How ‘The Great’ Star Elle Fanning Handled Producing, Comedy and That Peeing Scene

Two years after director Yorgos Lanthimos turned Tony McNamara’s script “The Favourite” into a twisted, Oscar-winning look at the British court of Queen Anne, McNamara himself has applied the same sensibility to 18th-century Russia in “The Great.” The Hulu series stars Nicholas Hoult as the egotistical but inept Peter III and Elle Fanning as his young, naïve wife Catherine, who would go on to lead Russia for more than 30 years. The opening credits to each episode call “The Great” “an occasionally true story,” and certainly there’s a distinctly modern sensibility and a load of deliberate anachronisms in the portrayal of the dysfunctional Russian court. The series is blackly comic feast centered on the delicious feuding between Hoult, played by “The Favorite” vet Nicholas Hoult, and Catherine, played by Elle Fanning with a breezy combination of innocence and steel. Fanning, who also served as an executive producer on the series, spoke to TheWrap about “The Great” on the day that Hulu renewed it for a second season. You got involved with this before it actually was a TV series, right? Yes, that’s true. I was sent a film script, which was written by Tony based off a (2008) play that he put on in Australia. Tony, I guess, had been thinking of me, but the young Catherine was just a small kind of sliver in that big script, because it really spanned her entire life.