Dakota Fanning is only 11. But she has been in movies with some really big stars, including Tom Cruise, Denzel Washington, Mike Myers and Sean Penn. She has played a little girl who has been kidnapped, one who has been left alone with an enormous cat and one with an eerie imaginary friend.

Now she's acting with a horse in the family movie "Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story," which will be in theaters starting tomorrow.

Bubbly and dressed in pink, her favorite color, the actress shared a few thoughts with Bridget Byrne about the power of her imagination, her newfound love of horses and her dreams.

What did you know about horses before making this movie?

I had never ridden before. I trained for weeks -- first on a mechanical horse and then I rode two different horses. . . . I learned all their names, their colors, their socks, stars and blazes [marks on their legs and faces]. Then I learned everything I could about the different saddles, bridles and halters.

Cale Crane, the girl you play in the movie, feeds the horse popsicles. Do horses like them?

They loved them, actually. They were made of horse food.

But you, as Cale, ate popsicles, too. Were they made of horse food?

(Giggles.) No, they made me real ones!

You've said as long as you can remember you always played dress-up. What did you pretend?

When my sister was born I would pretend she was my baby. . . . When I would have to make my bed up, I would pretend I was a housekeeper working in a fancy hotel and had to make someone's bed up. If I had to do something, I would always pretend something. If I had to write a thank-you note, I would pretend that I was in college writing my big report.

So no wonder you are not nervous acting with major stars!

I never really get nervous, but I get really excited to meet them and I can't believe I'm actually going to get to meet them. Once you meet them, it's just so comfortable. And after a while . . . you just feel you can talk to them about anything.

Is there anything you don't like about making movies?

The worst part of having to do movies is when it's over. . . . It feels so sad because you've known these people for months and months.

You knit when you are making a movie. Does everyone get a scarf at the end?


What do you like about knitting?

I like it because it's so relaxing. I like picking out different yarns and using the different-sized needles and mixing different yarns together. That's my favorite part about it.

You've just made "Charlotte's Web." Were the animals in that movie real or animated?

All are real animals. They are just going to make their mouths move with a computer. I acted with a pig, geese and sheep and horses and cows. The only ones that aren't real are the rat and the spider. I don't think they could train a spider!

"Dreamer" is about believing in your dreams. What's your dream?

To act for the rest of my life, and ride horses.

Dakota Fanning learned to ride horses for her role in the movie "Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story."