Jenna Ortega and Elle Fanning Share Tears and Laughs Over Bad Auditions, Being Child Stars and Social Media’s ‘Manipulative’ Dark Side
Elle Fanning, 25, and Jenna Ortega, 20, have learned a lot from their roles as Catherine the Great and Wednesday Addams (respectively). Hulu’s “The Great” and Netflix’s “Wednesday” have educated them about their craft as actors, but also about how producing can liberate them from toxic workplace dynamics. These former child stars let each other in on how they’re navigating adulthood and the pressures of social media, a topic that makes Ortega teary. ELLE FANNING: Are you a good auditioner? I’m terrible. I fainted once. I think I was 12. But I got Pinkberry and Burger King afterwards, so I was like, “This is great!” They make me so nervous. JENNA ORTEGA: I had really awful experiences with screaming and things like that. The first time I ever had to scream for an audition, it was a three-hour drive, so my mom was saying, “Hey, do you want to practice?” And I told her, “No, I got it.” I went in, did not have it. My voice cracked. She was so frustrated, because she was sacrificing so much for me to be out there. I felt awful. Have you been yelled at by a casting director? FANNING: No, I’ve never been yelled at. ORTEGA: I apologize too much. FANNING: So they yelled at you for saying you’re sorry? ORTEGA: Yeah, because I just kept cutting off my monologue by going, “Oh, I’m sorry. I’ve messed it up.” Did you go to public school? FANNING: I was homeschooled up until the fourth grade. And then, when I was about 9 years old, I was like, “Mom, I have no friends.” So I got to go to a private school in L.A. I did not go to college. ORTEGA: Neither did I. I really wanted to. FANNING: We gotta talk about “Wednesday.” You are absolute perfection. There is not a single word or physicality that’s out of place. I love the snap. ORTEGA: I thought it was cool they integrated that into the story. You’re so funny in your show. For me, comedic acting is a lot more difficult. FANNING: I agree. Sometimes I would read scripts in “The Great” like, “Oh, I want people to laugh at that moment. I hope they do.” But I’ve gotten a little more comfortable in the comedy world now that we’re on Season 3. I’m so curious about your physicality as Wednesday. It’s a little spidery. ORTEGA: Because I think that I look like a pug. I was like, “What could make me more intimidating? I should never move and I should stare at people really intensely, and maybe that will work.” FANNING: Talking about stillness, “The Neon Demon” was a film I did. There’s an opening shot and I’m playing dead and I have contacts, so … I’ve never lost a staring contest, ever, but it was 11 minutes or something and my eyes were open the entire time and the lights were so bright — and they melted my contacts all over my eye. They burned into my eye. ORTEGA: No way. I don’t even come close. The whole staring thing, it was just that you blink on other people’s lines. FANNING: I know you’re a producer next season. ORTEGA: This is my first time. It was a natural progression. With a character like Wednesday, who is so beloved, I didn’t want to get her wrong. So I tried to have as many conversations as possible with the writers. We’d decide what works and what doesn’t. In preparation for a second season, we wanted to make sure that we could start the conversations earlier. I’m just so curious: I want to see the outfits, new characters, scripts. It’s your first time producing a television series as well.