Dakota Fanning to leave ‘If I Stay’ (and won’t tackle any lead roles until after high school)

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EXCLUSIVE: Fans of Dakota Fanning were keen on the teen actress tackling a serious dramatic role as the lead in the supernatural drama ‘If I Stay.’

But a source familiar with the film said that, after the announcement in October that the star would take on the part, Fanning has opted not to make the movie, which leaves her without a new leading role (and also, incidentally, throws the project into question).

On Thursday afternoon a representative for the star confirmed she would not shoot the film and chalked it up to the actress’ desire to finish her senior year of high school. The representative said that Fanning will shoot the two ‘The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn’ films (in which she plays Jane, a role that brings a decidedly lighter workload), and may shoot a smaller independent movie. But she will not take on any significant roles until after she graduates this spring.

Based on Gayle Forman’s young-adult novel about a teenage musician, her boyfriend and a fatal car accident, ‘Stay’ has been a high priority for ‘Twilight’ studio Summit.


But the project has now lost its star after previously losing a director (Catherine Hardwicke was attached before leaving to shoot the dark fable ‘Red Riding Hood;’ she has been replaced by a Brazilian filmmaker named Heitor Dhalia.) The studio also might have some reservations about the film in the wake of the poor performance of another supernatural teen drama, ‘Charlie St. Cloud,’ earlier this year. A Summit spokesman did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Fanning’s stock remains high for producers who say they are attracted to her mix of what they describe as vulnerability and maturity, qualities she mined to well-regarded effect in this year’s music biopic ‘The Runaways.’ The news also comes at a time when another Fanning’s star is rising too: Dakota Fanning’s sister Elle currently stars in ‘The Nutcracker in 3D’ and Sofia Coppola’s ‘Somewhere,’ the latter of which has drawn strong reviews.

--Steven Zeitchik