2017 introduced us to one of the most remarkable child stars of recent years - Dafne Keen. Taking on a central role in Logan, Dafne Keen wowed the world as X-23, Wolverine's female teenage clone (it's complicated). But who is this young actress, how did she land such a major role, and what's next?
Auditioning For Logan
The character of X-23 (otherwise known as Laura) originally made her debut in the #XMen animated series X-Men: Evolution. Right from the outset, director James Mangold was determined to avoid all the classic tropes.
"I wanted to avoid the standard trap, which has been done successfully elsewhere, of that very attractive 19 year old actress in a hot uniform. We’ve seen that. I wanted something more interesting."
X-23 gave him plenty of material to work with. She was introduced as a thirteen-year-old clone who'd been brought up as an assassin; the original design was changed a lot when she was made her way into the comics, but it was against the wishes of her creator, Craig Kyle. He fumed that the comic-book version "was 22 and had a boob job." Clearly Kyle and Mangold were on the same page!
So Mangold was faced with a challenge; he wanted a 12-year-old, Spanish-speaking child with martial arts skills and phenomenal agility. A global talent search eventually came up with Dafne Keen, an agile young actress who - at age 10! - had appeared alongside her dad in the Spanish TV show The Refugees. Mangold was absolutely blown away when he saw a video filmed in Madrid, showing Keen scrambling over bookcases and clearly having the time of her life.
James Mangold was already sold, but Fox insisted she go through the full audition process. The outcome, though, was pretty much a foregone conclusion!
Dafne Keen wowed the world with her portrayal of Laura, an intense, brooding child who could become wild and feral at the drop of a hat. #Logan showcased her phenomenal talents perfectly - her agility, her innocence, her wildness, even her mastery of both English and Spanish. Fans are eagerly awaiting news as to her next appearance - she's sure to play a part in Fox's upcoming #XForce film. As Craig Kyle put it:
"She’s Pinocchio for Marvel Comics, she’s a samurai sword trying to become a real little girl and can she? And it's that journey that will hopefully take decades to tell. I’m real proud of her."
What's Next For Dafne Keen?
The latest news is that she's teaming up with Luis Guzman for #Ana. As with Logan, this promises to be a character-piece focused on the relationship between the two starring actors - with Guzman playing a down-on-his-luck stranger who's facing bankruptcy.