AceShowbiz - Elle Fanning has slammed the myth Catherine the Great had sex with a horse as one of the world's "earliest forms of slut-shaming." The 24-year-old is returning to play her role as the longest-reigning female ruler in Russian history for series three of "The Great", and hit out at the tale she indulged in bestiality as the actress told how she feels as if she has grown "as a woman" while playing the role.
"Before I stepped into her shoes, the only thing I knew about Catherine the Great was the rumour she'd had sex with a horse - which actually feels like one of the earliest forms of slut-shaming," she told Harper's Bazaar UK's May issue when asked how she prepared for her part as Catherine.
"So I wanted to reclaim her name a bit - to bring to the fore how progressive she was in championing science and female education, being an engine behind the Russian Enlightenment, separating church and state."
"I still hear, 'Catherine the Great? What a bada**!' But I don't know how accurate that is. She takes risks, but she has to work herself up to it. She's powerful, but not always the most powerful person in the room. She can be both scheming and naive. She's a girl and a woman."
Elle added about maturing as a person while playing the ruler, "I've been playing Catherine in such formative years of my life. I've grown as a woman alongside her." She even said Catherine has led to her speaking up, adding, "These days, I feel like my voice matters."
"For a while, I'd be like, 'Oh well, I'm young, people don't necessarily want to listen to me, they probably know more anyway.' But there comes a point when you register that you've been doing this for 20 years. I may not always have the answer, but I've realised that sometimes you do have to have a little bit of that Catherine ego and say, 'Listen to me!' "
Detailing how prosthetics she had to wear during her portrayal made her want to have a child, Elle added, "I was obsessed with it. I had a bespoke bump with boobs moulded onto me that went all the way up to my neck. The costume team told me that this is pretty accurately what my body will look like when I'm pregnant... which did feel quite crazy. I loved the way it looked. It made me want to do it, to be pregnant."
The story goes Catherine suspended a horse above her with a harness so she could partake in bestiality, and when the girdle broke, the animal crushed her to death. In reality, Catherine died of a stroke on November 17, 1796.
Season three of "The Great" is available to stream on Hulu in the US on May 12 and on Prime Video's Lionsgate+ channel in the UK later this year.