Movies + TV

The Enchanting Charm of Elle Fanning

Taking a break from this month’s teen witches to bring you some unabashed enthusiasm.

Collage by Minna

When Stephanie wrote about ways to improve a bad day last month, she forgot to include maybe the best instant-happiness supplier of all: Elle Fanning.

She was sweet and secretly wise in Somewhere, and a badass in Super 8, but my (probably universally shared) girl crush on Elle is also for her her-ness. She has personality and style, and, I don’t know, maybe a slight golden glow appears around her face when she smiles! Do not, however, mistake this special quality of hers for the same surface appeal of various young and famous ladies labeled “It girls.” She’s talented, remember? And smart. So smart that I was tempted to ask about her process and career but she’s such a goddamn fairy that I just wanted to know what kindsa things are in her world instead. Her enthusiasm for art and film and fun turned out to be infectious. I became this weird, giggly, nice person talking to her, and I think my voice even ranged more than two octaves! It was amazing! My apologies to your puberty if this interview undoes any of your own voice-deepening.

TAVI: So, I know that you really like The Virgin Suicides. Can we just freak out over how good it is for a sec?

ELLE: Oh my god, it’s so good! It’s my favorite movie.

What do you like about it?

I think just the girls in it, and their moodiness. It’s so cool. And the style of it, the way [Sofia Coppola] filmed it. I take a lot of style inspiration from that movie, and from how the girls in it dress. I have blonde hair like they do, so I sort of feel like I can pull it off. I try to, at least! [Laughs]

You totally pull it off!

Aw, thanks!

One of my favorite things about that movie is their teenage bedroom and all the little details. Do you have any little keepsakes or favorite parts of your room like that?

Every year I get a new Barbie calendar and there are all these old Barbie dolls on the calendar, and I’m very obsessed with schedules and everything, so I love writing in different things that I have each day on it. So that’s one of my favorite things in my room. I also am obsessed with Marilyn Monroe, and I went to an auction and got her face cream and powder. Her actual one!

Oh my god!

I know! Crazy! So I have that in my room. It’s literally the best thing ever. The lotion on it is sort of glued shut but the powder, some of it’s still in there.

That’s insane! You need a Marilyn Monroe Barbie, though—do you have one?

I do, I do. I have the “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” one, and I have the Seven Year Itch one, with the white dress.

What are some other things that influence your style?

I’ve recently gotten really inspired by the ’60s. I don’t know if you know her, but Sylvie Vartan is a French singer from the ’60s and she has platinum blonde hair and she wears her hair in pigtails sometimes. She’s super cute and I just discovered some of her music. It’s in French so I don’t really know what she’s saying, but it’s still pretty cool! [Laughs] And I like the way she dresses. If you look her up online you’ll see some of her pictures. She’s cute.

Do you take a language at school?

Yeah! I take French at school but I’m only in French B, it’s like 2nd year. It’s OK. I wanna learn it. I’m trying really hard! It’s such a pretty language. So girly. I can understand people better than I can speak it. I feel sometimes embarrassed to say it to people ’cause you feel like you’re totally screwing up the language and you sound awful.

What other subjects do you like?

Since I do a lot of artsy stuff outside of school—ballet and singing and stuff like that—when I’m in school I like to be super studious. I like science. That’s my favorite subject.

How’s 8th grade going so far?

It’s going good. Do you have a school uniform?

No, I don’t. Do you?

We do.

Like you’re living The Virgin Suicides.

I know! Isn’t it crazy? [Laughs] We have the plaid skirts and things like that. We have to have a white collared shirt, and then in junior high and high school it’s khaki bottoms—so skirt, shorts, or pants—and then plaid if you want.

Some of our readers have been looking for ways to make their school uniforms more fun. Do you add anything, accessories when you can?

I do. I try to add belts to the high-waisted pants. I actually got these really cool ’80s khaki pants—I think they’re men’s, so they’re super big, but they look cool when you pull them up really high with a belt. Last year all the girls got in trouble for their short skirts, and it’s sort of happening again, so I’m trying to do the opposite and I’ve decided that the longer plaid skirts look sort of cuter in a weird way. If you wear them a tad longer it makes them look, like, super school-uniform. So I like it.

I read that you’re from Georgia. Do you guys visit there a lot?

Yeah, we try to. My dad’s the youngest of eight kids, so I have 14 cousins in Georgia. So we try to go back whenever we can.

What’s your favorite place to visit?

I like New York. I used to only go there for work and stuff, and so now that my sister has moved there, ’cause she’s going to NYU, I feel like I can go there just for fun, just to visit her, you know? So that will be better. But I like the feeling you get there.

Do you have any pets?

I have a dog and a horse and a fish. My fish has actually been alive for about four years. And that’s pretty good!

Yeah! They’re supposed to die after like a week!

I know! And it’s like a generic goldfish, too. But it’s a weird color. It’s see-through, so you can see its veins and stuff. It’s so weird. It’s like fluorescent.

It’s probably like the spirit of Marilyn Monroe keeping it alive.


Thank you so much for doing this. Good to talk to you!

Good to talk to you, too! ♦


  • Marguerite October 13th, 2011 3:18 PM

    Awww I didn’t know she was in 8th grade too! That makes my day…

  • Pixiedust October 13th, 2011 3:35 PM

    I ABSOLUTELY ADORE HER…. She is so perfect, right? Huge girl crush.

  • koolkat October 13th, 2011 3:35 PM

    omg this is literally the most amazing thing <3

  • spacemadness October 13th, 2011 3:49 PM

    OH.MY.GOD. elle fanning is like my secret obsession!!!!!! i defintitly have a MEGA girl-crush on her!!!! i adore her acting and sense of style and she has the cutest personality!!!!!!!! thanks for the interview!!!!! :)))

  • indigosunday October 13th, 2011 4:00 PM

    I’ve loved Elle Fanning for a long time. Especially since she’s exactly my age. cool interview

  • Bren October 13th, 2011 4:07 PM

    She’s precious. You can see why she’s such a muse.

  • butterlondon October 13th, 2011 4:08 PM

    Elle Fanning is just my inspiration! It sort of breaks my heart that I am 8th grade as well and I am not successful in anything though haha

  • danzelbanzel October 13th, 2011 4:26 PM

    ELLE FANNING IS MY IDOL! I know some people she knows and i really badly want to meet her. i am in 7th grade and i want to be just like her. she is beautiful

  • flowerpunk October 13th, 2011 4:47 PM

    She is the cutest little thing ever!

  • Mustachefan October 13th, 2011 4:49 PM

    I adore Elle Fanning

  • Anna F. October 13th, 2011 4:54 PM

    But does she drink her milk with ice?

    • Tavi October 13th, 2011 4:58 PM

      THAT’S the question i should’ve asked.

      milk with ice milk with ice milk with ice milk with ice

  • Ginny October 13th, 2011 4:57 PM

    LITERALLY THE BEST THING EVER: this interview.

    Rookie + Elle Fanning = my soul explodes

    • Tavi October 13th, 2011 5:22 PM

      could you imagine if we started doing Literally the Best Thing Evers on our own posts? thinking about that actually makes me giggle! sometimes i just want to find tina fey’s email and be like, “Hey, TEEN-a! Your ‘Literally the Best Thing Ever:’ article was due last week. Do you think we can have it in soonish? Thanks! xoxo”

  • celestica October 13th, 2011 5:00 PM

    i’m the same age as her and not nearly as cool :(

    • Anna F. October 13th, 2011 9:40 PM

      I’m willing to bet that you are cooler than you give yourself credit!

  • WitchesRave October 13th, 2011 5:30 PM

    She sounds soo sweet and glowy and down-to-earth!
    I can’t wait to see how she develops as an actress when she’s older, if she chooses to continue with it!

    p.s. That yellow bag in somewhere is just, UGH!

    I NEED IT.

  • erin October 13th, 2011 5:42 PM

    Oh, I love elle fanning! I saw her in super 8, and she’s just such a good actress and sooo pretty. I was shocked when I found out she was so young, because she kind of looks older. It’s kind of weird that I admire someone who’s my little sister’s age haha. But she’s so great!

  • Pinkwitchcraft October 13th, 2011 5:59 PM

    I almost stared crying when she said that her favorite movie was The Virgin Suicides, Elle why are you not my best friend????!!! We could wear are school uniforms together and pretend that we live in the 70s!!!!!

  • do-reen October 13th, 2011 6:43 PM

    Aww, how badly I’d wish her to be my BFF! She’s tremendously awesome, and so are you Tavi! No words how much I appreciate such mature and broad-minded teenagers who you can talk with about truly lovely things, the ones you can ask to go with you to some really nice places like a corner cafe or a museum or so. You know? Almost everyone about my age care only about getting high and going on parties and smoking as hell and everything. So It’d be so awesome if there would be much more like Elle and you.

    Hahaha, cool to know she’s originally from Georgia! I didn’t know that! I remember that at the first time I saw a picture of her, I thought to myself, “she MUST be Russian” and then I felt such a flop when I’ve discovered out she’s actually American. Anyway, I was pretty much close, didn’t I? Yay.

  • Thepunkrocker October 13th, 2011 6:50 PM

    You are so lucky you got to meet her! And I read you got to meet Hailee Steinfeild! Why can’t I just meet all of the wonderful girls in this world. it makes me sad.

  • Grey October 13th, 2011 6:55 PM

    OMG!!!Im seriously crushing on elle fanning!!!! I have to wear uniforms in my school and ALL the girls wear rulled up at the hips skirts that are REALLY high. I wear mine low because I mean who really cares? and I just love that she does to!

  • Suzette October 13th, 2011 6:57 PM

    She is the cutest. Tavi, I think you guys are soulmates. Make it work.

  • Chimdi October 13th, 2011 7:20 PM

    butterlondon- I agree with you!!!

  • Hunter October 13th, 2011 7:25 PM

    ~*yung hollywood *~ today melts my soul <3

  • Naomi Morris October 13th, 2011 8:02 PM

    she sounds so so lovely. i want to be her friend!

  • October 13th, 2011 9:20 PM

    That was great to read – a lot of fun :-) I’ve been a fan of Dakota’s for a long time, but now I’m keen to find out more about Elle. There’s nothing better than talented people who are also very friendly and down to earth.

  • MichyMich October 13th, 2011 9:42 PM

    I like how Elle Fanning is so humble and unpretentious unlike most young Hollywood actors. This interview makes me wanna meet her SO BADLY. I’ve seen her in “Somewhere” and “Super 8″, which REALLY remind me of a young/junior version of Kirsten Dunst.

    Man…The fact that she is not like a cookie-cutter middle schooler by still liking her Barbies makes me wanna adore her even more. I wish that I never grew out of my Barbie and Bratz dolls.

    Elle Fanning would be my ideal BFF.

  • Sonja October 13th, 2011 10:26 PM

    I adore Elle Fanning. Nerd alert: If you want to see the world’s most darling child, watch her in “the door in the floor’. Her clothes are extremely good in it. I bet she dressed herself. (the movie’s worth it just for her..and bijoux phillips has a part as her babysitter). Um..i watch alot of movies while i’m sewing.

    • Anaheed October 13th, 2011 10:42 PM

      Fellow-nerd alert: I totally saw TDITF. She was way good (and way cute) in that. I adore her, too.

  • Demmy October 14th, 2011 11:02 AM

    I so love Elle Fanning!

  • Sophii October 14th, 2011 11:46 AM

    Totally agree about the school skirt thing! I wear school uniform and everyone wears there skirts short but this year we’ve got pleated ones and I wear mine long. Midi skirts are in so why not?!

  • Laia October 14th, 2011 12:22 PM

    I LOVE this. Also, I totally had a school uniform at school too and while all the other girls were rolling their waistbands to make their skirts shorter, my friends and I wore them super long. SO long in fact that one of them got in trouble for having a too long skirt!

  • Besu October 14th, 2011 4:25 PM

    I first started obsessing over Elle Fanning when she was photographed with fishtail plaits in her hair love it.

  • Julie October 14th, 2011 10:09 PM

    Elle Fanning is the loveliest. I could imagine her sweet voice and cute laugh when reading this.

  • slytherinswift October 16th, 2011 2:23 PM

    I always think she’s really English…

  • insteadofanelephant October 16th, 2011 6:44 PM

    wow cool! my gold fish just bit the dust. sad. she seems very down-to-earth!

    instead of an elephant

  • natasha October 16th, 2011 7:14 PM

    Mhhhhh, I don’t watch movies really, so, um, confession coming on: I don’t know her.
    But she seems really nice :D

  • Slaughtered Lamb October 18th, 2011 1:40 PM

    I think the Fanning sisters are going to be the next Olsen sisters, i bet that this girls have a closet that any girl will KILL for.

  • littlediamonds November 3rd, 2013 7:15 PM

    Elle is adorable! I’ve been obsessed with her lately. I just love that she seems so mature – i mean, i always forget that she’s so young. And she’s such a talented actress, too. Can’t wait for her to be in more films. And it would be so cool if she worked with Sofia again!