Things I learned about Dakota Fanning at the American Pastoral Press Day.
Throughout the week, We Live Entertainment will be posting a series of articles about American Pastoral leading up to the film’s release this Friday. Each article will focus on one of the stars of the film. There will be a single article dedicated to Jennifer Connelly, Dakota Fanning, Uzo Aduba, and Valorie Curry while star/director Ewan McGregor will be featured in two articles as American Pastoral is his baby after all.
Dakota Fanning is one of those actresses that I feel like I grew up watching. I remember the first time I saw I Am Sam and thinking to myself, “this girl is destined to become a big star.” Over the past 15 years, Fanning has starred in several big budget films, indie projects, and some television. I have met Dakota Fanning several times over the past couple of years. My most notable meeting was sitting in front of her during the World Premiere of Very Good Girls at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. I remember how shy and humble she was when I turned around after the screening and began having a conversation with her about her performance and how good I thought she was.
SEE ALSO: TIFF 2016 Review: ‘American Pastoral’
This weekend, Dakota Fanning stars alongside Jennifer Connelly and Ewan McGregor in American Pastoral. In the film, Fanning plays Merry, a rebellious teenager with a stutter and very strong feelings about the war. She comes from a picture perfect family but that only adds to her anger. Merry decides one day to perform an act of terrorism to prove her outrage. This horrific act forces Merry to run away to New York where she joins a group of radicals.
Below are 12 interesting/fun facts that Dakota Fanning shared during my interview with her at the American Pastoral press day.
12. Both Jennifer Connelly and Dakota Fanning were already involved with the project long before Ewan was attached to direct. Ewan pointed out that he had to go talk to Fanning and Connelly personally after getting the OK to direct the film. He had to ask them if they wanted to still be part of the project with him coming on as director.
11. When asked to describe working with Ewan McGregor as a director, Fanning had the following to say: “Ewan’s main thing was to make the actors feel comfortable. He made it a very collaborative experience for each one of us. That was the most important thing to him so it felt like a very safe environment. I’ve worked with directors who did the same thing but it was very natural to him since he has been an actor for so long and that’s his primary job. It was the best part of making the film was getting to work with him and getting to be part of his first directing experience. I hope it’s the first of many.”
10. Fanning was drawn to the role of Merry Levov because she was intrigued by playing a character who was “unapologetic.” She viewed playing Merry as a challenge and a character that she couldn’t “relate to.”
9. At 22 years old, Dakota Fanning is “looking for characters that are different from anything she’s ever done before and that will challenge her in a new way.”
8. When it comes to picking new roles, Fanning doesn’t have any specifics that she looks for. “I don’t try to box myself in and say, “Oh, I need to be doing this.” I can do whatever I want. I don’t have to choose one path; at least I don’t want to. I want to be able to do all different things and surprise myself and surprise other people.”
7. Fanning had nothing but kind words to say when asking about acting alongside Ewan McGregor. She stated “he’s so kind and so down to earth and very warm. That’s something you realize right away meeting him. He just makes everyone feel at ease.”
6. In the film, Fanning’s character Merry has a stutter. When asked about how she went about playing a character with a stutter, Fanning replied with “Ewan and I talked about it and he sent me some videos he had found and I found my own videos of people stuttering. I watched the videos and kind of figured it out. I realized that everyone just sounded different and it affected them in a different way.”
5. Fanning was “always taught to present herself in front of other people in a professional, rational, normal way.”
4. Unlike many actresses in Hollywood, Fanning doesn’t put pressure on herself to behave in a particular way. She is always just herself.
3. Fanning stated that you can look at Merry’s story as “a cautionary tale.”
2. When asked about researching the role as well as the time period, Fanning stated that the script was “very detailed.” “I didn’t want to overthink and reason and rationalize it. It’s pretty straightforward the things that are upsetting to her. And she’s kind of irrational so I kind of just went with that.”
1. Fanning believes her character Merry uses her stutter as “a source of power.” She continues by explaining that Merry uses her stutter as “a weapon against her parents to make them uncomfortable.”
American Pastoral opens in limited release on Friday, October 21, 2016 with a wide expansion planned for Friday, October 28, 2016. Be sure to check the film out for yourself and come back to We Live Entertainment and let us know your thoughts on the film. If interested, you can even join and partake in our Gradebook where we allow staff and fans of We Live Entertainment to be part of our own review roundup. You can be part of the Gradebook by joining our fan page on Facebook right here.