Mary Elle Fanning (born April 9, 1998) is an American actress and model.

Elle Fanning
Elle Fanning 2019 by Glenn Francis.jpg
Fanning in 2019
Mary Elle Fanning

(1998-04-09) April 9, 1998 (age 21)
ResidenceLos Angeles, California, U.S.
EducationCampbell Hall School
  • Actress
  • model
  • singer
Years active2001–present
RelativesDakota Fanning (sister)

As the younger sister of actress Dakota Fanning, she made her film debut as the younger version of her sister's character in the drama film I Am Sam (2001). As a child actress, she appeared in a string of films including Because of Winn-Dixie (2005), Babel (2006), Phoebe in Wonderland (2008), and Somewhere (2010).

Fanning's breakthrough came in 2011 with her starring role in J. J. Abrams' science-fiction film Super 8, for which her performance was praised by critics and earned her a Spotlight Award at the Hollywood Film Festival.[1] In the wake of this success, she had leading roles in the films We Bought a Zoo (2011) and Ginger & Rosa (2012). She portrayed Princess Aurora in Maleficent (2014) and Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (2019).

In recent years, she has made a transition into independent cinema with lead and supporting roles in films such as 3 Generations (2015), The Neon Demon (2016), 20th Century Women (2016), Mary Shelley (2017), The Beguiled (2017), I Think We're Alone Now (2018), Galveston (2018), and Teen Spirit (2018).

Early lifeEdit

Fanning was born on April 9, 1998, in Conyers, Georgia, to Heather Joy (née Arrington), who played tennis professionally, and Steven J. Fanning, who played minor league baseball for teams affiliated with the St. Louis Cardinals and now works as an electronics salesman in Los Angeles.[2]

Her maternal grandfather is American football player Rick Arrington, and her aunt is ESPN reporter Jill Arrington.[3] Amongst the Arrington family's distant ancestors is the medieval monarch Edward III of England.[4] Fanning is the younger sister of Hannah Dakota Fanning, who is also an actress and model.[5][6] She has been quoted as saying, "We're just normal sisters. We both go to school and we just play together."[7]


2001–2013: Work as a child actress and breakthroughEdit

Fanning started acting before turning three years old.[8] She began her acting career by playing the younger version of her older sister Dakota's characters in the miniseries Taken and the movie I Am Sam.[9] In 2002, at the age of four, Fanning won her first role independent of her sister in the comedy Daddy Day Care. Anecdotal evidence of her emerging skill was seen in the decision to cast her in the role of Ruth in The Door in the Floor (2004) opposite Jeff Bridges and Kim Basinger. The film's producers originally planned to hire identical twins for the intense shooting schedule, but were so impressed with Fanning that they used only her.[10] Late in 2003, Fanning appeared in Because of Winn-Dixie in the small role of Sweetie Pie Thomas. In 2004, she did voice work in the English-dubbed version of Miyazaki's animated film My Neighbor Totoro, in the role of Mei, opposite Dakota, who voiced Satsuki, the older sister to Elle's character. Later that same year, she filmed I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With. In early 2005, Fanning filmed scenes in Charlotte's Web as the "future granddaughter" of Fern Arable played by Dakota.[11] However, the scenes did not make the final cut. In mid-2005, she played Debbie, the daughter of Richard and Susan Jones (played by Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett) in the film Babel. In early 2006, Fanning filmed scenes in both The Nines and Déjà Vu. In mid-2006, she filmed The Lost Room, a science-fiction TV miniseries. Also in 2006, she appeared on the episode "Need to Know" of House: MD, playing the patient's daughter. She appeared in an episode of Criminal Minds in 2006, playing the supporting role of Tracey in "The Boogeyman".

By the end of 2006, Fanning began to book lead roles.[12] The first of these was the one of Emma Learner in Reservation Road—the grieving daughter of Grace and Ethan Learner. The film deals with the aftermath of a tragic car accident in which Emma's brother is killed.[13] In early 2007, Fanning reunited with her Babel co-stars, Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, in a small part in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button as the younger version of Blanchett's character. Mid-year 2007, Fanning filmed the title role Phoebe of Phoebe in Wonderland, which also starred Felicity Huffman and was released in March 2009. From July through October 2007, Fanning appeared in The Nutcracker in 3D, playing Mary. The movie was filmed in Budapest, Hungary and was released in late 2010. In March 2008, Fanning and her sister Dakota were scheduled to star in My Sister's Keeper, but the opportunity fell through when Dakota learned she would have to shave her head. The sisters were immediately replaced by Abigail Breslin and Sofia Vassilieva.[14]

Variety reported in April 2009 that Fanning would be starring in Academy Award-winning screenwriter Sofia Coppola's 2010 film, Somewhere. The plot centers around a "bad-boy" actor who is forced to re-evaluate his life when his daughter, played by Fanning, arrives unexpectedly.[15] The film was released during the 2010 awards season. At its first film festival, the 67th Venice Film Festival, it took the Golden Lion.[16] In late 2010, Fanning began working on Francis Ford Coppola's 2011 film Twixt, which Coppola based on a dream.[17] She played the role of a young ghost named "V". In 2011, Fanning starred in J. J. Abrams' science-fiction drama film Super 8 as Alice Dainard. The film was released on June 10, 2011, and centers around a group of kids who are forced to deal with strange happenings in their small town.[18] The Telegraph cited Fanning as one of the film's best aspects.[19]

In December 2011, Fanning appeared in Cameron Crowe's We Bought a Zoo.[20] She played Lily, a 13-year-old who is working at the zoo's restaurant and lives on the property with her only parental figure, Kelly (Scarlett Johansson). In September 2012, Fanning starred as Ginger along with Alice Englert, who played Rosa in the drama film Ginger & Rosa that took place during 1962 in London. The film was directed by Sally Potter and was released on October 19, 2012.[21] Fanning has received widespread acclaim for her performance, with A. O. Scott of The New York Times writing that she "shows a nearly Streepian mixture of poise, intensity, and technical precision. It is frightening how good she is and hard to imagine anything she could not do."[22] Ty Burr, film critic for The Boston Globe, praised her "luminous naturalism that seems the opposite of performance" and felt that "Fanning easily convinces you of Ginger's emotional reality."[23]

Fanning at the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con

2014–present: international recognitionEdit

Fanning starred alongside Angelina Jolie in the 2014 Walt Disney film, Maleficent, directed by Robert Stromberg. Jolie played Maleficent, while Fanning played Princess Aurora, the Sleeping Beauty.[24] The same year, she appeared in the independent science-fiction Western Young Ones and starred in the biographical Low Down, about the life of jazz pianist Joe Albany, in which she plays the role of Albany's daughter, Amy-Jo, from whose perspective the story is told.

In 2015, Fanning co-starred in Jay Roach's Trumbo as Dalton Trumbo's (Bryan Cranston) daughter Nikola, and starred in 3 Generations (previously known as About Ray), alongside Naomi Watts and Susan Sarandon, playing the role of a young transgender man.

In 2016, she appeared as Jesse in the psychological thriller The Neon Demon, directed by Nicolas Winding Refn.[25] The film had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2016.[26] It was released on June 24, 2016, and did poorly at the box office.[27][28] That same year, she appeared in Mike Mills's 20th Century Women, opposite Greta Gerwig and Annette Bening.[29] The film had its world premiere at the New York Film Festival on October 8, 2016,[30] and began a limited release on December 28, 2016.[31] She then co-starred in Ben Affleck's Prohibition-era drama Live by Night,[32][33][34] which was released on December 25, 2016.[35]

In 2017, Fanning appeared in Shawn Christensen's feature-length drama, The Vanishing of Sidney Hall,[36] which premiered on January 25 at the Sundance Film Festival.[37] In the same year, Fanning also appeared in John Cameron Mitchell's British-American science-fiction romantic comedy film How to Talk to Girls at Parties (based on a short story by Neil Gaiman), reuniting with Sofia Coppola in The Beguiled, in the Irish-American romance film Mary Shelley, directed by Haifaa al-Mansour, and in the music video for Grouplove's single "Good Morning".[38]

In 2018, Fanning starred alongside Peter Dinklage in I Think We're Alone Now, directed by Reed Morano. It had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 21, 2018.[39] and is scheduled to be released on September 14, 2018, by Momentum Pictures.[40] She also starred in Galveston opposite Ben Foster, directed by Mélanie Laurent, which had its world premiere at South by Southwest on March 10, 2018.[41] That same year, Fanning starred in Teen Spirit, directed by Max Minghella, which had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2018.[42] It was released on April 5, 2019.[43]

In May 2019, Fanning was appointed as a jury member of the international competition in the 72nd annual Cannes Film Festival, becoming the youngest Cannes juror in history.[44] That same year, Fanning starred in Woody Allen's A Rainy Day in New York.[45] In October 2019, Fanning reprised the role of Princess Aurora in Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.[46][47]

Upcoming projectsEdit

Fanning also has two more films in postproduction; All the Bright Places, opposite Justice Smith, directed by Brett Haley, based upon the novel of the same name by Jennifer Niven,[48] and Molly, directed by Sally Potter, opposite Javier Bardem and Salma Hayek.[49]



Year Title Role Notes
2001 I Am Sam Young Lucy Dawson
2003 Daddy Day Care Jamie
2004 The Door in the Floor Ruth Cole
Husky Edna
2005 My Neighbor Totoro Mei Kusakabe (voice) English dub
P.N.O.K.[50] Rebecca Bullard Short film
Because of Winn-Dixie Sweetie Pie Thomas
2006 Déjà Vu Abbey
The Lost Room Anna Miller
Babel Debbie Jones
I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With Penelope
Husky 2: Together Again Edna
2007 The Nines Noelle
Reservation Road Emma Learner
Day 73 with Sarah[51] Sarah Short film
2008 The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Daisy Fuller (Age 7)
Phoebe in Wonderland Phoebe Lichten
2009 Astro Boy Grace (voice)
2010 The Nutcracker in 3D Mary
Somewhere Cleo
2011 Super 8 Alice Dainard
The Curve of Forgotten Things[52] Girl Short film
Twixt V
We Bought a Zoo Lily Miska
2012 Ginger & Rosa[21] Ginger
Leaning Toward Solace[53] Sara Short film
2014 Young Ones Mary Holms
Low Down Amy-Jo Albany
Maleficent[24] Aurora
The Boxtrolls Winnie (voice)
2015 Trumbo Nikola Trumbo
3 Generations Ray
2016 The Neon Demon Jesse
20th Century Women Julie Hamlin
Ballerina[a] Félicie Lavois (voice)
Live by Night Loretta Figgis
2017 The Vanishing of Sidney Hall Melody Jameson
How to Talk to Girls at Parties Zan
The Beguiled Alicia
Mary Shelley Mary Shelley
2018 I Think We're Alone Now Grace
Galveston Raquel Arceneaux
Teen Spirit Violet
2019 A Rainy Day in New York Ashleigh Enright
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil Aurora
2020 Molly Molly Post-production
All the Bright Places Violet Markey Post-production


Year Title Role Notes
2002 Taken Allie Keys – Age 3 Episode: "Charlie and Lisa"
2003 Judging Amy Rochelle Cobbs Episode: "Maxine Interrupted"
CSI: Miami Molly Walker Episode: "Death Grip"
2004 CSI: NY Jenny Como Episode: "Officer Blue"
2006 House M.D. Stella Dalton Episode: "Need to Know"
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Eden Episode: "Cage"
The Lost Room Anna Miller 3 episodes
2006–2007 Criminal Minds Tracy Belle 2 episodes
2007 Dirty Sexy Money Kiki George Episode: "Pilot"
2008 City Seventeen Samantha Page 2 episodes
2014 HitRecord on TV Daughter Episode: "RE: The Number One”
2020 The Great Catherine the Great Main role[55]

Awards and nominationsEdit

Year Association Category Title Result
2004 Young Artist Award Best Young Ensemble in a Feature Film Daddy Day Care Nominated
2007 Young Artist Award Best Performance in a TV Movie, Miniseries or Special (Comedy or Drama): Supporting Young Actress The Lost Room Nominated
Best Performance in a Feature Film: Young Actress Age Ten or Younger Babel Nominated
2011 Broadcast Film Critics Association Award Best Young Actor/Actress Somewhere Nominated
Young Hollywood Award Actress of the Year Award Won
International Cinephile Society Awards[56] Best Supporting Actress Runner-up
Young Artist Award[57] Best Performance in a Feature Film - Leading Young Actress The Nutcracker in 3D Nominated
Hollywood Film Festival Spotlight Award Super 8 Won
Satellite Award Best Actress in a Supporting Role Nominated
Scream Award Breakout Performance: Female Nominated
Teen Choice Award Choice Movie Actress: Sci-Fi/Fantasy Nominated
Choice Movie Chemistry Nominated
Phoenix Film Critics Society Best Ensemble Acting Won
Breakthrough Performance on Camera Nominated
Best Performance by a Youth in a Lead or Supporting Role: Female Nominated
2012 Broadcast Film Critics Association Award Best Young Actress Nominated
Young Artist Award[58] Best Performance in a Feature Film - Leading Young Actress Nominated
Best Performance in a Feature Film — Young Ensemble Cast Nominated
MTV Movie Award Best Breakthrough Performance Nominated
British Independent Film Award[59] Best Performance by an Actress in a British Independent Film Ginger & Rosa Nominated
2013 Broadcast Film Critics Association Award Best Young Actress Nominated
2014 Teen Choice Award[60] Choice Movie Actress: Action Maleficent Nominated
2015 Saturn Award[61] Best Performance by a Younger Actor Nominated
Kids' Choice Award[62] Favorite Movie Actress Nominated
2016 Critics' Choice Movie Award Best Acting Ensemble Trumbo Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture Nominated
Critics' Choice Movie Award Best Acting Ensemble 20th Century Women Nominated


  1. ^ The film was released in the United States under the title Leap.[54]


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External linksEdit