“There’s a real version of her and also what the media did to her, that really villainized her in a way,” says Elle Fanning about her unbiased approach to portraying Michelle Carter, the 17 year-old Massachusetts girl who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter after encouraging her 18-year old boyfriend, Conrad Roy, to commit suicide in July 2014.
The Hulu series, which made its world premiere here at SXSW on Saturday and drops on the service on March 29, was a topic too juicy to pass up for co-creators Patrick Macmanus and Liz Hannah who were sent Jesse Baron’s Aug. 2017 Esquire profile.
Fanning, who was joined in the Deadline studio by the EPs, Colton Ryan (who plays Roy) and Chloe Sevigny (who plays his mourning mother Lynn) described her tightrope walk in playing a real person, whose life has been turned upside down by the media, and a character that is written specifically on the page. Carter was initially sentenced to two-and-half years in prison. In January 2020, she was released after serving 11 months of her sentence due to good behavior. In the wake of the incident she’s kept a low profile.
“You can’t judge,” explains Fanning about portraying Carter, “Part of the reason why I like being an actor…is exploring the psychology behind, Michelle in this case, what could bring her to do the things that she did.”
“I felt very close to her and the young people in this story,” said Fanning who despite being a millennial and growing up with social media, is “still discovering” its impact.
The Girl From Plainville actress and EP added, “We’re seeing the effects of this now, and how modern this story truly is and how that effects your mental health (which) was something, I wanted to dive into.”
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