Dakota Fanning Without Makeup

She may be best known for her work as Bella Swan in Robert Pattinson’s Twilight franchise, but Dakota Fanning really doesn’t look at all like Edward Cullen. In fact, if someone asked her to describe herself, she’d probably say “normal.”

“It’s funny because I think people expect me to be different,” Fanning says with a laugh. “But my mom said [when] I was younger that I looked normal. And I love that word – ‘Normal.’ It makes me feel safe.”

And while she might not fit into Hollywood’s idea of beauty — which often relies heavily upon makeup to make women appear more mature and sophisticated — Fanning maintains that her lack of cosmetics isn’t due to choice. She just likes looking natural.

Even though she’s only 20 years old, Fanning has already proven herself as a bona fide star thanks to movies such as The Railway Man, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, and Room. But none of them quite compare to her latest project: A remake of 1980s teen classic Tammy. Directed by Gabriele Muccino, the film tells the story of a rebellious teenager played by Fanning who falls in love with a boy next door (Josh Hutcherson).

While fans can’t help but notice similarities between Fanning’s performance as Tammy and Kristen Stewart’s portrayal of Bella, the actor insists that they’ve never met nor spoken to each other before seeing the film.

“I haven’t seen it yet!” Fanning exclaims excitedly. “I’m dying to! That would be amazing.”

When asked whether she thinks the comparison is flattering, Fanning replies without hesitation, “No, no way… I mean, I guess everyone compares themselves to something else. So yeah, I think it’s good. I hope people will go watch it and talk about it and everything. I hope they’ll remember it fondly.”

How does it feel being compared to Tammy?

Well, first off, thank God I wasn’t going through puberty back then. Because I know that girl. When I saw the trailer, I didn’t even recognize myself. Like, wow…it takes some getting used to. Especially because my hair was shorter than hers. Mine‘s very long now, and I had short bangs. My eyebrows weren‘t done either, so they were pretty scruffy. You know, I think it‘s great. Everyone should try acting. If I hadn‘t tried it, maybe I wouldn’t be where I am today.

What is your favorite part of filming “I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter”?

My favorite thing about it is Josh Hutcherson. He is awesome. He is just super sweet and he gives 110 percent every single day. I also loved working with his dad. His father‘s so cool and easy-going and laidback. And our scenes together, those were definitely my favorites. Yeah, and the whole cast too, actually. They‘re all wonderful. Oh, and the costumes. Our costumes were beautiful.

What are you doing for Halloween?

We’re going trick-or-treating again. This year I got two cute outfits. One is a little black dress and tights. Or leggings. With cutouts on bottom. Then I have another outfit that I bought last week. It’s a vintage floral print with a ruffle skirt. And I found these fabulous shoes online. They’re called Mary Janes. They’re comfy flats, and I can walk around in them anywhere without feeling self conscious.

You’re playing an adult — what do you get up to when there aren’t cameras around (what sort of things do you still enjoy that we don’t see on screen (like hanging from a pole?) 

Hanging from poles? No, no, nothing embarrassing like that. Just shopping, eating fast food, watching Netflix, going to dinner parties. Nothing crazy. Well, sometimes I like to sleep in late. Other times I wake up early and take walks in the morning. Or I’ll hang out with friends during the day. Go to school gym class. Dance classes. Or do yoga. Sometimes I like to read books. Whatever feels right for me.

Why did you decide to play this particular role?

Because I wanted to be able to express myself creatively, and I felt like I could do that within the context of a family drama. Also, I liked exploring characters that are different from mine. People always ask me why I chose to do certain roles instead of others. And I choose ones that challenge me artistically. For example, I recently shot a sci-fi thriller called Extinction, directed by Peter Berg, and it was interesting because it took place over five days, and I worked 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, with hardly any time off. Whereas most projects I shoot, I usually spend three weeks here and four weeks there. This gave me chance to explore a lot of ideas cinematically and visually, which I’ve been wanting to do for awhile. Plus, I liked having control over the narrative, rather than following someone else’s vision.

Do you have any special memories or advice for young girls who want to act?

Yeah, I do! First of all, I wish I knew earlier. I would have saved a ton of money. Actors charge a lot of money for auditions. Second, I would say find out what type of theater you’re interested in. There are many options. And third, keep learning. Keep practicing. Be prepared to fail miserably. Don’t let anyone tell you anything differently. Follow your gut, follow your heart, and don’t listen to anyone. And above all else, stay true to yourself. Lastly, trust your instincts. Trust your gut. Do what feels right. If you’re meant to wear a wig, wear a wig. If you’re supposed to wear contacts, wear contacts. Never compromise your authenticity, especially at a young age.

Have you thought of yourself as a celebrity since becoming one?

Not really. It’s weird, because it seems like it happened overnight. Now I‘m living my dream career, traveling everywhere, meeting tons of people, making lots of connections. Before, I couldn’t afford to fly across the country to meet actors, directors or TV producers. Or I couldn’t afford hotels. And now I can. It’s surreal.

What was shooting I AM NOT YOUR PERFECT MEXICAN DAUGHTER? LIKE REALLY SURREAL?

Yes, yes, oh my gosh. I learned about filmmaking, I learned about lighting, I learned about wardrobe design, costuming, blocking … I learned so much about so many aspects of production. And it was exciting. Every day felt like Christmas. I learned that you eat whatever you want whenever you want. Which sounds terrible, but it’s okay. I ate junk food 24/7. And I drank sodas constantly. It was hard. I gained weight quickly. And I almost died trying to lose weight. All in all, it was worth it.

Did you ever imagine that you’d end up sitting in a room, talking to a bunch of strangers, pretending to care about their problems, discussing how you identify with their lives?

Nope. Never. I’ve never acted before, and certainly not professionally, and I absolutely did not anticipate that happening. Of course, I was nervous. How could I not be? But once I started, I realized that I enjoyed it.

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