Though it may be hard to believe, Elle and Dakota Fanning are about to do something they’ve never done before.
Like Maggie and Jake Gyllenhaal starring together in Donnie Darko, Ben and Casey Affleck in Good Will Hunting, the Baldwins, Francos, Fondas, and countless actor siblings before, the Fanning sisters will appear in a feature film together for the first time.
To sweeten the deal, the real life sisters will play on screen sisters in The Nightingale, a film based on Kristin Hannah’s novel of the same name, but not to be confused with the 2018 film of the same name directed by Jennifer Kent. In the novel upon which this film is based, the story begins just before World War II, when two French sisters come of age as they try to resist the German occupation of their country. The story is reportedly inspired by the women of the French Resistance who hid Jewish children from Nazi soldiers in the the early 1940s.
The Nightingale is to be directed by Mélanie Laurent, who has worked with Elle Fanning in the past on a film called Galveston, but will be working with the elder Fanning sister for the first time on this project.
In 2001, the Fanning sisters played different age versions of the same character in I Am Sam, alongside Sean Penn, Michelle Pfeiffer, Dianne Wiest, and Laura Dern. Elle played the young version of Lucy Diamond, the daughter of Penn’s Sam Dawson, but it was Dakota who received star billing. The two shared a role in the 2002 mini-series Taken in a similar set-up as well. They shared no screen time in either production.
Since then, however, the two have embarked on separate career paths, with the older sister starring in Uptown Girls, Man on Fire, the Twilight saga, and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Dakota has recently starred on television in a leading role of the sci-fi period drama, The Alienist. Elle, on the other hand leaned into a modeling career and became an indie cinema darling, starring as a Sofia Coppola muse in Somewhere and The Beguiled, and appearing in The Neon Demon, 20th Century Woman, and the Maleficent movies.
Per Elle’s Instagram, the Fanning sisters released a joint statement about their decision to star on screen together for the first time. “The Nightingale will be the first time we act on screen together. We have played the same character at different ages but have never spoken to each other in front of a camera. For years, we have looked for a film to do with one another and then this gem appeared,” they wrote. “As sisters, to share our artistry with each other while bringing such a powerful sister story to life is a dream come true. We are so lucky to have our fearless director, Mélanie Laurent, to guide us along on the journey. Let’s do this, sister!!”