Dakota Fanning may be only eleven years old, but the actress has already accumulated so impressive a resume–and so long a list of boxoffice successes–that they actually led Entertainment Weekly to identify her, only half-facetiously, as “the most powerful actress in Hollywood.” She’s now starring with Kurt Russell in the DreamWorks release “Dreamer,” subtitled “Inspired by a true story,” about a horse that recovers from a bad leg injury and the young girl who becomes the animal’s owner, and in a recent visit to Dallas to talk about the movie, she said of the Entertainment Weekly piece, laughing, “It was kind of embarrassing, because I don’t think of myself that way. So it was really very nice, but…” (It’s notable, though, that “Dreamer” was originally written for a young boy and was reworked for Fanning, showing how much filmmakers have come to want her. “That was really cool,” she observed.)

Fanning’s rise to young stardom started from very simple beginnings. “I went to this playhouse where you do a play at the end of the week,” she explained, “and they thought that I should get with an agency, and so my mom did. And I got two commercials in, like, ten days, so they said I should come to California. And then I got ‘E.R.,’ which was my first TV show, and I did a bunch of TV shows and commercials. And then I got ‘I Am Sam,’ which was my first big movie.” Then came “Uptown Girls,” “Hide and Seek,” “Man on Fire” and “War of the Worlds.” And after “Dreamer” will come “Charlotte’s Web.”

Fanning has worked with some of the biggest actors in the business–Sean Penn, Robert De Niro, Tom Cruise, Denzel Washington, but says she’s never felt intimidated by them. “I’ve always just been very excited,” she said. “I’ve never really been nervous, just really excited.” But she does admit to watching their movies–when they’re appropriate for a girl her age. “I do it just because I like to watch them, not because I’m working with them,” she said, “because they’re playing different characters in every film.” She added about De Niro: “But I love ‘Awakenings.’”

Now “Dreamer” has added Russell to her list of famous co-stars, as well as Kris Kristofferson and the five horses used to play the title thoroughbred. Her attitude toward Russell is shown by the fact that when asked to pick her favorite scene in the movie, she chose “the one in which Kurt reads the story” his daughter had written–a sequence in which she doesn’t even appear. “Kurt’s absolutely amazing, as an actor and a friend,” she said. And of Kristofferson, she added, “Kris was so sweet–I couldn’t believe I was actually getting to work with him. It was really incredible just to get to meet him, and then I actually got to be in a movie with him–which was really surreal and strange and weird and nice and unbelievable, all at the same time.”

And then there were the horses. “It’s just the horse part of the story that’s real,” Fanning said. “It’s loosely based on this horse named Mariah’s Storm, whom we mentioned in the movie, actually, who broke her leg in the same way as the horse in our film did, and she was healed and her leg was fine, and she ran in this big race and won against all the other able racehorses. And then she was mother to Giant’s Causeway, who was a really big racehorse and is now a stud in Kentucky.” Fanning wasn’t a horse-rider before making the movie. “I learned it all for the film. It was so much fun,” she said. “I spent ten weeks in California, where I live, training, and then got two weeks in Kentucky before I starting filming–you know, riding, and also just learning about racing and everything.” As to the riding her character does in the picture, Fanning added, “I couldn’t do much of it, because in the scene I didn’t have a helmet on. But I had to have a helmet on. So I didn’t do that much of it. I only did a little bit. But it was exciting to even be on, like, the fake horse-riding.”

And since finishing “Dreamer,” Fanning has become a horse-owner and horse-rider herself–thanks to Kurt Russell. “Kurt gave me a horse!” she announced. “I love them so much, and I want to continue riding and learning more about them.”

Fanning was aware that some of her previous movies were made for older audiences, and hopes that “Dreamer” will appeal to viewers her own age. “One of the reasons I wanted to make this movie was because everyone can go see it,” she said. “It’s for all ages and for families. And everyone can take their kids, their grandkids. So I wanted to do it for that reason. And also because it’s something different from what I’ve ever done before.”

And she seemed genuinely excited to be promoting the movie. “You know, it’s so much fun!” she said. “It’s fun to see all the different cities and different states–I love doing that.

“And getting to do what I love makes it even better.”