Type Dakota Fanning’s name into Google and the search yields everything from the trivial (Awwww! She and boyfriend Jamie Strachan dress alike!), to the substantial (a discussion regarding her NYU studies on women in entertainment), to the already-filled-in prompt: “Dakota Fanning feet.” Hmmm. As a whole, the headlines cement one thing: There’s an insatiable curiosity to learn something—anything—about the starlet’s off-camera life. Yet, the 20-year-old, who can be seen this Friday in The Last of Robin Hood, is ambivalent about the topic.
“There’s a lot of information put out there about actors and their lives and what they do,” she says. “So, when someone sees [me] in the flesh, they feel like they know [me]. They want to see if [I] really exist. But they don’t know [me]. It’s confusing for them—and then it’s confusing for me.”
And those chance encounters with fans can go utterly awry. Earlier this year, a complete stranger spotted Fanning in a restaurant and plopped down next to her in a booth. “I’m really fascinated by some of the interactions I have with people and the normal boundaries that should be universal for all,” she says with a laugh. They “go out the window if you are a known person.”
In Robin Hood, Fanning channels those feelings of stolen privacy to illuminate the life of Beverly Aadland, an underage, unaccomplished ’50s ingénue, whose affair with Hollywood screen legend Errol Flynn (played by Kevin Kline) finds her in the hot seat. Here, the 20-year-old discusses love with an older man, paparazzi, and a potential Fanning biopic:
The controversy was sparked mostly by the 30-year age gap between Flynn and Aadland. Do you believe the two were actually in love?
I never met Beverly—she passed away before my involvement with the movie—but [the film’s directors], Richard [Glatzer] and Wash [Westmoreland], developed a relationship with her and spoke with her at length. She truly felt, even at the end of her life, that it was real love. That she really loved him, and that Errol really loved her. I took notice of that.
In the first five minutes of the movie, your character descends from an airplane and is hounded by paparazzi and their flashing cameras. What was that like for you?
It was a bit surreal to film it for the movie. I’ve never fainted before [as I do in the film], but I’ve definitely had experiences that were similar.
How was your off-screen time with Susan Sarandon, who plays Beverly’s mother, Florence?
She’s truly an amazing woman and actor. She’s the definition of a strong woman: She speaks her mind, has opinions, and is adamant about them in a nonjudgmental way. I admire that—somebody who can be strong and not alienate people.
Costuming is such an imperative part of this film. How does it inform your everyday wardrobe?
Even when I’m not working, or even if I’m just by myself, I think about how I want to portray myself that day, or who I want to be that day—and that goes into what I want to wear. I enjoy fashion; I enjoy clothing; I enjoy the workmanship that goes into clothing.
What would be your thoughts on a Dakota Fanning biopic?
God, no. I really hope not. I’m not that interesting—yet.