The Hollywood star talks control, clothes, and break-ups for Miu Miu Women’s Stories.
“I like to control things,” says Dakota Fanning, “and at a certain point, I realized that even being behind the camera, you can’t. You think being a director means being in charge of everything?” she laughs. “You’re wrong.”
Fanning’s in London for her directorial debut, a partnership with Miu Miu Women’s Stories called The Apartment. The 11-minute short film stars Eve Hewson as a young woman going solo, and it’s got bits of everything—breakups, cheap wine, art projects, and of course, designer dresses.
At a post-screening panel with Millennial screenwriter (and Golden Globe nominee) Liz Hannah, Fanning revealed her on-set anxiety, her future career strategy, and what happened when she started living alone in New York City.
Here are highlights from the room where it happened…
I’ve always been a very calm person—well, maybe not calm. I guess it’s more that I’ve been a very confident person… When you’re directing a movie, you’re viewed as a leader, but you’re also totally reliant on everyone else. People keep asking your opinions on everything—from the big stuff to things like, “Dakota, red napkins or blue napkins?”—and admitting you don’t know anything about napkins, “I don’t know, what do you think?” That’s the hardest part. But part of my job [as a director] was that I hired other people to make this movie with me, and I knew I needed to trust them. (We went with the blue, by the way.)
I was worried in the beginning about having a main character always wearing Miu Miu and being amongst other people who were dressed really plainly. That seemed really strange to me, so we made sure every character had some Miu Miu. But we knew going in there would be standout moments with special pieces, like a white dress, and [Miu Miu] socks!… We also knew the cinematographer, Bobby Bukowski, was going to use the fabric as part of his shots… you would literally see [Eve Hewson’s] life through her clothes.
The Apartment as Muse
I’ve lived in the same apartment for seven years. I moved to New York City when I was 17 years old. My mom lived with me, and then when I turned 18, she moved out and I was totally on my own. But sometimes when I’m home alone, I think, “I know one day I’ll have to move out of this place, and it feels like the memories of what happened here will get lost.” And I mean, a lot happened in my apartment. I had a big breakup that I went through, and I went through the entire place removing items that made me feel upset, because they were just these painful reminders. I didn’t need them around. But at the same time, I’m a very sentimental person, a very nostalgic person, and I wonder about the marks we leave behind, and the scars we leave behind. Do apartments absorb them?
Tom Sturridge, Improv MVP
I believe in working with people you trust, and so I cast Eve and Tom because we’re already friends. I even trusted them to improvise some potential scenes. Now, as an actor, improvising gives me anxiety, but Tom and Eve don’t feel that way. Tom was like, “Can I just say whatever I want?” And to tell you the truth, there’s a whole version of this film that’s just Tom saying whatever he wants, and it’s amazing. It’s not the story we went with, but it’s great. And because we trusted each other, it made it easier to say yes.
What’s Next for Dakota
I would like to direct again, very much. I love it. But I started acting when I was very young—my first movie [I Am Sam] came out when I was 6, and it was a successful movie, so at this point I’ve been acting for a long time, at a strong pace. I kind of want my life as a director to be the opposite way, because you only get one opportunity to have a first time. My first short film is this one. Then there’s my first TV episode, my first feature film… I want to take my time. [Source]