HER first acting experience saw her get third billing on a blockbuster movie just behind Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig – before she was even a teenager.
And there was every chance that she would be another in a long line of child stars who’d be lost along the way and not make the transition to a successful adult actor.
But Dakota Blue Richards, who was picked as a total unknown to take the leading role of Lyra in the 2007 epic The Golden Compass, has proved any doubters wrong.
Now 23, she has forged an impressive career and is now one of the mainstays in ITV’s big crime drama Endeavour which returns for a new series tonight.
The change, she says, has been an incremental thing.
“The Golden Compass is like looking back on my childhood,” Dakota, who plays PC Shirley Trewlove, told iN10.
“I was a child at the time and it feels very far away. When I see Nicole Kidman, for instance, on the TV I don’t think of her as someone I’ve known.
“I never had an adult relationship with her and people always treat children in a very different way on a film set.
“Moving on in your career isn’t that specific a thing. You’re just constantly going for roles, some of which you get and most of which you don’t.
“Gradually over time the roles you get sent up for start to change. A couple of years ago, for the first time, I played a mother and yet in the same year I played a 13-year-old when I was actually 21.
“I feel like I’m not fully through that transition – Trewlove is actually the first character I’ve played who has a job.
“I still get sent scripts for 16 and 17-year-olds which is strange as it seems so long ago in my life.”
Endeavour, about the early days of Inspector Morse, played so memorably for two decades by John Thaw, has been one of ITV’s biggest hits.
It has Shaun Evans in the title role and Roger Allam as his boss Fred Thursday and it has gone down so well this latest series has been extended from four to six two-hour episodes.
“Having more episodes opened up a lot of doors in terms of what we were able to do and we could be a bit more adventurous with our mysteries,” explained Dakota.
“It was a really long eight-month shoot and we’re lucky that we all get on so well. Normally there’s at least one person you don’t get on with but, happily, that wasn’t the case with this.”
Dakota’s character was introduced briefly a couple of years back and has grown into a much more established role.
“In the episode I auditioned for, Trewlove was barely in it, I think she had maybe four lines in the whole episode.
“So I really joined on a promise of what was going to come for her as I had a three-year contract.
“It’s been nice to see her develop and we get to know her a lot more this series.”
We’ve now moved on to Oxford in 1968 and Dakota admits she liked some of the Swinging Sixties outfits so much she would happily have added them to her own clothes collection if she’d been allowed.
Like most young actresses Dakota has social media accounts but, she admits, they can be fraught with risk.
“I ought not to be on social media because I have no filter,” she laughs.
“I’m constantly getting myself in trouble in my day-to-day life through putting my foot in my mouth.”
Dakota insists her work and personal life are very different and you won’t find her banging on about her roles away from work.
“Most of my friends don’t watch anything I’m in,” she adds.
“A group of five or six friends came to see a play I was in last year and for every single one it was the first time they’d seen me act.
“So that’s at least two series of Endeavour that they didn’t bother to watch!
“I’m actually grateful that my friends aren’t interested as I really don’t go in for celebrity.”
Endeavour, ITV, tonight, 8pm.