Fanning, fame and fashion
US starlet Elle Fanning has shed her shyness, choosing to 'embrace' being a princess on the red carpet
If Australian actress Nicole Kidman was the queen of this year's Cannes Film Festival, with four projects screening, US starlet Elle Fanning was certainly the belle of the red carpet.
The 19-year-old wowed fashion critics by wearing a myriad of designers - Vivienne Westwood, Prada, Gucci, Christian Dior, Rodarte and Alexander McQueen - and became a shoo-in for just about every best-dressed list out there, officially cementing her status as a bona fide Hollywood style superstar.
She attended the festival in May for the premiere of her new movie The Beguiled, along with fellow cast members Kidman and Kirsten Dunst and director Sofia Coppola.
In a year when the films shown were criticised for the lack of female roles, the women of The Beguiled were front and centre in the press coverage.
In the film, currently showing here, Fanning plays a rebellious student in a girls' boarding school during the American Civil War. When an injured Union soldier (Colin Farrell) is taken in, he becomes an object of fascination for pupils and teachers alike.
Fanning has grown up in the public eye, and at our meeting at the Four Seasons hotel in Beverly Hills, the child star shows a poise and confidence after all the success, the shyness from a year or two ago a thing of the past. She is wearing a Dolce & Gabbana dress patterned with roses and dogs.
"I love my dog. She is a schnoodle - schnauzer and poodle. Her name is Lewellen," Fanning said.
How was Cannes for you?
I was there for about 10 days, so it was lots of clothes and lots of red carpets. I had not seen The Beguiled yet, so to see it in (Cannes venue) the Palais, that was the best theatre in the world.
And then to find out that Sofia won Best Director for it, we were all freaking out.
How did you pick the red carpet clothes?
The Cannes red carpet is unlike any other red carpet. It is huge. I have always enjoyed picking out my clothes. It is like a creative outlet, so why not just have fun with it? For this Cannes, I was particular, because I got a couple of dresses made.
Vivienne Westwood did the first white one. She painted on the back, and she did her signature planets and stars and then also put a unicorn on there, because I specifically asked for that (laughs). And my name, and her name, was written on it. So that one was really special.
I think that in Cannes, you can be that kind of princess. I like to embrace it.
What your character wore in The Beguiled was different.
Sofia has a specific vision when it comes to each character and the personality. So we had a whole day that was hair and make-up test day and multiple fittings, because all the clothes were made for us. Each corset was made to fit our bodies.
I got to wear my hair down, which was scandalous at that time, so it showed that I had a rebellious nature. And my buttons were sometimes undone, and my skirts were a little frillier than the others.
But after a while, I was like, I never want to wear anything tight or any corsets ever again. It was pretty hot in Louisiana - we were sweating.
Kirsten and I mastered a way to get comfortable. You have to lie on your stomach and that was the most comfortable position somehow, to be in the corset, so we figured that out (laughs).
You have known Sofia for a while.
I first met her when I was 11, because I was in (her 2010 film) Somewhere. That film was a big start to my career, and Sofia gave me that. We continued our friendship and stayed really close since then.
With The Beguiled, I just turned 18, and I went off to film it without my mum coming with me. It was the perfect movie for that to be the first experience, because it was with Sofia, and I had just done a movie with Nicole - so I knew her - and I knew Kirsten, because she is also really good friends with my sister (actress Dakota Fanning) and our families.
It was all these women whom I already know and feel so safe with. I feel that our relationship changed in a way, where we became more girlfriends, and (Coppola) would say, would you like to go to dinner or would you like to hang out, and so she would include me in those little sessions.
I respect her so much. She felt like a cool aunt or the big sister during Somewhere, and now I feel that she sees me as a friend, which is really nice.
What was it like working on the set of The Beguiled?
What is funny about this movie is that I was not the youngest on set, which was weird for me.
There were younger girls. I was like, wow, that used to be me, because they had a teacher on set, and I have graduated from school, so I do not have to do homework on set anymore.
Kirsten and I, we are like soulmates. We had sleepovers all the time while filming. We just love each other.
And Nicole was always someone I looked up to when I was young and wanted to meet. Now I have been lucky to do two movies with her, and she is kind of like a mother figure.