The pressure to stay relevant seems like an essential part of Hollywood these days. Whether that is knowing what people want to see from the culture or keeping your name fresh and in the minds of the audience, relevancy seems to be the fuel behind a successful career in the industry.

But not everyone believes this to be true. Despite starring in modern cult films and leading two major studio franchises, 25-year-old actress Elle Fanning doesn’t feel the heat to stay current in peoples’ minds.

During a recent interview on the Happy Sad Confused podcast, Fanning was asked if there is pressure on her career to join big studio franchises 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,” she added.

Instead, the pressure to stay relevant falls on the mindset of the studios who are looking for actors who can draw in an audience. While the days of the big movie stars might be in the middle of a massive shift as the older generation becomes… Well, older and new talent emerges, and studios are trying to find faces that people recognize. What better way to see if someone is recognizable than checking the number of followers they have on social media?

Fanning confirmed that this has happened to her when she had auditioned for a big franchise movie and lost the role because her social media wasn’t sufficient enough for the studio.

“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,” Fanning said. “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.”

For context, Fanning’s Instagram currently has 6.2 million followers, which is a fairly healthy amount of social media followers if you asked me. However, studios seem to have higher expectations and are almost unrealistic for everyone who works on sets these days, including talent. Why hire someone who can’t bring you the biggest audience possible? That would require work from the studio’s market team, which studios eagerly don’t want to spend money on.

A still from 'Neon Demon''Neon Demon'Credit: Amazon Studios

Fanning’s The Great co-star Nicholas Hoult has been more vocal about this shift in hiring actors based on performance and social media following. Hoult has stated in interviews with the Guardian and GQ España that he missed out on franchise films like Top Gun: Maverickand Matt Reeves’ The Batmanbecause he didn’t have the audience that the studios were looking for.

“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 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.”

Casting has become a strange game for the industry. While finding actors who fit the role and have a decent online following helps create a larger audience for indie films, it is mind-numbing to me that studios are not giving new actors a chance to lead a great story simply because they don’t have the audience the studio wants. 

As this shift in the industry continues, I hope that more actors get a chance to showcase their talents despite not having a massive online following. 

Let us know your thoughts on the matter in the comments below!

Source: Variety