Fanning does it again in her latest film, Very Good Girls, but this is the first time her character’s journey closely mirrored events happening simultaneously in Dakota’s own life. We chatted with the star about playing a role that hit so close to home, how the film is being completely mis-marketed, and the perks of being a secret non-wallflower.
What first attracted you to the role of Lilly?
“When I read the script, I was sort of experiencing a similar thing to her. I was about to graduate from high school. I was preparing to go to college and move to New York, so I related to that. By the time I filmed the movie, I was living in New York on my own. I had had sort of the whole same experience. I felt I could really understand the story and what Lilly was going through. It was a timing thing.”
This film is being billed as a “virginity pact” movie, but it feels like a lot more than that.
“I’m really kind of disturbed by that description; it’s so not what [the movie] is about to me. I think it’s about friendship, growing up, and leaving chapters of your life behind. And, how life can get really complicated. Naomi [Foner, the director] says it’s a story about learning to tell the truth, and how difficult that lesson can be sometimes."
“Why does anybody do anything? You get yourself into a situation and know that it’s not right. Before you can fix it, it’s too late. That’s why life and human interaction are so complicated. Everyone has her own opinion about what happened and what somebody said. Someone watching the movie might not understand why she’s not coming out and saying it. But, Lilly’s at a point in her life where she’s giving up so many things and moving on, and she wants one thing to just be hers.”
Lilly seems to keep her emotions buried, while Gerry is a lot more open. Which character would your friends say you’re more like?
“At first, I’m definitely more of an introverted person. I like to observe and get a feel for who people are and what a situation is like before opening up. I think I’m a little bit of both. My closest friends would probably say I’m crazy, but people might consider me shy. There’s a lot going on inside, but I’m not afraid. And, I’m definitely not shy.”
Even though you’ve been living in NYC for college, did you venture places you’d never been before while shooting?
“At the time, I was definitely a city person — I didn’t really leave Manhattan. Making this movie was really exciting; it has locations that you don’t see in movies very often, like the Rockaways and Brighton Beach. The homes where we filmed were in this part of Brooklyn with these old Victorians surrounded by a Caribbean neighborhood. I had no idea it was there. It’s also so rare that you’re filming in the place and season that the movie is actually set in. Usually you’re in like, Toronto in the winter for a summer movie in New York.”
“She did drama at NYU, and I’m in Gallatin, where you create your own major. She hadn’t graduated yet when we made this movie, so she was still going through similar stuff. We were friends before we made this movie, though.”
What’s it like having a sister who’s also in the industry?
“I think [Elle and I] kind of keep our professional lives separate. I know what she’s doing and where she is, but it’s not something we give each other advice on. I feel like in my career, it’s sort of just me, and her career is just her. It’s nice to have a person who understands what you mean when you say things like, ‘I have to go do some phone interviews.’ She’s experiencing the same things.”
What’s next for you?
“I’m not working on anything at the moment, but I have a few things coming out. I did a movie with Richard Gere called Franny, and The Last of Robin Hood with Susan Sarandon and Kevin Kline.”
Are you headed back to school? What are you studying?
“I’m going back to New York in a few weeks. I’ve been going to school for three years and taking fewer credits each semester, so I have a few more years to go. I’m studying the history of the entertainment industry and the portrayal of women in films. I figured if I’m going to school, it might as well help my work!”
Very Good Girls is available on iTunes and VOD and opens today in select cities.