What Elle Fanning And Nicholas Hoult's Relationship Is Like In Real Life

Younger Fanning sister Elle Fanning has treated viewers to quite the character arc as Catherine on the darkly comedic Hulu series "The Great." Catherine is introduced as a naïve, idealistic young woman who seems like a helpless lamb thrown into a wolves' den when she arrives in Russia to meet her husband, Peter III, the Emperor of Russia (Nicholas Hoult). The womanizing cad immediately dashes Catherine's romantic notions of what their marriage will be like, forcing her to embrace her inner lioness and setting her on the path to becoming empress.

The couple's relationship is complicated — imprisonment and murder are mulled over as ways for one spouse to get the other out of their hair. But Catherine and Peter both begrudgingly discover that there are some fragile romantic feelings there. "You could write Peter off as just nasty and evil, but he adds all these issues — daddy issues and mommy issues — and he's like a big kid," Fanning told ET. "I think Catherine at times, she's confused, because she pitied him and then she kind of loves him."

While Peter ultimately agrees that his wife is a better fit for the throne, in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Hoult observed, "The characters of Catherine and Peter are always trying to one-up each other." This is something that he and Fanning have in common with the Russian royals, but you can give your heartiest "Huzzah!" knowing that, unlike their characters, the actors don't want to kill each other.

Peter would probably approve of Elle Fanning's gift from Nicholas Hoult

In "The Great," Peter and Catherine try to give each other meaningful gifts, but the results aren't, well, great. Peter is unimpressed with the symbolic "twig" that Catherine presents him with ahead of their wedding, and he kills the poor bear that he gave his bride. According to Elle Fanning, Nicholas Hoult is a much better gift giver.

While taking the BuzzFeed co-star test, Hoult revealed he and Fanning became such good pals that he scored an invite to her birthday party. He then correctly guessed that the item she absolutely must have in her dressing room is the unique present he picked out for her, which has an air of cheeky arrogance that Peter would surely applaud. "I bought Elle cushions ... It's just a closeup of my face on the cushion," he said. Fanning also nailed her answer, sharing that Hoult likes to keep a teddy bear and bottle of tequila in his dressing room.

"We have so much fun," Fanning told Access while talking about what it's like working with Hoult. "It's so easy, and we're very honest with each other, and we kind of tell it like it is." Having this relationship helps when the co-stars have to film awkward scenes. "We feel so comfortable with each other and we feel like it's okay to be embarrassed in front of each other, which I think for comedy is so important," Fanning told ET.

Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult worked together before

In an interview with Harper's Bazaar, Elle Fanning described what it's like filming some of those witty wars of words with Nicholas Hoult. "Like we'll kind of go for it and he'll do something and I'll try to push his buttons and top him," she said. Fanning also theorized that her and Hoult's similar acting styles might come from their shared backgrounds as child stars. The two even worked together when Fanning was 16 years old and working to prove that she wasn't going to fade into obscurity like some former child stars.

In the 2014 movie "Young Ones," Fanning and Hoult play a couple who shares a kiss in a shower at one point, but the actors told Access that they don't really remember their off-set interactions. "It was kind of a fever dream, almost," Fanning said of the project, which was filmed in South Africa. "We didn't really get to know each other until we really started doing ['The Great']." 

Catherine and Peter don't really know each other that well at the beginning of "The Great," either, but as the series progresses and Catherine becomes more ruthless, Peter's affections for her grow. While talking to AP about his most memorable on-screen kisses, Hoult mentioned a scene that called for Fanning to remain expressionless while he warmly kissed her. "It was one of those moments that we could barely contain our laughter because it was so bizarre," he said.