Also Credited As:Mary Elle Fanning
|Mary Elle Fanning on April 9, 1998 in Conyers, Georgia, USA|
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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. She 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).
By Shawn Dwyer