At the age of just 10, Dakota Fanning's acting resume is enough to make actresses who've been in the business for 20 years turn green with envy. Fanning's starred opposite Sean Penn in "I Am Sam," Denzel Washington in "Man on Fire," Kevin Bacon in "Trapped," and is currently filming "War of the Worlds" with Tom Cruise playing her dad. Lucky girl. With her starring turn in "Hide and Seek," Fanning adds Robert De Niro to the impressive list of big names actors she's appeared with in films.
In "Hide and Seek," Dakota Fanning plays Emily Callaway, a young girl who starts playing with an imaginary friend named Charlie as a way of dealing with her mother's sudden death.
Lots of kids have imaginary friends but Emily's new buddy's behavior takes a terrifying turn not usually associated with imaginary playmates. It's up to Emily's dad (De Niro) to figure out what's going on and who exactly is Charlie?
After finishing "Hide and Seek," Fanning began work on "War of the Worlds" and "Dreamer" with Kurt Russell, and has "Charlotte's Web" lined up as one of her next projects. And speaking of "War of the Worlds," if Spielberg's trying to keep what's happening on the set a closely guarded secret, he couldn't have selected a more close-mouthed young actress. Mention "War of the Worlds" and Fanning graciously sidesteps answering with anything other than the most generic of responses. Other than admitting they're filming it right now and that Tom Cruise is "so nice and amazing," Fanning smiled and giggled her way out of disclosing too much information.
You've worked with a lot of major stars. What’s it like to work with Robert De Niro?
Oh, it’s unbelievable. We just had so many wonderful times working with him. I just can’t actually believe I did it.
You’ve said that you learn a lot from every actor you work with. What did you pick up from De Niro?
Yes. He’s just such a focused actor and yet he’s so giving to the other actors. I mean, he’s one of the acting icons – acting legends – and it’s such an honor.
What do De Niro do that helped you as an actor?
When he acts, he’s just so unbelievable. I think that really helps another actor.
You had to change up your looks for this role. What’d you think about the darker hair color?
(Laughing) I did! Oh, I loved it. I loved wearing the wig. It was awesome.
Do you like thrillers? Is this the type of movie you’d go see?
Definitely. You know, I hadn’t really done a movie like this before so it was really exciting.
I understand you got scared while you were reading the script. Did someone read it with you in case it got too scary?
No. I read it and when I saw it, I was scared. I was like, “I think I’m going to go downstairs where everybody else is.” But it was an awesome script and I wanted to do it immediately.
Did you ever get scared on the set?
I was scared when I saw it. I was like screaming. Elisabeth [Shue] and I saw it together and we were screaming together (laughing).
You’ve also got “Charlotte’s Web” coming up. Will that be with live animals?
Yes, we are going to have [live animals]. And there’s some wonderful voices that are doing the animals. [We start] at the end of March.