Dakota Fanning talks about her co-starring role in the Robert De Niro thriller, Hide and Seek
Dakota Fanning is the biggest little girl in the business today. Yeah, I know that sounds funny, but its true. When I got to sit down with her to talk about her latest film, Hide and Seek, a thriller/ horror film with the legendary Robert De Niro, I was blown away by a few things. First of all, this girl is the size of my leg, and not only that, she's got to be the smartest little (almost) 11 year old I've ever talked to. Not only does she have her hands full working with De Niro, but will also be starring with Tom Cruise in the upcoming Steven Spielberg film version of War of the Worlds. This little dynamo was tight lipped about her role in the film, but was a treat to talk to about other stuff. Allow me to introduce you to Dakota Fanning.
Do you scare easily Dakota? Do you like scary movies?
Dakota: I love this one. I loved seeing it. It was frightening.
Was it harder for you to watch this movie or was it harder for you to be in it, and to react to everything that was going on around you?
Dakota: You know when I was filming it, it was so intense and I had to maintain all
these emotions throughout the sequences. We often had a good time when we weren't doing stuff like that.
Was it scary with Robert De Niro, at first?
Dakota: He made me feel so comfortable and he was so kind to me and I learned so much from him, to watch and act. He's so committed to the scripts, so focussed, so I loved it.
Had you seen his movies before?
Dakota: My favourite was Awakenings.
You seem to be so comfortable with the big actors, like Sean Penn and now Robert De Niro. I know you've said in the past that you admire actors like Jodie Foster and when I was watching it, I was thinking of Jodie Foster when she was a little girl and she was doing, like some of these very mature roles. Is that still kind, is she still your role model?
Dakota: Yes, I know there are so many actors and actresses out there that I really like, and I would really like to work with her one day.
She (Elizabeth Shue) was actually saying that you were giving HER advice during this movie, which is rather funny from an eleven going on 25 year old. Where does that come from, that maturity about you? Where do you think that?
Dakota: I always have a good time and everybody that I've worked with has been so nice to me and especially Elizabeth. We had a great time together, and I've done two movies with her – this one and then I did the one in Kentucky.
In such an early career you've worked with such talented people. Now you're working with Spielberg again, and with Tom Cruise.
Dakota: He is so incredibly nice and Steven is incredibly nice and that movie comes out on June 29th and I think it's wonderful.
How was it working on that because it's a really huge movie, did you like working on it?
Dakota: Yes, it's really exciting it going to be really very good.
Can you tell us a little bit about your character?
Dakota: You have to see it! It's a secret. (Laughs)
You play Tom Cruise's daughter in the film, right.
Dakota: Yes, but that's all I can say.
You're now going to Australia to do Charlottes Web, right?
Dakota: I haven't ever been there. But it's really funny because the director of this is from Australia.
Is it a coincidence that stacks of books from the very top?
Dakota: I know I couldn't believe that, that's so funny.
So how are they going to do Charlottes Web? Do you know?
Dakota: They are going to use real animals.
Dakota: No they are going to use real animals.
Dakota: Yeah, like Babe.
How long are you going to be away?
Dakota: Until the end of May, from the end of March to the end of May.
Now most 11 years don't regularly see R rated movies, did you see this one?
Dakota: Yes I did.
When you were offered the role, did you see the full script?
Dakota: I did, I read the whole thing and I just wanted to do it so badly, such a different character that I'd never played before. So different from myself. All the other characters I've played, I could always find something in them that's like me but with this one, there's nothing like me at all.
Who decides on what you're going to do is it a joint decision with your whole family?
Dakota: It's kind of everybody, it's a group decision of what is great, what's good to do at that time, but I read the script and I just knew I had to do it. Just to get to work with Robert De Niro at such an early age, I just feel so lucky.
The haircut, how did that discussion come about?
Dakota: Yeah, John Polson and I kind of talked about and I'd never had dark hair in real life or in a movie before so it was a change, and also it kind of made me look a little bit scarier for some reason.
What about your younger sister. Can you give her any advice?
Dakota: When she was filming The Door in the Floor, I was actually in Mexico doing Man on Fire, so my grandmother went with her and my Mum went with me. So she was having a good time so I've never really been with her at the same place, so she's been doing good, though, she really likes it a lot.
What was your first meeting with De Niro like?
Dakota: It was great he was real nice, it was with the director and him together, and we had a great time.
Is he quiet or shy?
Dakota: He was very kind and generous to me and my birthday was on the set and he actually gave me a doll that looked my character, with the brown hair and blue eyes.
What is your favorite part of acting? Is it the creative part, meeting people, what is it?
Dakota: I really like all the parts of it, but one of my favourites, there's a lot of things that I like about it, you get to be somebody else, unlike yourself, and you get to meet new people and go to different locations. Like I'm going to Australia, and I'd probably never do that. Like Mexico, I probably would never have gone there, if I didn't do that movie, so, and you get to meet wonderful people that, and memories you'll have for the rest of your life.
Is acting something you want to do forever?
Dakota: Yeah, I definitely hope so. This is what I want to do for the rest of my life and I hope to get to, and this is definitely something that I really love.
How hard was it getting your foot in acting?
Dakota: When we lived in Georgia my mom put me in plays at school,, and one day they told her you should get her an agent, so we got one, and then came to calif9rnia for 6 weeks during pilot season and it all pretty much took off from there. And we've been here for 6 six years ever since.
Is the first thing you did a Tide commercial?
Dakota: I did a Tide commercial in Florida, yes for like a week and it was so fun.
So from that, who called you to work on War of the Worlds?
Dakota: I read the script and said I liked it, and we did it, and DreamWorks was off and doing the other project that I was working on at the time, Dreamer and DreamWorks, kinda neat. So, I was doing Dreamer when I read the script, they really wanted me to do it and I wanted to do it really bad so I did with Tom.
What have you learned in the last five years?
Dakota: I've learned lots of things from all the different people I've worked with all these years. For instance with Bob (De Niro) I just watched him and learned so much. He is so good at his craft.
What about Alice and Wonderland?
Dakota: Well the script is being written right now by Leslie Bohem who wrote TAKEN and so he's in the process right now and I can't wait to see it.
Is it for television?
Dakota: No, it's a movie.
Are you a fan of the book?
Dakota: I am, and the animated movie.
There's been a few versions of Alice in Wonderland. Are you nervous about stepping into a very classic shoes?
Dakota: Well, my sister and I really liked the movie and everything, and I loved the book, so I think it would be exciting to take on something like that.
Dakota: In Alice and Wonderland? Alice of course... I love Alice.
What's your favorite genre?
Dakota: I've been lucky to get a taste of different kinds, like comedy, drama, sci-fi, and as I get older I look forward and hope I continue to do more.
Do you miss being around kids your own age?
Dakota: Well on the set there's always kids, Robert even brought his kids on the set one day, so theirs always kids on the set.
You learned Spanish for Man on Fire, so you still speak it?
Dakota: Yes I do! I love it. I am also learning French.
Which do you like best?
Dakota: I love them both!
Who do you play in Dreamers?
Dakota: I play the daughter of Elisabeth Shue and Kurt Russell and it's a horse racing movie and I had to learn how to horse back ride for it.
What is your most favorite movie ever?
Dakota: I love Gone with the Wind, and for Halloween I was scarlet O'Hara.
What's your favorite kid's movie?
Dakota: I loved The Incredibles, Shrek and Shrek 2.