The Great's Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult Unpack Season 2 in a "Therapy Session" With E!

The Great's Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult exclusively spoke to E! News about their characters' childhood trauma and the impact it will have on baby Paul.

By Cydney Contreras Nov 18, 2021 3:23 AMTags
Watch: Elle Fanning Loved Those Dirt Eating Scenes in "The Great"

There's no doubt that Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult's characters in The Great could've benefited from some face time with a therapist.

And while Tony McNamara's Hulu series is only occasionally true, the writer apparently found it more interesting to let Catherine and Peter stew in their problems, just like the real-life royals had to back in the day.

So, the stars of The Great sat down with E! News for a "therapy session," as Elle called it, and unpacked what's really going on insider their characters' heads.

Starting with Catherine, Elle revealed that the expectant mom isn't all that enthralled by her son Paul's impending arrival. The actress likened her unborn child to a "ticking time bomb" that threatens her new position as Empress of Russia. 

"She's kind of viewing it as this political play and not like it's gonna be her future baby. She's not very maternal," Elle explained. "She's kind of using that power as like, 'Alright, I have this many months before the baby's born to change this much of the country because after he's out, [Peter] might not even care about me and try to kill me.'"

The Great: Season 2's First Look Photos

Elle added, "She's actually pretty savvy in a way."

According to Elle, the baby is pretty much out of sight, out of mind "until the hormones come into play or the baby kicks." Otherwise, Catherine is focused on providing education to girls, feeding the masses and eating dirt (which is actually just crumbled Oreos, according to Elle). 


And while most babies are seen as a great responsibility, Peter views his child as a shiny new toy to play with and a sign of a job well done.

"For Peter, the big thing about Paul being born is he's secured the bloodline and that was always a huge thing, you know, produce an heir and and continue the line of Peter the Great," Nicholas shared. "I also think it's just something whereby Peter is kind of just a big kid in terms of how he is as a person and so I think becoming a dad is something that he embraces and loves." 

Moreover, Peter isn't one to really relish in having responsibilities, so Nicholas said that his character "quite enjoys" the fact that he's no longer emperor. In fact, Nicholas went so far as to say that being a "stay at home dad" is actually Peter's "true calling."

Ollie Upton/Hulu

Whether Peter will be a good father begs to be seen. Nicholas acknowledged that the former emperor endured a "lot of trauma" in his childhood, which is going to impact his ability to parent a young royal. The Mad Max actor said that viewers will see Peter try to "improve himself and not be a product of his parents."

In comparison, the Empress seemingly regresses in the presence of her mother Princess Joanna, who is portrayed by Gillian Anderson. As Elle teased in the interview, viewers get to see "a new side to Catherine, who kind of becomes like a teenager around her."

To see how this childhood trauma impacts Catherine's reign as Mother Russia, check out our full interview above!

All episodes of season two of The Great premiere Friday, Nov. 19 on Hulu.

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