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

December 8, 2010 |  5:39 pm

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losing a director (Catherine Hardwicke was attached before leaving to shoot the  dark fable "Red Riding Hood;" she has been replaced by a Brazilian filmmaker named Heitor Dhalia.)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


Photo: Dakota Fanning at the BAFTA Awards. Credit: Reuters

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Ok! I absolutely respect Dakota's decision to do what's best for her--there will be no whining from me about a movie slow down. She'll be 17 in less than 3 months and there are decisions to make and lots of bumps to deal with in the next few years. Focusing on finishing high school seems like a good decision and would, I think, help her get ready for college. Maybe she can make a movie during her summer break after high school. (Just a comment; I'm not begging.) After that, I find it hard to see how she could do the production phase of a movie at any time other than during summer breaks: in my experience, college was a great deal more work than high school. But, she's very intelligent...

Of the new movies I've seen Dakota's name associated with, the one (with the limited knowledge I have of them) that sounds best is "Now is Good." And really, I certainly have no interest in a movie where the "supernatural" is the central premise; I cringed when I first read about her doing "If I Stay" and I wouldn't want to see it. Luckily for me, I enjoy her movies so much that I'll be ok with watching them again--maybe for another year.

Dakota's an outstanding actress and a unique and charming young lady. She's excellent at creating a new screen persona for every role and I'm crazy about that. I wish her all the best and I have every expectation that she'll do very very well.

I want to add that Dakota's superlative performance as Lewellen in "Hounddog" was a serious dramatic role; to my mind, she's already proved her metal. As wonderful as her child characters were, Lewellen was a radical shift away from them and really showed her capability as a heavy-lift dramatic actress.

Even in her child roles, there were some very serious dramtic features. For example, in "War of the Worlds", my favorite scene is where she's in the escape car and Ray is talking to Manny. Rachel's fear is ramping up and reaches the point where she tries to suppress her panic by putting her glove over her mouth--beautiful, priceless, and a reminder of something Michael Caine wrote in his acting book. Then there's "Man on Fire" where she came back to Creasy who was all shot-up on the ground.

In "The Runaways," Dakota's character was even flat-out disgusting in the grocery store scene--a new thing for Dakota. Really, she's already tackled some serious drama. My only worry is whether or not there will be challenging roles for her; a role like Jodie Foster's Sarah in "The Accused" doesn't come along every day. (BTW, "Sarah" made it very clear to me why Dakota admires Jodie Foster's work so much.)

Maybe they should wait for Dakota. I think she would be perfect for the role and it's worth it for them to wait a couple months. Also, I'm so proud of Dakota for keeping up with the academics!

Dakota is a great accteres, but as told, it's accually very smart of her to focus more at the school. i'm 16, near her age, I started high school this summer, and yes it's very much work sometimes and its really neccesery to study so you can have a chans to start college. And thats what im up to do about 4 years


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