Superstar Tom Cruise joining hands with much-acclaimed director Steven Spielberg for War of the Worlds generated plenty of hype in the early 2000s. The science-fiction thriller saw Cruise portray Ray Ferrier, who fights for the survival of his family after an alien invasion threatens the future of humanity.
War of the Worlds was a huge commercial success, grossing $603.9 million at the box office. Considering the pedigree of Cruise and Spielberg, not many were surprised by its success, but what left plenty of viewers stunned was the brilliant performance of 10-year-old Dakota Fanning, who didn’t look out of place in front of the camera alongside Cruise. However, her talents didn’t always get the results they deserved.
Why Commercials Rejected Tom Cruise’ Co-star Dakota Fanning
Dakota Fanning got into the world of entertainment after her local drama teacher in Georgia advised her mother to take the five-year-old to Atlanta for an audition.
By the age of seven, Fanning was ready for the big cameras of Hollywood, starring in Sean Penn’s I Am Sam. Penn’s character Sam Dawson, a man with special needs, fights for the custody of his daughter, Lucy (Fanning). Her mature eloquence then got her important parts in Denzel Washington’s Man on Fire and Tom Cruise‘s War of the Worlds.
Despite her brilliant performances, it wasn’t always obvious for casting directors to spot her talents, leading to rejection in several auditions, including a few where she was deemed not ideal because of her appearance. But despite her young age, she knew how to deal with such situations. Speaking to The Guardian, Fanning revealed:
“I was always able to decipher what mattered from what didn’t. I would go on so many commercial auditions and I would hardly ever get them, because they would always pick the girl with the really long hair. I had short hair and was different looking. And I would say, ‘You know, they probably just really wanted someone with brown hair, or longer hair.’ And my mum would say, ‘You’re probably right.’”
Be it dealing with rejection, pressure, or nervousness of starring alongside a celebrity, Fanning managed to sail through the tough side of the industry unscathed. In fact, she revealed that the only time she truly got freaked out at a celebrity was when she saw Britney Spears because she was like “God” to her.
How Tom Cruise Is Still in Touch With Dakota Fanning
The now 29-year-old, whose most prominent role in recent years came in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, hasn’t enjoyed the same success as an adult, but the bonds that she made with some of her co-stars still seemingly remain as strong as ever.
In particular, Cruise has been sending his War of the Worlds co-star a birthday gift since that collaboration. She revealed during her appearance on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen, stating:
“He has sent me a birthday gift every year since I was 11 years old, I always think, ‘Oh, when I’m 18, he’ll probably stop. Oh, 21, he’ll stop.’ But every year. It’s really kind.”
When asked what was the last gift the Mission: Impossible star gave, Fanning revealed that it’s usually shoes. Fair to say, Cruise certainly knows how to win hearts, on and off the screen.