Dakota and Elle Fanning cover W Mag: too mature, or just precocious?


Elle and Dakota Fanning cover the new December issue of W Magazine. Elle is 13 years old, Dakota is 17 years old, and they blonde hair, big blue eyes and an otherworldly precocity in common. In their separate interviews with W Mag (which you can read here at W), Elle talks about her dreams of working in Paris and how she knows the names of all of the major models, while Dakota talks about real estate and improvising with Sean Penn when she was 6 years old. It’s weird, basically, especially in Elle’s case. Dakota has grown up in the spotlight, and she’s managed to balance fame and work with a normal childhood experience, but Elle seems like she’s already a little adult. Plus, these photos seem way too mature for a pair of sisters who only have 30 years between them. Here are some highlights from the piece:

Elle on Dakota, her big 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.”

Elle on playing the young Cate Blanchett in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: “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.”

Elle on ballet: “Yes, ]I still do it] five days a week. That’s something I always try to keep on my schedule. I would love to do a musical! Dakota did The Runaways, so she got to sing in that one.”

Elle’s favorite television shows: “We watch a lot of reality TV. My sister and I record Big Brother. We’re obsessed! And we love old game shows like Password and the original Family Feud. Also, me and my sister watch Criminal Minds. We record every episode, and we watch it every single night… My sister likes psychology, and they really get into the mind of the killers. I’ve been on Criminal Minds twice! On the first show, a boy brought kids out to the woods and was beating them with a baseball bat, but I got away. Then they brought Tracy, my character, back—as a kidnapped girl. They saved me two times! Tracy lived!”

Elle is little fashionista: “Oh, yes! When I found out that I was invited to the Chanel show—that was the loudest I’ve ever screamed in my life. That was the best day of my life. It was my first fashion show, and I know every model by name. I go on Style.com and look at all the shows. It was just the best experience ever! And, of course, we did some sightseeing. We went to the Eiffel Tower at night. It was sparkling. I would be the happiest you would ever see me if I got to film a movie in Paris. That would be everything!”

Dakota on why she decided to go to college: “For the same reasons I wanted to go to a high school: You hear people say, “Oh, when I was in high school” or “When I was in college.” That defines a lot of who people are, and I didn’t want to miss out on that.”

Dakota’s 17 and she lives on her own with her mom? “No roommates. Because I’m only 17, my mom is staying with me in my apartment for a little bit. She’s teaching me how to wash clothes and such. But I’m so excited to be on my own. In my house in L.A., we all feel that everything is everybody’s, and so doors are never really closed. My sister and I share a bathroom, and when you have a sibling, nothing is actually your own. I’ve never really had anything or any place that was just mine.”

Dakota on improvising with Sean Penn when she was 6: “And I thought, Okay, that’s what it’s going to be like. There was no other choice. I think he said, “Knock, knock,” which was not in the script. I said, “Uh…who’s there?” [Laughs.] And, yeah, that’s what it was like. It definitely prepared me for the future. At other times, in other movies, actors would go off script and kind of test me like, Ah—maybe she’s not going to be able to reply. And I already knew how to be ready for anything.”

Dakota on auditioning as a child actor: “It didn’t bother me, but I usually wouldn’t get things because of my hair. I had really short, wispy hair, and the girls with perfect long, straight hair with bangs and a butterfly clip would always get picked. Finally, I got some more hair and started getting roles.”

[From W Magazine]

They mention that their mom was some kind of fashion buyer before she started “managing” her girls’ careers – and I’m using “managing” loosely because it doesn’t seem like Mother Fanning is some Dina Lohan or Kris Jenner-style momager. I think Mother Fanning is just very involved in her girls’ lives, and she gives career advice, especially about clothes and ad campaigns. Which makes that Marc Jacobs ad with Dakota even creepier, because the mom used to a professional in the fashion industry, and she knew what Dakota was getting into.

So here’s the question: Are the Fanning girls simply smart and precocious, or does their momager need to take a step back and pull the girls away from the limelight a bit?






W Magazine photos courtesy of The Fashion Spot.

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71 Responses to “Dakota and Elle Fanning cover W Mag: too mature, or just precocious?”

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  1. Jacq says:

    There isn’t anything sexy about this shoot, at least not that I can see. It sort of looks like two girls in Mommy’s closet. There is always a Lolita element when you have a 17yo who still looks 10 and a younger one who looks twice her age. And the Fanning girls have always been quite articulate. The fact that they’re talking about more advanced, mature things is just the girls being well-spoken talking about their life. Yes, Dakota has remained quite grounded, but you couldn’t lay her childhood next to mine and compare the two. Just a little reminder her “normal” still isn’t.

  2. Shy says:

    Do you hear that Lindsay Lohan? Dakota wants to go to college. She has work, she can sigh for a lot of movies but she wants to go to college. And then in ten years she will say that during her college years she was in college and not in jail or court room.

    What a difference. Dakota can easily go party and do drugs but looks like it’s not her thing. And I find Elle kind of cold. She and Saoirse Ronan give me that cold vibe. They are both pretty but they don’t show any emotions on screen. Elle’s character on Super 8 kind of annoyed me. She was cold and lifeless and I had zero connection with her and I didn’t care about her.

    And same with Saoirse Ronan in The Way Back. I think they shoud work on their acting skills. Dakota is a lot better actress. Even when she plays annoing girl in War of the Worlds you still care about her and like.

  3. Leigh says:

    I think the shoot is cute.
    A little “grown up” in the style sense – but not in an inappropriate way – I agree with #1 – in a mom’s closet kind of way.

  4. Rita says:

    The photos are wonderful. We spend our whole lives, begining as little girls, dressing up as someone older and then as someone younger, hoping someone will take our picture or at least notice.

    If it were not for dressing up and wanting to be noticed, alls we’d have to do is …. household chores and that’s no fun.

  5. WillyNilly says:

    I think it’s awesome. I was a fashion fan when I was Elle’s age and it would be a wonderful opportunity to see Chanel and be in shoots – are you kidding? As long as her mother isn’t Dina, I say go for it.

    LOVE those white lace gloves.

  6. StephanieMarie says:

    I agree with the above posters…There’s nothing inappropriate about the shoot at all.
    I also don’t see the Marc Jacobs ad as being too provocative or “lolitaish”…
    Where Dakota is holding the parfume bottle was an odd choice, but other than that the dress is plenty long enough and the neckline isn’t cut too low.
    The Fanning girls are doing alllllright.

  7. Original Chloe ) says:

    Uhm. Pretty pictures, but no.

    Elle doesn’t seem grown up to me at all and the contrast between the pictures and what she has to say is a bit creepy.

  8. renee says:

    In the first black and white picture Dakota looks like Kate Hudson!

  9. cherryberry says:

    I think that the shoot is very pretty and reminds me of dress up time. Not inappropriate at all. Bit I also don’t think that the Marc Jacobs ad was inappropriate and think that the British Morality Board (whatever its called) was overreacting in a major way.

  10. Jacqu says:

    “these photos seem way too mature for a pair of sisters who only have 30 years between them.”

    30 years? Slip of the fingers or hmm?

    The first thing that came to mind in this cover is: “Where’s Dakota’s disappearing hand?”

  11. Psyren says:

    There’s nothing at all wrong with this photo shoot. Not sexy, not too mature, just campy and couture. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with the perfume ad either. I think people need to stop projecting whatever is in their heads onto these photos.

  12. Jackie says:

    creepy vibe. way to ‘lolita’ for me.

  13. LittleDeadGrrl says:

    I was rather shocked by how articulate the younger sister is especially for her age. The one photoshoot was a bit creepy but honestly I’ve not heard anything crazy about either one of them. They are both very beautiful and seem intelligent so I hope they stay in the biz if only to provide some positive role models.

  14. Jilli says:

    Lovely girls, the two. The 13 year old seems older than her years…and that is not a good thing.

  15. ruby says:

    It is a bit creepy… Elle seems so much older in many photographs.

    It’s strange because I really dislike Dakota, she bugs me. Something grates, and I don’t find her talented.

    On the other hand, I love Elle, she has this ethereal, dreamy quality, and I think she’s a great actress.

  16. tripmom says:

    These girls are wonderful. I would be thrilled if my daughters grow up to be this grounded, articulate, and appreciative of everything they have. Their family seems close, and the girls look gorgeous and not at all inappropriate in the photos. Just love everything about them.

  17. Annie engrish says:

    These girls… somewhere, rich pedophiles must be wondering how much they charge for a Lolita night.
    Scary. They should change that photoshoot theme.

  18. Miffits says:

    Your concerns about this shoot and interview are as much of a non-issue as the Marc Jacobs Oh Lola ad campaign.

    I love how people who find perversion where there is none use their moral outrage to hide the fact that they’re the pervs in question.

    The shoot is sophisticated not sleazy.

  19. lucy2 says:

    I thought the Marc Jacobs ads were a little questionable, but these photos are fine, I don’t see anything wrong with them.
    Both girls seem smart, well adjusted, and surprisingly normal. Their parents have done it right. Glad Dakota is going to college too.

  20. REDSLIP says:

    They should not have chosen a cover photo with a tag for “sexy lingerie” right next to Elle’s head.

    Otherwise it’s pretty tasteful, with the exception of the second to last picture of Dakota.

  21. TG says:

    I like these photos they look sweet to me. And I realy like Dakota as an actress and since we haven’t read anything bad about her in the press she seems like a decent girl.

  22. ol cranky says:

    Dakota was actually very precocious in interviews when she was younger. I think, when she started going to school with regular kids she started to speak more like a “normal” kid. Elle has grown up acting right behind Dakota so her demeanor isn’t really that surprising. WHat IS surprising and a little disturbing is how old Elle looks – she’s 13 but she looks like someone in her late teens (maybe even 20) in the cover shot. It’s not as creepy as Ali Lohan looking like she’s 45 but it’s still a little bothersome that they style and photograph her to look likes she’s an adult who can look very young and innocent instead of the other way around.

  23. Adrien says:

    Dakota’s beginning to look like Kate Hudson.

  24. Maritza says:

    They are both beautiful and the photos are in good taste, nothing Lolita about them.

  25. Criss says:

    Too precious and I love how they played on the little girls playing dress up. That’s really what they are. My daughters just wear tennis and jeans w/ t-shirts thank god. I tried to get my 18 year old to wear a dress and heals and she screamed at me about how ridiculously uncomfortable she was. So I think it’s all just pretend for these 2, I hope.

  26. Jenna says:

    I LOVE these photos! The dresses are gorgeous! Way better than the MK+A photoshoot in my opinion.

  27. Crimson & Clover says:

    You don’t become as successful as the Fanning girls at such a young age unless a parent is pushing you. I think with the Fannings, though, their parents are aware that pushing too hard and overworking their kids can have really negative side effects (ahem, Lohan). You can see that with Dakota’s work slow down of the last couple years, and that they waited until Elle was over 10 before starting her, unlike Dakota who was sent out at what, 4? I’m not hating on the Fannings, though. This is how you do with child actors. I’m just saying, no kid gets where they’ve gotten without some “encouragement” from Mom and Dad.

    As for Dakota’s schooling, I think she’s being honest right now, but if the roles get really good for her and the offers are there, I wouldn’t be surprised if she doesn’t delay, if not outright skip, college. Oh, and her “normal” high school? Yeah. Right. It’s one of the most expensive private schools in LA. I’ve known kids from that school. The teachers are extremely well paid to cater to whatever whims of the student. I knew one girl whose dad was into yacht racing and he regularly pulled his kids out for weeks at a time to attend sailing races all over the world. The teachers always prepared study packets for them and managed to keep the kids on track despite these absences. Dakota’s parents are paying for the privilege of their daughter going to a real school, but then that school will bend over backwards to accomodate her career. There’s nothing normal about that.

  28. Freakieness says:

    I think they look gorgeous (and that’s saying a lot, because I find Dakota annoying!) But yes, Elle looks way older than her sister, I mean… she’s 13, not 20, geezus!!

  29. Lady D says:

    Mom can’t be that bad a manager if she is giving up home to stay with Dakota in her new apartment. At least her parents didn’t just cut her loose. (looking at you Dina)

  30. iseepinkelefants says:

    Someone should let little Elle know she stole Jaime King’s look. Jaime did it better.

    I used to be just like her when I was 10-13. I would go on Style and look at all the collections, but then I grew up and realized that there’s more important things in life. The world of fashion is so vacuous. Hopefully she grows to be just like her sister (though it seems like Dakota’s the more level headed one).

  31. iseepinkelefants says:

    Crimson & Clover – agreed. Look at the Olsen’s we kept hearing about NYU and then I guess they dropped out? Because I haven’t heard mention of it since the first year they attended.

    And I guess who can blame these kids. They already have careers, they don’t really need college. Give the place to someone who actually needs it.

  32. Alix says:

    I think the Fannings figure that Dakota is turning out so well, they can relax a bit with Elle. I hope that decision doesn’t end up biting them in the butt.

  33. Trek Girl says:

    The photos are great, Dakota and Elle are beautiful and seem to have their heads on straight, and their mother seems to be doing a great job with parenting and handling their careers. I hope they stay healthy, content, and free of the usual, and unusual, Hollywood and fame related traps and perils.

    @Iseepinkelefants: You might not have realized that there more important things in the world when you were 10-13 years old and interested in fashion, but that doesn’t mean that Elle doesn’t realize that. Don’t throw your childhood on her.

    She is not you, she is not her sister, she is her own person, and she may very well be more mature than you were when you were her age, and maybe even several years older. Besides, she is being invited to fashion shows, featured in W Magazine, and doing other fashion related things, so the fashion industry as it relates to her isn’t so vacuous, is it?

  34. texasmom says:

    I like both these girls and there isn’t anything gross about the pictures, but I get a creepy Lolita-ish vibe, too, maybe because it is sisters posed together in such a coquettish way.

    Anyhoodle, I think their mom is a manager the way that any mom has to manage their kids’ lives. I can barely manage my non-working children’s lives plus my job, if I had to get my kids to all the normal kid stuff AND celebrity jobs, I don’t think I could manage a job of my own, too. So I think she is a full-time mom more than a psycho Dina-Lohan type “manager.”

    My niece met Dakota Fanning on a college trip last year (NYU) and says she seems like a nice, regular girl.

  35. Lukie says:

    I am much more bothered by the 13 lightening her hair than I am w/the overall photo shoot….

  36. Maya says:

    I’m starting to find them both a little annoying, to be honest. Just over-exposure: seems like they’re everwhere nowadays.

  37. Jessica says:

    In the cover photo…Dakota’s hand appears to be missing. It looks like her arms ends before the wrist. Elle is holding her sister’s stump up.

  38. dorothy says:

    these girls have Old Hollywood running in their veins. absolutely stunning. they need to be protected and stay far away from the likes of Terrygrossface and keep getting educated. what a great change from all the trashy reality looks.

  39. Shaishai says:

    @Crimson and Clover: I don’t see what the problem is with their choice of school. You actually say the school is good at keeping the kids up to par with their classmates while they’re off working; what is wrong with that?
    I went to a school that was primarily filled with children of diplomats and parents would regularly take long holidays and the teachers would put packs together for them. Or even for me when I was doing my advanced work, my teacher put packs together for me for my summer work.
    The same scenario applies to high school athletes who travel for competition. They have to get special treatment while they travel.
    Would you rather have Kristen Stewart’s bitching and moaning about how her “regular” school failed her? Can no one win? If they don’t go to school it’s a problem. If they do and moan, it’s a problem. And if they find a school to work with their unusual circumstance, you have a problem with that too. How does one satisfy you?

  40. Lalala says:

    I’m so sick of young girls being portrayed as a fashion ideal for grown women to aspire to. Why not have clothes modeled by women in, say, their early 20s? Presumably fashion photos are intended to get you to buy the clothes, but why would I want to drop major money on clothing designed to make 13-year-olds but nobody else look good?

  41. 2 Mainstream says:

    Don’t get too excited, Dakota’s only 17. There’s still plenty of time for her to go off the rails. As for the photos they reminded me of the Olsen twins.

  42. Judy says:

    People disturbed because a 13 yr old lightens their hair?? OMG I see 4th graders with purple hair . Where do you live in a town of 12 people?

  43. Judy says:

    Lolita?? I read the book and saw that movies many times where is there anything to do wi Theseth LOlita? They don’t have any padding on the bust. Lolita was BUILT these girls are looking kmore like playing dress up. I see nothing sexy about this ad at all and Lolita was sexy for goodness sakes.

  44. loveyourwork says:

    Elle Fanning is gonna be one wild ride. You can see it in her eyes – every photo. She’s begging to be seen as sexy. Lolita fo sho.

    Dakota, not so much. She seems way more serene.

  45. JT says:

    They’re not on seventeen magazine, it’s appropriate for the kind of magazine it is. If Elle were to dress like this in real life, well that would be different. But the strangest thing is the cover. Where is Dakota’s hand…how could the editors not have noticed that? I personally found the Marc Jacobs ads a little off putting because Dakota did look very young, much younger than her true age and it was sexualizing her. But if they’ve gone so for in the UK as to ban them than they need to look into banning a shit load of other things! *ehem* toddlers and tiaras.

  46. Megan says:

    Precocious sums it up perfectly, but in a good way.

  47. Reece says:

    I agree with most everyone else. Not too sexy. Sisters playing dress up.
    I think Elle sounds very, very 13 yrs old. Like every other one out there trying to seem mature by telling you about all the adult things they know.

  48. Riri says:

    Why does a child who is 13 years old is already bleaching her hair and has such dark roots?

    I am not even talking about the fact that her nose looks as if she had a nose job, because I don’t want to even consider the option that her parents did that to her.

    But the hair is obvious.
    Can’t a 13 years old have her natural dark hair color?

    I always wondered what kind of a mother would take a small child and have her audition for a part and go through rejection and needing to please and being sad that other girls have commercial ready hair?

    Why would she put her girls through that?

  49. They look lovely. I see nothing wrong with this photoshoot at all.

  50. Mia says:

    They’re adorable. There’s nothing wrong with this shoot.

  51. Sophie says:

    Love it. I’ve always thought Dakota was a little fugly, but she looks stunning here.

  52. jelynn says:

    I think they’re both lovely and fine.

  53. Lenore says:

    @51 Judy – “I see nothing sexy about this ad at all and Lolita was sexy for goodness sakes.” No offence meant, but…um, no. No, she wasn’t. If you’ve really read the book, you need to go read it again a bit more slowly.

    In the book, she is 12 at the beginning, a skinny, cocky kid, when Humbert becomes obsessed with her. The movies apparently make Lolita older (14-15 to begin with) and render her appearance more obviously pubescent and deceptively womanly, but she is most definitely a child in the book, NOT “built” in any way(!), and it is her childishness that Humbert finds appealing. He specifically laments that within a couple of summers, she’ll have hit puberty and lose all her appeal. If she was built, he wouldn’t want her.

    It’s not that she’s some underage harlot who looks older and thus entrances him. He’s a paedophile, pure and simple, and she’s a child.

    So yeah, these images, ironically, really are Lolita-esque, in that they look like two kids playing dress up. (Then again, half the photo-shoots out there feature doe-eyed skinny teenage girls hocking haute couture to adult women, so I don’t know why this one should ring alarm bells…)

    Sorry to be a lit-pedant, it’s just a misreading of the novel that really irritates me and it seems to be really common. Lolita is only sexy to paedophiles, that’s the whole point.

    [/end lit rant]

  54. Quest says:

    I like the pictures – looks like tween-sisters playing dress up (something most young girls do). The pics are clean and fun and thank goodness not sexed up. I like it.

  55. Katie says:

    I think it is mature but in a glamorous way. They are completely covered up and there is nothing overtly sexy about it. I really like it. I think they are both beautiful young ladies who have great skill and talent. It’s great to see two kids growing up in Hollywood that aren’t drug addicts or completely a-holes. I love them!

  56. ladybert62 says:

    I havent read all of the posts as I am at work and need to actually get some work done this morning! But, I guess I am the odd man out from the few posts that I have read because:

    Yes, these girls are beautiful.

    However, I think the pictures are creepy and more than just “pretending to be grown up and raiding mom’s closet” – these pictures border on sexualing them. They are still children and these pictures make them appear older and sexier than they are in real life.

    I think this is another step in the total sexualization of children that is becoming predominant in our culture.

    Ok – throw rocks at me.

  57. kazoo says:

    dakota and her mom have always creeped me out.

  58. Emma says:

    This shoot is so cute and harmless. People trying to stir it up need to give it a rest, there’s really nothing there to b*tch about.

  59. Stubbylove says:

    Totally agree w/@Emma. W is the only magazine I have a subscription to. They look lovely and it’s tastefully done. I’m just damn thankful I didn’t see any fucking stupid arched backs, open mouths in half-dressed outfits – that would have pissed me off.

  60. Gigi says:

    The girls are lovely and the pictures are beautiful. It’s nice to see talented people on the cover of a magazine.

  61. Kim says:

    They seem normal enough but need to watch who they work for so they dont get exploited. hint hint Marc Jacobs.

  62. kimberly says:

    There mom has it right.

    if anyone thought those pics were not appropriate has issues and needs to lay off the porn.

    those picks were very tsteful!!!

    as for the famous marc j pic of dakota, even her face was saying, “this is so fucking stupid of a pose”

    Marc J is getting tacky as hell in his old age!!!!!