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PopEntertainment.com > Feature Interviews - Actresses > Features Interviews F to J > Dakota Fanning



by Brad Balfour

Copyright ©2005 PopEntertainment.com.  All rights reserved.  Posted: October 18, 2005.

Though Dakota Fanning may only be eleven years old, the Georgia born actress has garnered more good reviews than most actresses twice or triple her age. Since she starred in I Am Sam, the pre-teen has become as big a name for family audiences as Julia Roberts has for adult  audiences. And though she has worked with such major stars as Tom Cruise in War of The Worlds or Glenn Close (in her first indie Nine Lives), she has proven she can carry a film as well. In Dreamer – Inspired by a True Story, Fanning makes the story of a young girl who, as part of a family of horse-trainers, nurtures her injured horse to health and to be a winner in the Breeder's Cup, come alive.

What was it about Dreamer - Inspired by a True Story that really interested you?

When I hear John [Gatins, the director] talk about it, he's so passionate about it. It's contagious. So I think when you have a director that really believes in the project as much as we all do now, it makes it so special. Now that everyone has done it we're all so proud to be a part of it. I think that's one of the major reasons I wanted to do it.

Was learning to ride easy?

It was hard work but it was fun for me because I was really interested in learning it anyway even if I wasn't doing the movie. I also knew it was going to help me with the part.

Are you riding with your own horses?

Well I have a horse, Goldie. Kurt gave me my horse. I love riding. I learned for 6 weeks and I was training. I learned riding, all about them, and racing. It was really exciting and really fun.

How did you pick the name--and did you meet [Goldie Hawn--Kurt's wife] as well?

[Laughs] She only came [to the set] once when I was there. She was so sweet. I have a Palomino so he's blonde. So I named him partly because of Goldie and partly because of the color.

Do you feed your Goldie popsicles?

No. They made the horses these grain popsicles and fake twizzlers with peppermint and cake with grain in it.

Did you try any of it?

No man!

Isn't it forbidden to give horses sugar?

No. It’s okay. I gave Goldie cookies and carrots and apples.

One of the themes in the movie is that kids should have the opportunity to fail at things--do you feel that's true in real life?

I think everybody is going to not get it sometimes. In this movie you want her to get it so bad and she's not going to. I think that's so sweet when Kurt and Elizabeth are talking about it in the movie. I think that's when Kurt and my relationship starts to change for the better because he lets me try.

Was it tough to make it seem credible that someone your age can be in business for themselves? Did you connect with it?

It was so believable that Kurt would get the horse back and give it to me. I think that's so real. I can’t imagine my dad not giving the horse back to me if I wanted it back so much. I think that's so real and I thought that was really cool.

Were you a good negotiator?

[Laughs.] It was fun. John added that scene in. We loved doing that scene. Also that's when you see them bonding together.

Kurt Russell had been a child actor himself. Did you talk to him about that experience?

We talked a little about that. Mostly we talked about stuff that would just happen. When you're with someone that you like to talk to, we really like to talk to each other, things just come up and we start talking about them!

Did you talk about playing some of the earlier generation child stars--like Elizabeth Taylor or Shirley Temple?

I've never really thought about that. Shirley Temple and all of them are incredible. I don't know. That would be fun.

Have you ever met the older child stars?

No, I haven't.

Having done so many films, when you look at them do you see yourself in them or how you've defined your character?

I try and learn something knew on every movie I do. I try to better myself from everything [and] from everyone on the film and from my characters. I've been very fortunate to play all different kinds. I just try and portray the character and the themes I fell in love with in the script.

What was the movie you had the most fun making?

They've all been really fun in really different ways. Man on Fire was really fun in a challenging sad way. War of the Worlds was really fun in an action packed way. This was really fun in a sweet way and getting to work with Kurt and Elizabeth [Shue] again and Freddie [Rodriguez] and Luis [Guzman] and John and Chris.

Is it fun being in peril?

Yeah I look forward to doing scenes like that.

How is that in terms of War of The Worlds?

I enjoyed it. I enjoyed that because I never really in a movie have been in danger, danger before. In this there were aliens all around me, hiding behind things and jumping out. It was a real challenge.

What things did you learn on that movie?

I think I learned a lot from Steven [Spielberg] and Tom [Cruise] and Tim [Robbins.] They just taught me so much about filmmaking and acting.

What was it like to work with Kris Kristofferson as your grandfather in this film?

It was amazing. He is so great. I just wish I got to work with him a little bit more. We saw each other on the set a lot. We talked a whole bunch. He's so sweet and [he's] an amazing actor and I'm so blessed that I got to work with him.

Do any of the actors you work with say that they're fans of yours?

It’s exciting to meet all these people and work with them I can’t believe I got to meet them and then I actually get to work with them. It's a dream.

Are you surprised that other actors have seen you?

I still get really excited in a nervous way.

Are there any actresses that you really admire?

Hilary Swank and Jodie Foster.

Somebody was saying that you look like her.

Yeah I do!

Did you get a chance to talk to Jodie Foster?

I've never met her.

Are you interested in talking with people who were former child actors and find out their experience?

Yeah, sure. I mean it's so different now than it was then but I would love to talk to Jodie Foster about anything!

Do you ever think that would be a good paper to do to interview Jodie Foster?

I know but there are required ones that you have to do though. I did Amelia Earhart and I just wonder where she is!

What do you have to say about the article saying your box office cloud is bigger than Julia Roberts?

I'm a little bit embarrassed. I don't think of myself that way. But when people say that it’s really nice but I don't even think that's true.

How do you feel about people are acknowledging your work?

I'm not sure. I feel so lucky to have the opportunities I have and all the projects I've done I'm really proud to be apart of.

Have you always wanted to be an actor? When did you first start?

When I was five and a half my mom took me this playhouse where you study this play and do the play at the end of the week. They thought I should go to this agency. I got a couple of commercials. Then they said that we should go to pilot season in California. So I turned six and I went to California. Then I got some more commercials and TV shows and then I got I Am Sam.

Was that tougher because it was so early on to do something so emotional?

I was so excited. I always got really excited when it was a movie audition. It was really fun. Every time we would plan to go home, I remember we planned to go home Saturday and then we planned to come back. Well I got ER that Saturday and I couldn't go so it was things like that. Then I got a bunch of TV shows and when I Am Sam came along I was so happy.

And was it tough to get into the character?

It probably was now that I think about it. But I was so excited then I didn't even think about it. I didn't even care if it was hard or difficult I just wanted to do it so bad because I wanted to be an
actress really bad.

Do you still get allowance from your parents or do you give them one?

I've never gotten one. I don't even think about that ever.

Do you get to keep the money you make?

It’s put aside for me. I don't even think about it.

What's the biggest thing you've bought with the money?

Nothing. I've never bought anything.

Do you collect anything?

I collect dolls but I get those for Christmas and my birthday.

You should go to those doll shows.

Oh I know! I've been to the toy fair. It was so fun. For The Cat in the Hat they had the toys and
Spencer [Breslin] and I went to the toy fair and it was really cool.

When is your bed time?

I don't really have one. But on weekends I can stay up as late as I want. But on weekdays if I have something to do the next morning I go to bed at like 11.

Are you allowed to work late nights on movies?

I can work till 10 on weekdays and till 12 on Fridays.

What do you like to do on your down time?

I ride Goldie of course. I read and I knit and play piano.

Do you ever think about writing? Would that be tough for you?

No. I did this report last year on Clara Barton and it was so much fun. I get to pick another one to do.

What would you pick?

Well there is a couple we get to choose from. There's Queen Victoria and I think I'm going to do

Would you like to do more historical movies?

I think it would be cool to do a movie like that. I've never done a period piece.

When you go back to school to your friends what do they say about this other world of yours?

We don't really think about that. We don't really talk about that really.

Do you have other friends that are actors that are your age?

None of my friends are actors. We don't really talk about that or think about that when we're at the movies. We're not talking about it.

Have they gotten used to you being gone for a long while doing a movie?

They have. My friend is getting the iChat camera and my dad has that on the computer at home and my friend is getting that so I'm excited.

Do you ever talk about the business with your sister?

Not really I don't. She just goes and does her movies when I'm doing something else and she goes and enjoys it.

How old is your sister?


Do you ever give her advice?

Not really. We don't ever really do that. She just enjoys what she does as well as has fun.

How do you two get along?

We get along very well.

No rivalry?

No. (Laughs)

What kind of roles are you looking forward to play as you get older?

I think that's one of the fun things about getting older is that more roles open up for you to do. I'm excited about that there are so many stories.

What other things do you think you might have done if you hadn't become an actor?

I love what I'm doing. I can't imagine doing anything else but acting.

Do you eventually want to go to acting school?

I would like to go to college. But acting school… I've never really done that. I'm not sure about school but I would definitely go to college.

Are there any particular questions that you ask other actresses about acting?

I just kind of learn from them by watching them. I don't ask them questions I just watch their acting.

What was it like doing a movie like Nine Lives? Have you seen the completed film?

I haven't. I've only seen my part.

Have you stayed in touch with Glenn Close?

I haven't seen her since we filmed. I wish we could have worked longer together though.  We worked one day for four hours together.

Do you ever want to get anybody’s autograph?

I've never asked for anybody's autograph.

Would you be embarrassed to do so?

It's not that I'm embarrassed its just like, the actors I work with become friends. So you'd be asking a friend for an autograph and you know them so well. And when you ask someone for an autograph it’s like you don't know them but I do.

Are there normal things that you wish you could do, like babysitting?

Well I have a 15-month-old cousin that I babysat. So my mom and I had to get up at like six to watch the baby.

Does it put life in perspective when you have to change a diaper?

It's really hard to do that. You have to follow [the baby] around and you're just like '"AAHHHHH! STOP!" (Laughs)

Do you think about the future much?

I know I want to act always. I try to focus just on what I'm doing right now. When I do think about it I know I'll definitely be acting.

When you get offers for projects how do you decide what to do and what not to do?

I think it's about the right time and if I've done a lighter movie before or a drama. So I switch back and forth.

Child stars are always said to be brats. So are you paying people off because I've never heard of you as being a brat?

I don't think I'm a brat. (Laughs) I just love what I do.

How do you keep yourself balanced in all this?

I think most people think that kids in the business are brats. You don't have to be a brat to be an actress. I just enjoy it so much that there is no time to do anything like that. And why would I want to when I'm enjoying myself?

Are there any other things you'd like to get into?

I would like to direct when I get older.

Why not now?

That's what Roger Ebert told me.

If you made your movie do you have an idea what kind of movie you'd like to make?

I don't know. I'd have to think about it. I think I'm thinking more about my acting than anything else.

What kinds of films do you look forward to doing?

I think as I get older I'll be able to play more kinds of roles. I'm looking forward to that.

What comes out next?

Charlotte's Web comes out in June and there is an independent film that I can't talk about.

Do you ever come up with your own ideas about your character?

On War of the Worlds I could do that. It wasn't like "no ideas on the set." (Laughs)

Do you feel like you're an expert about playing kids because you are one?

Steven Spielberg has seven so… (laughs).

In this movie, did you add something to your character from your own experiences as a kid and being with horses?

Yeah I really enjoyed it. It's something different and it's a family film and I can really relate to my character and what she was going through.

When you look back on your movies, do you feel like you can relate to your characters?

In ways, but mostly they're all really different from myself. Most all of them are. And I'm glad I can say that because of Hide and Seek and Uptown Girls. (Laughs)

What movies stir the most interesting memories about working on them?

I had fun on all of them. I could never pick my favorite. All of them have been incredible and have helped me as an actress.

What have you thought about the fact that you got the best reviews of anyone in those movies?

That's very nice but I don't really read reviews.

You don't like to read reviews?

It's not that I don't like them. I just don't read them. If I do see them I don't really care. I don't purposely look for them though.

What have you been reading lately?

Judy Blume books. She's really cool. Harry Potter as usual. I didn't want the book to end. I loved it.

Did you meet the kids from Harry Potter?

No, I never met them.

And what are you reading right now?

Right now I'm reading Where the Red Fern Grows. I'm reading that book right now, and I'm reading the Harry Potter books, which I love.

Do you have any subject that you're interested in?

I love history. History is my favorite subject. I like history in general and learning about different times in history.

American history or international history?

Both. When I went to England and Paris we did a lot of historical things.

Where did you go?

We went to the Louvre and Notre Dame and the Eiffel tower. And I climbed the Arc de Triomphe.

Did you go to the top?

We couldn't go because it was too crowded. We went to the second level.

Where did you go in England?

We went to London and we went to Buckingham Palace, Winchester and Princess Diana's memorial.

Is Fanning of English decent?

It's Irish.

Have you been to

No. I'm also half German.

You haven't been to
Germany either?

No. I love doing history and going to places though.

What movies have you been watching lately?

There hasn't really been any I've looked at. I'm just thinking about the one I can't talk about. (Giggles)

Are you jet lagged?

Yeah. We went to LA, Phoenix, Dallas, Atlanta, Indianapolis, Kansas City and then here.

Do you ever get to see much of the cities?


Do you ever want to just go on a road trip eventually?

I've gotten to film in so many places. When I was in Australia there was a lot of time to do things. When we went to Paris I was so happy we could do all those things.

Did you go to any expensive restaurants?

We mostly just went to little cafes. We went to the Ritz Paris once. We went to Montmartre too.

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Copyright ©2005 PopEntertainment.com.  All rights reserved.  Posted: October 18, 2005.

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Copyright ©2005 PopEntertainment.com.  All rights reserved.  Posted: October 18, 2005.