She may be almost 11, but Dakota Fanning behaves with more maturity than most Hollywood veterans. In the five years since the press were initially confronted by the diminutive actress in I am Sam, Fanning talks with the increasing ease of a pro. Asked in fact what she has learned since I am Sam, Fanning merely says that "I think on the movies, I've learned something from everyone I've worked with," including Robert De Niro, her latest co-star in the upcoming psycho thriller Hide and Seek. "I just watched him and watched him act. He's so good at his craft."
Hide and Seek revolves around a widower (Robert DeNiro) who, after the suicide of his wife, takes his daughter (Fanning), upstate. When the increasingly disturbed Emily creates an imaginary friend named Charlie, .things take an unexpected and terrifying turn, and her father and doctor (Famke Janssen) start to worry about Emily's gruesome habits.
Though not someone who sees intense thrillers on a regular basis, she was allowed to see Hide and Seek all the way through. "I loved seeing it and it was frightening," she says, smilingly. As for working with yet another Hollywood heavyweight in De Niro, Fanning says "he made me feel so comfortable, 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."
It is hard to imagine that young Dakota has appeared in over a dozen films. The Georgian native began with a simple pie commercial, but acting has been in her blood from the beginning of childhood. "When we lived in Georgia, my Mom took me to this playhouse where you did plays by the end of the week and they said that I should go to an agency, so we did. Then we came to California for six weeks for pilot season, and it all kind of started from there."
Fanning adds that she's never looked back, and why should she? After all, she is working with the biggest and the best in the business, such as Spielberg and Cruise, for this summer's major blockbuster, War of the Worlds. Remaining tight lipped on the project, Fanning merely admits that Cruise, who plays her father in the film, "is so incredibly nice as is Steven and that movie comes out on June 29th and I think it's wonderful," she says, laughingly.
Fanning worked previously with Spielberg on the sci-fi TV miniseries Taken, and loves the idea of mixing it up and working with different genres. "I've been lucky enough to get a taste of different kinds, the sci-fi, the comedy, drama, the thriller type. I love doing all of them. I've never really picked one because I've gotten the chance to do all sorts of different characters and I've heard it just grows, as you get older and older. It's exciting for me to get to see what comes on next." And as popular as she is at the age of 10, she hopes to continue acting well into adulthood. "
But roles for the young actress continue to pur in. She's heading for Australia in March to shot Charlotte's Web. "I loved that book. It's so sad, I cry every time I read it." Fanning, who has never been to Australia before, is looking forward to shooting Down Under, and says the film will not be CGI. "We're doing it all with real animals." Then Alice in Wonderland looks as if it is finally happening. "Well the script is being written right now by Les Bohem who wrote Taken and so he's in the process right now and I can't wait to see it."