Elle Fanning Tells Us What’s Really Going On in That Viral Photo With Dakota

Elle Fanning


Last Thursday, in a sprawling, two-story loft space close enough to the West Side highway to catch a breeze, the Japanese spirits label House of Suntory celebrated a new campaign for its Roku Gin, featuring six unique Japanese botanicals including Sakura flower, Sakura leaf, Sencha tea, Gyokuro tea, Sansho pepper, and Yuzu peel. On hand to ring in the occasion were the brand’s newest ambassadors, Sofia Coppola and her longtime muse Elle Fanning, clad in a summery, spaghetti-strap dress embroidered with cherry blossoms (an on-theme choice, since sakura leafs feature prominently in the gin and the vignette Coppola and Fanning made for the accompanying campaign). “Sofia was the one who told me about this project,” Fanning said, reflecting on the origins of her latest collaboration with the director, who she worked with in the films Somewhere and The Beguiled. “And I mean, I’ll do anything for Sofia.” Over G&Ts, the actor talked to us about the ideal ocassion for a gin martini, her recent stint on Broadway, and what exactly is going down in that viral photo she posted for her sister Dakota’s birthday.


JAKE NEVINS: Hi, Elle. You look amazing. Let’s talk about the occasion.

ELLE FANNING: Oh, thank you! Yes.

NEVINS: What brought you to this project?

FANNING: Well, actually Sofia was the one who told me about this project. I think they had asked her if she wanted to direct a commercial and shoot the campaign for this. And she thought of me, which was very sweet. I mean, I’ll do anything for Sofia. But I loved the concept that Roku had come up with for this campaign, with the cherry blossoms, lots of Virgin Suicides references in the mood board.

NEVINS: I noticed that.

FANNING: Right. It was just very beautiful and fresh and perfect for the summer. And I’ve spent a lot of time in London, so G&Ts have been incorporated into my life over the years.  I mean, the bottle’s so beautiful. Sofia and I were even saying like, once you’re done drinking it you could keep the bottles and put flowers in it. It’s so nice.

NEVINS: That’s a good idea.

FANNING: It also tastes great. So yeah, it’s just been a pleasure to do this and partner with them.

NEVINS: Obviously you and Sofia have a long and rich working relationship. So is the vibe like, she just texts you and says, “Hey, I thought of you for this campaign”?

FANNING: Oh, totally. We text a lot. But with this, I think I saw her somewhere. Oh, I think she came to see my play [Appropriate]. I did a play in New York.

NEVINS: I saw you in the play.

FANNING: You did? Oh, that’s so nice.

NEVINS: Can I share a strange coincidence with you?

FANNING: Please.

NEVINS: A dear friend of mine, Ella Beatty, actually took over for you in the role.

FANNING: Really? Oh my god.

NEVINS: Really.

FANNING: She’s so great. We were joking about how you just have to change one letter in the name on the dressing room. I went to go see it with her as well.

NEVINS: Is that a strange experience, seeing someone do a part you’d been doing just months earlier?

FANNING: It was surreal. I mean, seeing someone else do the part, but also just the concept of watching the play, because I had never seen the play from that perspective before. So all of it was unbelievable. But Sofia, she came to see that play and I think when we were backstage, she had told me about this project.

NEVINS: What’s it like between working with her on a feature versus something like this?

FANNING: I mean, it’s interesting, because the vibe that she creates is just kind of the vibe. It’s not dissimilar to how you feel on a film set. Even the costume designer, Stacey, who worked on this commercial with us, was the costume designer I’ve known for years who did Somewhere and The Beguiled. And Philippe [Le Sourd], who was our DP, also did The Beguiled.

NEVINS: You had your crew.

FANNING: Yeah, it was her crew. And I think that’s what makes her so unique and her sets so special is that she really works with her friends and she’s very loyal and works with the same people who know her aesthetic and know her taste and are all very kind. It just creates this great environment. We shot this over two days and we finished early. It was the quickest, happiest night. And then we all had a gin cheers afterwards and it was so pleasant. And that’s how it is on her film sets, really.

NEVINS: That sounds lovely. Can you remember your first time trying the gin?

FANNING: Oh, I can. 

NEVINS: What was it giving?

FANNING: Oh my gosh, it’s so smooth. There’s a sweetness to it as well. The different layers, I think there’s yuzu and green tea and cherry blossoms in it. I mean, right now I’m having a G&T with just tonic and a little bit of a ginger slice in it and it’s really, really good.

NEVINS: I’m not quite there yet. They offered me one but I was like, “Let me talk to Elle first…”

FANNING: Well you’re going to get there tonight. You’re going to get there. It’s good for martinis as well, and I love a martini.

NEVINS: You must find yourself at lots of parties and dinners and premieres. What’s the ideal location for drinking Roku gin?

FANNING: G&T is like… I want to be outside right now, in the sun. It’s transporting me there. It’s taking me to that place, by a pool with your friends outside in the sun. Whereas a gin martini, it’s more of a night drink. An after hours situation.

NEVINS: Yes. No martinis in sunlight for me.

FANNING: No, no, no. An after-party situation,  a date night situation. Or even just at home, a chill martini by yourself.

NEVINS: That’s not a crime.

FANNING: It’s okay.

NEVINS: I can’t leave without asking you something. Do you know about this viral photo going around of you and Dakota partying?

FANNING: Yes. The one where I’m on the table?

NEVINS: Yeah, the one where you’re on the table.

FANNING: Okay, I actually posted it for Dakota’s birthday. That was in Miami.

NEVINS: It has Miami energy.

FANNING: It’s giving Miami. That was for one of our best friend’s bachelorette party and it was also my birthday party weekend, so it lined up and we did the rounds. I mean, we were on the boat. We went to Liv, we did the whole Miami thing. And at this restaurant, we ate and then it turned into a dance party in the restaurant, which is just classic Miami. The music was blasting and it was the kind of place where you could get up on the tables and dance. So that’s what we were doing and I was just giving full younger sibling energy, just going wild.

NEVINS: I’m a younger sibling, so I feel that.

FANNING: Dakota was going wild too. But it was actually our friend’s bachelorette, so I had no business. It was her party. But I’m classic Aries, you know what I mean? So I was going for it. And Dakota’s looking at me like, “What?”

NEVINS: Well, it’s a great photo. And now the internet can understand what exactly is going on.

FANNING: It is. It’s classic.