Fanning is well known for her range as a young actress and has starred in a number of films including “War of the Worlds” and “Man on Fire.” In her latest picture, she plays the coveted role of Fern in “Charlotte’s Web,” which will be released December 15. Her co-stars include Oprah, Julia Roberts, Cedric the Entertainer and Robert Redford, among many others. Fanning has won a British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) award and is the youngest actor ever nominated for a Screen Actor’s Guild Award.
Dakota: I read a lot. That’s pretty much one of my favorite subjects in school. My favorite thing to do is reading and my other favorite school subject is history.
Q: Do you have an all-time favorite book?
Dakota: I think probably Charlotte's Web is my favorite children's book and then my favorite adult book is probably The Secret Life of Bees honestly, because they're just so heartfelt and so touching and very moving to read. And I think they're the kind of books you can read over and over again at any stage of your life.
- The Secret Life Of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
(literature and fiction, mystery and thrillers)
Q: Had you read The Secret Life of Bees before you got the part?
Dakota Fanning: "Yes I had! My grandmother had first read it and then she gave it to my mom and we both read it. And I actually fell in love with it. It was such a long time ago actually that I read it. It was like three and a half years ago I actually started to be aware of the movie. It's such a great, great book."
- Charlotte's Web By E.b. White
(children books (Ages 9-12), children books)
- Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell
(literature and fiction, classics)
Q: Dakota, do you have a favorite character in a book that you’d just love to play someday?
Dakota: “Gone with the Wind” has been one of my favorite movies and one of my favorite books, but I don’t know if I would ever want to tackle that. It’s been done about as amazing as it could be done. But, I’ve been Scarlett O’Hara for two Halloweens in a row. [Laughs] I love that. And, I’m from the South, so to be Scarlett O’Hara would be amazing. It’s one of the best movies ever."
Q: The Cat in the Hat is one of many children’s books making the jump to the big screen. What's your favorite way to enjoy a story: To read the book first or watch the movie?
Dakota: With the Harry Potter books and movies, I read the book first before I saw the movie. That’s the way I normally do it when I read books. Like the Lemony Snicket books are becoming a movie and those are like my favorite books.
- Harry Potter (box Set #1-7) by J.K. Rowling
(business books, children books, IT books, food and cooking, health, history, literature and fiction, mystery and thrillers, nonfiction, parenting, religion and spirituality, romance, science, teens)
- A Series Of Unfortunate Events (box Set #1-13) by Lemony Snicket
(children books (Ages 9-12), children books, adventure, children books series, teens)
Q: Did you grow up reading The Cat in the Hat and other Seuss classics?
Dakota: Oh yeah, Cat in the Hat is one of my favorites, and my sister, I read it to her all the time. I probably read it to her 50 times when she was little.
Q: Is that your favorite Seuss book. Do you have a favorite Seuss book?
Dakota: That and Green Eggs and Ham are my favorite Seuss books.
- The Cat In The Hat By Dr. Seuss
(children books (Ages 4-8), children books)
- Green Eggs And Ham by Dr. Seuss
(children books (Ages 4-8), children books)
Why should you listen to her?
Born to Steven and Joy Fanning on February 23, 1994, Hannah Dakota Fanning (widely known by her middle name) is easily one of the most recognizable phenoms of her generation. When Dakota was very young, her parents were advised by a teacher that she may have more than just the typical "drama club" type of talent, and ever since Dakota broke out as Sean Penn's daughter in "I Am Sam," it's been obvious that she knows how to lend all the right elements to the acting business. By the time Dakota turned 13, she had already appeared in at least a dozen feature films, co-starring with the likes of Denzel Washington, Robert DeNiro, Brittany Murphy, Tom Cruise, Kurt Russell, and yes, even Julia Roberts. Her most recent film, Hounddog, features young Dakota in a controversial role as a rape victim, and while the movie has yet to find a buyer at the Sundance Film Festival, this could be the actress's first shot at an Academy Award nomination (not to mention an opportunity to shed some much-needed light on one of today's most taboo social topics). Dakota has a younger sister named Elle, who is also an actress, and although the younger Fanning's resume isn't quite as long as Ms. Dakota's, she is well on her way to achieving a great acting career.
In light of Dakota's extraordinary career as an actress, it may be difficult to perceive her as "normal" in any sense, but in all honesty, she is a sincere, down-to-earth girl who enjoys reading, knitting, spending time with family, and eating out at Taco Bell. Sounds a lot like anybody you'd see in real life, right? Well, not quite. Dakota is probably the most sought-after child starlet in the world right now, and given a few more years, she will be ready to stand up there with Reese Witherspoon and Hilary Swank as one of Hollywood's most competent "leading ladies."
Dakota's tremendous talent and brilliant execution in front of the camera gives her a certain uniqueness, but if her sweet, genuine qualities are any indication of her future, she could very well be a glimmer of hope that child starlets can still turn out well.