Dakota Fanning, actress

Fanning's career has been on an upward trajectory since her film debut at the tender age of 7, opposite Sean Penn in 2001's "I Am Sam."

Dakota Fanning's career has been on an upward trajectory since her film debut at the tender age of 7, opposite Sean Penn in 2001's "I Am Sam." Last year, she starred in four movies: DreamWorks' "Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story," opposite Kurt Russell; Fox's "Hide & Seek," opposite Robert De Niro; Magnolia Pictures' "Nine Lives," and Paramount's blockbuster "War of the Worlds," opposite Tom Cruise. Even with 11 films and collaborations with Hollywood's biggest names under her belt, though, it's clear that the 12-year-old's feet are planted firmly in the ground: Fanning is grateful for the opportunities she has been granted and more than willing to credit others for her success. She took a few moments from her busy schedule -- which included a piano recital and logging hours at school -- to speak with The Hollywood Reporter's Noela Hueso about her career and being ShoWest's youngest Supporting Actress of the Year honoree.

The Hollywood Reporter: How does it feel to be the youngest-ever ShoWest honoree in your category?
Dakota Fanning: It's incredible, but whenever you get an award, you never feel like you've done it alone. It takes a whole cast and crew to make a movie and to help your performance. I definitely accept the award on behalf of everyone I've worked with.

THR: You've worked with some of Hollywood's best actors. Have they taught you anything about acting?
Fanning: Everything I've learned as an actress has been from the actors and directors I've worked with. I really learned a lot from Sean Penn; if it wasn't for him and being on the set of "I Am Sam," I wouldn't know a lot about acting.

THR: Your 7-year-old sister Elle is also an actress. Have you passed the knowledge you have gleaned on to her?
Fanning: When we're at home, she's just my little sister: We're too busy playing and swimming and being kids to think about (acting), so I've never really given her much advice. When she does act, she does it on her own -- but I'm there cheering her on the whole way.

THR: You star in Paramount's "Charlotte's Web," set for a December release. You must have read E.B. White's book.
Fanning: Of course -- it's one of the best books of all time. I'm so proud to be a part of the movie. My sister actually read (the book) while we were filming; you could tell when she got to the end because she was crying her eyeballs out.

THR: What's your fondest memory of being on that set?
Fanning: Being around all the incredible animals and learning from all the animal trainers. The first week I got to the set in Melbourne, Australia, I went to the pig farm they built; they had 70 pigs -- all different sizes -- and it was amazing to see how the trainers were teaching these pigs to do different things. They worked so hard!

THR: What intrigues you most about acting?
Fanning: I love being able to "be" someone else for a couple of months; you get to experience what another person could be going through in real life. It gives you insight to help make you a better person.

THR: You've been called one of Hollywood's most powerful actresses because of the success of your films at the boxoffice. Do you feel powerful?
Fanning: No, not at all. When that came out, it was almost a little embarrassing because I don't feel that way at all -- and I'm definitely not.

THR: How do you decide which roles to take on?
Fanning: The actors I've worked with are so diverse in the roles they play. I definitely want to be that way, too; I don't ever want to do the same thing (over and over).

THR: A little comedy, a little drama ...
Fanning: Exactly. I've been very lucky so far to have been able to do that.

THR: What has been your favorite role so far?
Fanning: That's the question I always dread because I truly and honestly could never choose.

THR: Finally, how do you eat your movie popcorn: with butter or without?
Fanning: With lots and lots of butter -- and lots and lots of napkins!
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