Lynn Hirschberg: Elle, since Somewhere, in which you played the only child of a male
movie star, you have been very busy: costarring in Super 8, which was a
hit this summer, and in We Bought a Zoo, which is in theaters December
23. You’re 13—how has your life changed since Somewhere?
Elle Fanning: After Somewhere came out, people started to recognize me more. Whenever I was walking down the street, they’d be like, “Oh, wow—are you Elle Fanning?” Before Somewhere, they asked me if I was Dakota Fanning, because we looked alike, and I’d say, “No, I’m her younger sister.” And they’d say, “Oh, okay.” But now I think they are starting to realize I’m my own person.
I’m an older sister, and my sister is always telling me how difficult it
is to be a younger sister. But Dakota seems like a nice older sister.
She is a nice older sister. But it’s not like we always get along. Now that she’s going to college, it’s different. I went into her room at home in California, and all her clothes were gone! Her closet was empty! I don’t get to go in there and steal clothes anymore. It’s really strange. It’s sort of like she’s off making a movie, but this time she’s not coming back.
Your first part was playing Dakota as an infant in I Am Sam. In The
Curious Case of Benjamin Button, you played the young Cate Blanchett.
I was 9 years old during Benjamin Button. I had to wear a long red wig because [Cate] had red hair in the movie. I remember that. I had a great time on set. The director did a lot of takes, and he would say, “Take 50,” and I would just go do it again. I was only 9, so I thought that was fun.
Super 8 looks like it was exciting to make—the kids were the stars of
It was great! I was 12 when I did Super 8, and when Dakota was 12, she did War of the Worlds. Steven Spielberg was involved with both movies, so we both worked with Steven when we were 12.
You have kind of a love scene in Super 8. Were you nervous?
I didn’t have to kiss him. But it was a boy-girl scene, and we had to like each other in the movie. All the other boys made fun of us because we had to like each other. Did you have trouble pretending there was a monster about to attack you?
When we were filming, J.J. [Abrams, the director] would say, “The monster is right there,” and we’d be looking at a little dot on a pole. That’s it, that’s the monster—and we’d have to be afraid of it. We didn’t know what the monster was going to look like. J.J. kept that a secret from us throughout the movie. We were all probably imagining something different. It was fun going to the first screening and finally seeing the monster. That was the first time I saw what I was screaming at.