Dakota Fanning
Born: Hannah Dakota Fanning, February 23, 1994, Conyers, Georgia, U.S.
Education: Campbell Hall School, New York University
Born: February 23, 1994, Conyers, Georgia, U.S.
Years Active: 2000-present
Voiced: Coraline Jones

Hannah Dakota Fanning, or better known simply as Dakota Fanning, is an American actress. When she was ten years old, she had began working on CORALINE.

Fanning has been attached to Director Henry Selick's film, CORALINE for 5 years. She was the first voice to be brought on to the movie and it's almost as if she and Coraline grew up together — both are feisty young girls. Fanning admitted there are similarities between herself and her on-screen alter ego, Coraline. She says that they're both curious and adventurous. A few months back, Fanning wondered, when she was finishing up CORALINE, Would I go through that little door? She said that she would if she was really looking around and so bored, and she also added, "She's very brave and would do anything to save her family, and I think that I would do the same."

Early Life

Fanning was born in Conyers, Georgia. Her mother, Heather Joy (née Arrington), played tennis professionally and her father, Steven J. Fanning, played minor league baseball and works now as an electronics salesman in Los Angeles, California. Her maternal grandfather is former American football player Rick Arrington, and her aunt is former ESPN reporter Jill Arrington. Dakota is the elder sister of Elle Fanning, also an actress.

Fanning has English, French, German and Irish ancestry. She and her family are Southern Baptist.

Personal Life

In June 2011, Fanning graduated from Campbell Hall School in North Hollywood, California, where she participated on the varsity spirit cheerleading squad and was voted homecoming queen. She is currently studying at New York University.

In January 2012, it was reported that Fanning signed to be represented by WME (William Morris-Endeavor), thus ending a 10-year-plus relationship with Osbrink Talent Agency.


Main article: Growing Up Coraline: An Interview with Dakota Fanning

CORALINE is the first stop-motion animated feature film conceived and photographed in stereoscopic 3-D. What exactly does that all mean? The film is the first of its kind, and much less can be expected from director Henry Selick, the creative mind best-known for The Nightmare Before Christmas. For the title role, Selick sought an actress who "cannot be held back." Fanning was ideal, and she immediately accepted. Now, after the 10 years Neil Gaiman took to write the book, Selick's two years of preproduction and 18 months of filming, CORALINE has finally made it to the big screen.

The story of Coraline is about a mischievous, sassy and adventure-seeking 11-year-old girl, deprived of attention from her hard-working parents. When her family moves to a peculiar pink apartment building in Oregon, she becomes lonely, neglected and the worst of the worst for a young child — bored. After exploring her new home, she finds a small door, which opens to a narrow passageway leading her to the Other World. Everything she wishes she had in her real life seems to exist in this dream-like euphoria. Her Other Mother and Other Father welcome her into an exquisite home, shower her with treats, introduce her to a beautiful garden and, most importantly, give her more attention than her real parents ever could. She quickly learns, however, the Other World is a feigning facade more evil than anything she could have imagined.

"Originally, I was going to do a live-action version of the movie, and I thought it would be so neat, and then when it was going to be animated, I thought, Oh, that'll be fun too!" Fanning casually stated. The change in adaptations, however, wasn't as easy. Stop-motion animation meant a longtime commitment of voice-over work. "It's very different than what I usually do, but because I have worked on it for so long it's become kind of normal," Fanning stated. "In between each movie I've done, I'd do a session for CORALINE."

Years of recording, however, were not just time consuming, but problematic for a young girl growing up.

"Henry [Selick] would see me and say, Oh, I think your voice got a little deeper," Fanning recalled, "so I'd have to make it a little higher for that session. That was one of the things about taking such a long time."

Without a doubt, few young actresses would have been able to handle it. Fanning would alternate between perfecting her pitch with a Midwestern accent by herself in a sound booth and intermittently filming major blockbusters with some of Hollywood's biggest stars (Charlotte's Web, Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story, War of the Worlds and Hide and Seek, among others). It was literally night and day.

"When I finally saw it after so many years, it was really rewarding," Fanning admitted.

As if that's not hard enough, CORALINE required another level of difficulty, entirely unconventional than most animated films. Selick had Fanning and Teri Hatcher (the voice of Coraline's Mother and Other Mother) videotaped while they recorded their voices in order to get an idea of facial expressions and movements for their characters' puppets. This approach is rarely ever done, but the director wanted to create the puppets through the influence of their body language. The only visual guidance the actresses had were preliminary, rudimentary designs — hardly even finished illustrations. It did, however, capture the characters more personally.

"My mom said, That looks just like you when you talk and your mannerisms!" Fanning stated.

Hatcher, a first-time voice actress, found it to be a bit more daunting. "It's ugly," she said. "I think it's embarrassing to scream in front of people, so I had to work hard not to be self-conscious, and let myself go and trust that Henry would pick the right level of insanity."

Even though Fanning continues to do more adult films, as is the case with her other new movie, PUSH, CORALINE is a PG-rated children's movie. Controversy is already surrounding the film with concerns of just how young the audience is intended to be. When asked how age-appropriate she thinks the film is, Fanning responded, "I don't think you can really put an age on movies. I think it's when the kids are ready for it at the time. People and parents kind of underestimate kids and how much they liked to be scared."

It was this kind of attitude that made Fanning perfect for the role. She believes the perseverance and independence of Coraline makes her a true hero. Author Neil Gaiman commented on the issue by saying, "People start talking about how scary it is, and I ask them, Have you ever seen Disney's Snow White?! Tell them something big! Tell them something important! The message of CORALINE is not that there are monsters out there . . . what you're telling them is there are bad things that can be beaten, and that you can fight and that you can win!"

According to the director, Coraline is a brave and determined young girl who faces evil without the help of super powers or weapons, which is an important lesson for children. Fanning, Gaiman and Selick believe all judgments are inaccurate and misleading. Fanning even sees a bit of Coraline's strong will in herself. "I think we are both very curious and very adventurous and haven't lost that curiosity as we've grown up . . . she's very brave and would do anything to save her family, and I think I would do the same," Fanning stated.

Hatcher, a mother of an 11-year-old girl in real life as well, also agrees, and also said, "I think even if scarier things come up, communication and message in this movie make it worth seeing."

It's really no surprise that Fanning is incredibly proud of her character, especially after her controversial role two years ago in Hounddog. Even then she stood by her role without any regrets. "I think it was the most innocent I have ever been in a film," Fanning stated.

For such a young lady, Fanning has an uncanny sense of film as an art. She says she chooses movies based on "what draws me at the time, what inspires me and what moves me." Her film career has already established her as a veteran actress backed by an extraordinary amount of experience. CORALINE, in particular for her, is special in a way few films can ever be. "It is finally coming to an end, and I'm going to miss it," Fanning said. Nonetheless, she will always consider I Am Sam the closest to her heart because, "without it, I wouldn't be here, and they took a really big chance on me."

Fanning tries to take away something from every film she does, which she believes is the way she has learned to act so well, and looks forward to a long career. "I think as you get older, there's different things you can do, and different things I will want to do," she stated. "Hopefully in 10 years I can look back on the movies I did and see how much I've learned since then."

She aspires to one day work with her role model, Jodie Foster, do a period film and maybe even portray a real-life person. So what's up next for Fanning? Possibly the character of Jane in the second film of the Twilight series, New Moon.

"I hope that it does work out," Fanning said. "It's not 100% for sure . . . but I'm a big fan. It'd be really cool to be something I've never been before, and a vampire is really neat. She's kind of evil and mean, the character that I would be playing, so it would be a fun opportunity."

It's hard to imagine Fanning as a blood-sucking villain, but her innate acting ability proves that her limits have yet to be determined, if not endless. Although Fanning is growing up fast, and despite her professionalism, immense talent and surprising articulation, she still insists she's a normal girl. She is on the cheerleading squad at her school, watches TV (her favorite show is her costar's dramedy "Desperate Housewives") and hasn't lost her refreshing innocence. She remains to be the doe-eyed, blonde-hair girl still young enough to permeate youth without a stitch of makeup.

With the tendency of child actors to fall out of the spotlight after just a few years — and fall hard — Fanning is the anomaly. She has already established herself as a Hollywood heavyweight, and no doubt has an even more promising future ahead of her.


Coraline is a very brave character. Do you think of yourself as brave?

I do. I mean, I think that when you’re doing a movie and when you're putting yourself out there, you have to have a certain amount of bravery because even when you're on the set filming it, you're in front of everybody and you’re doing scenes and you're kind of showing yourself to lots of different people and especially when they're watching you, I think that that can be intimidating sometimes so I feel like I am brave. Maybe not in the way that Coraline is because she's fighting for her family and everything but I think I would do the same thing as she did.

Are you concerned about expectations for Coraline?

I don't know. Because I've been working on it for so long, it's like I feel like I've been bringing it to life for five years so I don't know what people thought when I first was signed on to do it but I hope that they like it. I hope that I brought it to life the way they pictured and I know people are such big fans of the book and are very excited for the movie to come out, so I'm excited for them to see it. I can't wait. I waited so long to see it and it was like oh, when is it ever going to come out. I thought when Coraline comes out I'm going to be so old and now that it’s here . . .

What does this process do for your craft?

Well, I mean, you only have your voice to work with. You have to convey everything through your voice which is really difficult if you think about it. Of course, that's what you kind of sign on to do when you decide to do a voice-over movie so that's a challenge that I was willing to take on. It was great. I think you get used to it after a while and it's really fun.

How did you feel when you saw the finished product?

I really liked it a lot. Of course it's something I've never seen before, a kind of animation that I've never seen. I don't think anybody has ever really seen it before and it's just so cool because you really feel like you're a part of it. You really feel like you're in it and I love that about this film.

Did you know the book?

Yeah, well, I guess it would have to be over five years ago but I think I just read it because I wanted to read it, not because of a script or a movie or anything. And then I originally met with Henry about the live-action version that would be of the film and I was going to do that and then they decided to make it animated a little while later, and here I am as the voice.

Acting Career


When Fanning was a small child, she was an actress at the Towne Lake Arts Center in Woodstock, Georgia starring in small plays, then in 2000, Fanning began acting at the age of five after appearing on a Tide commercial. Her first significant acting job was a guest role in the NBC prime-time drama ER, which remains one of her favorite roles ("I played a car accident victim who has leukemia. I got to wear a neck brace and nose tubes for the two days I worked.").

Fanning subsequently had several guest roles on established television series, including CSI: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION, THE PRACTICE], and SPIN CITY. She also portrayed the title characters of ALLY BcBEAL and THE ELLEN SHOW as young girls. In 2001, Fanning was chosen to star opposite Sean Penn in the movie I AM SAM, the story of a mentally challenged man who fights for the custody of his daughter (played by Fanning). Her role in the film made Fanning the youngest person ever to be nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award, being seven years of age at the time. She also won the Best Young Actor/Actress award from the Broadcast Film Critics Association for her performance.

In 2002, director Steven Spielberg cast Fanning in the lead child role of Allison "Allie" Clarke/Keys in the science fiction miniseries TAKEN. By this time, she had received positive notices by several film critics, including Tom Shales of The Washington Post, who wrote that Fanning "has the perfect sort of otherworldly look about her, an enchanting young actress called upon ... to carry a great weight." In the same year, Fanning appeared in three films: as a kidnap victim who proves to be more than her abductors bargained for in TRAPPED, as the young version of Reese Witherspoon's character in SWEET HOME ALABAMA, and as Katie in the movie HANSEL AND GRETEL.

A year later, she starred in two prominent films: playing the uptight child to an immature nanny played by Brittany Murphy in UPTOWN GIRLS as Sally in THE CAT IN THE HAT. In addition, Fanning did voice-over work for four animated projects during this period, including voicing Satsuki in Disney's English language release of MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO, a little girl in the Fox series FAMILY GUY, and a young Wonder Woman in an episode of Cartoon Network's JUSTICE LEAGUE.