How Kirsten Dunst outplayed Hollywood

by 24britishtvApril 2, 2024, 10 p.m. 19
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I tell her that in my research, I came across a profile that was written about her in the early 2000s, right before Spider-Man came out, in which the writer called her “unformed” and a “giggly girl”, and seemed to criticise the breadth of her film knowledge. She was 19 at the time.

Dunst never looks back on any of that, but she remembers the difficulty of being a young woman in the spotlight at a time when talking about women in that way was run-of-the-mill. “Now, I can enjoy being an actress in this industry. But before, I felt insecure. I didn’t feel like I had a place.”

And she had her fair share of grim run-ins. There was the assistant director on Spider-Man who called her “girly girl” all throughout filming. It was meant as a joke, Dunst says, but it pissed her off. She worked with the same AD again on Civil War, 20 years later, and confronted him about it. “I was like, ‘It really bothered me that you guys did that,’” she says. “He was like, ‘I’m so sorry.’ Because they thought it was endearing. But it doesn’t sound endearing.”

Her worst experience, though, is one she doesn’t want to go into great detail about. “I had one director ask me something in a meeting for a movie that was inappropriate,” she says. “But I don’t want to put that negativity out there.” She was a teenager at the time. “It was really not a cool question to ask. You can only imagine. That was the worst thing that ever happened to me.” She immediately went and told her mother that she would not work with the director, whom she declines to name now. “I just am not going to put up with anything. You grow up and learn how to navigate it when people abuse power. But I never had anything truly horrendous happen to me. I was never put in rooms alone with someone that could do anything weird.”

There were other challenges. When she was coming up, there was a dearth of opportunities to get involved behind the camera – unlike today, when actors like Sydney Sweeney and Margot Robbie have made producing a major part of their careers and are reaping the benefits financially. (Robbie is said to have made $50m on Barbie alone, thanks largely to her producer credit.)

“I wish I would have been a producer on Bring It On, you know?” says Dunst. There she was taking a risk as an actress, bringing some needle-moving star power to a movie, and yet there were no conversations about her taking on that role – it just wasn’t a thing. “Nobody even thought to ask for that, and it was a huge success. And then I would have been a producer on all the other ones they made after that.” (The movie’s success led to six direct-to-video sequels, none of which featured any of the original cast.) “But I didn’t – it’s not like I’m getting anything from it.”

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