Having begun her career before her third birthday, actress Elle Fanning followed in the footsteps of older sister, Dakota Fanning, by becoming a notable performer who tackled challenging roles no matter her age. Though she did star in her share of family fare, Fanning appeared in more textured roles in adult-oriented movies, starting with a small role as her sister's younger self in "I Am Sam" (2001). After playing a hell-raising toddler in the broad family comedy "Daddy Day Care" (2003), she landed roles on a number of hard-hitting TV shows like "CSI: Miami" (CBS, 2002-2012) and "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (NBC, 1999- ), before graduating to critically acclaimed dramas like "Babel" (2005), "Reservation Road" (2007) and "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (2008). While a supporting player in those films, Fanning landed her share of leading roles in "Phoebe in Wonderland," (2008) and Sophia Coppola's "Somewhere" (2009), while earning considerable praise and awards buzz for "Ginger & Rosa" (2012). Having stepped out of her sister's shadow and established her own career, Fanning had in a short time become a fast-rising star with a bright future. Starring roles in films ranging from the fantasy "Maleficent" (2014) and the animated hit "The Boxtrolls" (2014) to period dramas "Trumbo" (2015), Mike Mills' coming-of-age indie "20th Century Women" (2016) and Ben Affleck's Prohibition-era crime drama "Live By Night" (2016) firmly established Fanning as an actress of wide-ranging skill.
Born on April 9, 1998, in Conyers, GA, Fanning was raised in a family of conspicuous athletic talents. Her father Steve Fanning was a minor league baseball player in the St. Louis Cardinals farm system and her mother Joy was the daughter of NFL quarterback Rick Arrington and a onetime college tennis player. In 1999, the Fannings moved to Los Angeles to enable the talents of Elle's five-year-old sister Dakota, who was just starting her acting career. Her grandmother Mary-Jane joined the family in the Studio City home as the girls' home-schooling teacher, while the inroads her parents made with Dakota soon worked for the younger Fanning. In fact, big sister's coattails provided Fanning with her own start when she was just three years old, playing a younger version of Dakota's character in the tearjerker "I Am Sam" (2001). After again playing a younger version of her sister in the sci-fi miniseries "Taken" (Sci-Fi Channel, 2002), she made her first film independent of her sister as one of the adorable moppets terrorizing a beleaguered Eddie Murphy in "Daddy Day Care" (2003).
After playing the young daughter of Jeff Bridges and Kim Basinger in "The Door in the Floor" (2004), Fanning gravitated to television where she landed episodes of popular shows like "Judging Amy" (CBS, 1999-2005), "CSI: Miami" (CBS, 2002-2012) and "CSI: NY" (CBS, 2004- ). Following a supporting turn as Sweetie Pie Thomas in Wayne Wang's "Because of Winn-Dixie" (2005), she had a pivotal role as the missing daughter of a Pittsburgh detective (Peter Krause) in the sci-fi miniseries "The Lost Room" (Syfy, 2006). Fanning followed up with episodes of "House" (Fox, 2004-2012), "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (NBC, 1999- ) and "Criminal Minds" (CBS, 2005- ). Like her sister, Fanning oscillated between age-appropriate roles and more adult-minded films with supporting turns in Tony Scott's action thriller "Déjà Vu" (2006) starring Denzel Washington, Alejandro González Iñárritu's complex "Babel" (2006) with Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, and John August's indie psychological thriller "The Nines" (2007) starring Ryan Reynolds and Hope Davis. She next co-starred in the psychological drama, "Reservation Road" (2007), where she was the daughter of a couple (Joaquin Phoenix and Jennifer Connolly) coping with the loss of their son.
After netting her first lead in the short film "Day 73 with Sarah" (2007), where she was a girl plotting with the ghost of her father to save herself and her mother from an abusive stepfather, Fanning had her first feature lead in "Phoebe in Wonderland," (2008), in which she portrayed a girl who finds escape through a drama class taught by an unconventional teacher (Patricia Clarkson). She next did a minor turn as a younger version of Cate Blanchett's character in "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (2008), which starred Brad Pitt as a man who mysteriously ages backward. While juggling school and her career, Fanning voiced Grace in the animated action movie "Astro Boy" (2009), and was a young girl whose dull Christmas is enlivened by a special toy soldier in "The Nutcracker in 3-D" (2010). In Sophia Coppola's well-received drama "Somewhere" (2010), Fanning was the long-lost daughter of a decadent movie star (Stephen Dorff) who begins to question his wild lifestyle while both working on mending their relationship. From there, she starred in Francis Ford Coppola's little-seen horror thriller "Twixt" (2011) and was a young girl who develops a crush on the older son of a widowed father (Matt Damon) struggling to overcome the loss of his wife in "We Bought a Zoo" (2011). Fanning earned serious critical praise for her turn as the titular Ginger in "Ginger & Rosa" (2012), which followed the lives and friendship of two teenage girls as they struggle to cope with the advent of change in the 1960s. Fanning followed this with another '60s period piece, the indie drama "Low Down" (2014), a fact-based story of a teenage girl watching her jazz musician father slide into addiction.
Fanning returned to mainstream filmmaking with her co-starring role in the big-budget fantasy "Maleficent" (2014) playing opposite Angelina Jolie's title character as the innocent Princess Aurora in this recasting of the story of Sleeping Beauty. The film was a major commercial success, and Fanning received positive notices for her role. Fanning followed that success with a voice role in the British-made animated hit "The Boxtrolls" (2014) and a key supporting role opposite Bryan Cranston in the Hollywood blacklist biopic "Trumbo" (2015). After starring in transgender-teen drama "About Ray" (2015) and Nicolas Winding Refn's psychological horror film "The Neon Demon" (2016), Fanning garnered strong notices for her roles in Mike Mills' coming-of-age comedy-drama "20th Century Women" (2016) and Ben Affleck's Prohibition-era crime thriller "Live By Night" (2016).
Cast (Feature Film)
Music (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Again played a younger version of her older sister Dakota in Sci-Fi Channel miniseries "Taken"
Made acting debut playing the younger version of real-life older sister Dakota Fanning in "I Am Sam"
Had first role independent of sister, "Daddy Day Care"
Played the young daughter of Jeff Bridges and Kim Basinger in "The Door in the Floor"
Cast as Sweetie Pie Thomas in family film "Because of Winn Dixie"
Appeared in Sci-Fi Channel miniseries "The Lost Room"
Cast as Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett's daughter in Oscar-winning film "Babel"
Played Emma Learner, the grieving daughter of Joaquin Phoenix and Jennifer Connelly, in "Reservation Road"
Portrayed the younger version of Cate Blanchett in "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"; also starred Brad Pitt
Played title role in "Phoebe in Wonderland"
Portrayed the daughter of a hard living film star in Sofia Coppola's "Somewhere"
Cast in Cameron Crowe directed family feature "We Bought a Zoo," starring Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson
Co-starred as Alice Dainard in Steven Spielberg produced "Super 8," written and directed by J. J. Abrams
Co-starred with Alice Englert and Annette Bening in 1960s drama "Ginger & Rosa"
Was cast as Aurora in Disney's live-action Sleeping Beauty twist "Maleficent"
Appeared in poorly received trans drama "3 Generations"
Appeared as Jesse in "The Neon Demon"
Appeared as Loretta Figgis in "Live by Night"
Co-starred in mystery drama "Sidney Hall"
Co-starred in Sofia Coppola's gothic thriller "The Beguiled"
Co-starred with Alex Sharp in romantic comedy "How to Talk to Girls at Parties"
Co-starring with Peter Dinklage and Charlotte Gainsbourg in sci-fi drama "I Think We're Alone Now"
Starred in Max Minghella's writing/directing debut, "Teen Spirit"