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Elle Fanning on playing a misunderstood character in ‘The Boxtrolls’ and the success of ‘Maleficent’
LOS ANGELES—“There isn’t, and I hope there never will be [competition between us],” Elle Fanning replied during our recent chat when asked if there was a bit of a friendly contest, career-wise, between her and older sister Dakota.
Elle, blossoming into a lovely young woman, is enjoying a busy career with several films this year and many more projects lined up.
On this recent Saturday morning, Elle wore a dress that complemented her fair skin and long blond hair. “People ask that all the time. We never even discuss films with each other. We decide [separately] on which films we want to do. We never read each other’s scripts. That’s off-limits.”
Elle followed in her precocious sister’s footsteps. She recounted how it began, when the Fanning family still lived in Georgia. “My sister put on these shows around the house,” Elle shared. “My mom (Heather) noticed and was like, ‘Maybe she should be in a play.’ My sister was really young at the time. My mom put her in this little play camp in Georgia and she got the main part. She was about 5.”
Elle added, laughing, “People said, ‘You should move to LA or New York.’ So my mom and sister did. They lived on my aunt’s couch (in LA). Then my sister got 10 commercials in a week—something crazy like that.”
When Dakota landed a plum role opposite Sean Penn and Michelle Pfeiffer in “I Am Sam,” the Fannings decided to move permanently to LA. Elle and dad Steven joined Dakota and Heather. “I was probably 2,” Elle said. “We have lived here since.”
Elle started even younger than Dakota, who is now 20. She was only 3 when she played a younger version of Dakota’s character in “I Am Sam.” She did the same in the sci-fi miniseries, “Taken.” Pretty soon, Elle was carving her own career. She is now one of Hollywood’s busiest young actresses.
Among her next films are “Trumbo,” with Bryan Cranston and Diane Lane, “How to Talk to Girls at Parties,” “A Storm in the Stars” and “All the Bright Places.”
The sisters may not have professional rivalry but Elle, 16, laughingly volunteered an old issue between them. “I used to always go into her closet and steal things, trying to be super sneaky, but she always found out,” Elle said. “One time, I got her hat, shoes and dress and went out in New York. She phoned and was like, ‘You are in all of my clothes. I saw you on the Internet dressed in my entire outfit!’ I was like, ‘Oh, my God, I’m in trouble.’
“So I don’t really know if I can still do that. Now, she comes and sometimes takes my clothes. But she always asks first. We [feel a little better] about it now.”
Asked what she can’t live without, Elle replied, “[I could say] family and friends, but also something silly, like the calendar in my room. I have, like, OCD about it; it’s a Barbie calendar. I write everything on it. Like today, I wrote, ‘Press at 10 (a.m.).’ When I go home, I’m going to cross it off. That’s my thing.”
The Boxtrolls - Meet the Characters Featurette
Elle Fanning - The Boxtrolls press conference
The Boxtrolls press conference
Elle Fanning as Mary in Young Ones
Young Ones trailer (HD-no french subtitles)
Actors Elle Fanning, Logan Lerman and Hailee Steinfeld attend the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s Grants Banquet at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on August 14, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California.
Elle Fanning departs Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s Grants Banquet Beverly Hills
Actress Elle Fanning attends the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s Grants Banquet at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on August 14, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California.