Dakota Fanning Chronicles Her Journey from ‘I Am Sam’ to ‘War of the Worlds’ to ‘The Alienist’

     July 19, 2020

Often with interviews, I’m so hyper focused on one particular movie or show that it can be easy to overlook how much variety someone has in their filmography, like Dakota Fanning. Since jump starting her career at just seven-years-old with I Am Sam, Fanning’s amassed an impressive amount of credits ranging from big budget fare like War of the Worlds to hot franchises like the Twilight films, and also some independent gems like Kelly Reichardt’s Night Moves. But even after spending nearly two decades accumulating credits non-stop, there was one thing Fanning had yet to do until recently – star in a live-action TV show.

Fanning stars opposite Luke Evans and Daniel Brühl in TNT’s The Alienist as Sara Howard, a young woman who’d rather work for the NYPD in the 1890s than submit to societal exceptions to forego a career and find a husband. In The Alienist, we do see Sara go toe-to-toe with her male counterparts often, but in Angel of Darkness, Sara is embracing her potential to the fullest by setting up the Howard Detective Agency and working as a private detective. 


Image via TNT

On an episode of Collider Connected tied to the big debut of The Alienist: Angel of Darkness, Fanning took the time to revisit the beginning of her career and reflect on how all of the steps she took over the years led her to the show. With so much variety in her filmography, during the conversation I had to ask what project she’s approach about most. Here’s the first thing that came to mind: 

“I get a lot of Man on Fire. A lot of Man on Fire. A lot of people are fans of that. I don’t know if I’ve ever met someone who’s not a fan of Denzel Washington in movies, you know? [Laughs] As an actor, he’s kind of one of the greatest there will ever be.”

Fanning also noted War of the Worlds’ popularity and the big fandom behind the Twilight franchise, but she also highlighted the wide-ranging viewership The Alienist amassed: 

“Being on a television show with The Alienist, I was astounded. When the show was airing, I was living in New York and all the different types of people from all walks of life who were watching the show was so exciting. It was thrilling! The super of my building to my waxer were watching the show! [Laughs] This is wild! But this is great. This is what movies and TV are supposed to be about, bringing everybody together.”


Image via Paramount Pictures

If you’d like to hear even more from Fanning on her experience growing up in the industry, fulfilling her dream of working with Quentin Tarantino, her directing ambitions and so much more, you can catch her full episode of Collider Connected at the top of this article!


The Alienist: Angel of Darkness debuts tonight on TNT at 9pm ET.

Dakota Fanning:

  • 00:32 – Was Fanning naturally drawn to acting at such a young age or was it something her parents encouraged?
  • 03:15 – Did the movies Fanning starred in at such a young age, influence the movies she likes to watch now?
  • 04:22 – Of all the incredible filmmakers Fanning worked with when she was younger, who’s advice or influence does she find herself recalling most?
  • 06:53 – Why working on Once Upon A Time in Hollywood with Quentin Tarantino was a game-changer for Fanning.
  • 11:40 – The project that made Fanning feel like an adult on set for the first time.
  • 13:05 – Fanning talks about her decision to go back to school.
  • 16:22 – Did Fanning find herself readjusting her process at all when she jumped into her first big-budget projects?
  • 18:26 – What’s the film that Fanning is approached about most?


    Image via TNT

  • 20:20 – The Alienist marked Fanning’s first starring role in a live-action series; why did it take her so long to jump into television?
  • 22:30 – Given the fact that The Alienist is a limited series, did that make Angel of Darkness not feel like a traditional Season 2?
  • 24:00 – Fanning talks about adding more women to the ensemble for Angel of Darkness.
  • 25:02 – Fanning on becoming especially protective of her character in Angel of Darkness.
  • 27:07 – Fanning talks about the Sweetness in the Belly controversy.
  • 29:00 – Fanning talks about her directing ambitions.