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Kiss of the Spider Woman Part Two

Kirsten Dunst prepares for the next step in her career with her co-starring role in this summer's SPIDER-MAN

By Paul Zimmerman     April 17, 2002


Kirsten Dunst stars as Mary Jane Watson in SPIDER-MAN
© Sony Pictures
With the biggest film of her career just a few weeks away, Kirsten Dunst the child star is a thing of the past. Though she first made her mark at age 11 alongside Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt in INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE, and then segued into lightweight roles in films like SMALL SOLDIERS and JUMANJI, the girl has grown up in recent years with turns in more adult fare like THE VIRGIN SUICIDES and THE CAT'S MEOW. Of course, it's her role as the title character's love interest in SPIDER-MAN that has genre fans talking. Today, we continue our chat with the young actress.

Having braved effects films like SMALL SOLDIERS and JUMANJI, Dunst speaks about such stuff like a true veteran who can convincingly react to blue and green screens.

Sam Raimi directs Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst in SPIDER-MAN



"I'm not sure if Willem [Dafoe, who plays the villainous Green Goblin] had that [experience before], but Tobey [Maguire] didn't have it and it's hard to act to nothing," she says. "You know you're up there and you're supposed to be scared of this thing coming to kill you and you're yelling to nothing. I've had that. And you've just got to commit and use your imagination, because if you don't commit you're just going to look so..." Dunst stops to pantomime a bad scream.

"You have to just throw yourself in there and just imagine it," she continues. "It's difficult to do. When you're tired and you're hanging in that harness all day and your legs are sore and your body is all twisted and contorted and you're supposed to be screaming for your life."

With that kind of action experience under her young belt, one might imagine she'd like to try the saving-the-day part. She laughs, shaking her head.

"No. I don't need to play any superheroes," she says. "I got my fill with SPIDER-MAN."

And this is from a woman who confesses "I never read comic books when I was younger. I watched cartoons more and played with dolls and stuff. I liked GEM a lot. She was like this rocker babe. Also RAINBOW BRITE. Loved RAINBOW BRITE. That was a good one. MY LITTLE PONY, which I also loved."

Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst star in Sam Raimi's SPIDER-MAN



While other young stars are getting caught drunk-driving while careening out of the Sky Bar in L.A., Dunst prefers to keep a low profile. And indeed you won't find any scandal sticking to her pale white skin.

"It's important to be grounded in this industry," she says. "Some people get caught up in their own press. Or they surround themselves too much in this world and it's not healthy, I don't think."

Dunst also credits her longevity in the movie business to "smart career choices." That and keeping a sense of wonder. Having started before she was 10, she sounds like a wise old sage.

"A lot of kid actors who are great as kids don't always transform into good actors when they are adults because when you're younger you have no fear," she says. "Like you start to build up fears when you get older. When you're young, you're open, more vulnerable and some people build walls up and it's not as natural for them anymore as when they were kids. So I think that's something and career choices are very important."

Dunst also stay grounded by keeping her family close and "not making this your everyday life. It's so overwhelming, all this craziness promoting. It's good to go home to your mom, your grandma, your brother, the dog, the cat and cleaning the litter box and doing normal people things and not getting caught up in being pampered."

Kirsten Dunst stars as Mary Jane Watson in SPIDER-MAN



In the meantime she has bigger things to consider, like the other four films she has coming to theaters in the next year and the action figure coming to a toy store near you.

"They'd send me heads," she says of the process of going from screen heroine to toy doll. "And I'd be like, 'No way, this does not [look like me].' And I'd write them notes and they'd said my notes were the most detailed they'd ever gotten."

She laughs. "And dimples? They put in craters. Two! First of all, I only have one dimple and it's not a crater on the side of my face." Using her hands to illustrate her point, she adds: "Seriously, it was this big on the size of the doll. And I was like 'What are those on my face? And I have a heart-shaped face, not a long face, and my lips are thinner,' and like got them really detailed notes."

Getting into the subject, her speech grows faster as she says: "I think it's just Barbie-sized but I don't know because I haven't seen the finalized [one]. I see others and I'm like, 'When was that approved?'"

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