the season’s final episode, when she learns just what her power grab will cost her. Below, Fanning explains what drew her to Catherine, the toughest part of filming The Great’s intimate scenes, and the surprising request she made as an executive producer of the show.

Read More VF: As Catherine immerses herself in court intrigue and consolidates power, she wavers between confidence and naïveté. Was that a hard balance to strike?

Elle Fanning: “[The role] challenged me in a way that I haven’t been challenged before. As a character, Catherine has one of my favorite qualities, which is that she’s extremely arrogant. She has a huge ego and doesn’t apologize for it, which was so fun to play. But she also questions herself, and has these weaknesses—these moments of really not knowing if she’s up for the challenge too—which was important to me. I’m not interested in playing “She’s strong all the time. She’s the bravest, and she always makes the right decisions!” I don’t want to watch that.”

“I also love that she’s very romantic, but she learns that her love affair over the whole season is really her love for Russia. Which was interesting. Her most important quality, too, is her youth. Youth is such a big factor in the decisions she makes—and sometimes they’re a bit rash, but she’s young, and she’s learning. And she’s a different woman at the end of it.”

You have known your costar Nicholas Hoult since you were 14 and costarred in the film Young Ones. Did that familiarity make things easier during the sex scenes?

“Yes. I felt so unembarrassed with him. He was very familiar with the rhythm of the words, because he was in The Favourite, so he helped keep my rhythm up and the comedic timing. He’s so incredible, in part because he adds so many layers to his character that could have been one-note. And we were just always on the same page. We wanted to create this dynamic relationship where they do love each other at times, and she kind of pities him and sometimes she doesn’t want him to die.”

“The sex scenes were hard to get through because you’re in this position, which is already awkward or funny, and then you would have to say these hilarious lines. There’s one sex scene where Peter’s thrusting for an heir, like a hundred thrusts, and there’s a wide shot where we’re just in the background. We didn’t have to say anything, all he has to do is thrust. I’m just like, “Let’s get through it.” Thank god we’re not both earnest or take ourselves too seriously, because you’ve got to have fun.”

You had an intimacy coordinator on the set. Was that the first time you’ve ever worked with someone like that?

“The first time. She’s there for support and so that you feel comfortable, but she also makes sure that things look real, which is interesting. Like she’ll say, “Nick, you’re in the wrong position, you need to be lower.” And she provides great pillows, like crotch pillows and things that she sews herself, so you have a kind of separation.”

“I really enjoyed those scenes. [Writer] Tony McNamara and I would talk about how the show actually is not really sexually explicit at all, because all the girls—except for when I was with [court-appointed lover] Leo (Sebastian de Souza)—are basically fully clothed. Because we can’t take the corsets off! [laughs] In court, I’m sure they would just think it was much easier and more practical just to pull your skirts up.

“In my scenes with Nick, I’m always fully clothed, because it’s just about getting an heir and that’s it. The only nudity we have on the show is bottoms! We all kind of get a turn. I have a bottom, Nick has a bottom, and Sebastian has a bottom. We all had our moment.”

Speaking of outrageous scenes, you executive produce the show. Did you ever veto anything as too over the top?

Oh, I wanted it more [over the top]. [laughs]

More severed heads! Roll them in!

“That’s me! People are so surprised by that sometimes. I mean, if you know me, you’re not surprised by it, but you might be if you’re only aware of my Sleeping Beauty persona. I always wanted to push it. I wanted things to be even weirder. I wanted more blood.”

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Jun, 23 Posted by Admin

DEADLINE – Deadline’s Contenders Television, which just wrapped its nine-hour telecast, broke ground in multiple ways. An invitation-only event held annually at a large theater, it went virtual this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. The live-streamed presentation also set a record with its largest roster of participants ever, 44 shows from 22 studios and networks.

You can explore Deadline’s extensive panel-by-panel print coverage here.

In another first, Deadline on Monday will launch a Contenders Television streaming site featuring all the panel videos, which were pre-recorded with talent video-conferencing from locations around the world — from the Australian Bush (Russell Crowe), Rome (Willem Dafoe), and London (Cate Blanchett, among others) to the East Coast, the West Coast and all points between.

The impressive talent roster also includes Elizabeth Banks, Patrick Stewart, Anthony Anderson, Ramy Youssef, Trevor Noah, Jim Parsons, Jason Bateman, Laura Linney, Julia Garner, Steve Carell, John Malkovich, David Harbour, Jerrika Hinton, Bob Odenkirk, Rhea Seehorn, Hailee Steinfeld, Lucy Liu, Christina Applegate, Linda Cardellini, Derek Waters, Pedro Pascal, Claire Danes, Forest Whitaker, Rita Moreno, Will Arnett, Rose Byrne, Uzo Aduba, Margo Martindale, Sarah Paulson, Robin Thede, Kathryn Hahn, Elle Fanning, Nicholas Hoult, Niecy Nash, Pamela Adlon, Marcia Gay Harden, 50 Cent, Monica Raymund, Daniel Levy and Annie Murphy as well as a slew of A-list creators, show-runners and producers.

They were interviewed by Deadline writers Pete Hammond, Dominic Patten, Peter White, Antonia Blyth, Dino-Ray Ramos, Anthony D’Alessandro, Amanda N’Duka and Joe Utichi, the latter of whom also hosted the virtual event.

Participating networks and studios include ABC Entertainment, Amazon Prime Video, AMC Networks, Apple TV+, Wiip, CBS All Access, CBS Television Studios, Comedy Central, Disney+, Disney Television Studios, Fox Entertainment, Freeform, FX, HBO, Hulu, Lifetime, Nat Geo, Netflix, Pop TV, Showtime, Sony Pictures Television and Starz.

This year, Deadline’s Contenders Television is making a donation, which is being matched by our parent company PMC, to the Los Angeles chapter of Black Lives Matter, with a focus on the organization’s youth/arts programs; and to Campaign Zero, a national organization dedicated to police reform.

While the format has changed, Deadline Contenders Television’s goal has remained the same — we aim to make this a kind of one-stop shopping for industry voters who can sit down and get a taste of what will eventually appear on their awards ballots this Emmy season. The idea, as it has always been, is to provide a blueprint of the season that will serve as a catalyst for voters as they wade through the infinite numbers of TV achievements placed before them.

Sponsors and partners of today’s live-streamed Contenders Television event included Eyepetizer, Michter’s, Crop Organic Vodka and The Four Seasons Maui.

To those who tuned in today, thank you. To everyone who missed a panel or wants to see some of them again, check Deadline.com on Monday morning. Once the streaming site goes live, panel videos will also be added to each of the stories.



Jun, 19 Posted by Admin

THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTERHow does Hollywood see you, Elle? And is it how you want to be seen?

ELLE FANNING When I was 14, I was cast as Sleeping Beauty in Maleficent, and that phone call definitely changed my life and my trajectory and it differentiated me from my sister [Dakota]. That role is very important to me, but also it’s a Disney princess, and I’m this blond and it comes with a certain stigma, right? And that’s the biggest movie I’ve done, so I’m recognized most for it. What was exciting for me about The Great was getting to try out the comedy world. People think of me as doing these serious, dramatic roles or just playing the kid, and I feel like I’m a funny person in real life and I love shocking people and proving that I’m not exactly who they think I am.

Elle, there are a lot of sex scenes in The Great, but there’s considerably more male nudity than female. How does that change a dynamic on set?

FANNING Its interesting, Catherine the Great, in real life, was kind of the first woman who was slut-shamed. I mean, the whole horse rumor [that she possibly had sex with a horse] was created because she loved sex, she was very open and had multiple lovers. Obviously, our story is not a historical document, but a lot of truths are in it, and that’s a big part of Catherine’s character, so sex is incorporated into the show a lot. And of course it’s a period show, so we’re corseted up with multiple layers of skirts and just the logistics of actually getting naked — for the women, it takes a long time. So everyone’s just having fully clothed sex. It’s like, “All right, girls, we’re going to just lift-up your skirt, and that’s fine.” And there was an intimacy coordinator on set, which was new to me.

SEDARIS Wow.

FANNING Yeah, a woman who was there to make sure everyone felt comfortable and also made sure that the sex looked real. There would be times when Nick [Hoult] would be in the wrong position, and she’s like, “It doesn’t look like you’re doing it.” Her name was Ita, and she made sure all the monitors were off when there were nude scenes, and obviously made sure no one did anything that they didn’t feel comfortable with. But it was hard to keep a straight face during those scenes with Nicholas Hoult. He’s hilarious, and I’d be biting down on a pillow when he’s having to thrust and say these lines. And I’m so happy that I had someone that I felt comfortable with, and we could actually be embarrassed in front of each other. That was something that was new for me.

SEDARIS I could never do anything like that.

THEDE What, sex scenes?

SEDARIS Sex scenes or get naked or pose in your underwear. Never. It just doesn’t interest me. It’s just not fun to me.



Jun, 10 Posted by Admin

DUJOURFanning discusses her new Hulu series, TikTok dances, how to perfect the poached egg and her reality TV obsession

In late March, Elle Fanning was supposed to go off to Budapest to film The Nightingale, based on Kristin Hannah’s bestselling novel about two sisters struggling to survive in Nazi-occupied France. Her co-star—for the first time since they made plays together at home as toddlers—was meant to be her older sister, Dakota, who is four years her senior.

But, as happened with most Hollywood movies and television series in production during the COVID-19 crisis, just a few days before the siblings were set to depart from Los Angeles for Hungary, shooting on The Nightingale was canceled, its release date postponed indefinitely.

“We’ve dreamed of this for a long time, and we talked for a while about what project could get us together,” says the 22-year-old Fanning, who underlines that they will star in The Nightingale at some point in the future. “We thought maybe we didn’t want to play sisters, but we’ve grown up in this industry and have a unique understanding of what it means to be sisters. So, at least the sister part we’ve got down.”

Though they were already quite close, at the moment, they are closer than ever, hunkered down at the family home in California’s San Fernando Valley, where Fanning usually lives with her mother and grandmother when she’s not filming somewhere on location. Now, Dakota, who was recently living in New York City, is bunking there, too.

“It’s a rare occasion that we get to be together,” Fanning says. “So we’re enjoying each other’s company.”

It will be easy, then, for the entire Fanning family to have a premiere party for her new series, The Great, which they can all binge together on Hulu. On the show, Fanning stars as a young Catherine the Great, sowing her seeds in a new marriage to Russia’s Peter III, played by Nicholas Hoult.

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The series marks Fanning’s first real foray into comedy. But it’s a specific kind of comedy—a satirical, genre-bending romp through 18th-century Russia in the vein of 2018’s The Favorite, which The Great creator Tony McNamara also co-wrote, earning him an Oscar nomination.

“Being asked to play Catherine in this show was a gift,” says Fanning. “Tony wrote a play in Australia that was very much in this witty, irreverent voice.” McNamara had originally planned to adapt his play into a feature film, but in this time of peak streaming television, decided to develop it into a series. He asked Fanning to play Catherine and help produce the show.

“As Catherine is gaining her voice on The Great, I was gaining mine,” she says. “I went to pitch meetings and saw the mechanics of the series from the beginning.”

Fanning lived in London for six months while filming the series. She loved the opportunity to flex her comedic muscles with the wordplay, banter and rhythm in McNamara’s scripts. “That was hugely appealing for me. I love challenging myself,” Fanning says. She believes the experience was a boost for her abilities, even in a career that includes two Sofia Coppola movies (Somewhere and The Beguiled) and roles opposite co-stars like Annette Bening, Bryan Cranston, Angelina Jolie and Jeff Bridges. “It’s all very Shakes­pearean and I had to get used to it and not be embarrassed.”

Fanning believes the hilariously dark show is exactly the entertainment we need right now. “Fun, laughter and escapism are really important,” she explains. “But it also grapples with themes that are super relevant, even though it’s historical,” she adds, especially in its depiction of Catherine attempting to gain her footing in the patriarchal and misogynist Russian court.

Despite the seemingly elevated historical setting, “I think it’s totally bingeable,” Fanning continues. There’s plenty of bawdy humor and surprising twists: “With shows like The Handmaid’s Tale, you need time to process between episodes; it’s heavy. But with The Great, it’s light enough that you can watch it all in one go.”

And Fanning knows a thing or two about bingeing. She has a taste for reality television and has been watching the Michael Jordan documentary series The Last Dance (“We’re huge sports people,” she says of her family) and old standbys like MasterChef Junior and 90 Day Fiancé with her mom. “We have a whole ritual around it,” Fanning says of 90 Day Fiancé. (Dakota, meanwhile, is watching The West Wing from the beginning.)

Being in quarantine has given Fanning more time to keep up with her Campbell Hall friends via Zoom happy hours. Their group meetings are called “See You Next Tuesday” because they meet on Tuesdays. (It’s the kind of joke you’d find in The Great.) Fanning sips Aperol spritzes while they reminisce about high school, just like the sophisticated 22-year-old that she is.

Indeed, Fanning turned 22 in April amidst the shelter-in-place restrictions in Los Angeles. How did she celebrate? Not necessarily with an Aperol spritz; she says she listened to the Taylor Swift song “22” and ordered in Chinese food from Chin Chin. To top it off: a strawberry shortcake from Big Sugar Bakeshop featuring the cartoon character Strawberry Shortcake wearing a quarantine-friendly face-mask.

“I do sort of have a strawberry obsession,” Fanning explains. “I’ve been doing Strawberry Shortcake coloring books while in quarantine.”

Friends sent her a recorded birthday message via Cameo from some of her favorite cast members on a recent season of Love Island, while Coppola sent a birthday video over text from Napa.

“She’s way too chic for Zoom,” laughs Fanning. Fanning was embraced early on by the fashion industry. She loves Miu Miu, Dior, Gucci and Valentino, while the Rodarte designers, sisters Laura and Kate Mulleavy, are friends. But she isn’t dressing up at the moment. “It’s mostly sweatpants and T-shirts, like everyone else,” Fanning says. As the weather gets warmer, she’ll start pulling out her sundresses, and she’s having fun with her hair, blowing it out and curling it at home to pass the time.

“I also dyed it pink myself,” she says.

Social media has become a welcome distraction. “It’s a nice place where we’re all together,” she says of her high school friends and the pals she’s made in the business over the 20 years she’s been working. She’s been learning TikTok dances, “but I won’t post them,” she says, and has gotten into Chelsea Peretti’s comedic makeup tutorials and Karen Elson’s singing clips on Instagram.

She’s been using her own account to show off her photography skills and picking up some cooking tips. “My grandmother loves hearty Southern food,” Fanning says. “I’ve always loved cooking and helping her in the kitchen.”

They’ve been meal planning, ordering groceries, mixing spinach dip, making lamb chops and perfecting the poached egg. Fanning is also finding inventive ways to use leftovers, including quesadillas made from, well, anything. “Just add whatever you have in the fridge and fry it up,” Fanning says.

If she’s not quite Julia Child, we can let it slide. She happens to be one of the best actors of her generation, so forgive her if she’s already looking forward to her first meal out of quarantine: guacamole, sweet corn, hard-shell beef tacos and churros from Casa Vega in nearby Studio City.

“Also, just hugging someone that you haven’t been able to in a long time,” Fanning says.

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