In his new horror movie The Neon Demon, Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive) takes on the vicious side of the fashion industry, telling the story of an aspiring teen model. Played by Elle Fanning, she becomes an object of jealousy and desire for a group of beauty-obsessed women.

The Neon DemonElle Fanning stars in 'The Neon Demon'

Fanning said she was drawn to the project by Refn's previous work. "I hadn't read the script and didn't know the story at all, and he asked to meet me," she says. "Right away, we talked about trust. He films in chronological order, and you're constantly discovering things. So because something happened yesterday we can't do this anymore. We have to change it. You're on this ride together."

The actress had never made a movie like this before. "It was a collaboration like I've never had with a director, not this close," she says, touching on the role's more demanding, controversial elements. "It was such a creative space. I think about things a lot, and here my thoughts and images could actually become a reality. I could actually try things out if I wanted to, and that freedom was really great."

Watch the trailer for 'The Neon Demon' here


She also found the film's themes strikingly relevant. "I think in the age of Instagram and Snapchat, as teenagers we're looking at photos so much," Fanning says. "You subconsciously are comparing yourself to other people in all the images around you. You wake up and, instead of looking in the mirror, you're looking at your phone at pictures of yourself from the night before. Those images are dead, but you think they're beautiful. But it's just a screen. So if you think of dead, altered images as beautiful, how do you relate to a real person?"

Fanning loved the way the film grapples with these kinds of issues without simplifying them. "I think films, especially for teenage girls, get dumbed down," she says. "I'm a big daydreamer, and I like coming up with my own conclusions on things, living in a fantasy land! It's nice to have a movie that's like that, where you can use your mind."

She then admits that watching films is something new to her. "My family was a sports family, so we didn't grow up watching many movies," Fanning says. "I still haven't seen so many movies. Maybe that's a young thing. But I like horror, anything that scares you. I like that feeling. I love rollercoasters - that fear, that adrenaline rush. I love it!"