Whilst Courtney has come in for plenty of praise from his director, the breakout star of
is undoubtedly Elle Fanning, who plays the lead in the youngsters’ film within a film. Fronting her very first summer tentpole movie, the pressure was on Ms. Fanning from the get-go, not least in the shape of some pretty serious secret-keeping.
“I didn’t want to spoil anything for anyone,” said Fanning to
. “I definitely didn’t want to be the one to spill it! I couldn’t even tell anyone that I’d got the part.” On top of that, there was the world of sfx to deal with, a challenging business for a seasoned actor, let alone one so young. “One of the harder parts of filming the movie was having to react to stuff that wasn’t actually happening," she says. "We had a lot of green screen work, but J.J. helped with that.”
She even got involved in a little screenwriting, with Abrams turning over responsibility for movie-within-a-movie
over to his young cast.
“We actually got to write
,” beams Fanning. “J.J. let us write the whole script and we actually shot it with a Super 8 camera. So we can all say we’ve written and directed a Super 8 movie!”
Meanwhile, Abrams was more than thrilled with his young heroine. “I could bore you to tears about how spectacular Elle is to work with,” he begins. “She brought a realism and truth to the role, something that was surprisingly hard to find among young actors. I needed this to feel anti-Disney. It needed to be honest - the audience needed to love these real, relatable kids - otherwise you would never believe the wild events that follow. Elle was capable of great emotion, wonderful strength, ridiculous goofiness and a sweet vulnerability. Her character, it turns out, is as lost as anyone.”