Dakota hogs the limelight as Wilbur hams it up

The world premiere of the big-budget children’s film Charlotte’s Web starred gaggles of children, excited adults and an international tween star with a pampered piglet.

Actress Dakota Fanning, 12, wowed the Regent Theatre crowd that had assembled yesterday to see E. B. White’s 1952 book brought to life.

Cradling four-week-old Wilbur on the red carpet, Fanning said the months of filming in Victoria last year had made her quite used to handling wiggly piglets.

“I’ve got a dog and a horse,” she said, “but I don’t think my mum will be OK with a pig.”

Shot in Williamstown and rural Greendale, north-west of Melbourne, with a reported budget of $80 million, the film comes 33 years after an animated one of the same name.

Charlotte’s Web follows the adventures of Fanning’s character, Fern, as she tries to save Wilbur the pig from the Christmas table. Local actor Louis Corbett, 11, played Fern’s brother. Essie Davis (The Matrix Revolutions) portrayed her mother and is now shooting a comedy, Hey, Hey, It’s Esther Blueburger in South Australia. “There were lots of animals,” she said, laughing. “Lots and lots of Wilburs!”

Director Gary Winick told the crowd the 47 pigs that shared the lead role had been spared from the abattoir.


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