10 Images

The Life and Times of Dakota Fanning

In a career spanning more than half her life, 14-year-old Dakota Fanning has racked up over 30 IMDB credits including starring roles opposite Tom Cruise, Denzel Washington and Robert De Niro. She has played young versions of both Reese Witherspoon and Ellen Degeneres and in 2002 she became the youngest person ever to be nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award. Being the youngest in something was not new to her, and she has been proclaimed the next Jodie Foster. Journey back with us over the illustrious career of the finest (and one of the only) actresses of her generation.

February 23, 1994: Hannah Dakota Fanning is born in Conyers, Georgia to Joy, a professional tennis player and Steve, a former professional ball player. (Rick Maiman / AP)
1998: Thinking ahead, Fanning’s parents create Elle Fanning, a sort of mini-Dakota, who will go on to play younger versions of her sister in “I Am Sam” and the mini-series “Taken.”

1999: After joining a neighborhood playhouse, Fanning’s stage work gets positive reviews from the parents of her fellow young actors. Hollywood begins to beckon. (Krista Woodley)
2000: Fanning lands her first professional gig in a national Tide commercial and begins to work the television circuit. She gets one-episode parts in “Ally McBeal” “Spin City” and “The Practice” and a role on “ER” where she played a girl with leukemia who got hit by a car.

2001: The Fanning family moves to Los Angeles permanently and Fanning signs with a professional agency. After a year of slaving away as a nobody, she lands her breakthrough role in “I Am Sam” alongside Michelle Pfieffer and Sean Penn. Fanning’s star begins to shine. (Lorey Sebastian / New Line Cinema)
2002: The actress is nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award for supporting performance for her work in “I Am Sam.” She doesn’t win, but does win the Best Young Actor/Actress award from the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Because she is too short to reach the microphone, presenter Orlando Bloom holds her up for the duration of her acceptance speech. That same year she plays a young version of Reese Witherspoon in “Sweet Home Alabama” and begins what will become a lifelong collaboration with Steven Spielberg with the science fiction mini-series “Taken.” (Kevin Winter / Getty Images)
2003: Fanning’s next film “The Cat in the Hat” is poorly reviewed, but her work as a spoiled brat in “Uptown Girls” is heralded. She also ventures into the world of voice over on shows like “Kim Possible.”

2004: Fanning delights audiences in “Man on Fire” with actor Denzel Washington, inspiring Roger Ebert to declare the actress “is a pro at only 10 years old, and creates a heart-winning character.” (Kevin Winter / Getty Images)
2005: A big year for the young actress. She plays opposite two Hollywood heavyweights—Robert De Niro (“Hide and Seek”) and Tom Cruise (“War of the Worlds”). Her arresting performance as a terrified little girl in “War of the Worlds” solidifies her standing as one of America’s finest young talents. (Andrew Cooper / Paramount Pictures)
2006: Fanning becomes the youngest member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences. She also stars in the live action film “Charlotte’s Web” as the character Fern. Because of her work in the film she lands a feature in Vanity Fair entitled “Cinderella in Sneakers.” (Kevin Winter / Getty Images)
2007: Fanning seemed to seek an acting challenge and took on the Sundance movie “Hounddog,” in which her character is raped. Many thought the move was a bit too much for the young actress, but she persevered. (Fred Norris / Empire Film Group)
2009: With two big movies releasing on the same weekend, Fanning seems to be coming on strong. She stars in “Push,” a thriller with Chris Evans, and does the voice of the lead character in “Coraline,” an animated film from the mind of Neil Gaiman. (John P. Johnson / Summit Entertainment)
Present and beyond : Fanning is on the verge of being cast in the mega popular “Twilight” sequel “New Moon” as a vampire.

— Deborah Netburn and Jevon Phillips, Times staff writers
 (Chris Pizzello / Associated Press)