DSCENE Magazine teams up with His Dark Materials star Dafne Keen for January 2023 digital cover story by photographer Joseph Sinclair. In charge of styling was Emily Tighe, with beauty by makeup artist Sara Hill and hair stylist Liz Taw.
Born in 2005, Daphne Keen made her debut in The Refugees in 2014, before her big breakthrough with the superhero movie Logan in 2017, where she co-stared with Hugh Jackman. In 2019, the British-Spanish actress was cast in the lead role in the adaptation of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy. DSCENE Digital Editor Maja Vuckovic sits down for an exclusive interview with Daphne to talk about her beginnings, role models and the new season of His Dark Materials.
Hello Dafne, so nice to have you at DSCENE. Can you tell us a bit more about yourself? Hello, what can I say? My name is Dafne Keen, my full name is Dafne María Keen Fernández. I’m 17 years old, I’ll turn 18 in January. I’ve been acting since I was 8. I have a dog. I’m half Spanish.
I’ve always said yes to projects that I’ve found interesting and found important in a way for this world and that I felt good. I don’t really care about how big the project is as long as I like it, so if I love the project I’ll do it and if I don’t I won’t. Basically.
Was acting something you always wanted to pursue? Yes, I think. Originally when I was really little because I started so young. I think before that I did have. I’m a huge fan of David Attenborough, so I really wanted to do what he did and learn from what he did. But to study biology you needed to do math and I was so bad at math that I kind of quit on that dream very very young. But yeah, I have always loved acting and I’ve always had real respect for it because my parents are actors and I got to see the theater side of the things which is such a different beautiful process to film and I always had a huge respect for it. So I have always wanted to do it and seeing my parents be able to create characters and create, I guess, new art from playing all of these people has made me always really look up to acting and I think that’s what made me want to do it. Also, seeing how happy it made them to create and seeing how happy it made the people who went to watch them, not maybe happy but moved. I think that’s the wonderful thing about theater and film, and about creating, the fact that you can move people and make them think and make their mind stop.
Your parents are also from the movie business. Did they have influence on your choices regarding acting and your career? 100%! They helped me choose what projects I’ve done my whole career. Especially my mother, because my father was very busy doing his own acting. But yeah, they’ve both very much helped me pick my projects. I’ve said no to a few blockbusters that I didn’t feel like were true to me. I’ve always said yes to projects that I’ve found interesting and found important in a way for this world and that I felt good. I don’t really care about how big the project is as long as I like it, so if I love the project I’ll do it and if I don’t I won’t. Basically.
You started your career very young, starring in The Refugees. Could you tell us a bit more about your very first acting experience? Yes, my first acting experience was on The Refugees. My dad was in that, we did it together. My mom was coaching me so it was like a little family set thing. Me and my dad were cast completely separately, they didn’t know we are father and daughter. I’ve always been very happy with that because I remember I was quite young, being scared that I’d get roles because my parents were actors, which never happened because I thought it didn’t work like that. But neither of my parents were in Hollywood enough for that to happen. So I was very happy that I got the role of my own, obviously with a little help. It was really wonderful that I did it, and when I finished filming I realized that’s what I want to do for the rest of my life. So I was very lucky to be able to discover that at this small age of mine.
Apart from your parents, of course, who are your role models from the industry? I really admire Gena Rowlands, I think she has a wonderful career. I think Timothée Chalamet is doing amazing things, I think the choices he is making for his career are really interesting. I love what he is doing right now. Those two are the good ones.
I prepared by reading the books, by researching the character, by analyzing my scripts, and by rehearsing a lot. I think acting is about discovery, so I played around a lot with my character and I got to know her.
In 2019, you were casted as one of the lead roles in HBO’s His Dark Materials. How did you prepare for the role of Lyra Silvertongue? I prepared by reading the books, by researching the character, by analyzing my scripts, and by rehearsing a lot. I think acting is about discovery, so I played around a lot with my character and I got to know her. I got to know her to a point where now she just comes naturally to me in a way. I worked so hard on her and I know her extremely and how she would act in any situation.
The third season of the show is coming this November. What can we expect from the final chapter? You can expect more darkness, more rawness and more emotion I think.
Besides acting, what is something you enjoy doing? I really enjoy photography, I really enjoy writing and creating in general. I’d love to dabble in directing, I am just a creative person so anything that has to do with creating makes me extremely happy.
Nowadays, do you think social media presence is a must when it comes to promoting yourself and your work? I don’t think it’s a must, I think it’s helpful but I don’t think it’s a must. I think you can not have social media, but I do think it’s very ingrained in our society.
What is the last show you binge watched? I’m currently watching The White Lotus, which I’m really enjoying.
What is next for Dafne Keen? Dafne Keen is on to other projects and doing stories at the moment and I’ve got a couple other projects on the horizon that I can’t really talk about. But yeah, lots of new things, very exciting things.
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