Dakota Fanning Interview

The actress talks about working with horses, Kurt Russell, and life in Hollywood!

She's only 11, but she's already an amazing veteran superstar! Dakota Fanning - soon, you'll only be saying 'Dakota' and everyone will know who it is - has already been in films with Tom Cruise and Steven Spielberg this year and now is starring in Dreamer.

She plays a girl who's father takes in an injured race horse and nurses it back to greatness.

We talked to Dakota up in Toronto about the film; here's what she had to say:

Are those braces? When did you get those? How are they doing?

Dakota Fanning: Yeah, I got them on the first four a couple months ago actually. They're doing alright; I don't get them tightened.

The worst part is when they're on the bottom and you have the rubber bands...

Dakota Fanning: Oh, yeah, no bottom. I would worry that the rubber bands would snap.

It does sometimes.

Dakota Fanning: Yeah, I have brackets, and I have to hook rubber bands to something, and I'm worried about them snapping.

Why do you think little girls like horses?

Dakota Fanning: I guess every girl wants a pony. And this one for me, if I wasn't in the movie, I would want to go see it because I would like to see a girl my age that actually has a horse and what it's like, and then I'd beg my dad. But I have a horse.

How'd you get the horse?

Dakota Fanning: Kurt [Russell] gave him to me.

What's his name?

Dakota Fanning: Goldie (laughter)

Is he at your house?

Dakota Fanning: At a barn near my house; I ride him all the time. Kurt gave him to me at the end of the movie.

Were you familiar with horses when you started working on the movie?

Dakota Fanning: Not at all, I hadn't done anything with horses at all, so that was fun to experience that.

What work did you do to get ready?

Dakota Fanning: I had six weeks of training. I had learning to ride, equipment, great racehorses, all about racing, all of these kinds of things. So I learned as much as I could, as fast as I could. It was hard, but I was so interested in the subject that I enjoyed it.

What was the hardest thing for you?

Dakota Fanning: Even if something's hard, I don't mind because I enjoy challenging myself. Like learning about the horses was challenging but because I interested in it, I didn't mind at all because I wanted to and it was cool to learn.

You've become a racing fan now?

Dakota Fanning: I have, I mean, I've always been kind of a racing fan because I'm from the South, so you know we'd always watch the Kentucky Derby and all those things. I used to live in Kentucky when I was little, and Arkansas. I'm from Georgia, so racing's really big in the South. So I was always kind of familiar with it. I was going to Keeneland and doing our race was really exciting. It's like we were actually at a race.

Have you been to the Kentucky Derby?

Dakota Fanning: No, I had been to the site when I like that big back then.

Maybe next year?

Dakota Fanning: I think; it might be fun for all the cast to go.

You're eleven now, and you've been working since you were six; what's it like for people to know you since you're famous?

Dakota Fanning: It's cool that people enjoy my work. That's fun for me that people, like going to my movies and enjoy all the hard work that everyone put into it. I think that's the biggest reward, to know that everyone enjoyed the movie.

We were speaking to Jodie Foster about being a child actor; who are your role models?

Dakota Fanning: I definitely look up to her as a role model. I've never gotten to meet her, and I would love to work with her one day.

She said that about you.

Dakota Fanning: Oh really?!

She's here.

Dakota Fanning: I know!

Who are you looking forward to working with?

Dakota Fanning: I would love to work with Hilary Swank. I've met her a bunch of times, and she's really great.

Are you developing your own projects?

Dakota Fanning: No, I'm not really. I'm not doing that, maybe one day.

When you start directing?

Dakota Fanning: (laughs) yeah.

Do you have ambitions like that?

Dakota Fanning: I think it would be cool to do that. It would be fun when I get older.

You've worked with some big directors -

Dakota Fanning: I know, I have learned so much. I try to learn something from everybody I work with. On this movie I learned so much from John, Kurt, everyone. Kurt taught me so much as a person and so much as an actor. He's the one I can always talk to and is very supportive of anything.

How did Kurt help you with acting?

Dakota Fanning: I just got to watch him, that's the biggest thing he would ever do, just let me work with him and watch him and just absorb all his talent, get to see him act and how he does it.

What role impresses your friends the most?

Dakota Fanning: They're really excited about this movie. They can't wait to see it because all of my friends like horses.

Freddy said you guys would copy Napoleon Dynamite. Can you do the dance?

Dakota Fanning: No, (laughs) we'd always try and do it and we could never do it. Kurt and I went to see that movie. Kurt calls them ‘dates.' He says ‘We went on two dates,' but, not really. The first time we went to IHOP and then we went to go see Shark Tale, and then the other time we went to see Napoleon Dynamite, and I laughed so hard. It was like two people in the theater besides us. We were laughing hysterically, falling off our chairs.

Can you do a line for us?

Dakota Fanning: We would do it constantly. On the next movie I did War of the Worlds, Tom and Steven - that's their favorite movie, too. So we did it all the time. But, so Freddy and I at lunch would go, (impersonation) ‘Give me your tots!'

When you go out to the movies, etc, can you do that incognito w/o entourage?

Dakota Fanning: Yeah, I don't have anyone like that.

Is it weird for you to see fans hanging out to see you?

Dakota Fanning: A lot of people come up to me on the street, but it's never like a million-thousand people.

Do they ask for pictures and autographs?

Dakota Fanning: Yeah, I don't mind.

How is it working with Elizabeth again?

Dakota Fanning: It was so good. I got to be nice this time. That was fun.

How was it to see yourself in that movie Hide and Seek?

Dakota Fanning: I was so mean, I felt kind of bad because I love Elizabeth so much. I felt bad being so mean to her. I was like ‘Sorry.' But I got to be nice in this movie and have a good relationship with her.

Is it fun to be bad in the movies?

Dakota Fanning: I think that's what I like about doing movies because you do things and portray characters that you wouldn't ever do or be like in your life. That's the fun thing about acting. You get to do things like being mean sometimes.

How did you befriend the horses to gain their trust on set?

Dakota Fanning: Well, I rode them all the time, and I trained with them constantly. There were five that played Sonya; I mostly only worked with three of them though. They were all really sweet and so pretty and they felt like our horses.

So you were sad when you had to say goodbye?

Dakota Fanning: Yes.

How much is you in full gallop on the scene with the runaway horse?

Dakota Fanning: I only did that one scene riding, and that's not me because they were going really, really fast.

What else would you want to do when you grow up?

Dakota Fanning: I definitely want to still be acting.

Have you always wanted to act?

Dakota Fanning: In Georgia, where I'm from, I used to play around the house, pretending to be different things. My mom saw that and took me to this playhouse where you stage a play and you play at the end of the week. Then I got two commercials in two weeks, so I went to California for pilot season and we never looked back.

It looks like your sister, Elle, is following in your footsteps?

Dakota Fanning: She has played me younger in two films. Then she got Door in the Floor and loved it. And then she had Because of Winn-Dixie, and loved it. And now she's doing another movie.

What's next for you?

Dakota Fanning: Charlotte's Web comes out in June and then I'm not really doing anything.

What about school?

Dakota Fanning: I'm home-schooled, so I'll go to my teacher's house.

Do you want to do Alice in Wonderland?

Dakota Fanning: I would love to; I don't even know if they're going to make it, I'm not really sure.

What's your favorite book?

Dakota Fanning: There's so many; I love Charlotte's Web. And with Alice in Wonderland, I'm a big fan of the Disney animated movie.

You were around a lot of animals.

Dakota Fanning: I know, I finished Charlotte's Web. I had so many all around, all the time.

How was the shoot?

Dakota Fanning: It went great, we were in Australia. It was fantastic, lots of pigs. We were in Melbourne, out in the country.

What's the best place you ever went to?

Dakota Fanning: I recently went to Tokyo, Paris and London. And I loved Paris. Love, love, love, love, love.

Go to Disneyland?

Dakota Fanning: No, I was only there for three days. One day we just went to dinner. One day, we did a 13-hour tour day. And one day it rained, so we just walked around.

So you'll have to go back and go.

Dakota Fanning: Yeah, It's gorgeous.

And Hong Kong, they just opened -

Dakota Fanning: - a Disneyland there, yeah. Definitely! I heard the Japan one is great though.

What was your favorite scene to shoot in this movie?

Dakota Fanning: I really loved doing all of them. But I think the ones where we're all together, like the one in the barn where Palmer comes and tries to buy the horse. I think that's one of my favorites because we're all there and another one of my favorites is with me and Elizabeth at the diner.

What were some of the hardest scenes?

Dakota Fanning: I don't think of them as hard. I think of them as a challenge to myself. So that's what I look forward to; I enjoy hard things.

What was the most challenging then?

Dakota Fanning: Well, I look forward to them, so I never really say they're difficult because that's what I like to do. That's what I enjoy about being an actress is getting to do the fun stuff and also getting to do the challenging stuff.

What's your feeling about this small, quiet film with a first-time director?

Dakota Fanning: John has believed in it so much. Everyone, when we were filming it, we were so proud to be a part of it. Everyone really had a passion for this film and we were excited about doing it. We had the best experience and so much fun and something that we won't ever forget.

What was your first reaction the first time you saw your face 50-stories high on the side of a building?

Dakota Fanning: I know! The Taken poster, when I did Taken, I was like ‘Oh – My – G-d!' Every time we'd go there, I'd look at my face, and my nose is humongous; I couldn't even believe it.

Do you think you'd ever go back to TV?

Dakota Fanning: I never say never, but I really enjoy what I'm doing right now. I can't imagine doing something different because I enjoy this so much.

Is there one character on TV you'd want to play?

Dakota Fanning: I'm not really sure; I really enjoy doing movies. But TV is great, I don't know where we'd be without TV.

Dreamer gallops into theaters October 21st; it's rated PG. It also stars Kurt Russell, Kris Kristofferson, Elizabeth Shue, Luis Guzman, and Freddy Rodriguez.