Elle Fanning “learned a lot” by playing Mary Shelley in her upcoming film about the Frankenstein author.

The 20-year-old stars opposite Douglas John Booth, who plays Mary’s husband Percy Bysshe Shelley, as well as Maisie Williams and Joanne Froggatt. And though Elle has had a vast number of movie roles over the last couple of years, portraying the legendary English writer struck a particular chord.

“What fascinated me was that it’s a struggling artist, but it’s a woman struggling artist, which you don’t see very often,” the 20-year-old explained in an interview with Britain’s Total Film. “And when I filmed the movie I was about to turn 18. This was the last movie that I had to do school on the set. It was a milestone movie for me. I felt like I grew up a lot after the movie was over.”

Though the actress describes the picture as “very modern,” she wasn’t a fan of the dated – and very uncomfortable – costumes.

“Ugh, yeah. Bel (Powley, co-star) and I had a revolt against the corsets,” she laughed.

Elle, the younger sister of fellow actress Dakota Fanning, also scored a role in sci-fi rom-com How to Talk to Girls at Parties, where she plays an alien called Zan. And though she relished the opportunity to explore a funny side that was previously untapped, she admitted that a particular scene was very nerve-wracking.

“I also got to be a punk queen and perform!” the Maleficent star smiled, recounting a scene where she had to perform in front of a crowd of real-life London punks. “We thought it’d be more punk to just do it. So that was a little scary. You’re hoping you’re not a poser.”

Mary Shelley and How To Talk to Girls at Parties are both due for U.S. release in May (18).