The 14-year-old True Grit star signed up for the most romantic role in Hollywood earlier this year (11) and a copy of screenwriter Julian Fellowes' script reveals her character will have to strip off to play William Shakespeare's tragic heroine.
An excerpt of the script, printed in Britain's the Sunday Times Newspaper, reads: "They (Romeo and Juliet) start undressing each other - slowly, gently and carefully until they are naked. They are eternal figures in a Raphael painting. Romeo then carries her to bed, kissing her again and again as they explore uncharted territory. Then they make love, transported into each other's soul."
Fellowes insists the aim of his take on the classic tragedy is to feature "age-appropriate" actors, just as Shakespeare intended.
He explains, "I wanted Hailee because she is the perfect age. Juliet is at that stage of... what you might call a child/woman. Just like Hailee herself is. My version is a romantic story - one that keeps pretty true to Shakespeare but is, I hope, more accessible."
The film, which does not have a Romeo on board yet, will shoot in Italy, where the original play was set, later this year (11).
Filmmakers are sure to use a body double so as not to upset censors, decency watchdogs and parent groups with images of a naked teen.
In 2006, Dakota Fanning, her mother Joy and writer/director Deborah Kampmeier became targets of media groups and watchdogs when word spread the young actress, then 12, would appear naked in a rape scene in the movie Hounddog.
When the film finally aired at the Sundance Film Festival in 2007, the rape scene was not as sensational as reports had suggested, and there were no shots of a naked Fanning.
However, the damage was done and the film - which was tipped as an Oscars vehicle for its young star - was largely unseen. It received a limited release in cinemas in September, 2008.
Controversy has ahem dogged director Deborah Kampmeier’s 1950s-era coming-of-age story for obvious reasons since its lukewarm reception at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. Police in North Carolina--where the Alabama-set Hounddog was shot--even investigated whether the sexual assault of Fanning’s precocious 12-year-old Elvis Presley devotee broke local child pornography laws (it didn’t). Kampmeier has reedited Hounddog since its Sundance premiere--hence the delay getting the film into theaters--but she’s retained the scene that will likely be among the most discussed dissected and unjustly condemned this year. Fanning’s Lewellen isn’t raped until an hour into Hounddog. By that time Kampmeier’s established Lewellen as a wayward young girl desperately in need of a parental role model. Her mother died years earlier. Her loving but oft-absent Daddy (David Morse) disappears for days on end leaving her with her Grammie (Piper Laurie) or one of his girlfriends such as the visiting “Stranger Lady” (Robin Wright Penn). Then Daddy’s struck by lightning. Money was tight before Daddy’s accident; now that his injuries have rendered him unfit to work and reliant upon Lewellen to take care of his needs there’s nothing coming in. So Lewellen--who seeks solace in the songs of Elvis Presley--is willing to do almost anything to get her hands on a ticket to see her idol in concert. And that’s when things go from bad to worse … Wasn’t it only a matter of time that Fanning the most talented child actress working today would attempt to tap her inner Jodie Foster? And it’s evident during the first few minutes we’re in Lewellen’s company that Fanning’s as capable portraying emotionally fragile characters as she is spreading light and joy in Charlotte's Web or Dreamer. “I’m going to kill my daddy one day ” Lewellen says with a coolness and confidence that sends shivers down your back. Fanning effortlessly acts beyond her young age though this also means her renditions of “Hounddog” too sexualized for comfort. Not that it’s Lewellen’s intention to be provocative or Kampmeier's goal to turn her into Lolita. But it’s easy to see how her behavior attracts the wrong kind of attention. During the rape scene Kampmeier keeps the cameras on Lewellen’s face. It’s terrifying to watch as Fanning struggles and screams. After the rape Fanning communicates a silenced Lewellen’s intense pain in an eloquent and subtle way that allows you to empathize with her. Too bad Fanning’s let down by Morse and Wright Penn. Then Daddy’s struck by lightning. Money was tight before Daddy’s accident; now that his injuries have rendered him unfit to work and reliant upon Lewellen . At first Morse promises to offer a study in parental neglect. But after Daddy’s accident he laughably turns into “Simple Jack.” Looking tired and downtrodden Wright Penn fails to give her “Stranger Lady” any mystery tipping us off that she’s not the stranger she’s made out to be. Knowing Lewellen’s fate in advance puts you on pins and needles as you prepare yourself for the inevitable. It’s not something anyone wants to watch--there are fewer things more sickening than the sexual assault of a defenseless child--but Kampmeier deserves applause for handling this disturbing event in a delicate but purposeful manner. The act is brutal enough in itself that Kampmeier can cut away from it as quickly as possible and still achieve her goal of establishing the rape as the catalyst for Lewellen to find her true voice. Still you sit through Hounddog eyeballing every man or boy Lewellen encounters--Presley excluded--with suspicion which distracts from the compelling events that unfold before the rape. Afterward you can’t help but feel Kampmeier’s fallen into the trap of punishing those who listen to “the Devil’s music ” as Grammie likes to label rock’n’roll. After all it’s Lewellen and her Daddy who suffer the most for their purported sins against God but Lewellen’s rapist is never judged for his actions. While Kampmeier does a great job getting inside Lewellen’s head and taking us back to a time when gyrating your hips prompted moral outrage she doesn’t seem too concerned that Hounddog limps along slower than a three-legged mutt with arthritic knees. Or that Morse’s post-accident performance would be better suited to a Rain Man spoof. At the very least though Hounddog confirms that the mesmerizing Fanning will be as good an actress when she grows up as we hope and expect she will be.
The director of War of the Worlds star Dakota Fanning's new movie Hound Dog is defending herself against allegations he exploited the actress in a controversial sex scene.
Authorities in North Carolina investigated moviemaker Deborah Kampmeier after learning 12-year-old Fanning's character in the film is sexually assaulted but discovered no wrongdoing.
Speaking to movie magazine Premiere, the director says, "What they're accusing me off is putting Dakota through some sort of ordeal or a simulation of rape, but that's not the case."
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The nominations for the 2004 IFP Independent Spirit Awards are in, and with more submissions than ever before in the ceremony's history, it looks like a hot race.
Jeff Kleeman, IFP committee chair, had this to say: "With more submissions and less time then ever before, the Nominating Committee watched and discussed over 190 films in six weeks -- an act of extreme devotion that proved to be tremendously rewarding."
Dawn Hudson, IFP executive producer, added that this year's batch of nominees is particularly diverse, and commended the fact there are more highly talented women writers and directors emerging on the independent film scene, including nominees Shari Springer Berman, Sofia Coppola and Catherine Hardwicke.
Films that have been nominated for IFP Independent Spirit Awards were selected based on their original and provocative subject matter, uniqueness of vision, and financial characteristics, including total budget, individual compensation, and percentage of independent financing.
Last year's ISA winners included the film Far From Heaven (best feature), Julianne Moore (best director and lead actress), and Dennis Quaid (best supporting actor).
The 2004 IFP Independent Spirit Awards ceremony will air live on Feb. 28 at 5 p.m. EST on the Independent Film Channel, and will be broadcast at 10 p.m. EST/PST on Bravo.
The nominees for the 2004 IFP Independent Spirit Awards are (by category):
Lost in Translation
Raising Victor Vargas
Shari Springer Berman & Robert Pulcini - American Splendor
Sofia Coppola - Lost in Translation
Jim Sheridan - In America
Peter Sollett - Raising Victor Vargas
Gus Van Sant - Elephant
American Splendor - Writers: Shari Springer Berman & Robert Pulcini
Lost in Translation - Writer: Sofia Coppola
A Mighty Wind - Writers: Christopher Guest & Eugene Levy and the cast of A Mighty Wind
Pieces of April - Writer: Peter Hedges
Shattered Glass - Writer: Billy Ray
Best First Feature
Bomb the System - Director: Adam Bhala Lough; Producers: Ben Rekhi, Sol Tryon
House of Sand and Fog - Director: Vadim Perelman; Producers: Michael London, Vadim Perelman
Monster - Director: Patty Jenkins; Producers: Mark Damon, Donald Kushner, Clark Peterson, Charlize Theron, Brad Wyman
Quattro Noza - Director: Joey Curtis; Producer: Fredric King
Thirteen - Director: Catherine Hardwicke; Producers: Jeffrey Levy-Hinte, Michael London
John Cassavetes Award
Anne B. Real - Director: Lisa France; Writers: Lisa France, Antonio Macia, Producers: Josselyne Herman, Luis Moro, Jeanine Rohn
Better Luck Tomorrow - Director: Justin Lin; Writers: Ernesto M. Foronda, Justin Lin, Fabian Marquez; Producers: Julie Asato, Ernesto M. Foronda, Justin Lin
Pieces of April - Writer/Director: Peter Hedges; Producers: Alexis Alexanian, John S. Lyons, Gary Winick
The Station Agent - Writer/Director: Thomas McCarthy; Producers: Mary Jane Skalski, Robert May, Kathryn Tucker
Virgin - Writer/Director: Deborah Kampmeier; Producer:Sarah Schenck
Best First Screenplay
Blue Car- Writer: Karen Moncrieff
Monster - Writer: Patty Jenkins
Raising Victor Vargas - Writers: Peter Sollett and Eva Vives
The Station Agent - Writer: Thomas McCarthy
Thirteen - Writers: Catherine Hardwicke & Nikki Reed
Best Female Lead
Agnes Bruckner - Blue Car
Zooey Deschanel - All the Real Girls
Samantha Morton - In America
Elisabeth Moss - Virgin
Charlize Theron - Monster
Best Male Lead
Peter Dinklage - The Station Agent
Paul Giamatti - American Splendor
Sir Ben Kingsley - House of Sand and Fog
Bill Murray - Lost in Translation
Lee Pace - Soldier's Girl
Best Supporting Female
Shohreh Aghdashloo - House of Sand and Fog
Sarah Bolger - In America
Patricia Clarkson - Pieces of April
Hope Davis - The Secret Lives of Dentists
Frances McDormand - Laurel Canyon
Best Supporting Male
Judah Friedlander - American Splendor
Troy Garity - Soldier's Girl
Djimon Hounsou - In America
Alessandro Nivola - Laurel Canyon
Peter Sarsgaard - Shattered Glass
Best Debut Performance
Anna Kendrick - Camp
Judy Marte - Raising Victor Vargas
Victor Rasuk - Raising Victor Vargas
Nikki Reed - Thirteen
Janice Richardson - Anne B. Real
Elephant - Harris Savides
In America - Declan Quinn
Northfork - M. David Mullen
Quattro Noza - Derek Cianfrance
Shattered Glass - Mandy Walker
Best Foreign Film
City of God (Brazil)
Lilya 4-Ever (Denmark)
The Magdalene Sisters (England/Ireland)
The Triplets of Belleville (France)
Whale Rider (New Zealand)
The Fog of War
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