Right here! Right now!
“The process hasn’t changed at all,” she insists. ” I have people around me who care about me and who’ll give their advice, but at the end of the day its up to me to choose. I’ve always been aware of what I’m doing. I’ve always read my own scripts. Right from the beginning.” But can she even remember the beginning? “Totally. Totally. I remember almost everything about every film I’ve made. I’m blessed with a really good memory. So each of the films mark different stages in my life. I remember this age because I was making that movie with this person in that place.” Her tastes, she admits, have changed but, broadly speaking, she’s still chasing the same kind of material as always.
“I think I’ve probably always liked stuff that was a little darker. I’m always drawn to dramas. I like true studies of people and relationships. My favourite movies are What’s Eating Gilbert Grape and Blue Valentine. I like films that are honest about families and marriage. And I like the sense that a character has been built up to give a sense of their life.”
Sure enough, in practice, she’s long preferred stronger meat. Following on from PG kid-friendly roles in Charlotte’s Web and Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story, Fanning was still being touted as the new Shirley Temple when, in 2007, aged 13, she played a rape victim in Hounddog. Today, she’s in London to promote Now Is Good, a tremendously effective dying-young weepie in which Fanning plays Tess, a troubled Brighton teen in the final stages of leukemia.
Tess’s “bucket list” of things to do before she dies, including losing her virginity and drug-taking, has already generated a kerfuffle among louder moral guardians. Fanning, almost predictably, lobbied for the role.
“How could anyone say that there’s a wrong way to cope with something like this?” she says. “This is going to manifest itself in all sorts of different ways and, on top of that, she’s a girl who is annoyed with her dad, you know? And it’s such a beautiful story.” Did making the film affect her psychologically at all? Because the audience we saw the film with all required major make-up reapplications and improvised sleeve hankies.
“Lucky me. I get to leave all that stuff on screen. When you start at a young age, you have that wonderful spirit of a child.” She’s sounding like an old soul again, though her face stays cherubic and smiley.
“It’s just playing. It’s being in the moment. I notice sometimes that older people in their 30s who have children get real excited because they can play again. All we want to do as people is get back to being free and to play. I get to do that but in an acceptable outlet. That’s how I’ve always worked. I don’t do research. My research is reading the the script, letting my mind wander and picturing the movie.”
In Now is Good, Fanning turns in some of her best work as a girl who’s mad as hell with dad (Paddy Considine), mum (Olivia Williams) and most of the world. Her accent is flawless. You’d never guess she was born thousands of miles away from Skins alumnus and Now Is Good co-star Kaya Scodelario.