Ivana Baquero: Denis Rouvre/Corbis Outline

Meet the Barcelona girl who gives an eye-opening performance in Guillermo del Toro's ''Pan's Labyrinth''

January 12, 2007 at 05:00 AM EST

Watch out, Dakota Fanning: You’ve got some serious competition. Although stunning imagery and fantastical set pieces abound in director Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth, it is 12-year-old Ivana Baquero’s haunting performance that lingers long after this fable of a film ends. The Barcelona native stuns as Ofelia, a lonely girl who shoulders the burden of strife and violence in post-civil war Spain with her vivid imagination.

School, not fame, comes first.
”Before completely dedicating my life to acting, I want to study and go to college,” says the mature Spanish-speaking seventh grader, who attends an English-language school. Like her career role model, Harvard graduate Natalie Portman, Baquero says, ”I first want to be a smart girl rather than a good actress.”

She’s a budding rocker chick who’s been taking guitar lessons.
”I love AC/DC, Pink Floyd, Genesis,” Baquero says. ”And while I was searching for them [online], it said if you’re looking for rock bands check out Nirvana, Guns N’ Roses — so I checked out the music and I started liking it.”

Her cool after-school activity hasn’t gone to her head.
”Like, in Pan’s Labyrinth there are two different worlds: the fantasy world and the violent world. Well, I take it as the movie world and the real, live world. I don’t like to tell my friends about it.”

Tears led to her landing the role in Labyrinth.
”In the second [audition], I made Guillermo’s wife cry,” she remembers. ”The same day, Guillermo said he wanted me for the movie.”

She could become the next scream queen.
Before Labyrinth, Baquero made her acting debut at age 8 in Romasanta, a Spanish werewolf flick. ”I was not looking specifically for scary movies, but I guess directors liked how I acted scared or how I cried.” Next, though, she’d like to try comedy.

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