Dakota Fanning Magazine Editorials

I Am Sam's Dakota Fanning

Photos by Pamela Littky

Interview by Jose Martinez for Venice, photos by Pamela Littky.

At the tender age of seven, actor Dakota Fanning comes across as a seasoned professional during her first ever one-to-one interview.

Flanked by her mother and her agent, the poised miss isn't your typical child actor. For starters, she holds her own opposite co-stars Sean Penn and Michelle Pfeiffer in the New Line Cinema family drama I Am Sam, in theaters December 28. Her impressive work (especially her scenes with Penn, who plays her father, Sam Dawson) is on a par with Oscar winners Jodie Foster, Tatum O'Neal and Anna Paquin before her.

In I Am Sam, Fanning plays Lucy Dawson, whose mentally challenged father has raised her with a little help from his rag-tag group of social misfit friends. Working on Sam (sensitively directed by Jessie Nelson who co-wrote the script with Kristine Johnson) proved to be a pleasurable experience for Fanning who admits she loved working with Penn. "He ad-libs a lot and that taught me a lot," she chirps with a smile.

A big fan of fellow actors Julia Roberts, Cameron Diaz, and Holly Hunter, Fanning is also inspired by the late great comedian Lucille Ball. "I watch Nick at Nite every night," she points out. "I stay up till twelve watching them," she adds.

In between her late night TV viewing and her current home schooling schedule (Fanning is in the third grade), she has made major headway in Hollywood for someone who has acted for only a year. With notable TV guest appearances on "ER," "CSI," "The Practice," "Malcolm in the Middle," and "Ally McBeal" (where she played a young Ally). Fanning has three feature films already in the can.

What was to be a short stay in Hollywood for Fanning has become a permanent vacation. "When I was in Georgia we got with an agent who said why don't we go to L.A. for six weeks, and that turned into ten months," Fanning explains.

Currently working on the film Sweet Home Alabama, Fanning isn't looking to slow down. "I play Reese Witherspoon at a young age (in Sweet Home Alabama) and I just finished Hansel & Gretel. I play another girl in the movie."

Her next film to hit theaters will be the drama 24 Hours. "I play Abby and she gets kidnapped," Fanning says. In this film the young actress works opposite rocker Courtney Love ("She was really nice," Fanning remarks), Kevin Bacon, Pruitt Taylor Vince, and Charlize Theron. Dramatic acting isn't a problem for Fanning who can cry on demand, although she states that it doesn't help her get out of trouble at home.

Having never wanted to do anything but act, Fanning responds like an old pro when asked what she likes best about acting. "I like seeing the scripts, and the wardrobe, and the makeup and the hair. And seeing what the plot has to offer and what the whole story is about."

And like her talented peers before her, the notion of taking home Oscar isn't lost on the seven-year-old. "I'd be very lucky. It's a great opportunity. I imagine myself going up there and accepting it."