Dakota Fanning, will you be our friend? We could swap matching hats, or go skinny-dipping in the Atlantic like the first scene in your new movie, Very Good Girls. Or we could roll our eyes when our little sisters steal our favorite pairs of pants and experiment with hair dye. And if you needed it, we'd help you come up with the best college major ever for your time at NYU. Geography of make-believe worlds? Cat haberdashery? Origami? (See, we told you we'd be good.)
Sigh. She sadly doesn't need our help, because, as we saw at the Fresh-sponsored brunch for her new movie Very Good Girls (where she plays BFFs with Lizzie Olsen), Dakota is just as thoughtful, gorgeous, and articulate as we always knew she'd be. She's got that superwoman thing going already, balancing schoolwork, an A-list acting career, and her super fashionable chops, so we're doubtful she has time to hang out with us. But...what if?
I wanted to first talk about how the movie really evoked powerful images of New York in the summer. Then I got bummed out about the Rockaways. Was that weird?
"Yeah, it was. Well, we made this movie in New York City in the summertime, so that element of realism was taken care of, you know? We were really sweating. We were really hot. The clothes that we were wearing we tried to make as practical as possible. A big part of this movie is Coney Island, the boardwalk, and the beach. Definitely. I actually didn’t even connect that that wasn’t even there anymore until Naomi [Foner] said it last night, and that’s so hard for me to believe. We made this movie last summer — it wasn’t that long ago, you know? Those beaches were so full of life, so full of colors, and skin. It was so amazing and so perfect for this movie. Yeah, it’s pretty devastating. New York and the people of New York are so amazing and resilient. I’m sure come this summer there’ll be some makeshift set-up to have fun, you know?"
We’ll figure something out! Are you at NYU right now? What are you majoring in? Can I ask?
“Well, I go to Gallatin to create your own major, so it’s majorly TBD.”
What are some things besides acting that are interesting you?
“I’m definitely heavily interested in film. Somehow every class I take I relate it back to that, but I’ve taken all kinds of classes. I’ve taken a Victorian literature class. I’ve taken a class on mythical monsters. I’ve taken all kinds of different things. My goal is to create a major that’s insane. I really want to shock people when I say what it is.”
Underwater expressionist painting?
“Oh I’m sure that exists at Gallatin, too! Everyone gets so creative and it’s really cool. I want to join the list of cool titles.”
Everyone is talking about this Sundance having lots of women having lots of sex. Why do you think we continue to be so fascinated by the idea of young women who are in control of their sexual lives?
“Well, people are fascinated with that because I think we’ve all seen enough of guys pursuing girls, and guys getting girls, and guys sleeping with girls, and choosing and pitting them against one another. I think it’s really refreshing to see girls in the driver’s seat of that and making their own choices because that’s how we really are now. It’s like Naomi said when she was growing up; she didn’t have any one she could really identify with that was in the films except for Katharine Hepburn. It was always a man. I think everyone is like “guys, you know…whatever.” I think it’s time for us to see girls being the guys.”
A couple years ago everyone was into the manic-pixie dream girl, but you (and Elizabeth Olsen) don't play the manic-pixie dream girl, which is so unrealistic. Instead, both of you are flawed and weird and come from two totally different backgrounds, but have real, daunting issues. Is this an evolution of the manic-pixie?
“Yeah, I think so! I think that the girl that everyone thinks of does evolve every whatever – however long it takes, but it does. For me, the girl that I played is kind of a girl I think is a real young woman; a real relatable character and has elements of a lot of different kinds of girls in one, which I feel like I am.”
What’s more fun for you: the bad-ass or the good-girl? ‘Cause you’ve definitely done both.
“Yeah, for sure. For me, I’m the person that witnesses someone being rude at a coffee shop and I walk home, like, I should have said, 'What’s your problem, man?' You know what I mean? I’m that person. I feel badass in spirit, but overall a good-girl, but badass is trying to come out and when she does it’s like 'Woah! Where did that come from?' You know? I think I’m a mixture of both things.”
You did brunette earlier this year — which is so exciting, and now you’re back to blonde. Who has more fun?
“I felt more myself being a blonde, but being a brunette was really trippy because it did change my everything: my posture, my sense of humor.”
Honestly, Dakota, we don't have a favorite. You and your cat hat are invited to our party anytime!
Photo: Everett Collection/Rex USA