Elle Fanning lost a franchise role because she ‘didn’t have enough IG followers’

Elle Fanning has been working as an actress since she was a little kid. She’s 25 years old now, and her first acting credit came in 2001. So, she’s already had a twenty-plus year career in film and television. But that’s not enough for some producers and studios, because they’re mad that Elle Fanning is not some nepo baby who lives and dies by her Instagram follower count. Elle spoke to the Happy Sad Confused podcast this week about losing out of major roles because she didn’t have a big enough social media presence.

Whether she feels pressure to join big studio franchises: Fanning was asked if there is pressure on her career to join big studio franchises in order to stay “relevant” as an actor. “I don’t feel that [pressure]. I don’t,” Fanning said, while also acknowledging that joining the likes of Marvel, “Star Wars” or DC “does something” for other actors’ careers. “But you also don’t know if they’re going to work sometimes, which is scary.”

Fanning confirmed that she has auditioned for at least one big franchise movie. “I did try out for…I’m not going to say what it was, but I didn’t get a part once for something big because – it might not have just been this reason, but this was the feedback that I heard – was because I didn’t have enough Instagram followers at the time. So that was a little like…I firmly don’t believe in not getting a part [for that]. It was for a bigger thing, a franchise thing.”

She has never gotten far in the audition process for those franchise projects: “I would never say no to those things, but I would have to have a meeting and really talk to see what it is,” Fanning added about joining a franchise. “I didn’t have to go through what Nick [Hoult] did…they made him try the [Batman] suit on. You need a balance. If you want to do your indie work, especially in producing now…[having a big franchise] does make you breathe better.”

[From Variety]

As Variety points out, Elle has around 7 million followers on Instagram. Those aren’t Kardashian-Jenner numbers, obviously, but completely respectable. What’s weird is that studios – especially Disney/Marvel – really persuade their stars to join social media to promote their projects and engage with fans. Instead of saying “wow, Elle already has a social media presence and a follower base we can build on,” they reject her because she’s not chronically online or trying to be an influencer. In any case, I’m glad she’s not worked up over it and I’m glad she’s happy with her already-successful career. It would be great if someone in charge had some imagination and realized that Elle has more acting range than all of the ladies with 50 million followers.

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Backgrid and Cover Images.

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36 Responses to “Elle Fanning lost a franchise role because she ‘didn’t have enough IG followers’”

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  1. Normades says:

    saoirse ronan Also lost out to Sophie Turner for the same reason and Sophie even said the better actor lost out

    • Normades says:

      Afterwards if they’re truly going for social media likes they should be hiring kpop stars. Something the big fashion brands have totally woken up too.

      • Snuffles says:

        Yup. Fashion houses are 1000% on the KPop bandwagon. Because they have huge international fanbases and many fans will buy anything and everything they see their faves wear, use, eat. I mean, Jungkook once mentioned on a live stream what his favorite fabric softener was and it immediately sold out across the entire country (Korea). He even mentioned it because he was annoyed that he couldn’t find it anymore.

        Back to fashion houses. Last year when Celine invited Lisa from Blackpink, Taehyung from BTS and Park BoGum an incredibly popular KDrama actor to their show, they caused a SCENE!!! THOUSANDS of fans showed up just to catch a glimpse. Celine was LOVING it and they ended up signing Taehyung and Bogum to a brand ambassadorships (Lisa was already one).

      • Normades says:

        I know it was a scene! And a huge wake up call to the fashion industry. Same for Valentino or most recently Tiffany’s big reopening. They lined the streets for Jimin and only Jimin.

      • Normades says:

        It’s also a question of market. The Asian market is huge and that’s the biggest market for fashion houses. It’s also a HUGE market for cinema but Hollywood has been very slow to realize that.

  2. NJGR says:

    Or maybe the IG followers story was some bs excuse they made to explain why they didn’t hire her.
    Slightly OT: I love her lipstick in the top photo – anyone know what it is?

    • nem says:

      I think she isn’t the unique young precocious blond ingenue anymore,and is less employed as a result,as was her sister Dakota before her ,as an adult.
      There are a lot of beautiful talented popular actresses in her age bracket,who work as hard or harder now,and she may not be the best anymore or benefit from being a director muse like Sofia Coppola (who is now trying to fight her tarnished reputation about her aryan princess look casting only .)
      Saoirse Ronan,or florence pugh,and her other challengers are booked.
      Maybe her last performances were lacking.
      And she is very lucky as she is a fashion darling and L’Oréal ambassador.

      • Lisa says:

        She is brilliant in the great

      • nem says:

        Yes ,the great series had some buzz.
        But it didn’t bring her more work in cinema for now.
        She only talked about Big franchises and blockbusters in Disney like corporations.
        But even serious filmakers seem to avoid her.
        For some years she wasn’t cast in the big Oscars bait,prestigious dramas released or announced.
        The last little women adaptation was her lane,as the numerous Agatha Christie ones,etc .
        Margot Robbie has been everywhere,as the wonderwoman actress, saoirse Ronan works with the director of shame and windows, Zendaya with the one of call me by your name and Scorsese, florence pugh in the next Nolan,and both are in Dune part 2 by Villeneuve ….
        Spielberg and Disney have replaced her with Rachel zegler (who IS struggling)…
        And some series were having more impact than hers for their actresses: Wanda vision,euphoria (with a new blond one…with boobs),squid game(with a lithe Korean supermodel)
        In a few days she will be in Cannes,with no follow up to neon demon,and only as a beauty ambassador.
        Nicolas Hoult may not succeed in finding new franchises like her,he ‘s catching roles in films.
        I think she has the same problem as kit Harrington :she has to manage big changements in the industry and maybe not having required qualities to stay in the game …
        The Netflix revolution,the end of romantic comedy Era,the pandemy,more poc having access to Big roles,new actresses more popular and more gifted (Anya Taylor joy)….
        (She is better than kit,but women talent pool in Hollywood is full)

  3. Snuffles says:

    I 1000% believe this. I’ve seen a number of musicians say this as well. I remember Halsey complaining that her label wouldn’t release her album until she got her TikTok numbers up. And many are pressured to get a song to go viral. And some like Charlie Puth will say stuff like, I’ll release this collab with Jungkook of BTS if I get X numbers of likes, retweets etc.

    So, I could totally see for movies like franchises or less prestige type projects that they would care a whole lot about an actor’s social media presence.

    ETA: Shout out to Elle for being a fellow ARMY!!

    • Normades says:

      I had no idea Elle was Army! Props!

      But yes, said something similar up thread but Hollywood doesn’t fully get it yet. Fashion and music do. Afterwards it’s horrible when you see the music industry using BTS for their base without giving them the true respect that they deserve

      • Snuffles says:

        Yes! I went to a BTS concert in LA and she was sitting in front of me with Max Minghella and that Dylan guy from Teen Wolf.

      • Normades says:

        Jealous!!! Afterwards army knows the difference between users and real friends. Halsey is very popular with them while Charlie P is not

    • Lux says:

      To be honest, I hate it. I love actors/models with mystique. The most “online” ones are the ones I find the most annoying, as is the case in real life. Kirsten Stewart and Jennifer Lawrence don’t even use social media, but they had the huge franchises first so I guess they’re lucky they can opt out? It’s deeply unfair as it weeds out the real talent for the fame-hungry.

  4. North of Boston says:

    That’s ridiculous… there are plenty of people in franchises that aren’t even on SM

    Either some producer is a manipulative dope or someone was lying

    • Lens says:

      I also think it was some BS they gave her as an excuse they didn’t hire her. I can understand the studios wanting to augment their advertising budgets with actors using SM to promote movies and TV but as a sole reason to hire someone? As an actor? Seems counter productive – I mean just hire Kim kardasian for everything since she’s going into acting now with American Horror Story.

    • Kirsten says:

      I think it’s likely true. Hollywood isn’t known for sugar-coating why people lose out on roles and will flat out tell even famous folk that it has to do with their weight or looks or whatever. I also think the social media follower thing is a bigger issue for young female actresses.

    • Dutch says:

      This also feels like it could be a franchise that isn’t established and/or isn’t coming from a major studio (think Hunger Games prequel from Lion’s Gate), which would need to lean on a star’s popularity online to make up for the fact the franchise doesn’t yet have a built-in audience or the marketing dollars to do a full on blitz.

  5. Dena says:

    This is bleeding into *everything* in my latest book proposal my agent wanted me to include my Twitter followers (since deleted) and my Instagram followers. It’s annoyingly obnoxious and has nothing to do with the quality of my writing, but it’s now a factor to sell a book. Sigh.

    • NJGR says:

      @Dena And “Book Tok” (books on Tiktok) is apparently a big thing too!

    • Normades says:

      @Dena This is absolutely bleeding into everything like you said. I have friends in marketing and journalism who where 💯 qualified for the job loose out to other younger candidates because they had bigger sm followings.

    • Lionel says:

      @Dena: Absolutely, was coming into the comments to say exactly this.

      A few years ago I had an opportunity to collaborate on a book in my professional field. It would have had a limited, very targeted audience, nowhere close to pop culture fandom. And yet, I was told I’d have to self-promote on all the socials. Which is something I just don’t want to do for personal reasons. So I didn’t accept the offer. I hate that as a culture we’ve decided we value narcissism more than talent.

  6. Nuks says:

    This is correct. I worked for a major TV actress. You will lose a part to someone who has better socials.

  7. Lawcatb says:

    I don’t think it was a Disney/Marvel project she’s talking about. I don’t think Halle Bailey even had her own IG account at the time she was cast in the live action Little Mermaid, she shared one with her sister under the ChloexHalle handle. Plus, when you look at who Marvel has tapped for their leads, they don’t go with the most popular actors, they go with the actors they think are the best choice for the role.

  8. Nikki says:

    I really feel then for actors and musicians who scale back on social media for mental health reasons.

  9. Eurydice says:

    This actually makes some sense. Franchises from sci-fi, comic books, etc. – those genres have always depended on fan interaction. Conventions, merchandising, fan fiction- they all extend the life of of the franchise and guarantee an audience even if the films aren’t always very good. And every addition to the franchise, whether character or plot expands the world in which the fans live. That’s how Star Trek has lasted 50+ years, Captain America 80+ years, etc.

    OTOH, what bugs me is when producers/publishers want to use a creative’s social media instead doing any marketing themselves. At least a franchise comes in with a ready-made presence.

  10. Mia4s says:

    That it was a consideration at all tells you it was probably a pretty lame, money-grab of a movie.

    But I also hope it was awhile ago, because anyone who still believes social media numbers will sell your movie are dreaming. The Rock has massive numbers…didn’t save Black Adam. And by this logic Selena Gomez should be one of the biggest movie stars in the world, instead her main role being on a modestly successful (though wonderful!) streaming show. It just doesn’t compute.

    • Deering24 says:

      Aah, social media numbers are the new “If overseas markets don’t want to see certain types of movies, we won’t make them,” excuse. It’s always a rejection-de-jour with Hollywood.

  11. HeyKay says:

    SM is garbage to me.
    I do not make my buying decisions based on how many followers some celeb has.
    This woman has proven talent and a long career at her age.

    The franchise movie casting teams could use some talent, not just SF/CGI.

    • Mabs A'Mabbin says:

      Me either. In fact, if a celebrity is attached to it glaringly, I walk on by. Not interested in hype. I want a good product. Elle is outstanding, I’m glad she doesn’t have a colossal internet presence. It’s not her vibe. And I like her vibe.

  12. Imara219 says:

    It most definitely has bled into all forms of entertainment, even sports. WWE’s latest contracts are for artists like Bad Bunny and Logan Paul, big on SM. The announcers mention their SM numbers every time they appear on the program. I never heard of Bad Bunny until he started showing up on WWE shows, and his song is on the last 2k game soundtrack. Logan Paul signed a contract to appear only 5 times in a year for the major events, events that take wrestlers years of blood, sweat, and muscle tears to make big. I notice with books that SM followers and fans really are pushing their success. Authors will have multiple pages and their fandom to spread and promote– the larger the following the better. I miss the days were actors were just actors, not models who needed to promote everything.

  13. zazzoo says:

    I just watched the Other Two on HBO, which was the first time I’d ever heard of this trend. Not that Hollywood has ever been a meritocracy, but as an introvert who cringes at the idea of a public online presence (or maybe that’s social anxiety?) I can’t even imagine the horror of having to do that. I did acting as a kid/teen. It’s perfectly compatible with an introverted personality to disappear into a character, but having to do public promotion? AAHHH!! If Elle can find her groove in indie projects and live her best life, more power to her. I don’t know that franchises and mega fame is good for anyone anyway. But I’m always a little ticked by things like this that grossly over privilege a certain personality type. When the criteria favors GOOP and the Kar-Jenners, the criteria should be reevaluated.

    • Dutch says:

      Actors are like anybody else and are on the lookout for the kind of economic stability that long-running TV series or film franchises can offer. You get into a “one for me, one for them” rhythm that alternately covers your bills and gives you the freedom to explore creatively.

      • Zazzoo says:

        Yes the economics if it are clear but mega fame comes with its own drawbacks. Streaming has created many more opportunities to be a consistently working actor without winning the lottery of casting in a film franchise, and in some ways that’s preferable to what Hollywood puts its biggest stars through. Especially women.

  14. AC says:

    This is the reason why sooo many people are nostalgic for 80s, 90s, early 2000s show and movies. They were so iconic and the cast had chemistry and were all authentic. Pitch Perfect was on Netflix last week and it was the #1 movie on Netflix even though it’s over 10 years old. Actors with huge followings in SM doesn’t mean the movie/show will be successful.