Elle Fanning’s fame may have been predestined — like her older sister Dakota, she made her big screen debut before she hit kindergarten — but it’s her talent and pretension-free personality that continue to keep her in the spotlight. The 18-year-old was honored at Tuesday’s Variety Power of Young Hollywood event, where she took a few minutes to chat with WWD about what it’s like to be “intimidated” by Ben Affleck, best pals with Sofia Coppola and pressured to be a role model.
WWD: For someone who’s been in this industry for so long and from such a young age, what does it feel like to be considered a power player?
Elle Fanning: It’s really exciting. I just turned 18 and I just graduated from high school. It’s a special time because you’re, like, an adult, but you’re not. You’re like, “What am I?”
WWD: You have a busy year ahead with the drama “A Storm in the Stars,” in which you play Frankenstein writer Mary Shelley, plus the comedy “20th Century Women” with Greta Gerwig and Annette Bening. And we heard you’re reteaming with director Sofia Coppola soon.
E.F.: I can’t wait. I’m so excited. We start filming at the end of October. I’ve known Sofia since I was 11 and we’ve stayed really close. Ever since “Somewhere” [in 2010], we’ve tried to find something else, like, “What’s the next thing to do together?” So it’s called “The Beguiled” and it’s a remake of the Clint Eastwood film “The Beguiled.” Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman and Kirsten Dunst are in it. It’s set during the Civil War at a school. Nicole Kidman is the head mistress and Kirsten is the teacher and I’m one of the students. We’ll be Southern.”
WWD: You also have a Ben Affleck film called “Live by Night” in which you play an aspiring actress in Boston during the Prohibition era.
E.F.: That’s already done. That’s coming out in December, at the end of this year. That was incredible because [Ben] wrote it, he directed it and he’s in it. I had scenes with the director, you know? It’s intimidating. But I would love to direct, so it was cool to see how he works.
WWD: What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve received?
E.F.: I’ve been told to keep the balance of your work life and films, but also to go home. I went to a regular school and I live with my mom and my dad. It’s important to have that as well because if you just fall into the Hollywood scene all the time, then that can get a little sad.
WWD: Do you ever feel pressure to be a role model for young women?
E.F.: I do think that young women need role models. I think that the pressure of that is honest. I think it’s a good pressure. I have a 12-year-old cousin. She needs good, young women to look up to. Actually, the charity that I donated to tonight is called REALgirl and it’s to empower young girls. They have camps and it’s all over the world. It’s not just in the U.S. They teach girls to have a healthy self-esteem. It’s important. The pressure is good.