Dakota Fanning

Dakota Fanning
"I find mostly boys and dogs are named Dakota," says the Man on Fire actress. "And the girls named Dakota usually put an 'h' on the end."
Lee Celano/WireImage

04/23/2004 AT 09:00 AM EDT

She's only 10, but already Dakota Fanning has infiltrated the A-list. Her latest film, the thriller Man on Fire, puts her up against Oscar winner Denzel Washington, who's hired to protect her from a kidnapping threat in Mexico. While her real life isn't so intense as her onscreen one, she does have to deal with fame and the pressure of working with such big names as Sean Penn ( I Am Sam) and Charlize Theron (Trapped).

Fanning recently talked about learning from the best, being a kid in Hollywood and still being told "no" by mom.

You just turned 10. Do you feel old yet?
No. This is the first birthday that I don't feel old.

What did you and Denzel do to get to know each other?
We played pingpong one day at the house we were filming at. And with (costar) Marc Anthony, we played cards all the time.

Can you beat Denzel in pingpong?
I couldn't beat him.

But did you learn anything from him?
He is so focused, and he is always trying new things. I want to be like him one day.

Were you scared playing this role, being a kidnap victim?
No. It was just the character, and then after that particular scene was all done, then it was back to being my normal self.

Do you like scary movies?
I haven't really seen many scary movies. I have seen really sad movies ...

Like what?
I have never watched all of Bambi because I get too sad when the mother gets shot. I got scared during Snow White when the witch came and was like "Apples ..." (Laughs)

Do big celebrities ever come up to you and say they are fans of yours?
Normally I go up to them first. (Laughs) Yesterday I saw Cedric the Entertainer. I recognized him, and he recognized me, and I was about to go and say something to him, but he came over first. ... It was like we were thinking the same thing.
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