The Neon Demon takes an ugly look at the competitive nature of high fashion modeling, placing Elle Fanning at the top of the heap as the titular character in the latest offering from director and writer Nicolas Winding Refn (Bronson, Drive). Elle’s character, Jesse, finds herself taking to the world of modeling as a fish to water, possessing that special something that captures the fascination of millions and the envy of her fellow models. In a new interview to promote The Neon Demon, Ms. Fanning reveals her secrets for enhancing her own natural beauty and confesses to the ways in which The Neon Demon rubbed off on her in her own personal life.
The Neon Demon‘s Elle Fanning On Attaining The Glamorous Beauty Seen In The Film
In the midst of beauty and glamour, director Nicolas Winding Refn presents sanguine images of horror, melding the innocence found in Elle Fanning’s beauty with the dark red filth of fresh blood, but that melding of two worlds couldn’t have been possible without the wholesome look of Ms. Fanning. Appearing even more pure than she has ever before seemed on film required a special routine, which was made that much more complicated by Elle’s already super sensitive skin.
“I’m allergic to PABA, so I use Neutrogena PABA-free [sunscreen]. My skin is very sensitive, and it’s so pale that everything will show up on it, so I have to be careful. I go to Dr. Lancer and I use his products,” says Fanning. “I also use this amazing oil that my sister introduced me to: Blissoma.”
From those beginning scenes, Fanning’s character in The Neon Demon goes through a metamorphosis that’s as much physical as it is psychological. The most notable change in Elle’s physical appearance is the way in which her Neon Demon character wears her hair. As The Neon Demon starts out, Jesse wears her hair in comfortable curls, but, as the film progresses, Fanning’s hairstyle becomes more and more taut and strictly controlled, as though serving as a counterbalance to the chaos with which Jesse’s life becomes consumed.
“Jesse evolves, and pivots in a runway scene where she sees her reflection and has a Narcissus moment; she falls into the pond,” explains Ms. Fanning. “We wanted to make her lips really glossy, and we pulled the hair back into a severe braid. From then on, she just becomes more womanly, more adult.”
Elle revealed that Jesse began to rub off on her and, even off the set of The Neon Demon, she found herself feeling more like the character, going so far as to wear the glittery make-up worn by her character in the film. Elle says it was a surreal experience to have a character stay with her in such a way, after filming has wrapped.
Director Nicolas Winding Refn Doesn’t Want Everyone To Love The Neon Demon
Refn might be talking about life in the most general sense, just as easily as he might be talking of his own art, as he describes how he feels about public opinion of The Neon Demon. Already, critics are either praising or lambasting Nicolas’ new film, and that’s just the way he wants it. He says that realizing one’s vision in creating art is destined to create dissent, because passion breeds diversity and therein lies the beauty of art.
“Some people like something, some people like something else,” says The Neon Demon director and writer. “Anyone can enjoy being nice, but I don’t find nice very interesting.”
For The Neon Demon, Nicolas says the idea for the film came from observing his wife and wondering what it might be like to go through life as a beautiful person. From there, Refn chose to pursue the topic in the horror genre, but without condemning or criticizing beauty, as is so often done in horror themed tales dealing with beauty.
“Horror, like fairy tales, is a wonderful language to entertain in, because on one level it’s very clear what it is, and it speaks to our emotions, but at the same time it’s all about subtext,” says Refn. “I could see narcissism, for the younger generation, is no longer taboo. The human psyche has advanced in a way that’s both horrific but also very exciting.”
The Neon Demon, starring Elle Fanning, Christina Hendricks, and Keanu Reeves, hits theaters on June 24.
[Image by Bold Films]