Lookalike blonde sisters Dakota and Elle Fanning are two young actresses. Born four years apart (in '94 and '98), they have been acting since they were very young and regularly win new roles and awards for themselves. The girls were born in Conyers, Georgia, USA and both oddly use their middle names. Dakota's first name is actually Hannah, while Elle's is Mary.
The Start of their Career
Dakota was obsessed with acting from an early age. Her first amateur role was pretending to give birth; she made her sister play the baby. Because of her persistent interest, her parents took her to see an agent when she was still young. He advised the family to visit Los Angeles for six weeks and take Dakota to a few auditions. She duly ended up with a part in a national Tide1 advertisement. For convenience, the family has lived in Los Angeles ever since, with the children being schooled at home.
Dakota had several guest TV appearances in the year 2000, in shows such as ER, Ally McBeal and CSI. Her first film role was a tiny part in Tomcats. She also had the lead role in a short film called Father Xmas. She auditioned for I Am Sam, a film about a man with the mental age of seven. He ends up having to take care of his daughter Lucy by himself (the mother runs away) but when Lucy turns seven, the authorities are worried whether Sam will have the capacity to continue looking after her. Director Jessie Nelson was incredibly impressed with Dakota's performance at the screen test, where Dakota informed him that she had an aunt 'like Sam'. Nelson believes this gave Dakota a special ability to relate to the character. I Am Sam really pushed Dakota into the spotlight, as she won a Critic's Choice award and a Screen Actor's Guild nomination2 for her role. I Am Sam also marked the start of Elle's acting career. She played two-year-old Lucy.
Next up for Dakota was a part in Sweet Home Alabama, where she played the young version of Reese Witherspoon's character. She had her first on-screen kiss in this film, with a boy named Thomas Curtis, three years older than her. In 2002 Dakota had more guest TV appearances, a small part in Hansel and Gretel (acting alongside Thomas Curtis again) and a major part in a mini-series directed by Steven Spielberg. Taken is about alien abductions and Dakota's character is hugely important - so much so that she did the voice-over narration. In Taken, Elle once again played the younger version of her sister's character. Taken won an Emmy award and Dakota was at the ceremony. In the same year, she had a part in the film Trapped playing Abby, an asthmatic child who is kidnapped.
Elle finally won a role of her own in 2003's Daddy Day Care, alongside Eddie Murphy. She also did her own television guest appearances and commercials. Meanwhile, Dakota had a starring role in Uptown Girls (where her name appeared above the title on the poster and video) and was chosen to play Sally in The Cat in the Hat.
The Cat in the Hat is a live-action film of the original Dr Seuss book of the same name. Mike Myers, in a full-body costume, plays the cat and Spencer Breslin plays Sally's brother Conrad. Unfortunately, the film wasn't well-received by critics or the public; shortly after its release, it appeared on the list of IMDB's worst 100 films of all time. Dakota's Young Artist Award nomination for her role was one of few positive nominations the film received. The only other nominations for actors in the film were for 'Worst Actor/Actress'. Indeed, many critics described Dakota's performance as being the only credible one in the whole film.
More Major Parts
Dakota and Elle are showing no signs of slowing in their acting careers. Both landed major film roles in 2004. Dakota has a large part in the action film Man on Fire, as well as in Hide and Seek alongside Robert De Niro. Elle starred in Because of Winn-Dixie and Door in the Floor. Both girls signed to do a new English-language soundtrack for the Japanese animated film My Neighbour Totoro, playing sisters.
Elle and Dakota share a bedroom; Dakota claims her half is 'very neat' and that Elle's part is 'disgustingly messy'. The girls still like to play the mother/daughter game that started them acting. Elle says that Dakota makes a great mum.