Elle Fanning was mid-scene shooting the second season of “The Great” in London when news broke that the Hulu comedy was nominated for three Golden Globes, and she said the cast and crew all plan to celebrate on the set of their Russian period piece by throwing back some vodka shots.
“Everyone obviously shouts, ‘Huzzah!’ because that’s what our show does,” Fanning said, referring to one of the catchphrases from the first season of creator Tony McNamara’s comedy. “I’m really so excited. I can’t stop smiling. This role, Catherine, is so special, and what Tony’s written and the gift that he’s given me in letting me play her.”
Fanning, who plays 18th-century Russian monarch Catherine the Great, received a nomination for lead actress in a comedy or musical series. Co-star Nicholas Hoult was also recognized, along with the series itself. She had high praise for her co-star. “Nick is just, the relationship we have on screen but also in real life, what he has done with this part and how we love to challenge each other, he is so so deserving,” she said. “We’re going to get vodka shots, and we’re hoping they’ll let us throw the real glass. I mean, they have to!”
Incredibly, this is Fanning’s first nomination in an already long acting career, but it comes on a project where she branched out both in a less drama-heavy role and as a producer on the series.
“Figuring out my authority as Elle on the show and being on those phone calls and in those meetings, and that is completely what Catherine is trying to do,” Fanning said. “In the beginning, she is slightly naive and romantic and then she’s in this backwards world and has to gain her power and find it. And sometimes that’s messy. We are a feminist show, but at the same time we’re not portraying a woman who is always perfect or a woman who walks into the room and has the right answer or is always the bravest. She is so resilient when she needs to be, but she can be weak and can break down and show that and ask people questions.”
“The Great” is Fanning’s first foray into not just TV but also comedy, and she said it was surreal to be among legendary actresses in her category. “To spin it on its head and be recognized for a series in comedy with these other comedic geniuses as fellow nominees, like what, Catherine O’Hara?!? This is ridiculous. It’s really a dream come true. It’s the best news,” she said.
Fanning is a couple of months into shooting the second season of “The Great,” with scripts already written through episode 6. And though McNamara was leaning over her shoulder to prevent her from revealing too many details, she explained that Catherine is getting into a much more “parental” role in the second season.
“It’s been fun to explore Catherine even further,” Fanning said. “She’s been taken more out of her comfort zone and into this parental, I think I would say. This season is very parental and learning to be a mother and mother to a country in that sense. There’s some themes there. But we have some wild things planned. It’s going to be cool.”
Fanning is also eagerly awaiting to do a project with her sister, a film at Sony called “The Nightingale” directed by Melanie Laurent. The project, the first in which she will co-star with sister Dakota, was supposed to film last winter but was delayed due to the pandemic.
“Hopefully, we can do that film, because, it’s something, my sister and I, we’ve never done a film together on screen, nothing. So it’s a dream for us that we’ve wanted to do, and with Melanie Laurent, I’ve worked with her before on a film,” Fanning said. “It’s very personal to her that story. We’re hoping that it comes together.”