Is Elle Fanning Coming to iTunes?
The face of the newest Miu Miu fragrance, Twist, tells us about her singing prospects, plus what she does in Ubers.
Elle Fanning has seamlessly slipped into characters since she was two years old. In her very first film, she appeared as the younger version of big sister Dakota in I Am Sam. Since then, the now 20-year-old actress has played a princess (Maleficent), a supermodel (Neon Demon), a transgender male teen (3 Generations), a ghost (Twixt), a novelist (Mary Shelley), a twisted schoolgirl (The Beguiled), and an alien (How to Talk to Girls at Parties), among many others.
Off screen, she transitions just as easily into someone else, be it an ice skater or a masseuse—just two of the many personas she’s explored while riding in an Uber (more on that later). Fanning has even boarded a plane in Los Angeles as a regular front-row celeb and gotten off in Paris as a show opener for Miu Miu, a “spur-of-the-moment” casting idea Miuccia Prada came up with for fall 2018. Given the star’s experience on red carpets and big-screen runways (she tackled a treadmill in a dress for Neon Demon), she was a natural—save for having to contain her big, bubbly personality in favor of a cool supermodel smize on the catwalk.
The day of our interview, Fanning is fully committed to her role as the face of Miu Miu’s newest fragrance: Twist, an airy blend of apple blossom, cedarwood, and pink amber inspired by the house’s signature matelassé material. In her bubblegum-colored dress, glitter platform heels, and teal blue eye inspired by Anna Karina, she’s the ultimate Miu Miu ingénue lounging across a settee or posing leisurely on the balcony.
The second the camera isn’t zoomed in on her every movement, however, a big goofy smile breaks out across her face, and she’s polishing a table with a makeup wipe in order to get one of the picture-perfect shots seen here. At this point in her life and career, she’s a pro at playing someone else, but underneath it all, she’s shockingly normal and completely comfortable in her own skin.
Here, Fanning reveals what was going through her head on the runway, the song she’s ready and willing to whip out at karaoke, and the best lies she’s told from the backseat.
Given the name of the new Miu Miu fragrance, Twist, what is the best plot twist you’ve been involved in on screen?
“The Beguiled was a good twist. That was a good and haunting [script].”
Are you always surprised when you’re reading a script?
“Sometimes! I’m someone who always tries to guess the twist, and sometimes I can. I hadn’t seen The Sixth Sense until a couple weeks ago, and that’s a huge movie twist.”
Did you see that plot twist coming?
“No, I was very shocked!”
Have you been involved in any interesting plot twists off screen?
“I’m sure I had twists in high school. You know, something silly is always happening.”
You always manage to put a twist on your beauty look, but what are your staple products?
“I love a colorful eye. I was really into glittery eyes for a while, so there was definitely a lot of that! I love a bow. My everyday look is pretty natural. I have a quirky sense of fashion, but I really just take good care of my skin and wear a lot of sunscreen. I have a real routine. But on a red carpet I like to experiment and have fun with trends, like bold eyeliner. Once I even got a Miu Miu tattoo made for the back of my neck! The staple products I like to use are L’Oréal Paris Voluminous Lash Paradise Mascara, a crayon concealer, and grapeseed oil from the grocery store to remove my makeup—that’s a tip I picked up on a movie set… I’m funny with sunscreen because I can be allergic to really high SPF, so I have to get something that’s under 50. Anything above actually doesn’t help, it hurts me!”
You’re used to sitting front row at this point, but how did it feel to walk Miu Miu’s fall 2018 show?
“Oh god, it was incredible. I had never walked in a runway show before. I was actually only supposed to go watch, and literally the day I was leaving L.A., they called from Paris and said, ‘Mrs. Prada has this spur-of-the-moment idea, and she really wants you to open and close the show.’ I was freaking out! I said yes in a heartbeat, it wasn’t even a thought. I went right to the fitting [from the airport]. Seeing the backstage and all of the excitement was a lot of fun. Mrs. Prada loves cinema, and she creates a very cinematic experience with her shows, so it kind of felt like a movie—just amped up. Everyone is rushing around! I just didn’t want to fall. Luckily, my shoes were pretty low for my first walk, and I was focused.”
Was Neon Demon good practice?
“It was! [Model] Abbey Lee was in that movie, and I had to do a walk.”
I read that one of your walks in Neon Demon was actually filmed on a treadmill?
“Yeah, I had this dress and they put it up and knotted it. I was just walking on the treadmill with the camera right there. It seemed like a good way to do it, but I had to wear heels, so it took a lot of focus. It was a lot of practice for all the modeling stuff, but Abbey Lee gave me pointers on how to walk and what to do.”
Is it more nerve-racking to walk a runway in real life or for the big screen?
“I’d say real life! For the big screen, you have a second chance, and there’s no audience that’s there [while you’re filming] at least, but during the Miu Miu show I got to see everyone’s reaction.”
Did the other models give you any tips backstage before you went out?
“Yeah, they were really helpful! A lot of them I had known because we’ve done campaigns together, like Rianne van Rompaey. Katie Grand was backstage. It’s a real family experience.”
What were you thinking when you were out on the runway?
“I was actually thinking, ‘Don’t smile.’ I really wanted to bust up laughing, but I knew the vibe of the collection was a bit bad girl, London ’60s, and my hair was teased really high. They gave me a character and an attitude they wanted me to play because I was opening the show and setting the [tone for the] collection, so you have to be in the mood. I think I achieved it, but I was bursting on the inside! I had to keep it cool and under control.”
What about runway versus red carpet—which is more intimidating?
“Again, I’d say runway. The red carpet is a place where I feel very at home. Also, the world of fashion has been very accepting of me since I was very young. When I was introduced to that world, I was already a lover of clothes and experimenting, but being experimental in high school isn’t always looked upon in a nice way. You’re made fun of for wearing weird stuff. The red carpet and the fashion world actually embraced me for being quirky and being myself. It’s a nice home for me.”
Your fashion choices didn’t always receive rave reviews from the high school crowd?
“No, definitely not! We had a uniform, but on Fridays we had free dress.”
What was your go-to dress-down-day ensemble?
“I don’t know if I was dressed down exactly, but I loved Opening Ceremony. It was a treat for my mom to take me there when I was little and look at all of the clothes. I got this shirt from there that was pink and printed all over with Big Bird. I wore that with high-waisted jeans and wooden platform shoes despite already being pretty tall.”
They weren’t feeling that? You were ahead of your time:
“In junior high they were not feeling it, but I was! All of the other kids were wearing skinny jeans, t-shirts, and Converse. You know, normal.”
For your latest role in Teen Spirit you play an up-and-coming pop star, and you sing all of your own vocals. Have you always been a singer?
“It’s a surprise to people because they haven’t really heard me sing that much before, but growing up, I was in the choir and had a solo at school once. I’ve always loved singing around the house. When I was young, I knew I would be in the entertainment world in some way, and I thought maybe I would be a singer or an actress. For this, I got to pretend to be a pop star, and it was really exciting. It was a lot of hard work because we sang covers of pop songs people love. The pressure is on, and you think, ‘Will people accept me singing these songs?’ I had a lot of help—it was about three months of preparation.”
If you were to enter a singing competition IRL, what would your audition song be?
“I would say ‘No One’ by Alicia Keys. That was my song growing up and probably my favorite karaoke song.”
What is your go-to shower song these days?
“Gosh, there are so many! Maybe a little Cyndi Lauper or Gwen Stefani. Gwen Stefani was my first concert. I saw her in Budapest when I was nine during her Harajuku days.”
Gwen Stefani in Budapest at age nine, not too shabby. Will the world be listening to an Elle Fanning album anytime soon?
“I hope! That would be really fun actually. I’m sure there is an album with the movie, but who knows. Nothing is happening, but I would do something!”
Speaking of Budapest, I heard that your sister packed nine suitcases to film there for six months, two of which were dedicated entirely to beauty products. If you were away for six months, how many suitcases filled with beauty products would you bring?
“Oh my god, I know. Well, I did this recently because I was away for five months to shoot Maleficent 2. It was the summer, and I think I brought four.”
Wow, four suitcases filled with beauty products:
“No, no, four in total! I guess I did better than Dakota did with nine, but I did have to buy a fifth suitcase when I was there. I would say one was dedicated to beauty because I need my products. You run out of a lot of stuff, like shampoo. I can never find what I want.”
What products are your absolute must-haves?
“Probably shampoo and conditioner because my hair is so blond. I like L’Oréal Paris Elvive in the pink bottle. I can’t go swimming because my hair turns green, but it has been a lot of different colors [over the years], so I don’t want it to get damaged.”
You pack less products when you’re on the road, but who is the bigger beauty junkie between you and your sister?
“We’re pretty even. She’s really good at doing her own makeup. I love makeup, but I’m not as good at doing my own. She does a really good job and is great with eyeliner.”
With you being the little sister, I’m sure she got to practice on you:
“Yeah, exactly. I allowed her to do that, so I get some points.”
In addition to cataloging all of your best fashion and beauty moments on Instagram, you recently posted a pic of you rocking the vote. As a millennial, why is it important to get out there and represent?
“It’s so important, especially for the new generation of voters. It’s the one time your voice can be heard and you can make a difference. Even if it’s just one vote, it counts. This is my second time voting and my first midterm election. I was 18 when I got to vote for President.”
As a member of the millennial generation in L.A., you must also spend a lot of time in an Uber. I hear you’ve told a few fibs from time to time in the backseat:
“Yes, sometimes I do. A lot of the drivers ask what you do, and I could tell them, but isn’t it more interesting if I’m something else? One time I think I said I was an ice skater, but then they start asking me about these things, and I’m totally caught. One time I told the driver I was a masseuse. He was asking me what it’s like going to so many different houses for appointments, and I told him, ‘Oh yeah, it’s really great.’ It’s just more fun to make things up. I play characters for a living, so I get to test everything out in the Uber.”
Want more stories like this?