Interview : Kirsten Dunst


Mary Jane returns in “Spider-Man 3”

By Clint Morris and Robert Sanchez

We all know Kirsten Dunst is hot – but she’s damn talented to boot. Check out any of her films (Bring it On, Interview with the Vampire, Crazy Beautiful, Get Over It, The Cat’s Meow) and you’ll find she gives rich, diverse and multi-layered performances in each one. In Spider-Man 3, she reprises her role as the stunningly beautiful Mary Jane Watson, the long-time love of Peter Parker. Moviehole talks to her about the film and whether this is the last time we’ll see her in a Spider-Man film.

Did you feel like this was the end of your experience with Mary Jane or do you see yourself being in 4, 5 and 6?
Kirsten Dunst: I think this is definitely the end to this trilogy. I think that we’ve closed this chapter. But if Sam [Raimi] and Tobey [Maguire] and I were to come back together, we would definitely do another movie.

Were you, kind of, just playing the Mary Jane the actress storyline in this and not thinking about the stress in the end or the special FX stuff going on?
Dunst: On this one, I think that, you know, they’re finally together and she’s successful in what she’s doing and he’s really been embraced by the city of New York and is getting all these accolades and is, you know, it’s blowing his head up a little bit. And then we just slowly start to unwrap on Mary Jane and, you know, their relationship is already…they’re kind of ignoring things within that. And then it doesn’t help that he, you know, takes on this other darkness that envelopes his character and brings out, you know, all the things that he’s not dealing with in his life and all his anger and really heightens that.

I guess what I’m thinking is that everyone’s storyline is so strong. Can you sort of get focused in your character’s storyline and not have to think about how Sandman gets into his?
Oh, I just focus on what I’m doing. Like I, you know, that’s why it’s such a surprise when I see the movie because, you know, I don’t know what half of it’s going to look like, you know what I mean? And I’d see Thomas and we’d be like, hey we’re in the same movie, how are you doing? And then, you know, yeah, we all had our separate little lives and stories going on, which makes sense because that’s what it’s like in the film, so.

Having to do the singing, was that fun for you guys and was that in the script or did that develop later?
Dunst: No, Sam, you know, I was just happy that she, you know, finally got a gig, you know. Yeah. I mean and that, I’ve always sang so it wasn’t a big deal to me and I could pre-record it and then just listen to it.

Have you heard about the musical?
Dunst: Yeah. That’s amazing. I heard about it today. I was shocked. You too? I mean that’s incredible. It’s like the coolest ever. And Julie Taymor directs? I mean I was shocked. I guess because usually when they do that kind of reinvention things they get a little cheesy, but that’s incredible. I was shocked.

Would you like to do something like that?
Dunst: I could never sing live in front of big audiences. I couldn’t do that. I’m not a Broadway actress. I can’t do that. No, no, no, no, no. I couldn’t do that. No, no.

Are you going to play Debbie Harry?
Dunst: Yeah, but that’s very early so it’s too early to talk about it.

There’s a reprise of the upside down kiss with Tobey and Bryce [Dallas Howard] in this one and your character responds to that as ‘that was our kiss.’ Did you, kind of, think that too when you saw that in the script? Did you say, hey, that was my kiss?
Dunst: Well, I don’t want to give too much away, but yeah, I just, you know, can you imagine how hurt you would be if you had this intimate moment with the love of your life and that’s kind of duplicated in some cavalier way? That’s heartbreaking.

What about Mary Jane’s unraveling? It seems like, you said they were ignoring some things and she doesn’t really tell him…
Dunst: But also, yeah. But there wasn’t really an opportunity as well. Also, there’s a responsibility in a relationship when someone’s doing something that they’re really excited about, you don’t want to put that on them that day. You know what I mean? There’s a time and a place. And, you know, and then there was that other thing that happened with the keys to the city so it just kind of builds and builds and builds.

You and James get to do the twist and that’s not exactly your era.
Dunst: Oh, I can do the twist. I’m a big dancer, I dance so I’m…

Did you teach him?
Dunst: We had to like get together. I remember they brought me all the way down to like Culver City. I was like, why are we here? Oh, it’s twist lessons. Are you kidding me? Like, you brought me all the way down here to do the twist? I mean I’ve done it, it’s not the hardest dance in the world. So, but then we, yeah, I did a twist lesson with James, helped him out a little bit.

Tobey dances in the jazz club. Was that pretty funny for you? Were you on set?
Dunst: It was so funny and I had to have a reaction of kind of like, ‘Peter, what’s wrong with you?’ That I couldn’t even have Tobey do it because I just would laugh when he was dancing. I just couldn’t help myself. It’s so ridiculous I just couldn’t deal with it. And I had to be, you know, in this kind of shock, like what’s happened to Peter kind of mode. And meanwhile, he’s, you know, doing all these pelvic twists and thrusts and I just, I couldn’t, I couldn’t watch Tobey do it anymore. I was just laughing way too much.

Having done three of these films now, the superhero films, is it a little disappointing that you don’t get to do any superhero stuff yourself? Or would that be something that you would want to do? Or would you like to see that in film where women get to play the superhero?
Dunst: Honestly, I have absolutely no interest in being the superhero. I got to throw a cinderblock in this one, which is fine. That’s enough action for me. And if I were to do any kind of superhero-esque film, I would just do like some werewolf avant-garde, like in the streets of Paris or something. Like something really cool, you know, like remember that movie with the vampires?

Interview with a Vampire?
Dunst: No, no, not, like I’m going to reference my own film and act like I don’t know what it is. That would be so lame. No, it was called The Lost Boys. Like something that’s cool like that. You know, like the little bits…

What about the Barbarella remake?
Dunst: No. I don’t want to wear that outfit. That’s too revealing. No, I don’t want to be worried about being in a bikini during the entire film.

Are the acting muscles you flex in a comic book type movie like this identical to the ones you do in a regular drama?
Dunst: Well, it’s interesting because after I did Marie Antoinette, we hardly talked in that movie. It was a very sensorial way of working. And it’s all about the way the fabrics felt and the way the food tasted and smelled and how the air felt. I was so, I never just concentrated so intently on just that, that. And then I realized after I made the film, like, then I kind of realized all these things because when I was doing it, it was kind of, I was aware of it, but you know, you can’t be too aware of yourself. And then when I start to work on Spider-Man, I realized all these, like, these tools I had that I didn’t realize before so it really, yeah, all these films always change. You learn things on every movie and so it really helped me in this.

You don’t go over the top because it’s a comic book movie? It’s exactly the same kind of acting?
Dunst: For me, yeah. Except you’re in kind of fantastical situations. But I hope I didn’t. I don’t know.

I wasn’t accusing you of that.
Dunst: Yeah. I was like, did I? I don’t know. I mean it kind of gets sticky when you get into the blue screen stuff. I just forgive myself for bad acting when it comes to those things because if I’m good in that, then that’s just incredible because those things are hard to do. I mean I had no idea what was going to be in the film. So, yeah, and some of those lines are hard to pull off sometimes, too.

How different is Mary Jane in the three movies? And how different is Kirsten Dunst after six years of Spider-Man?
Dunst: Well, for me, I think obviously, you know, not obviously, but on the first movie I was so much younger, you know? I was so much more impressionable and insecure and so I didn’t have the confidence that I do as an actress today. And like I cared what people thought and I was performing more for other people instead of myself. And we’ve just grown up. Each film we’ve just become more and more collaborative. And this last one has just been, you know, three individuals coming together and as equal adults collaborating on a film. But, you know, you’re not that when you’re a teenager. You got to, you have to grow into that.

So you say you have no interest in being an action heroine. Is there anything you do in your life, any kind of excitement for thrills?
Dunst: Oh, right. Okay. Thrills me? I mean, I like going to the movies with my friends. I’m trying to think, I mean I love to travel. I love going to new places. I like going to Sunday night dinner. I mean I don’t, I don’t really have, I’m trying to think if there’s anything, I’m not like an extreme sports person. I love going to the theatre. I love seeing bands play.

But you don’t have the desire to put yourself in danger?
Dunst: I guess I’m not an extreme sport lady. Although, my grandfather was a, you know, speed skater, bicycle racer who was going to go to the Olympics before World War II broke out. He was like a really famous athlete, thank you. And my mom, like my dad is always really into sports. So I have it in my genes. I just haven’t exercised it.

This new Sweet Relief movie, how controversial do you think it will be given the subject matter?
Dunst: Oh, how controversial do I think it will be? Is that what you asked me? How controversial? It’s about a woman, you know. I don’t think it’s about Iraq. It’s about a woman. And, you know, what in this 24 year old, I think she’s 24 at the time makes you want to go to Iraq on her own without, you know, security and just be there. And, you know, count bodies, visit orphanages, manipulate soldiers into getting information all on her own accord. You know that takes a very brave and also probably, you know, it’s kind of crazy thing to do. I would never put myself in that position. I couldn’t imagine doing that, you know. So I think that it’ll be, it’s more about this woman and not so much, you know, yeah, it’s about this woman.

You talked about how tight you are with Tobey and Sam and James aside from only wanting be in the movies with them, but do you have an opportunity to be friends with them when you’re not making these movies?
Dunst: Yeah. I’m, James is part of my life because I introduced him to this charity I work with called The Art of Elysium and we put on plays and just visit the hospital and this one particular hospital called All Saints and, you know, do auctions. And so I got him involved with that and then Bryce and I have become really close. So those are the two people I see the most. But when I see Tobey, it’s great. But he’s, you know, just had a baby and so, but I love his fiancée.

Why does the public respond so much to the movie?
Dunst: Well, Spider-Man is every man. And, you know, if he can be a hero, you can be a hero. And it’s always had very, you know, relatable storylines in this kind of, fantastical world, but somehow Sam manages to ground it with the people he’s cast. And that’s always attracted really interesting actors to play our villains and so I think that it’s just a very international story. Who can’t relate to falling in love? Who can’t relate to getting in fights with your best friend or feeling like your work is killing you. Who can’t relate to all these things? So, I think that’s why.