It’s impossible not to be charmed by Elle Fanning. Both onscreen and over the phone, the actress radiates enthusiasm: from romping through the world of Miu Miu’s Twist Eau de Toilette fragrance campaign to raving about cinnamon rolls, she tackles it all with the same verve and sincerity. Over the course of her career, Fanning has flitted from studio pictures to awards-season tentpoles to art-house indie darlings, racking up such an impressive resume that it’s hard to believe she’s just 21. But when you think about it, that’s exactly what makes her such a great face for the Twist campaign—young yet preternaturally bright, she’s a seize-the-day type, a natural multitasker who pursues her many interests with the same earnestness and apparent ease. With Miu Miu’s upcoming launch of Twist Eau de Toilette, we spoke with Fanning recently about the experience of stepping back into her role as face of the fragrance, her upcoming Netflix film All The Bright Places, and the number-one food she can’t live without.
I just rewatched the original campaign for Miu Miu Twist. It’s so fun, and you get to play so many parts—you’re underwater! You’re on the moon! You’re in outer space! What was your favorite part of the original campaign to shoot?
Elle Fanning: "Oh, gosh, I absolutely loved, loved doing the campaign. I think the concept of it represents the Miu Miu girl so well, and there’s also a lot of humor in it and a lot of cheekiness—I learned a whole dance routine the night before! I love what the commercial represents: there’s not a man involved, it’s not a romantic commercial, it’s just about this funky, fun girl in this kind of meta situation that goes behind the scenes of a commercial while we’re filming a commercial. lt was just so fun to get to show my personality off in that way. I loved every minute of it."
How does the Eau de Toilette make you feel when you’re wearing it?
"This new perfume is very crisp and has a kind of very light, airy feel. A lot of fruity tones as well—it’s a very extroverted perfume, I would say, if that makes sense. It makes me feel happy while I’m wearing it, like I can kind of take on anything, and puts a kick in my step. When I wear perfume, it’s kind of the cherry on top of my beauty routine, so after I’m dressed, I put my perfume on, and it tells me that I’m all ready to go out the door for the day."
Can you take me through the rest of your beauty routine? Do you have any specific products you’re loving right now?
"I’m pretty simple when it comes to makeup and skincare. To take off my makeup, I actually just use grapeseed oil from the grocery store; it’s a tip I learned from a makeup artist on a movie set. And also to sleep with olive oil on your skin, weirdly enough—t’s very moisturizing! So I’ll do that at night, occasionally. I always have a L’Oreal TrueMatch crayon in the lightest light color and that’s just my concealer for everything, it’s just a nice texture for under-eyes and redness and blemishes and things. Honestly, I put that on in the morning, and I’ll do mascara and balm and I’m kind of ready to go. But at night, if I’m going out, I like to be experimental. It’s kind of fun to use like unconventional things like rhinestones or glitter to spice it up a little bit."
What’s cool about the Miu Miu Twist campaign is you’re embodying all these different roles, and that’s something you’re doing a lot in your career right now. What do you look for when you’re choosing a project?
"I think, for me, it’s very instinctual. I try to pick characters that are very different from the last character that I did, but it would have to be a gut reaction. I have to really follow my heart—it’s kind of been the way that I’ve done it, just right from the instincts. I do try to do as many different types of characters as possible, and people that are very different from myself. I want a challenge, you know? I feel like I have to be put under pressure and feel challenged to be able to accomplish something. I love feeling terrified, I guess, if that makes sense. I think that’s the most exciting feeling."
Do you have a dream role or project you’d like to do?
"There’s so many things! I’d love to work with my sister; that’s something that we’ve always wanted to do. And, god, a dream person to play would be like Stevie Nicks."
Are there any movies or TV shows that you’re like, gosh, I wish I’d gotten to be a part of that?
"Yeah, of course! I would love to have been, like, an extra in Fleabag. Like I would have just been anyone in that show to be a part of it. I’m watching The Good Place, which I love. It’s so funny and smart and just so witty."
I love The Good Place! Would you be one of the Janet babies in the background of the neighborhood?
"Perfect! That’s fantastic, I’ll do that!"
I know you’ve got All The Bright Places coming up on Netflix, which is about two teenagers struggling with depression. What drew you to the project?
"I actually read the book when I was like 16, so this project has been something that has been in my life for a very long time now. I met with Jennifer Niven who wrote the book, and it’s a true story for her, it’s a personal story for her, and I wanted to find the right home for it. It’s the first thing I’ve ever produced, and it’s a story that’s extremely close to my heart, because I went to a regular high school, and it’s hard to be a young person today. This story is something that I think is extremely important to tell—to shine a light on mental health. We have to get it out into the world for people to talk about it: if you see someone going through this, go to a professional for help or reach out to them. Don’t let it get hidden under the radar."
What are the things you do to take care of yourself and your mental health?
"In the age of social media and dealing with having an Instagram and comparing yourself to people—I definitely fall victim to that 100%. So, for me, I kind of have to take a break from that. When I’m working, I don’t bring my phone with me at all, so that kind of gives me a detox from it. And I take a bath every night, which really calms me. I’ve done that my whole life. My sister and I, we’ve always loved our tubs! And making sure just to take a moment for yourself to relax, to clear your mind—that’s something I always try to do, ‘cause there’s a lot of things going on in there."
What is your number one guilty pleasure?
"I love going to dinner. That’s like my indulgence: any good meal. My sister’s would probably be reality TV. I don’t watch reality TV that much, weirdly enough. And chocolate is not my thing either. I’m like, more of a bread person. I love bread. I’m like a pizza, pasta, cheesy person—like, bread, cheese, that’s me. Cinnamon rolls. I love cinnamon rolls. That might be my guilty pleasure!"