Dakota Fanning

NOTE: Before blogging, I used to be an entertainment reporter for a daily newspaper, where I interviewed dozens of actors. Enjoy this article “from the vault!” 
By Kathy Cano-Murillo
The Arizona Republic
January 24, 2002

This week I Am Sam joins the tear-stained ranks of emotional parent-child dramas. Sean Penn plays a mentally challenged father who struggles with raising an 8-year-old daughter. When her intellect begins to surpass his, it isn’t long before social services threatens to place her in foster care. Let the cryfest begin.

It’s easy to imagine Penn taking on the Rain Man-esque role, but how does one find the perfect child to provide the required misty-eyed speeches and facial expressions?

No worries, thanks to little Dakota Fanning. At age 7, the pint-size Georgia native not only mastered the angelic role of Lucy Dawson, but made each scene worthy of more than a few wet sniffles. It’s no doubt that her naive charm aided Sam in winning over critics in the heat of award season. Fanning chatted with us from her California home about her new showbiz lifestyle. Thrilled by it all, she still manages to relay that comical honesty that comes with being a kid.

QUESTION: Have you seen the movie yet?

ANSWER: Yes, I have. I cried during the whole thing. I’m so proud because it’s about something that is in our society today. It was life, real life, and I forgot that I was at the movies, it was so real.

Q: But it was so sad. How did you handle all those emotional scenes?

A: It did make me very sad, but I would just think about really sad things like my goldfish dying. But then the material was so sad itself, it was easy for me to play that.

Q: Were you able to have fun, though?

A: Oh, in the happy scenes there were really fun times. Sean would say really funny stuff because he likes to improv. I would want to laugh, but you are not allowed to do that during the take. So like the scene at Bob’s Big Boy, he goes (to the waiter), “Go get Bob. Go get Bob.” I’m thinking, “Why is he doing this to me? He’s gonna ruin the take.” I’m about to burst my head off laughing. Then when we were done, everyone laughed.

Q: Do you spend a lot of time practicing your lines?

A: I don’t do that too much because a lot of times scenes change. I just look at it, then maybe I’ll take a look at it when I get there or in the car.

Q: What other movies do you have coming up?

A: I did 24 Hours with Charlize Theron, Kevin Bacon, Stuart Townsend and Courtney Love. It’s a thriller. I’m a little girl that gets kidnapped, and I’m an asthmatic. It was really fun because I got to be an asthmatic. And I’m about to be in Sweet Home Alabama in a few days. I get to play a young Reese Witherspoon. And she’s gonna be there that day, and I hope to meet her because she is really pretty.

Q: Wow, what a whirlwind life. What do you like best about it all?

A: Doing the movies and meeting the people, and I like the stories of the movies. I like names a lot, too. When I do an audition, there is a script and it has a first page that has the names of all the characters. I’m like, “Let me see that real quick, I wanna see what my name is gonna be.”

Q: What about your least favorite?

A: The hardest thing is at the end you have to say bye to all these people who you have worked with for so many months. It was really sad not to see them anymore. But you have the parties that you go to and you get to see them, like the premieres and the screenings.

Q: What are your favorite movies?

A: I loooove My Best Friend’s Wedding and Harry Potter. Oh. And yesterday I went to the premiere of Snow Dogs. I’d have to say that was about the best movie I have ever saw. It was a great movie. I’m serious.

Love & light,

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Kathy Cano-Murillo

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