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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.”


June 18th, 2020  No Comments Articles, Interviews, Press, The Great, TV

With hundreds of scripted shows on television each year, producers are increasingly leaning on existing IP and new takes on established figures to lure viewers in.

This allows deeper, more unique takes on characters that may not have been explored extensively in the past. But for the performers portraying them, it brings a different challenge, as they have to carve out a space for themselves amidst the previous perception of the figure.

Olivia Colman, who stepped into Queen Elizabeth II’s shoes for “The Crown’s” third season, is the perfect example of this: The royal has been portrayed dozens of times in film, television and theater since the 1970s. Colman took on the character after Claire Foy portrayed her earlier years on the Netflix drama for two seasons, and won an Emmy for her efforts in 2018, as well.

Similarly, Hailee Steinfeld became the titular poet in Apple TV Plus’ “Dickinson” just months after other actors brought her to life in big-screen biopics.

“Playing someone that actually existed, those are huge shoes to fill,” says Steinfeld. “There are people who are just completely and utterly moved by [Emily’s] work and what she left behind — you feel the pressure of their expectations. This is someone who has been in people’s lives, who has made people feel like they are not weird because all they want to do is create.”

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June 18th, 2020  No Comments Interviews, Media, Press, The Great, TV, Videos

Elle is featured in The Hollywood Reporter’s Comedy Actress Roundtable with Tiffany Haddish, Jane Levy, Jameela Jamil, Robin Thede and Amy Sedaris. The actresses were asked to share a personal picture for the article, and Elle choose a photo taken by Max Minghella.



June 17th, 2020  No Comments Candids, Gallery Updates

Elle was seen running errands in LA yesterday (16) with her mom Joy and Dakota. You can find the pictures in the gallery:


June 17th, 2020  No Comments Articles, Interviews, Press, The Great, TV

If you’re put off by stuffy biodramas of kings and queens, don’t fear the period series “The Great.” Rest assured: so is the show’s creator.

“I hate period things. Everything I wrote was contemporary,” says Tony McNamara, the Australian TV veteran and Oscar-nominated screenwriter of “The Favourite.” So of course his new Hulu show is set in 1740s Russia and is about Catherine (you know, … the Great). “I read about her and thought, ‘I really want to write about her. … What would it take for me to like it?’”

“The Great” is a splash of cold water to the face of the “Masterpiece Theater” crowd and straight-no-chaser to “The Lion in Winter” fans, who like their royals sniping and snarling, but impeccably written all the same. It’s shockingly direct, even abrupt, but all in service of a compelling narrative with a whole country at stake. Just don’t take it as, shall we say, biographically precise.

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June 17th, 2020  No Comments Interviews, Press, The Great, TV

If history was taught the way that The Great teaches history, we might be in better shape. The Hulu series doesn’t concern itself with telling a historically accurate biography of Catherine the Great, but it gives us a captivating heroine to root for in the performance by Elle Fanning. While Fanning has grown up almost literally before our eyes, her performance as the Russian empress is bold, sexy, and cunning.

At the very start of the series, Catherine has a romantic, sweeping idea of marriage. When she meets her husband, Peter (a dastardly Nicholas Hoult), those dreams are automatically dashed after she sees how he runs his court like a royal frat house. She quickly realizes that she is just there to produce an heir, but she hatches her own plot to overthrow her husband and rule a country that she feels a powerful tie to, despite not being born there. Catherine coddles, humors, and spars with Peter, and Fanning takes her from a delicate girl to a badass in a matter of episodes.

How Fanning hides her strength from Hoult is the best thing about the series. It makes you wonder if Catherine is surprised by her own moxie and manipulative mind. Catherine declares war on a man who takes her life and her body, and Fanning’s performance is a loud cry in taking back her power.

Awards Daily: This is the third series to come out about Catherine the Great in the last 8 or so years. Why do you think we are so fascinated with her?

Elle Fanning: It’s interesting, right?

AD: Yeah.

EF: Everybody wants to talk about her right now. I think it tells something about the world we are living in right now. I’m happy that there are all these different versions about her story. Obviously, our version has a very specific tone and not completely historically accurate. We want to create our own version of her, and that’s what Tony [McNamara] does so well. He merges in facts and what she did in a very specific way. I didn’t know much about Catherine the Great before I read the script. I had heard the horse rumor.

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June 16th, 2020  No Comments Candids, Gallery Updates

Yesterday (15) Elle and Dakota were seen leaving their cousin’s Presley Panaro’s birthday party in Studio City, you can check the images in the gallery:


June 16th, 2020  No Comments Gallery Updates, Photoshoots

New outtakes of Elle taken during the Berlim Film Festival are available for the new edition of FOCUS Magazine, this time taken by Alena Schmick.


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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