AT THE AGE OF TEN SHE WAS KISSED BY BRAD PITT, at just under 30 she was stripped naked by Lars von Trier, and her boyfriends have included some of the MOST ELIGIBLE BACHELORS IN HOLLYWOOD. What heights can this actress not reach?
This month sees the release of The Two Faces of January, a film based on the novel by Patricia Highsmith and featuring Athens, copious dark intrigue, and, of course, principal female character with a love life that involves two men simultaneously. This is not the first time that 34-year-old actress Kirsten Dunst has been at the centre of a love triangle. The adventures of her heart run to epic length. Her ‘exes’ include numerous colleagues and screen partners — think of Tobey Maguire, Jake Gyllenhaal, Adam Brody, Josh Hartnett, Justin Long, Orlando Bloom and Ryan Gosling. But she has been dating Garrett Hedlund for the last year. Their relationship started on the set of the film of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. In 2002 she vowed not to speak of her boyfriends ever again, at least until she received a marriage proposal. Now it look as though that moment is nigh.
“My mother told me that when I was born, a wave of feeling came over her. She just knew that I was destined to be an actress,’’ says Dunst. Kirsten Dunst was born in a small town in New Jersey to Inez, an artist and gallery owner, and Klaus, a medical services executive and German emigre. Her mother's intuition proved well-founded. “Someone came up to her when she was shopping for food and said I must do advertisements.” Pragmatic Inez (half Swedish, half German) decided to give it a try. “At any event, it could help raise money to pay for college.” So at die age of 3 Dunst found herself on the books of major agencies. At home, meanwhile, she was given the strictest upbringing and at school mucked in with the rest: “I am an absolute extrovert and at school no one could call me a prima donna. Like everyone else, I played with Barbie, swam a lot and danced — so I always had my seat at the cafeteria when I came back from acting. My best friend Molly has been with me since primary school. We acted together in the school theatre. Even today we’re inseparable.” The biggest regret in her life? “At 10 I had to kiss Brad Pitt for Interview with the Vampire!”
Glancing at Dunst’s CV, you might mistake her for one of those starlets or enfants terribles like Macaulay Culkin, Lindsay Lohan or Drew Barrymore. But instead of coming off the rails after her early successes, Dunst’s career has gone from strength to strength. At 7 she debuted in Woody Allen’s New York Stories. At 8 she played Tom Hanks’ daughter in The Bonfire of the Vanities, and at 12 she received a Golden Globe nomination for playing a woman locked into a little girl’s body in Interview with the Vampire. After getting over being kissed by Brad Pitt, she found herself inundated with offers of attractive parts. Jumanji made her a favourite with children and their parents. As assistant to Doug Ross (George Clooney) in ER, she won the envy of every second woman in the world. And her role in Sofia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides made her a cult figure for young people at the turn of the 1990s. After a brief and not unsuccessful flirtation with comedy and box-office success with the Spiderman franchise, her real breakthrough came with Melancholia, the him by the great and terrible Lars von Trier. She was not put off by this director’s reputation as a ‘woman- hater and tyrant’: “When he rang to offer me the role, I literally hit the ceiling jumping for joy. Of course, people told me how he tortures actresses, but actually I found him so nurturing and kind”.
After Melancholia, Kirsten decided to apply for German citizenship, although she barely speaks the language of her ancestors and has no intention of actually living in Germany —just as she has no intention of living in Hollywood Hills. She left the LA for New York, where she lives in a small one-room apartment. In spite of her busy romantic life she has for some time now been thinking of settling down and having a family: “I can’t wait to have kids one day. I want to have kids and a farm with lots of animals, and a lake ...” Then she adds, “You know what’s the best part of the work I do? My life is documented. Everyone has photos of themselves at different times in their lives, but I’ve been luckier than most: my kids will always be able to see from my films how I grew up.”
Kirsten Dunst has many big roles in front of her. So not only her children, but her grandchildren too will be able to see how she kissed Brad Pitt and survived... ♦