On Saturday, October 4, join us for a Spotlight program featuring a conversation with Elle Fanning and a screening of Low Down. Fanning will be presented with the MVFF Award. After the program, join us for a party at Il Fornaio Corte Madera which offers elegant dining and authentic, award-winning Italian cuisine.
Dakota Fanning Talks THE LAST OF ROBIN HOOD, Working with Kevin Kline, Her ‘Database’ of On Set Experiences, BRAIN ON FIRE and More
Dakota Fanning’s been busy. She’s been working steadily all her life, but in the past three years alone, she’s delivered Now Is Good, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2, The Motel Life, Very Good Girls, Night Movesand now she’s got The Last of Robin Hood on the way, too. She stars in that one as Beverly Aadland, the young actress who winds up catching the eye of superstar Errol Flynn (Kevin Kline). Ultimately, she falls for him too and the two indulge in a passionate affair while Beverly’s mother, Florence (Susan Sarandon), tags along to supervise.
With The Last of Robin Hood making its way into select theaters on August 29th, we got the chance to sit down with Fanning and discuss how she’s been choosing her roles lately and what it was like jumping into this true story. Hit the jump to catch what she said about working with Kline and Sarandon, honoring the truth to the situation while making the character her own, how having worked as a child actor helps her today, the book-to-film adaptation of Brain on Fire and more.
Question: Can you tell me a little bit about your decision making process? I think in the past three years, you’ve had at least five movies come out and they’re all so different.
DAKOTA FANNING: Really? [Laughs] I don’t know. Being an actor, you make movies and then you move on and then you come back for a day and talk to some people in a hotel room and then you move on again and then you go to a screening and move on again. You obviously remember it, but I don’t keep up with it quite like that. I just do movies that I’m drawn to and with people that I want to work with.
Is there any specific genre or type of character that you find yourself drawn to more than ever now?
FANNING: I think I’ve always been drawn to – I mean, this movie is not a simple story, but really, at the core, it is kind of a simple story and I really like movies that are just about human interaction, people and relationships, and life experiences. I enjoy that and those tend to be kind of smaller movies and so that’s what I’ve been doing lately, I guess.
I can see that same description applying to Night Moves now that you say it. It focuses on a big event, but it’s got simple, human connections at the heart of it.
FANNING: Yeah, which I feel like the best movies do have that. If you make it about all the craziness going on, you lose sight of the people and what do you connect with? You can’t connect with an explosion.
Do you have any interest in doing a big budget, action-heavy movie again? I guess your last one was Twilight and that’s a while ago now.
FANNING: Right. Yeah, I feel like if you say you’re never gonna do something in an interview, it’s like the stupidest thing you can do. I’m totally open to whatever. I’m at a phase in my life where I’m open to everything and anything so I’m sure that I will. I hope that I will. But I also don’t choose movies based on the size of them.
‘The Last Days of Robin Hood’ star Dakota Fanning on being bored playing young
Like many these days, Dakota Fanning had no idea about the story in her new film “The Last Days of Robin Hood”: that notoriously loose Hollywood star Errol Flynn (played by Kevin Kline) left this world dating underaged teen Beverly Aadland (played by Fanning). It’s a role she loved playing, even if now, at 20, she’s pretty much done playing well below her age. -
Doing research into real Aadland: “I really didn’t do that much research. [Laughs] I looked at certain things, like how she looked and how she wore her hair and what her makeup was like. There’s an article from her perspective, but there’s a lot of things that are from other people’s perspective. I wanted to have my own point of view of what happened instead of reading Florence’s [her mother’s] book. Kevin did a lot of [research], so if I needed to know any facts I could ask him.
The responsibility that comes with playing a real person: “You do feel a responsibility, but you also have to let that go, to a certain extent. It’s ultimately a movie and it’s never going to be exactly the way it was. You are, in some ways, creating your own character.”
What attracted her to the role as a role: “Minus all the surreal or controversial details of the story, she was just a young girl. She was 15 — she wasn’t even starting her life yet. She got caught up in this whirlwind and she was very naive. You do see her find her way and mature and be happy and strong — and then you also she her get lost. She didn’t have anybody to rely on after Errol died. It was interesting to play someone who went full circle and around again.
Those 1950s costumes: “The first week you wear the clothes, it feels so foreign and strange. By the end it’s your dress. It feels so normal. And retro’s in now. Sometimes it’s odd to me when people wear one style of clothing all the time. I wear different things all the time. But it’s a very flattering shape, retro.
Trying to avoid playing high school roles again: “I find that weird. High school was so long ago. Going back that would be weird. When I see people who are 30 playing high school students, I’m like, ‘God, that’s so strange.’ In this I was playing younger than I was. But I try not to think about age too much. So much of my life has revolved around what age I am. I’m kind of bored of it. [Laughs]”
Elle Fanning hopes she and sister Dakota won’t end up rivals
LOS ANGELES—“There isn’t, and I hope there never will be [competition between us],” Elle Fanning replied during our recent chat when asked if there was a bit of a friendly contest, career-wise, between her and older sister Dakota.
Elle, blossoming into a lovely young woman, is enjoying a busy career with several films this year and many more projects lined up.
On this recent Saturday morning, Elle wore a dress that complemented her fair skin and long blond hair. “People ask that all the time. We never even discuss films with each other. We decide [separately] on which films we want to do. We never read each other’s scripts. That’s off-limits.”
Elle followed in her precocious sister’s footsteps. She recounted how it began, when the Fanning family still lived in Georgia. “My sister put on these shows around the house,” Elle shared. “My mom (Heather) noticed and was like, ‘Maybe she should be in a play.’ My sister was really young at the time. My mom put her in this little play camp in Georgia and she got the main part. She was about 5.”
Elle added, laughing, “People said, ‘You should move to LA or New York.’ So my mom and sister did. They lived on my aunt’s couch (in LA). Then my sister got 10 commercials in a week—something crazy like that.”
When Dakota landed a plum role opposite Sean Penn and Michelle Pfeiffer in “I Am Sam,” the Fannings decided to move permanently to LA. Elle and dad Steven joined Dakota and Heather. “I was probably 2,” Elle said. “We have lived here since.”
Elle started even younger than Dakota, who is now 20. She was only 3 when she played a younger version of Dakota’s character in “I Am Sam.” She did the same in the sci-fi miniseries, “Taken.” Pretty soon, Elle was carving her own career. She is now one of Hollywood’s busiest young actresses.
Among her next films are “Trumbo,” with Bryan Cranston and Diane Lane, “How to Talk to Girls at Parties,” “A Storm in the Stars” and “All the Bright Places.”
The sisters may not have professional rivalry but Elle, 16, laughingly volunteered an old issue between them. “I used to always go into her closet and steal things, trying to be super sneaky, but she always found out,” Elle said. “One time, I got her hat, shoes and dress and went out in New York. She phoned and was like, ‘You are in all of my clothes. I saw you on the Internet dressed in my entire outfit!’ I was like, ‘Oh, my God, I’m in trouble.’
“So I don’t really know if I can still do that. Now, she comes and sometimes takes my clothes. But she always asks first. We [feel a little better] about it now.”
Asked what she can’t live without, Elle replied, “[I could say] family and friends, but also something silly, like the calendar in my room. I have, like, OCD about it; it’s a Barbie calendar. I write everything on it. Like today, I wrote, ‘Press at 10 (a.m.).’ When I go home, I’m going to cross it off. That’s my thing.”
Dakota Fanning: ‘I don’t remember people not knowing who I am’
Despite 55 film credits to her name, the star of Kelly Reichardt’s eco-thriller Night Moves is hard at work at university, longing for Bette Davis’s time when the movies held more mystery
“I was very mature and calm and rational,” Dakota Fanning says of her six-year-old self. “My mum was calling me from across the playground, so I jumped from the climbing frame and ran over.” Dakota had already starred in ER, CSI, Malcolm In The Middle and Ally McBeal. Now her agent was on the line and she had a choice to make: a lead role in a TV series (the short-lived Fighting Fitzgeralds), or to play Sean Penn’s daughter in a film called I Am Sam.
She took Penn’s offer and beat Haley Joel Osment and Daniel Radcliffe to best young actor at the Critics Choice awards that winter. Orlando Bloom held her in the air so she could reach the microphone. She spoke with total composure for more than two minutes. “I want to thank God for all of the things he has given me,” she said, her legs dangling, “and for the best agents in the world.”
Dakota is now 20 and about to start her senior year at New York University, where she is majoring in women’s studies, with a focus on the portrayal of women in film and culture. “If I’m going to do both, it might be helpful for one to inform the other,” she says. She’s still working furiously. On top of the dissertation she’s writing on Bette Davis – “I’m told we have similar eyes, so I’m drawn to her,” she says hesitantly, perhaps realising it sounds a little narcissistic – she has four films released this year. In fact, she’s averaged four films a year since starting university, and has another four slated for next year.
Here you can download the official press notes of "Low Down". The file contains a few movie-stills in high quality, an interview with Elle and a lot of nice comments about her made by cast & crew members. John Hawkes apparently only made the final decision of joining the movie after he found out that Elle was in as well: www[.]oscilloscope[.]net/films/film/110/Low-Down