No lie: We were a lit­tle sur­prised by what Dakota Fan­ning said her ultimate life goal is.


ELLE (Canada) - - Insider - By Sarah Laing

If only Dakota fan­ning had been a bratty, en­ti­tled night­mare of a diva. Then, oh, what a story we might have spun, of a child star all grown up and run­ning amok. Cer­tainly our set­ting—a mar­ble- and mir­ror-sur­face-filled pri­vate home perched high in Bev­erly Hills with panoramic views of a hazy Los An­ge­les be­low—was per­fect for telling a cau­tion­ary tale of a youth spent in the spot­light.

But, in­stead, this 22-year-old ac­tress had the au­dac­ity to ar­rive not only on time but early, qui­etly let­ting her­self in half an hour be­fore her call time, no en­tourage in sight, a camel-coloured coat draped over her shoul­ders and bare-faced save for a pair of round sunnies. “Hey!” she said with a smile, voice a lit­tle bit morn­ing rough, to the sur­prised staffer who ran into her in the vestibule. “Where do you need me to go?”

And so it went—an easy, re­laxed day in the Cal­i­for­nia sun­shine with a good-hu­moured young wo­man who was just plain chill, con­jur­ing up the sort of vo­cab­u­lary ev­ery jour­nal­ist look­ing for a juicy story dreads: nor­mal, well ad­justed, pro­fes­sional and gen­uinely lovely.

The worst part? Later that day, Fan­ning even half-apol­o­gized for her im­pec­ca­ble be­hav­iour. “Ev­ery in­ter­view I do is like, ‘Why aren’t you do­ing those bad things?’ and I’m like, ‘Sorry! I don’t know why!’” she said when asked if she feels like she dodged a bul­let, growing up so “nor­mal” af­ter being a child star. She laughed as she said it, her man­ner hi­lar­i­ously over-apolo­getic, but there was also a very real frus­tra­tion be­hind her an­swer. “Peo­ple want that to hap­pen to you, though; I’ve grown up with that en­ergy around me,” she said, prop­ping her feet on the ta­ble out on the pa­tio at day’s end. “I just feel that when peo­ple like that crack, peo­ple go ‘Ha ha! You cracked!’... but, you know, maybe they might not have if you’d just let them be. Per­son­ally, for me, it was never go­ing to go that way. Num­ber one, my mom would have kicked my ass! Forget the pub­lic—she’s the per­son who crosses my mind be­fore I do any­thing ques­tion­able. It’s like, ‘No, my mom would kill me!’”

Fan­ning, who was born in the Amer­i­can South but mostly grew up in L.A., was clearly gen­uinely dis­turbed by the head-cran­ing-at-a-car-crash ill will she felt (and still feels, to an ex­tent) as an ado­les­cent growing up in the pub­lic eye. “Be­cause I hadn’t gone in the... I hate to say ‘wrong’ but, like, that ‘other’ path, they kept ask­ing me, try­ing to force me to go down it. And I was like, ‘I’m fine, I’m good.’”

We’d say she’s more than fine. Af­ter hit­ting the big time as an as­ton­ish­ingly tal­ented seven-year-old in I Am Sam, Fan­ning hasn’t re­ally stopped work­ing since. She has three films— Brim­stone, Viena and the Fan­tomes and Amer­i­can Pas­toral (more on this later)—do­ing the fes­ti­val cir­cuit this fall alone and a spate of up­com­ing projects that stretch into 2018. And while she didn’t give us the gory rev­e­la­tions of a bro­ken lit­tle girl lost, Fan­ning was a sur­prise of an en­tirely more ed­i­fy­ing sort: ar­tic­u­late, pas­sion­ate and re­ally funny, can­didly chat­ting about ev­ery­thing from her fu­ture chil­dren, her ca­reer, her re­la­tion­ship with her equally fa­mous lit­tle sis­ter... and, of course, re­flect­ing on why go­ing from a child to an adult in the spot­light didn’t turn her into an in­se­cure, self-de­struc­tive wreck.

You’ve ba­si­cally grown up on cam­era—do­ing movies, photo shoots, etc. What ef­fect has that had on how you feel about your­self ap­pear­ance-wise? “I don’t think it’s had much of an ef­fect. I think of my­self as a con­fi­dent per­son. Of course, every­one has things they wish they could change— any­one who says they don’t is a big liar! But when you’re act­ing, if you’re do­ing it for the right rea­sons, it’s about so much more than the way you look.” What shakes your con­fi­dence then? “God, that’s hard! [Si­lence] Well, some­times I’m quite scared of pub­lic speak­ing, so I have to put on a brave face for that. Any­thing that’s live... which brings me to the fact that I’ve never done theatre. It’s be­cause I’m scared of it, which is prob­a­bly why I should do it. And I will one day—I just want it to be the right thing. But I think that it will re­ally throw me for a loop. I paused be­fore I an­swered be­cause I don’t like do­ing things that shake my con­fi­dence.” Every­one has a weak spot, right? “I’m a very lit­eral per­son, very fac­tual. I’m very prag­matic. Some­times I’m afraid I come off as a know-it-all. And it’s not that! It’s more like, ‘You’ve got it wrong; let me tell you the right thing.’ I some­times pull that back be­cause I know it gets an­noy­ing.” But it’s kind of a pub­lic service, sort of? “I think that’s what know-it-alls say to make them­selves feel bet­ter!” Do you ever Google your­self? “Any­one who says they never have is also a big liar.” Are you aware that the num­ber three re­sult for you is an ar­ti­cle ti­tled “Why you never hear about Dakota Fan­ning any­more”? “That’s hi­lar­i­ous! No, no, no. I’ve never nec­es­sar­ily gone any­where, but my ca­reer has been go­ing for 16 years now, you know? You go through ebbs and flows and changes—it would be im­pos­si­ble to sat­u­rate ev­ery­where all the time, and I don’t think any­one would want that. I wouldn’t want that.” Did you ever go through a wob­bly pe­riod in your ca­reer, in that weird tran­si­tion from child to adult ac­tor? “There was a pe­riod when it felt like peo­ple weren’t go­ing to let me grow up. And for a minute, I thought, ‘I can ei­ther let this de­fine my life and be about try­ing to prove some­thing to peo­ple, or I can forget about it and just let it hap­pen nat­u­rally, and peo­ple can get on the train or not.’ I guess I could have gone and done bad things to prove I’m old enough h

to do them, but I didn’t need to do that. I started at six and now I’m al­most 23—that’s a cou­ple of life­times!” Do you feel like you’re en­ter­ing a new phase right now? You’re about to grad­u­ate from New York Univer­sity with a women’s stud­ies de­gree.... “In the fall, I’m in my last year cred­its-wise. I’ve never taken any semesters off, but there were some when I’ve taken one class. I’m study­ing the por­trayal of women in film.” That’s kind of a hot topic in 2016, when we’re talk­ing about things like the gen­der-wage gap in the movie in­dus­try. “It’s frus­trat­ing that you still have to talk about it. As part of my school, I’ve stud­ied lots of dif­fer­ent pe­ri­ods, and if you go back to, like, The Tam­ing of the Shrew, it’s talk­ing about the dis­par­ity be­tween gen­ders, and it’s crazy that we still haven’t cracked that.” Is that some­thing you’ve ex­pe­ri­enced in your own work­ing life? “Def­i­nitely. I’m pro­duc­ing [a film ver­sion of] The Bell Jar, which is one of the most fa­mous nov­els of all time and one of the great­est fem­i­nist pieces of lit­er­a­ture. It has taken such a long time to get it made, and hav­ing to ex­plain h

why it would be in­ter­est­ing... it’s like, I don’t even know how to an­swer that ques­tion. It’s The Bell Jar— what are you talk­ing about? Why would it not be? I hate hav­ing to ex­plain why it’s im­por­tant to make films about women. I’ve ex­pe­ri­enced a lit­tle of that, and I’m sure things that I don’t even know about have hap­pened to me. I re­mem­ber re­al­iz­ing that being a girl meant a dif­fer­ent thing than being a boy, and I wasn’t raised like that. I don’t be­lieve in that!” So what is the Dakota Fan­ning phi­los­o­phy of life? “I am a wo­man, and I’m very proud of that. I love men. I be­lieve all hu­man be­ings are equal and should be treated ac­cord­ingly. I try not to worry about things, and I al­ways say to my­self that one day what you’re ex­pe­ri­enc­ing will be a mem­ory.” This too shall pass.... “Ex­actly! I do try to re­mem­ber that the things that feel life shat­ter­ing or defin­ing or like you have to fig­ure them out right now, one day you’ll look back on it and it will have worked out and you’ll have come out on the other side. It’s weird be­cause as I’ve got­ten older, anx­i­ety has crept more into my life. I think it comes with the life­style of an ac­tor, be­cause some­times you don’t know where you’re go­ing to be and you can’t make plans. As I’ve got­ten older, I’ve felt more of a de­sire to have roots. Some­times I feel like I’m con­stantly wait­ing, like I’m in this hold­ing pat­tern for some­thing, and I have to knock my­self on the head and say ‘This is it, you’re in it, you’re en route!’” You’re def­i­nitely not alone in that. We live in a very anx­ious age! “I wake up in the night all the time. I’m a list per­son, and some­times it’s as sim­ple as ‘Un­load the dish­washer,’ but I need to get it out of my brain for my own san­ity. It’s not about the ex­is­ten­tial stuff for me; it’s about ridicu­lous things, like pack­ing. Like, I have to call my mom or my best friend and they tell me ‘You’re go­ing to live an­other day!’” Do you see your life go­ing any­where in par­tic­u­lar? “Work­ing is a big part of who I am, and it’s re­ally im­por­tant to me. I’m work­ing to­ward being a bet­ter ac­tor, chal­leng­ing my­self more. Per­son­ally, my big­gest goal in life is to be a mother. I’m re­ally look­ing for­ward to that, and I want to get to a place where I feel like I’ve ac­com­plished what I want for my­self, and then when I have my kids, I don’t mat­ter any­more. Not that I would ever stop work­ing, I don’t think, but I know that changes when you ex­pe­ri­ence hav­ing kids. And I’m not say­ing that you don’t mat­ter when you have kids, but it’s like, ‘Phew, this is what’s im­por­tant, none of that mat­ters.’ But that’s not for a while.” So there’s noth­ing you want to an­nounce.... [Laughs] “No! I’m def­i­nitely look­ing for­ward to it. I guess when I’ve thought about the per­son I want to be­come, hav­ing kids and be­com­ing a mother is the ultimate thing. And it’s not that for ev­ery­body, but for me, I think it is.” I think a lot of young women would be afraid to say that. “I agree! I do think that some­times young women now feel like say­ing that means that they’re just turn­ing into a house­wife. And if that’s what you want, great, but if you don’t, it’s not what be­com­ing a mother has to mean.” Of­ten, it still feels like a choice—moth­er­hood or a ca­reer. “I’m not there, so I don’t know if I will feel like I have to make a choice. But I would like to think you can try to have some sort of bal­ance. So stay tuned for that. It’s TBD.” One of the movies you have com­ing out this fall is Amer­i­can Pas­toral, which is based on a Philip Roth novel about a mid­dle-class young wo­man in the ’60s who blows up a post of­fice. Would you call her a ter­ror­ist? “It’s set when the Viet­nam War was the big­gest topic, and every­one, young peo­ple es­pe­cially, felt like they had to do some­thing to make their voice heard. I’d like to call her more than that word.” So what would you call her? “A rad­i­cal. A per­son who is flawed.” Is there any­thing you’re that pas­sion­ate about? Not that you’d ever blow up a post of­fice, but.... “I can rule that out. That is not TBD. That is a hard fact. I do work with a char­ity called Save the Chil­dren, which deals with early ed­u­ca­tion and child­hood de­vel­op­ment. I’m su­per-pas­sion­ate about that, but I will stick to help­ing in a ra­tio­nal man­ner!” Your younger sis­ter, Elle, is also in the movie busi­ness. What’s it been like watch­ing her ca­reer take off? “It’s cool! We def­i­nitely stay out of each other’s way. We don’t re­ally talk about it. I think we’ll ap­pre­ci­ate it when we’re older be­cause it’s rare to have two peo­ple grow up in the same house who also do the same thing—so you have that au­to­matic un­der­stand­ing of your child­hood and you have that other un­der­stand­ing [of your work]. But, at the end of the day, she is to­tally my lit­tle sis­ter—that’s just what she is.” She’s fam­ily. “That’s the thing. I talk to my mom ev­ery sin­gle day, and I feel like if I’ve talked to my mom, I’ve talked to ev­ery­body. My sis­ter and I, we go for long stretches of time where we don’t mean­ing­fully ‘talk’—we maybe chat or what­ever—but that doesn’t mean we can’t. We jump right into it, like no time has passed. We’re sisters, we’re fam­ily, and we don’t have to keep up our re­la­tion­ship. It is just there and al­ways will be.” Are there any pre­con­ceived no­tions about who Dakota Fan­ning is that you’d like to clear up? “Peo­ple think I’m younger! [Laughs] Peo­ple think of me as a good girl, which I am, but I have other sides to me. I am also goofy and weird and I make mis­takes. I am ma­ture, but I’m also nor­mal. I think that’s some­thing I want peo­ple to know. But the other side of it is: I don’t ac­tu­ally care. I care about the opin­ions of my friends and my fam­ily, and ev­ery­thing else is like, ‘If you get it, you get it; if you don’t, you don’t.’ What am I go­ing to do about it? Look at my In­sta­gram. If you still don’t like me, what­ever. Every­one is so into every­one’s busi­ness. It’s like, leave that per­son alone. Leave me alone! Why do you care? It has noth­ing to do with you. Go live your life the way you want. Let me live mine.” n

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