Fame came to Kirsten Dunst early. At the height of it, she abandoned the screen and plunged into depression, but then found the strength to RELAUNCH HER CAREER. Her most recent work is The Beguiled, a him by Sophia Coppola
KIRSTEN DUNST is one of the fortunate, but not always happy band of actresses who entered show business as a small child. Her mother, Inez, had creative ambitions and at one time even ran her own art gallery. And when Inez’ friends started praising her rosy-cheeked little girl for her looks, Inez acted, taking her daughter to LA each day to appear in advertisements and signing her up with prestigious modelling agencies Elite and Ford. At the age of 8 she found herself on a film set for the hrst time, in Woody Allen’s New York Stories. Three years later, Inez and Klaus, Kirsten’s father, split up and Inez took Kirsten and her younger brother to California.
The move to LA launched Kirsten’s acting career proper. A successful audition for the role of Claudia in the costume melodrama Interview with the Vampire put her on set with the main symbols of the 90s - Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, and Antonio Banderas. “One of my most awful memories of that him was my kiss with Brad Pitt. I know that millions of women dream of a man like him, but I was only 11 at the time! And this was my hrst kiss!” The event made such a strong impression on Kirsten that 5 years later she turned down the chance to play in American Beauty because she would have had to share a risky scene with Kevin Spacey.
Interview with the Vampire lit the touchpaper on Kirsten Dunst’s career, paving the way for small roles in interesting Hollywood projects such as Jumanji and Wag the Dog. But her next really interesting role was in Soha Coppola's The Virgin Suicides, a story about moribund beauty in which she plays one of the angel-like sisters who choose death over cruel life. “She is an amazing combination of innocence and corruption,” noted one perceptive critic, “and even after turning 30 has that rare quality of resembling both a mature woman and a child.” However, this kind of success, often in comedies for young people, was not enough. All serious him careers need a blockbuster, and in Kirsten’s case this came in 2002 with Spider-Man, where she played Mary Jane, girlfriend of Tobey Maguire’s Peter Parker.
The combination of full-on action movie and sad story about the end of childhood made the him a box-office hit, guaranteeing Kirsten work for the next few years as this golden seam was harvested in a series of sequels. Dunst and Maguire were immensely popular, but Kirsten was wary of the Hollywood manner of exhibiting oneself for all to see. Popularity had no impact at all on Kirsten’s habits. She continued to live in a suburb of LA with her mother and brother: “I’m the only Hollywood actress to live with her Mom!” shejoked. Instead of wild parties, she would accompany her friends to Disneyland, as if trying to prolong the childhood of which she had been robbed by her career.
The hrst Spider-Man hint was followed by two sequels, which again broke box-office records. In the breaks between filming Spider-Man Kirsten was notable in several arthouse films, including in Marie Antoinette, a him by Soha Coppola, and Michel Gondry’s surrealist fantasy Eternal sunshine of the Spotless Mind. By Hollywood standards her career had reached its peak. But after shooting of the third Spider-Man him was complete, Kirsten disappeared off the radar screen. The most incredible rumours were afoot, including that she was being treated for alcoholic or narcotic addiction.
“I had been a professional since I was a child, and I just didn’t have the habit of letting off steam. I talked about this to Jodie Foster, who went through something similar. She said she had also wanted to give it all up and become a ski instructor or a bum - anyone but an actress!”
In deep depression, Kirsten checked into a rehab clinic in Utah. “I was fortunate that Kirsten had had problems of a psychological kind: that meant I didn’t have to explain to her how to play the role,” joked Lars von Trier later about her part in Melancholia. Here Dunst plays a woman who finds release in the end of the world. The film was successfully presented at Cannes, but the press conference was hit by scandal when Lars von Trier made a number of jokes so embarrassing that they brought a flush to Kirsten’s ears. Von Trier was declared persona non grata by Cannes, but Dunst was awarded Best Actress. After Melancholia, Kirsten decided that she had had enough of digging around in her soul; she went back to comedies, playing in Bachelorette, a story of three unmarried girlfriends who ruin the wedding of their fat companion with some desperately spiteful jokes. Her own personal life up to this point had been a series of dates with her screen partners which never developed into anything serious.
“I don’t think too much about marriage,” she said at the time. “If it happens, that’s good. If not, then that means it was not fated to happen.”
But then came her role in Fargo (the TV series), which not only renewed the trajectory of her career, but also linked her up with her Mr Right, Jesse Plemons — to whom she is now engaged. ♦