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Dakota Fanning Reveals the Real Reason She Got into Acting: 'It All Started Coincidentally'

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She’s been a onscreen powerhouse since she was 6, but Dakota Fanning never envisioned acting would turn into a full-blown career.

“It all started so coincidentally for me,” Fanning, 23, said during Vulture and TNT’s The Alienist premiere Q&A session at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival on Friday. “I did this commercials and I had a good time so I did another one, then I did a TV show which turned into a movie and then I was an actor all of sudden.

“I wasn’t a kid that was like, ‘I want to be in the movies.’ Not at all,” she continued. “I just liked to play around the house and make up scenarios and my mom kind of noticed that I was disinterested in in all of the lessons she put me in. I just wanted to play at home so she put me in a drama camp to see if I liked doing that.”

Now, starring in TNT’s The Alienist — starring Daniel Bruhl (RushInglourious Basterds) and Luke Evans (Beauty and the BeastFast and Furious franchise) — Fanning could not be more thrilled to take on the challenging and evolving role of Sara Howard, the first woman to work for the NYPD with detective ambitions.


Isaac Brekken/Getty Images

“I love this character,” she said. “I love being able to see the balance and as the series continues, you see it more and more. You see the tough exterior that she feels like she has to have in the workplace or around men to be taken seriously or to be seen as an equal and then you see her in her in her private moments where she’s vulnerable and takes that mask off. She’s also a woman who’s coiming into her sexuality and femininity and balancing what that means to her and what this strength that she has to have to survive. I just loved being able to explore that and play such an unapologetic character.”

Dakota (left) and Elle Fanning
Swan Gallet/WWD/REX/Shutterstock


Following not too far behind is her younger sister Elle Fanning — who has appeared in over 30 films at the age of 19.

“You think, Gosh, if I didn’t have a sister who started acting, would I be acting?” Elle said in her cover story with Vogue in May. “It’s scary to think of not being able to do movies still.”

RELATED VIDEO: Elle Fanning Reveals Her Last Fashion Disaster

She added, “People sometimes want us to feel weird jealousy or competition. It will never happen. There’s no one I want to see succeed or soar more.”

The Alienist, based on Caleb Carr’s novel of the same name, premieres Monday, Jan. 22, at 9 p.m. ET on TNT.