Elle Fanning has already proved that she has acting chops like her older sister Dakota Fanning, but for the first time, Fanning has to prove that she can take on a role as a transgender teen and make it believable.
Seeing as how, now more than ever, the lives of transgender people are being represented in the media and discussed in a big way, it’s easy to see why Fanning might have felt pressure about taking on such a huge role.
About Ray Trailer 2015 – Elle Fanning, Naomi Watts Movie HD https://t.co/zXLEPSlhxF pic.twitter.com/E3xPo7dJTB
— Hot New Trailers (@movietrailer5hd) September 9, 2015
In an interview with the EDIT, the 17-year-old opens up about how nervous she was to take on the role of Ray in the film About Ray. “I was really nervous not to screw up, because this is for transgender kids out there.”
This seems to be somewhat personal for Fanning as she grew up with transgender kids at her school. “We had trans kids at my school. They come back after the summer and have to use different pronounces.”
The synopsis for the film is as follows:
“After Ray decides to transition from female to male, Ray’s mother, Maggie, must come to terms with the decision while tracking down Ray’s biological father to get his legal consent.”
— Lakeshore Records (@LakeshoreRecs) September 9, 2015
For About Ray, her character transitions from Ramona to Ray. For the film, Fanning sported a short cropped hair cut. In preparation for the physicality of the role, Elle bulked up and lifted weights for the inevitable brawls against bullies she would have to take on in the film.
In a different interview, she told Teen Vogue that even though she was nervous, she never thought about actually saying no to the role. “I never thought about saying no, but I was so afraid to touch it. What if I don’t do it right? I know transgender kids — I am honored to help tell their story.”
While she discussed the physical transformation she had to make, the emotional one came from talking to other trans teens over Skype, watching YouTube videos, and asking questions. She detailed the experience to Teen Vogue, “Someone tracked their time using testosterone shots, and they were so excited to be getting a visible Adam’s apple. They started crying, and it just hit home.”
[Photo by The Weinstein Company]