Fanning grows into role as Runaways rocker 

In an era when the surprisingly lurid personal lives of Hollywood teens seem to be getting more, well, lurid, Dakota Fanning is breath of fresh creative air.

She’s grounded, focused and happily credits the emotional fuel supplied by her close-knit family to keep her sane in a business that is often insane.

The latter probably came in handy during the shooting of the long-awaited rock opus “The Runaways,” opening today.

The film chronicles the rise of the famed girl band of the same name and, eventually, the fall of Cherie Currie, the band’s lead crooner, who was caught in an avalanche of fame alongside Joan Jett, Lita Ford, Sandy West and Jackie Fox in the mid-’70s.

Still, for an actress — she’s now 16 — known for plucking heartstrings in tender-hearted films like “I Am Sam” and “The Secret Life of Bees,” Fanning delivers the most frothy yet mesmerizing performance of her career as Currie.

“I felt so lucky I was asked to be in the film, because I know a lot of people still think of me as younger — they’ve watched me grow up since I was 6,” Fanning says. “This was really important to me.

“And I wanted to do the best I could for her,” she adds of stepping into Currie’s shoes.

“[Cherie’s] character is so complex. The most challenging was keeping that vulnerability and innocence that Cherie had at the beginning of the movie. She goes through such a transformation — from the ‘good girl’ to becoming ‘The Cherry Bomb,’ as they say,” says Fanning, referring to the ’70s hit that defined The Runaways as a significant musical force.

Directed by Floria Sigismondi, a visual muse behind videos for David Bowie and Christina Aguilera, the film also stars “Twilight” temptress Kristen Stewart as Jett. (There’s already buzz about the love scenes between Fanning and Stewart.) Michael Shannon is on board as the group’s reptilian manager.

The entire experience — from learning, and then actually having to belt out, the rock music to making Currie believable — proved fruitful.

“I learned a lot about myself through this movie,” Fanning says. “It hit me when I was filming the scene where Cherie loses the band. I put myself in that position — could I do that? Obviously, I am not [out of control] like Cherie had been, but that is the most amazing choice she made [to walk away.] It made me question whether I could give up what I love to do and be OK with it.

“I still haven’t answered that.”

IF YOU GO
The Runaways

Starring
Kristen Stewart, Dakota Fanning, Michael Shannon, Stella Maeve, Scout Taylor-Compton
Written and directed by Floria Sigismondi
Rated R
Running time 1 hour 42 minutes

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Michael Daboll

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