Elle Fanning opens up about growing up as a child star, dealing with body image and shares her thoughts about social media. She also speaks about the thriller ‘The Neon Demon’ which sees her cast as a beautiful model whose Hollywood dream takes an unfathomable detour.

Elle Fanning

Photo: Elle Fanning
Credit: PR Photos

She’s just 18 years old, and it was not long ago that she was portraying a child in the Disney fantasy movie ‘Maleficent’ opposite Angelina Jolie as the evil title character. That movie famously was a twist on the Sleeping Beauty fairy tail. In quite a similar way, ‘The Neon Demon’ — from ‘Drive’ director Nicolas Winding Refn — takes the familiar story of young women arrives in Hollywood to seek out her dream career as a model.

And while we may say metaphorically that Tinsel Town chews you up and spits you out, in this thriller, that becomes literal. Yes, would-be moviegoers should be forewarned it’s a graphic flick. It may be getting high marks from critics, but it’s not for the fainthearted.

And needless to say it’s also quite a departure from those sugary roles that Elle Fanning took on. She tells Harper’s Bazaar, “I think the movie can be a cautionary tale.” She goes on to say, “I think it has a lot to do with the people you surround yourself with.”

She also opened up about what drew her to the character and told the magazine, ” I love that she’s not a victim, at first, but you think she is. She’s very strong. You love her and then you kind of hate her. The movie takes a turn for sure and I think what drew me was the challenge of the transformation she went through because I’ve never gone this dark before and that was very enticing.”

She also dished on that familiar topic, of what it’s been like growing up in the public eye. She spoke of the “pressures of growing up and your body changing” and called the added pressure of paparazzi photos a “magnifying glass.” She went on to say, “Everyone feels insecure. I would be lying if I was like, “I was never insecure!”

Continuing, she said, “I grew seven inches in a year when I was 12. I definitely had very awkward phases. I wore glasses-I love wearing them now-but I would hide.”

Thankfully she has made it through those awkward years and she’s been able to make that sometimes perilous transition from child star to teen star and now, taking on this mature role in what is, without doubt, a controversial movie.

She attributed it to having “a very grounded family” noting that she still lives with her parents and her grandmother.

In an interview with Refinery 29, she spoke about social media, saying, “I had a private Instagram for a while with just my friends and now public it’s like ‘woah!’ It was the first thing I’ve done that is out there to the world.”

She revealed that she exercises some caution, saying, “You don’t have to share things that you don’t want to!”

Clearly it’s working for her. She hasn’t sparked any controversy one the one hand or, on the other hand, found herself subject to the shaming that’s so pervasive on social media.

Yes, it’s Elle Fanning as we’ve never seen her before. This could be the breakout role that forges the next phase of her career. You can see her in action in The Neon Demon trailer below.