Dakota Fanning Won't Tell You Her Dream Role

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dakota_embesdPhoto: BEImages/Gregory Pace.
In case you are in need of a primer, let's rehash Dakota Fanning's current C.V.: She nabbed her first best actress award at the age of seven (from the Broadcast Film Critics Association for I Am Sam), played muse to Steven Spielberg, and has been a critical success story for over a decade. The actress has also mastered the balancing act, brilliantly navigating growing up with developing her career. Now, at 20, with a slew of blockbusters and young-adult films under her belt, Fanning is ready to start some real explosions.

Kelly Reichardt's environmental drama Night Moves (opening May 30) is one of the darkest, most thought-provoking movies in Fanning's oeuvre. And, it’s not just because she goes full on brunette. Her character Dena, is a high-society dropout rebelling against consumer politics. Sure, she holds the same beliefs that are often taught in college classrooms, only Dena chooses to live them rather than just blindly accept them to be true. And, though Fanning says she wouldn't pull a Dena, she's also vowed to never say never. Luckily, her burgeoning career creates a safe space to scratch those itches without the repercussions her Night Moves character faces in the film.

So, let’s begin with the Night Moves. What the heck is Dena’s deal?
“What’s her deal? I think she is a young person who wants to make her mark on the world. It is alluded to in the film, but she comes from a place of privilege. Now she’s on her own and wants her independence. She wants to do something that makes a big statement. I feel like a lot of young people feel that way. They want to do something that makes an immediate change. I think that’s what she’s doing. She’s definitely an interesting character to play. She’s someone who talks first and then her mind catches up with her mouth later. In terms of how she looks, she is totally a naturalist. I dyed my hair dark — which I had never done before. I had worn a dark wig before. That was an interesting experience.”

What about her attracted you? Do you see a lot of yourself in her? Or, is her schtick so foreign that she became alluring?
“I think what really attracted me to the movie, to the character, and to the story, was Kelly Reichardt, who directed the film and wrote it. I would have done anything that she wanted; I’m a really big fan of hers. It just so happened that I thought that Dena was a really interesting character and the story was really interesting. Kelly has such a natural way of making movies, and I thought it would be different from what I have done before. It was. It was such an amazing experience.”

Would you ever do what Dena did? Would you ever cut off everything and go live somewhere in the forest?
“I don’t think so. I think that I’m really happy with my life. I feel like I’m doing good things and I think that she probably thought that she could do something better, if, you know, she did something big and different.”

Is there anything you would never do for a role?
“[Laughs] I don’t know. It is all sort of situational. You don’t know until it’s put in front of you and you make that decision to not say really bold things. Maybe one day, you will have to take it back and wonder why you said that. I try to stay away from saying never. You never know what you are going to do.”

What was the first movie that you saw that resonated with you and made you feel like, “That is what I want to do?”
“Probably What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. I saw that when I was 10 or 11. It’s my favorite movie. I love it so much! It’s an amazing story about people. It was kind of the first movie I had ever seen that was just about people. There weren’t any crazy things that happened. Everything was just a story of human interaction. I thought that I wanted to do movies like that.”

Was there a character in that movie that you gravitated toward? Did you have the thought, “I could do that better”?
“[Laughs] No. It’s my favorite movie, so I definitely think the whole thing is great. I didn’t gravitate toward any particular character. I just think I like the overall vibe of the film. I like that it’s very simple.”

Too true. Is there a dream role for you?
“I have one, but I’ve never told anyone. I think I’m going to hold on to it for a little bit longer. It is one of those things that I feel like if I say it, it will never come true. So, I do have one, but I also think that sometimes your mind can’t even dream up the dream role. Do you know what I mean? There are so many different stories and characters. You never know what you are going to do. I’ve always wanted to do a movie that was a period piece, in Victorian dress. I got to do that. It was so exciting. You really never know. Being in a movie that Kelly directed was a dream that I didn’t really know I had until it was put in front of me. I thought, ‘Oh my god, yes! I love her and I would love to be in her film.’ It became a dream.”

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