Elle Fanning on sensuous scenes, corsets, and rusted nails in the series «The Great»

The satirical series "The Great" is a liberally interpreted retelling of the biography of Russian Empress Catherine II. The project, released on Hulu, has stirred considerable debate. What is the perspective of the main role's performer, American starlet Elle Fanning?

The Genius of Extraordinariness

When the creator of the series, Tony McNamara, proposed Elle to review the script, she was greatly flattered: the producer had just finished working on the film "The Favourite", which gathered a plethora of cinema awards. "He had me in mind. I was incredibly fortunate! Tony is simply the best in all regards: the finest gentleman, the supreme writer, a genius of extraordinariness," the actress reminisces.
Elle Fanning
Elle Fanning
The role of Catherine was significantly divergent from all those Fanning had previously portrayed. For instance, the American was asked to speak with a British accent, even though the empress was technically German.
I've done this before. But the series has a very specific script and narrative rhythm. It's also a comedy, a genre I haven't ventured into extensively.
With each week of shooting, it became increasingly easier for the actress, who was "feeling Catherine more and more". Like her character, Fanning was learning to express her opinion before her colleagues and harness her strength. "She's a bit arrogant and egocentric, which I find quite endearing. And she offers no apologies for it," explains Elle.

Elaborate Costumes

A standing ovation is warranted for the series' set designers and costume artists. Catherine's golden coronation dress was in the making for several months. It was imperative to reinterpret the Russian sarafan and give it a contemporary yet time-honored look. Artist Sharon Long sought inspiration in the "palatial" fashion shows of the 90s by designer Christian Lacroix and the Dolce & Gabbana brand.
Elle Fanning in The Great
Elle Fanning in The Great
When it was necessary to underscore the empress's unique position, ethereal outfits made of delicate silk, with corsets featuring side lacing, came into play. Interestingly, wearing a corset wasn't as challenging for Fanning, but the actress still felt "slightly constricted". She recalls with a smile that she was envious of Nicholas Hoult (who played her husband, Peter III), who was attired primarily in "pajamas and robes".
Elle Fanning with a false belly
Elle Fanning with a false belly
The silicone overlay, which depicted a growing belly, was heavy and realistic. According to Elle, it "perfectly matched her body and even aligned with all her beauty marks", which somewhat unnerved the actress.
Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult in The Great (season 3)
In the storyline, the pregnant Catherine craves strange foods. The rusted nail was made of chocolate, but it looked so implausible that Fanning demanded a real one. The rose petals were initially made of marzipan, but eventually, the actress had to eat real flowers. As for the street dirt, which the empress greedily consumes, it was artificial - akin to crumbled pastry.

Absurd Eroticism

The series is replete with erotic scenes, largely of an absurd nature. An "intimacy coordinator" was always present on set, ensuring everyone's comfort.

Fortunately, Elle and Nicholas had been acquainted for some time, which helped them relax in the frame. Moreover, the colleagues had a lot of fun together. The viewer doesn't see it, but in one episode, Fanning can't suppress her laughter and buries her face in a pillow, while their bodies are filmed in close-up. The actress recalls:
We endeavored to amuse each other, to make the scene as compelling as possible. Sort of, «Let's grunt!». When we heard «Cut», we immediately burst into laughter.
For details about what's happening on Elle's personal front, refer to her biography on zoomboola.com.