There is a lot of precedent for acting talent that runs in families (Hepburn’s and Redgrave’s come to mind right away) so it’s not terribly surprising that the sisters Fanning have already proved that they share a significant amount of that particular talent. Elle Fanning does seem to be following in the footsteps of her older sister Dakota, though Elle was onscreen at the age of two (almost three) instead of Dakota’s seven.
Elle was born in Conyers, Georgia on April 9, 1998 but the family relocated to Los Angeles when the spotlight began to fall on her sister a few years later. She first appeared in film as the younger version of Dakota’s characters in the mini-series ‘Taken’ and the film I Am Sam, and got her first ‘independent’ role at the age of four, in Daddy Day Care, a comedy starring Eddie Murphy.
According to most reports, Elle’s career really began with a starring role as 16-year-old Ginger in Ginger & Rosa; she was 13 at the time. That one got her some serious attention, with reactions such as one from a New York Times review that compares her to Meryl Streep and says Elle is ‘so good it’s frightening’. As for the actress herself, she says the biggest challenge was not adopting a British accent or portraying an older teen but changing her hair colour from blonde to red.
That says quite a lot about Elle’s natural affinity for the profession as well as her attitude towards the work she’s doing. She told interviewers that her ability to empathize with the Ginger character’s feelings was mostly due to having attended ‘normal’ schools and having a very close girl friend, so she was comfortable in the role.
It’s also indicative of her relationship with Dakota, four years her senior and with a rapidly growing reputation as a very talented and versatile actress. Elle told The Hollywood Reporter that there’s no competition between Dakota and herself; her sister encourages Elle to take on challenging roles and enthuses about her success without a trace of sisterly disparagement, according to Elle.
The latest of Elle’s films, to be released in May this year, is Maleficent, Disney’s reconstruction of Sleeping Beauty, with Angelina Jolie as the wicked witch/queen who puts a curse on the beautiful princess Aurora – Elle Fanning. It’s the story of how the witch got to be wicked, why she curses the daughter of her betrayer and how everything can still come right in the end.
Elle’s most memorable (reported) comments on that film are mostly about her co-star Angelina, with, “She’s the coolest!” being repeated several times.
It looks like Maleficent didn’t put much strain on Elle’s acting abilities, and Jolie has a much more prominent role, but this young blond has a lot more ammunition in her repertoire and we’ll be seeing some of it in the next few months, when Low Down opens in theatres.
This Indie film, screened at the Sundance Festival in January, got mixed reviews for its gloomy overcast of tone, but Elle Fanning got just about all A’s for her portrayal of a teenager with ‘the worst parents in history’ – based on a true memoir by Amy Albany, daughter of jazz age pianist Joe Albany.
Set in 1970’s Los Angeles, Low Down is not a cheerful film in any respect, but is has garnered a great deal of respect for Elle, as did Young Ones, another not-cheerful film due out this year.
From glum to glam is no problem for Elle; she’s recently been tapped as one of four young actresses to be ‘face girls’ for Miu Miu fashions, and she looks just like the 15-year-old fresh-faced prom queen that (so far) she hasn’t played on film. At any rate, she has plenty of time to grow into a mature, experienced actress (she’ll turn 16 in April) and apparently enough savvy to give herself the chance.
Ginger & Rosa