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OCT
23
2 YEARS

Elle Fanning on Stepping Out of Dakota's Shadow, into the 'Spotlight' (Audio Interview)

The 13-year-old star of the summer blockbuster "Super 8" will be honored with a "Spotlight Award" at Monday's Hollywood Film Awards.

Elle Fanning Super 8 still
Courtesy of Paramount

Few families have produced a child who has found consistent work in Hollywood. Fewer still have produced a child who has made it big in the business. But fewest of all have produced multiple children who have achieved genuine stardom, which is why we remember their names: the Arquettes, Barrymores, Belushis, Bridgeses, Cusacks, Dillons, Fienneses, Fondas, Gabors, Gyllenhaals, Lowes, Madsens, Phoenixes, Quaids, Olsens, Redgraves, Robertses, Schells, Tillys, Wahlbergs, and Woodses (plus a few others whose offspring wound up, for one reason or another, with different last names -- Arness/Graves, de Havilland/Fontaine, and MacLaine/Beatty).

In recent years, it has become clear that another family deserves a spot on this list, as well: the Fannings.

Steve, an electronics salesman, and Joy, a homemaker, have given us not only Dakota Fanning, who was hailed as one of the most eerily talented pre-teen stars in film history during a run spanning Sean Penn's I Am Sam (2001) through Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds (2005), and who is now 17, in college, and taking on more adult roles in her spare time... but also Elle Fanning, 13, who, has proven over the last few years -- during a run of standout work in Daniel Barnz's Phoebe in Wonderland (2009), Sofia Coppola's Somewhere (2010), Francis Ford Coppola's Twixt (2011), Cameron Crowe's We Bought a Zoo (2011), and, above all, J.J. Abrams's Super 8 (2011) -- that she is every bit as good as Dakota, if not better.

For years, Elle has toiled in Dakota's shadow -- she literally got her start playing a younger version of Dakota's characters in I Am Sam and Spielberg's TV mini-series Taken (2002). At Monday night's Hollywood Film Awards, however, she will have her own moment in the sun -- or the spotlight, as it were -- when she is honored as one of this year's seven recipients of the Hollywood Spotlight Award, which celebrates actors who have achieved major career breakthroughs in the past year.

On Friday night, I had the opportunity to speak extensively with Elle, by phone, about this award, her real first name, her sister, her obsession with Marilyn Monroe, the roots of her interest in acting, how she picks her roles, her favorite roles from years past, her show-stopping performance-within-a-performance right before the big train crash in Super 8, the soon-to-be-released Twixt and We Bought a Zoo, her biggest dream for the future (hint: it involves Dakota), and much more. Give a listen...