‘The Boxtrolls’: Elle Fanning on Winnie, Laika Legacy, & Preparing for Mary Shelley

Beneath the streets of Cheesebridge live a group of mischievous but lovable monsters known as The Boxtrolls. For years, the town's residents have lived in fear of the creatures but in spite of their grotesque appearance and often ill-mannered behavior, The Boxtrolls are actually a loving group of oddball do-gooders. For years, The Boxtrolls have lovingly fostered a human orphan, Eggs (Isaac Hempstead-Wright), thought they remain misunderstood by the townspeople - that is until Eggs decides to venture above ground and comes face-to-face with one of his own kind, Winnie (Elle Fanning). Even as certain Cheesebridge residents begin warming to The Boxtrolls, local exterminator Archibald Snatcher (Ben Kingsley) has other plans - promising to eradicate the sewer-dwelling menace once and for all.

As indicated, Fanning plays Eggs' first real human friend - a quirky nine-year-old with an unquenchable curiosity, (sometimes) snooty attitude, along with a strong dedication to her new-found companions.

In our interview with the young actress, Fanning discussed what it was like to follow in her older sister's shoes at Laika (Dakota voiced the titular character in 2009's Coraline), why audiences will have to warm up to Winnie, as well as preparing to play Mary Shelley in A Storm in the Stars. Check out the trailer for The Boxtrolls below, followed by our interview with Fanning.

Screen Rant: So Laika Studios is sort of a family affair for you -- your sister did Coraline and you visited the studio back then. Do you remember your impressions of visiting the studio?

Elle Fanning: I remember it, like, completely. I was in shock. ‘Cause I loved doll houses -- I went when I was very young -- and it was just like miniatures everywhere. And just seeing everything so tiny and the way -- like the fabrics that they made things out of. And I remember there was this one lady there who she knits tiny sweaters and she had tiny little knitting needles and she would just sit there and make the little mittens for the puppet -- like the smallest things you could ever imagine. And it just blew my mind that there were people out there that did this. It was just incredible. And so when they asked me to do it I was like, “Yes!” ‘cause I knew everyone and I was just, I loved the Boxtrolls script, I loved Winnie, she’s so cool, and…yes.

SR: Give me your take on Winnie. What appealed to you about her and what was your way of finding her and finding the voice for her?

EF: I felt like maybe she was an unexpected character for me to play, just ‘cause, I don’t know, I’ve never played anyone like her before. She has like this kind of bratty element and she’s like slightly spoiled. But I liked how she looked so sweet on the outside but on the inside she loves like all these little grotesque things, like blood and bones, and it was just fun to play with her. Like, you could really experiment and go all out, and that was fun to just be kind of dramatic in that way. I enjoyed it. And also, I mean, at first when the audience sees her they might not like her than much -- she’s a little snooty. But afterwards she wins you over and you realize kind of what she is, and she has a sensitive side and she’s just trying to help Eggs and get the attention from her dad that she wants. And I guess she’s just a very good nine-year-old girl. I like her a lot.

SR: This is your second British accent. Is it hard to get a British accent right?

EF: Yeah, I did it before and it’s -- you know, you have to make sure it’s right. Also, I mean, being with other English actors in the film, you’re like, “Oh gosh, I’m the one that’s not English, I have to make sure that it’s -- that I do an okay job.” So I mean I did have a dialogue coach that was with me and she was on set -- I guess, in the booth, not on set -- but with me in there and she would, you know, perfect little words and get it right. We wanted to make -- I think Winnie’s was a little more posher than I’d ever done, ‘cause you know, she’s the high elite of Cheesebridge, which is the town they live in.

September Preview - Boxtrolls

SR: Do you have a favorite cheese yourself or did doing this actually turn you off cheese for a while?

EF: (Laughs) I know! I know, we were talking about this. I was saying, like, I like cheddar and goats cheese and burrata, I thought of that one. It’s so good. I like cheese (laughs).

SR: I just saw the trailer for Young Ones, which is very different from this. Tell me about working on that.

EF: Yes, that’s kind of, in a way, a futuristic Western, if that even works. But yeah, it’s more, it’s not like a, it’s more of a real future that could possibly happen. I mean, there’s no water, it’s kind of everything’s dry and, yeah, everyone’s run out of water. We filmed that in South Africa, in Springbok, which is this tiny town, but yeah, that was fun to do. I loved that. We did that a while ago, but yeah, I’m glad it’s coming out.

SR: And you’re also playing Mary Shelley?

EF: Yeah, I hope so! I mean, I think so, whenever it happens. I don’t know when we’re going to film it, but when they do, I’ll do it.

SR: Are you reading up on her, or going back and reading Frankenstein?

EF: I need to. I’ve never read it before, so I’ll do all the research that I need to do, I think. For sure.



The Boxtrolls will come out to play in theaters on September 26th, 2014.

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