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July 9th, 2020  No Comments Media, The Great, TV, Videos

When it came to playing the hijinks of Russian empress visionary Catherine the Great and her buffoon husband Peter III in Hulu and MRC’s period series The Great, Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult “threw out the history books.”

More specifically, rather than have their performances become bogged down by all the historical facts, they left that to creator Tony McNamara, who is quickly establishing a flair for melding historical drama with absurdist comedy. Not having to hit the books, allowed Hoult, who worked on McNamara’s Oscar nominated The Favourite (he was nominated for original screenplay) to “mess around”; of sheer delight being Peter III’s physical antics of brawling and sharp Month Python-esque one-liners.

That great chemistry between Fanning’s deadpan and Hoult’s foolish king is chemistry the actress says came about during the six month shoot of The Great, even though it’s the second time the duo have worked together after the 2014 sci-fi western Young Ones.

Says Fanning, on which The Great reps her first time as a TV series EP, “Tony has done so much research on the period and in Catherine and Peter, and used the facts that work specifically for our tone. The real work was humanizing the character, making her a character that that could come to modern audiences and show how she became this feminist icon.”

Watch the clip from Tuesday night virtual screening of Hulu’s The Great.

July 9th, 2020  No Comments The Great, TV


Two years after director Yorgos Lanthimos turned Tony McNamara’s script “The Favourite” into a twisted, Oscar-winning look at the British court of Queen Anne, McNamara himself has applied the same sensibility to 18th-century Russia in “The Great.” The Hulu series stars Nicholas Hoult as the egotistical but inept Peter III and Elle Fanning as his young, naïve wife Catherine, who would go on to lead Russia for more than 30 years.

The opening credits to each episode call “The Great” “an occasionally true story,” and certainly there’s a distinctly modern sensibility and a load of deliberate anachronisms in the portrayal of the dysfunctional Russian court. The series is blackly comic feast centered on the delicious feuding between Hoult, played by “The Favorite” vet Nicholas Hoult, and Catherine, played by Elle Fanning with a breezy combination of innocence and steel. Fanning, who also served as an executive producer on the series, spoke to TheWrap about “The Great” on the day that Hulu renewed it for a second season.

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July 8th, 2020  No Comments Interviews, Press

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“I really find satisfaction with looking at my calendar and figuring out what time I have certain things. But I also don’t force myself to do anything. I’m a daydreamer.”

Just before quarantine started, Elle Fanning was set to fly to Budapest with her older sister, Dakota, to start shooting the World War II film The Nightingale, based on the 2015 novel by Kristin Hannah, which will mark the sisters’ first on-screen appearance together. “We talk about what it’s going to be like a lot,” says Elle, 22. “We’re playing sisters, so there’s not much research to be done. We’ve got that covered.”

Right now, the sisters are in Los Angeles, in isolation together, along with their mom and grandmother. Elle has experienced a few milestones during quarantine: her birthday, in April, and the release, in May, of The Great, a satirical Hulu series about Catherine the Great in which she stars. On July 2, the show’s second season was announced. Catherine is one of Fanning’s first comedic roles, and The Great also marks her first turn as an executive producer.

Fanning has been using the past few months to relax a bit: forgoing alarms, baking ooey gooey butter cakes, going on walks with her mom, doing experimental makeup inspired by the comedian Chelsea Peretti. Here, she talks to WSJ. about her favorite exercise class, the best advice she’s gotten and why this spring was an ideal time for The Great to come out.

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July 8th, 2020  No Comments Articles, Interviews, Press, The Great, TV

The writer behind ‘The Favourite’ penned a bawdy, satirical and not-so-accurate tale: “We actually pride ourselves on the lack of historical accuracy,” says Fanning with a laugh.

Lying atop the red velvety covers of an ornate four-poster bed in a gold-soaked set on a rainy day in London, a sickly looking Nicholas Hoult takes swigs from a bottle of water between takes.

“Men love me for my parties, women and … [gulp] … delicious food,” he splutters moments later after the camera begins rolling (bottle now hidden under the blanket), groaning and retching while Elle Fanning, in a corseted light-green gown and tightly curled blond wig, stands at his feet, feigning concern.

“And women love me for my massive cock.”

Welcome to the world of The Great, Hulu’s bawdy, satirical and not exactly (in many cases, not remotely) historically accurate retelling of the early years of Russia’s famed 18th century monarch Catherine the Great.

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July 2nd, 2020  No Comments Press, The Great, TV

A grown-up child star finding her creative power in playing one of history’s most cunning female rulers — the metaphor would be a bit on the nose if it weren’t crafted as thoughtfully as Elle Fanning’s portrayal of Catherine II, the longest-reigning Empress of Russia, on The Great.

The actress steps strikingly into the Golden Era of the empire’s 18th century Enlightenment on the lauded Hulu series, though it takes her character a moment to see past the glitz and glamour. “She starts out as this romantic and very optimistic young girl,” Fanning tells ET of her Catherine, scripted to cunning perfection by The Favourite screenwriter Tony McNamara, who created the series, “and basically is slapped in the face with reality and realizes, ‘OK, this is not the life that I wanted, so I’m going to make the life that I want.'”

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July 2nd, 2020  No Comments Press, The Great, TV

Catherine The Great is to continue her reign on Hulu after the streamer ordered a second season of The Great.

The Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult comedy drama is coming back for another 10-episode run after its first season debuted on May 15. The streamer said that The Great was “one of the top performing original comedies” on the service, without giving ratings information.

The satirical show tells the story of the rise of Catherine the Great from outsider to the longest-reigning female ruler in Russia’s history with only a few occasional facts.

Phoebe Fox, Adam Godley, Gwilym Lee, Charity Wakefield, Douglas Hodge, Sacha Dhawan, Sebastian de Souza, Bayo Gbadamosi and Belinda Bromilow also star.

The series comes from The Favourite’s Tony McNamara, who created, wrote and exec produced. Other exec producers include Marian Macgowan, Thruline’s Josh Kesselman and Ron West, Echo Lake’s Brittany Kahan Ward, Doug Mankoff and Andrew Spaulding, Elle Fanning, Mark Winemaker and Matt Shakman. It is produced by Civic Center Media in association with MRC Television.

At Deadline’s recent Contenders event, McNamara revealed that the idea for The Great came to him by chance. “I didn’t know much about her except that maybe she banged a horse,” he said of the famous rumor circulated about Catherine. “And then I heard something about her keeping the Age of Enlightenment alive. So, I read up on her and she seemed to be an amazing character—really complicated and really modern in a lot of ways. That made me want to write about her, and I thought, well, how do I write about her in a way that would make me want to watch it?”

Fanning similarly said that she knew little about the real-life Catherine. “Like Tony, I knew her for the horse incident,” she said, “and I knew she was Empress of Russia, but through this I learned so much more about what she did and how she truly is a feminist icon. She took down The Man. She did it, and that was just so fascinating and exciting to me—to show how she became the person who was able to do that. Because, of course, she was born with those qualities inside her, but she had to learn how to use those qualities.”

Via

June 30th, 2020  No Comments Articles, Interviews, Press

The star and executive producer of the bawdy historical comedy on boundaries, blood, and bare bottoms.

The Character: Catherine the Great, The Great
In The Great’s first episode, a pink-cheeked Catherine (Elle Fanning) pilots a flower-entwined swing and burbles to a friend about how romantic her wedding to Russian Emperor Peter III (Nicholas Hoult) will be. But after Catherine is delivered from her sleepy German village to the Russian palace, her girlish dreams are dashed when she meets the tyrannical and narcissistic Peter. As she solemnly presents him with an evergreen as a symbol of their love, he turns to one of his minions and barks, “She gave me a twig. She’s not another inbred, is she?”

It’s the abrupt end of her innocent imaginings, as well as the start of a young woman’s campaign, aided by her wit and charm, to plot a putsch—after Catherine learns that if Peter just happens to be killed, she can claim the throne.

“It’s been phenomenal to watch Elle grow into this character as a performer, to balance a tightrope in bringing her to life as this woman who is naive but strong, and also powerless at times,” says Hoult. “[She’s] understanding this new world she’s been thrown into, and also her raison d’être.”

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June 26th, 2020  No Comments Interviews, Press, The Great, TV

The English actor Sebastian de Souza knows a thing or two about making an entrance. Take, for example, his first scene on Hulu’s The Great, in which Peter (Nicholas Hoult) asks—well, orders—Leo, De Souza’s character, to pull his pants down to assess his, er, talents. Leo’s role is to please and entertain Catherine the Great, played deliciously by Elle Fanning in the series that draws loosely from the life of the infamous Empress of Russia.

The 27-year-old British multi-hyphenate—on top of acting, he’s a singer, songwriter, and screenwriter—is no stranger to edgy roles that flirt with recklessness. De Souza worried mothers worldwide with his portrayal of Matty Levan on the grimy teen series Skins. Soon after, he dove deep into the world of period pieces, appearing on Showtime’s The Borgias and the medieval Italian drama Medici, alongside Richard Madden. Lately, the actor has been seen in Normal People, Hulu’s buzzy adaptation of the hit Sally Rooney novel. Though it’s a small role, his intervention in the central romance has turned his character into “enemy number one,” he says, for fans of the show. Luckily, his sensual portrayal of Leo in The Great has won over many hearts—and the praise of critics. De Souza got on the phone with Fanning to discuss his dream of becoming the next Elton John, spinach dip, and that peach scene. Huzzah!

SEBASTIAN DE SOUZA: Hi, Elle. How are you?

ELLE FANNING: I’m good. Did you make any pies today? I watched you making that pie the other day. It looked so good.

DE SOUZA: No, you didn’t.

FANNING: Yes, I did. I’m cooking-obsessed.

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June 21st, 2020  No Comments Articles, Interviews, Press, The Great, TV

While promoting his Oscar-nominated work on 2018’s The Favourite, writer Tony McNamara expressed a dissatisfaction with period drama. Industry insiders were surprised, then, when his follow-up project turned out to be Hulu’s The Great, a darkly comic satire charting the rise of Catherine the Great from outsider to the longest-reigning female ruler in Russian history.

Starring Elle Fanning as Catherine and Nicholas Hoult as her husband Peter, the show is a surprisingly factual deep dive into the life of a woman more widely known for scandalous, and likely untrue, stories about her unseemly love of horses.

Asked about his apparent change of heart during Deadline’s Contenders Television virtual event, the Australian writer laughed. “I think I just don’t like the politeness of period shows,” McNamara clarified. “It’s not like I don’t like period pieces at all—I like Dangerous Liaisons and Barry Lyndon and things like that—I just think I’ve always just been a bit bored by BBC-style period shows. I love the life-and-death nature and the high stakes of period shows, but I just never liked the polite execution. It didn’t seem interesting character-wise, and it didn’t feel visceral and present, and it didn’t feel very funny.”

McNamara revealed that the idea for The Great came to him by chance. “I didn’t know much about her except that maybe she banged a horse,” he said of the famous rumor circulated about Catherine. “And then I heard something about her keeping the Age of Enlightenment alive. So, I read up on her and she seemed to be an amazing character—really complicated and really modern in a lot of ways. That made me want to write about her, and I thought, well, how do I write about her in a way that would make me want to watch it?”

Similarly, Fanning knew little about the real-life Catherine. “Like Tony, I knew her for the horse incident,” she noted, “and I knew she was Empress of Russia, but through this I learned so much more about what she did and how she truly is a feminist icon. She took down The Man. She did it, and that was just so fascinating and exciting to me—to show how she became the person who was able to do that. Because, of course, she was born with those qualities inside her, but she had to learn how to use those qualities. And so that’s what enticed me the most—that and her gorgeous optimism and romanticism. She’s a true romantic, and throughout the series she learns that Russia is actually her great love. It’s not a man, it’s a country.”

For Hoult, who also appeared in The Favourite, a big part of the show’s appeal was the chance to work with McNamara again. “It’s my second time working with Tony,” he said, “and everything I’ve read that he’s written, I’ve just fallen in love with instantly. It’s kind of the perfect framework, as an actor, because you get given this brilliant, witty dialogue to deliver and also the scenes just always work fundamentally. So, then you can go off and play.”

Via

Current Projects
The Nightingale (2021)
Elle Fanning as Isabelle

The lives of two sisters living in France are torn apart at the onset of World War II. Based on Kristin Hannah’s novel ‘The Nightingale’.

The Great (2020)
Elle Fanning as Catherine

A royal woman living in rural Austria during the seventeenth century is forced to choose between her own personal happiness and the future of Russia, when she marries an Emperor.

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