TIFF 2013: Dakota Fanning on The Last of Robin Hood
The Last of Robin Hood begins with the death of Errol Flynn and goes back to tell the story of his last love, with underage actress Beverly Aadland. Dakota Fanning plays Aadland to Kevin Kline’s Flynn. Writer/directors Wash Westmoreland and Richard Glatzer introduced the film at the Toronto International Film Festival, Glatzer typing his comments on his iPad and letting a voice app speak. He lost the ability to speak due to nerve damage in the tongue, so held the iPad up to the microphone. We got to speak with Fanning the day after the TIFF premiere about Beverly, Flynn’s manipulations of Beverly’s mother (Susan Sarandon), her inspiring directors, and a bit of confusion I admitted to right off the bat.
CraveOnline: When I read the news that Dakota Johnson had been cast in Fifty Shades of Grey…
Dakota Fanning: Did you think it was Dakota Fanning at first?
Yes, I read it as Dakota Fanning. Sorry about that.
That’s all right. [Laughs]
Were you aware of stories like Beverly’s as a warning about what could happen in Hollywood?
I wasn’t aware of her story in particular, no. The first time I knew anything about it was from reading the script. What I loved about Beverly was even though she was kind of mixed up in this whole fame thing, she really had no desire for fame and to be a star. She didn’t care about it. It was always her mom’s way of pushing her into it, so Errol became her escape from all that. She didn’t care about his fame so I really liked that it was always her choice to be with him. She decided to let him be with her and she’s very strong. Even though on paper the relationship may seem quite scandalous or controversial, I always approached it as just being a love story between the two and I think that’s what it really is. I think there was genuine love between them and care and respect. I really liked that.
Do you think the control Errol had over the people around him still exists today? Is there anyone who wields that much power in Hollywood circles?
I don’t know, maybe. Maybe they do. I don’t try and control anyone. I don’t want to be controlled so I don’t want to control anyone else. I think that it was a very different [time]. The movie business and the world of actors was a very different world back then. It was sort of the end of the studio era. It was right before movies were being made independently so I think it was a little bit of a different time but I think there are also parallels that you can draw from the world that we live in now and how everybody is fame obsessed. Everybody’s obsessed with what people are doing in their lives and their personal lives and all that. I think you can still see some parallels.
Well, it’s harder to keep secrets now.
And definitely with technology it’s harder to keep secrets.
Did you see Cuban Rebel Girls?
I saw parts of Cuban Rebel Girls, yeah. Cuban Rebel Girls, a lot of the crew that was their favorite scene to film and at the end, the AD department made these stickers that are the silhouettes of all the girls and me in the middle running. I have the sticker. It’s so funny. I loved that part of it and I loved being able to show that Beverly wasn’t perhaps the most talented actress because she didn’t want to be an actress. She was just there and Errol wanted to do something that she might find fun. They were really fun scenes to film.
You didn’t even watch the whole movie? Were you just watching Beverly’s scenes?
No, I didn’t watch the whole thing. I just watched some of Beverly’s scenes, yeah.
Is it that bad? I’ve never heard of it before.
There’s probably a reason you haven’t heard of it. It’s a pro-Castro propaganda film that was independently made by Errol Flynn. It’s kind of a weird thing.
How did you like singing with the band at the end of the movie?
Oh God, I was super nervous about it but I loved doing it. I listened to a lot of Beverly singing that song and tried to do my best to sound like her. She wasn’t a perfect singer so I’m by no means trying to be amazing, but she had a really pure innocent voice, so hopefully I captured that. I was super nervous but it was really fun.
The scene where Errol dies and you trip over the rug…
That was real!
Did you plan to do that though?
No, no, I didn’t plan it. I slipped and [at] the end, I was like, “Please keep that.” Because those are the little things in films that do add something natural or real because it was real. I just slipped on the rug in my shoe. That’s probably what would happen, you’re so panicked you would trip and fall.
How did you and Kevin talk about the first, I don’t even want to call it a love scene because the first time it’s something else. How did you choreograph and coordinate that scene together?
Any actor and director, anybody that’s ever made a movie with a scene like that, you know that first and foremost it’s the most technical thing because it’s all about angles and this and whatever. So it was very technical, but Kevin is absolutely professional and amazing. We got along so well and he made me feel comfortable at all times. It was not a big deal and it’s always slightly awkward but it’s nice when you are in a safe environment with people that you know are there to protect you and Richard and Wash are the two kindest, gentlest people on the planet so I always felt safe.
How was it getting directed by a voice app on the iPad?
I know, right? Isn’t that amazing?
That was so inspiring to see him at the introduction last night.
It is inspiring. Richard is somebody that I look up to and am so inspired by. He’s a really amazing man and has been dealt something that’s super unfair but he has made the most of it. He’s made a movie and he has a wonderful partner in directing and life. They’re so supportive of each other, but yeah, he’s awesome and it was really no different than having somebody who could speak. He’d come in there with his iPad and there it would be. I had the same relationship with Richard that I do with Wash, so it’s really great.
Could it possibly be more direct, because he gets right to the point?
Maybe. I think yeah, I think that Richard has probably had to do a better job of saying exactly what he means because he doesn’t have the ability to go “um, well, like” which I kind of wish that I could be more direct. I’m stumbling around my words trying to get my thoughts together.
Does Effie Gray deal with similar themes as Last of Robin Hood?
I would probably have to say no. Well, yes and no. I think that Effie is more you see a woman who is so suppressed and emotionally tortured by her husband and so confined and you do see her break out and make a choice and be strong. You do see that strength in Beverly but I think the thing that’s missing between the two is the oppression that Beverly doesn’t really have. I mean, she has it with her mother but it’s a little bit different.
Has it been fun to see your sister start getting some of the roles that you would have been getting a few years earlier?
It’s true, yeah, I know. I’m so proud of my sister. I think she’s amazing and I am always so happy for her. I always feel protective and proud of her because she’s my little sister and I always will. Yeah, I’m super happy for her.