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Dakota Fanning Lends Her Voice to 'Coraline'

Dakota Fanning Talks About Working on the Stop Motion 3D Animated Film

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Dakota Fanning Lends Her Voice to 'Coraline'

Dakota Fanning poses next to Coraline.

© LAIKA, Inc / Focus Features
February 6, 2009 is a very busy day for Dakota Fanning and her fans. Fanning, who'll be turning 15 later this month, has two movies opening opposite each other on that date and, according to the young actress, she's absolutely fine with that weird bit of timing. "It's so crazy that I have two coming out on the same day because I've been working on this one [Coraline] for so long as opposed to Push, which I just filmed a year ago. That they would fall on the exact same day is so ironic but yeah, I hope people enjoy both of them," said Fanning at Coraline's LA press junket.

Fanning said she's been working on the voice of Coraline Jones, Coraline's lead character, for five years, doing voice sessions in between her other films. Over the course of the years, Fanning's voice has changed and matured. "Yeah, I think it did. I think it did," said Fanning. "I had to change it a little bit. Henry [Selick, the director] would say, 'Oh, I think your voice is a little deeper.' And I went, 'Okay,' and I would fix it."

Fanning also adopts a little bit of a Midwestern accent for the role. "It was like a Michigan accent that he wanted. I didn't really know what that sounded like but I did that. It was really fun. I thought it added something else to the character and made it not sound like me."

Even before she learned she'd be working on the film, Fanning read Neil Gaiman's book, Coraline. "I think I just read it because I wanted to read it, not because of a script or a movie or anything. And then I originally met with Henry about the live-action version that would be of the film and I was going to do that and then they decided to make it animated a little while later. And here I am as the voice."

Coraline follows the adventures of feisty 11 year old Coraline Jones as she moves into a new apartment with her parents, meets her bizarre neighbors, and discovers there's a secret world that's an alternate version of her life - down to twisted versions of her mom and dad. Resourceful beyond her years and extremely curious, Coraline is at first fascinated by this Other World. But she soon discovers there's a sinister side to Other World and it's up to her to keep her real family in the real world safe.

Coraline's brave, and Fanning thinks she shares that characteristic with her animated character. "I do. I mean, I think that when you're doing a movie and when you're putting yourself out there, you have to have a certain amount of bravery because even when you're on the set filming it, you're in front of everybody and you're doing scenes and you're kind of showing yourself to lots of different people," explained Fanning. "And especially when they're watching you, I think that that can be intimidating sometimes so I feel like I am brave. Maybe not in the way that Coraline is because she's fighting for her family and everything, but I think I would do the same thing as she did."

Speaking from the point of view of a kid, Fanning could understand why Coraline was initially so attracted to Other World and its Other Mother and Other Father. "I think that we all kind of want what we can't have or want what we don't have or want the opposite," offered Fanning. "I think that's just kind of the way the world is, always kind of wanting a perfect world or perfect life. Everybody makes mistakes and everybody has differences and things that may not be as perfect as something else, so I think this movie kind of helps people, or children, or anyone understand that message which I really like."

Growing Up and Moving on to Other Projects

Asked if being a teenager has changed how she selects her roles, Fanning replied, "I think it affects it a lot. I can't really play the roles that I played when I was younger, and I can't play the roles that hopefully I will play in the future. So you have to find that good balance in what's right for the time. I think that's really important, but I don't try to think about it too much because I think that what you're drawn to will kind of reflect the age that you are."

One potential project in Fanning's future is drawing a lot of attention. Fanning may take on the role of Jane, a member of the Volturi clan of vampires, in the second film of the Twilight series, New Moon. "Well, it's not 100% for sure yet that I will be doing it but it's definitely not like a rumor or anything. It's definitely a possibility and something that I'm excited about," revealed Fanning.

"I just think the character is what I would be excited about," said Fanning when asked what from the book she's looking forward to playing on the screen. "It's kind of evil, something I've never done before, and it's a vampire. You know, it's really cool so I really hope that it works out."

Fanning's not exactly a vampire expert. "The only really vampire movie I've seen has been Twilight," confessed Fanning who is working her way through the book series written by Stephenie Meyer. "I haven't read all four yet. I'm working on it. Getting there. […]I'm just about to finish the first one."

Twilight fans in general seem to be onboard with the idea of Fanning playing Jane, and Fanning admits it feels good to get the support of that huge fan base. "It does. I mean, I know that Twilight is so sacred to some people and I know that when people cast certain people, people have their opinions - and that's their right. That's very flattering that they think I'd be right for the part and I hope it works out."

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Coraline hits theaters on February 6, 2009 and is rated PG for thematic elements, scary images, some language and suggestive humor.

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