swirls around Dakota Fanning’s next film, which will play the Sundance Film Festival in January. Officially called “Untitled Dakota Fanning Project” but known as Hounddog (“I’m supposed to say Untitled, but it’s basically Hounddog,” Fanning told me), the movie stars the preternaturally mature child actor as a girl who gets raped and then finds solace in music. “She overcomes all the hard things in her life through Elvis and through the blues and Big Mama Thornton, who was the first one to record Hound Dog,” Fanning told me today at the Charlotte’s Web junket (she plays Fern in the nicely done live action film). “I overcome these things through Elvis and through the bluesy versions of Elvis as well.”

The controversy comes because of claims that the rape scene is too graphic for the participation of a 12 year old, and there’s additional outrage about reports of other scenes where Fanning is running around in her underwear. Fanning said that the brouhaha was actually a bunch of hooey. “It was gossip, a rumor, like a lot of things about people are. It’s really a beautiful story and I really hope that a lot of people get to see it and I hope that a lot of people learn from it. I had a lot of fun doing it. It’s really no different than playing any other character – I’m still not playing myself. I get to experience different things people go through without going through them myself, which is no different from watching a news story and learning from that. It’s an emotionally moving movie, and I hope people enjoy it.”

What seemed to really get under her skin was the idea that she’s some kind of shrinking violet when it comes to movies with rough elements. “It’s no darker than Hide and Seek or Man on Fire! I still am going through difficult things in those films as well, and nobody seemed to talk about that!”

Going from the family friendly fare of G-rated Charlotte’s Web to a movie featuring child rape seems to be a whiplash-inducing change of pace, but Fanning insists she wouldn’t want to do it any other way. “I don’t want to be boring by just doing funny films that children can see. I think it’s important to have a mix of all different kinds [of movies].”