Kirsten Caroline Dunst (born April
30, 1982) is an American actress, model, and singer. She made her film
debut in Oedipus Wrecks, a short film directed by Woody Allen for the
anthology New York Stories (1989). At the age of 12, Dunst gained
widespread recognition playing the role of vampire Claudia in Interview
with the Vampire (1994). She was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for
Best Supporting Actress for this performance. That year she appeared in
Little Women, to further acclaim.
Dunst achieved international fame as a result of her portrayal of Mary
Jane Watson in the Spider-Man trilogy. Since then her films have included
the romantic comedy Wimbledon (2004), the science fiction drama Eternal
Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) and Cameron Crowe's tragicomedy
Elizabethtown (2005). She played the title role in Sofia Coppola's Marie
Antoinette (2006), and she starred in the comedy How to Lose Friends &
Alienate People (2008).
In 2001, Dunst made her singing debut in the film Get Over It, in which
she performed two songs. She also sang the jazz song "After You've Gone"
for the end credits of the film The Cat's Meow (2001). In early 2008,
Dunst confirmed she was suffering from depression, checking into a
treatment center before discharging herself in March and resuming her
Dunst was born in Point Pleasant, New Jersey to Klaus and Inez Dunst. She
has a younger brother, Christian (born 1987). Her father worked as a
medical services executive, and her mother was an artist and one-time
gallery owner. Dunst is of German descent on her father's side, and
Swedish on her mother's.
Until the age of six Dunst lived in New Jersey, where she attended Ranney
School before moving with her mother and younger brother to Los Angeles,
California in 1991. In 1995, her mother filed for divorce. The following
year Dunst began attending Notre Dame, a private Catholic high school in
Los Angeles. After graduating from Notre Dame she continued the acting
career that she had begun at the age of eight. As a teenager, Dunst found
it difficult to deal with her rising fame, and for a period blamed her
mother for pushing her into acting as a child. However, she later
expressed that her mother "...always had the best intentions". When asked
if she had any regrets about the way she spent her childhood, Dunst said:
"Well, it's not a natural way to grow up, but it's the way I grew up and I
wouldn't change it. I have my stuff to work out. I don't think anybody can
sit around and say: 'My life is more screwed up than yours.' Everybody has
Dunst began her career when she was three years old as a child fashion
model in television commercials. She was signed with Ford Models and Elite
Model Management. At the age of eight she made her film debut in a minor
role in Woody Allen's Oedipus Wrecks, a short film that was released as
one-third of the anthology New York Stories (1989). Soon after, she landed
a small part in The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990), as Tom Hanks's
daughter. In 1993, Dunst played Hedril in "Dark Page", the seventh episode
of the seventh season of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
The breakthrough role in Dunst's career came in Interview with the
Vampire, a 1994 film based on Anne Rice's novel, in which she played the
child vampire Claudia, a surrogate daughter to Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt's
characters in the film. The film received ambivalent reviews, but many
film critics complimented Dunst's performance. Roger Ebert commented that
Dunst's creation of the child vampire Claudia was one of the "creepier"
aspects of the film, and mentioned her ability to convey the impression of
great age inside apparent youth. Todd McCarthy in Variety noted that Dunst
was "just right" for the family. The film featured a scene in which Dunst
received her first kiss from Brad Pitt, who was 18 years her senior. In an
interview with Interview magazine, she revealed, while questioned about
her kissing scene with Pitt, that kissing him had made her feel
uncomfortable: "I thought it was gross, that Brad had cooties. I mean, I
was 10." Her performance earned her the MTV Movie Award for Best
Breakthrough Performance, the Saturn Award for Best Young Actress, and her
first Golden Globe Award nomination.
She then appeared in the adaptation of the drama Little Women (1994),
Dunst portrayed Amy March, opposite Winona Ryder and Claire Danes. The
film received favorable reviews; critic Janet Maslin of The New York Times
wrote that the film was the greatest adaptation of the novel and remarked
on Dunst's performance: "The perfect contrast to take-charge Jo comes from
Kirsten Dunst's scene-stealing Amy, whose vanity and twinkling mischief
make so much more sense coming from an 11-year-old vixen than they did
from grown-up Joan Bennett in 1933. Ms Dunst, also scarily effective as
the baby bloodsucker of Interview With the Vampire, is a little vamp with
a big future."
In 1995, she appeared in the fantasy movie Jumanji, loosely based on Chris
Van Allsburg's 1981 book of the same name. The story is about a
supernatural and ominous board game which makes animals and other jungle
hazards appear upon each roll of the dice. She was part of an ensemble
cast that included Robin Williams, Bonnie Hunt, and David Alan Grier. The
movie grossed $100 million worldwide. That year, and again in 2002, she
was named one of People magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People. In 1996,
Dunst had a recurring role in the third season of NBC's medical drama ER.
She portrayed a child prostitute, Charlie Chiemingo, taken under the
guidance of Dr. Doug Ross, played by George Clooney. In 1997, she was the
voice of Young Anastasia in the animated musical film Anastasia.[ Also in
1997, Dunst appeared in the political satire Wag the Dog, opposite Robert
De Niro and Dustin Hoffman. The following year she was the voice of the
title character, Kiki, a 13-year-old apprentice witch who leaves her home
village to spend a year on her own, in the anime movie Kiki's Delivery
Dunst was offered the role of Angela in the 1999 drama film American
Beauty, but turned it down because she did not want to appear in the
film's suggestive sexual scenes or kiss co-star Kevin Spacey. She later
explained: "When I read it, I was 15 and I don't think I was mature enough
to understand the script's material." That same year, she appeared in the
comedy Dick, alongside Michelle Williams. The film is a parody retelling
the events of the Watergate scandal which lead to the resignation of U.S.
president Richard Nixon.
In Sofia Coppola's independent film The Virgin Suicides (1999), Dunst
played the role of troubled adolescent Lux Lisbon. The film was screened
as a special presentation at the 43rd San Francisco International Film
Festival in 2000. The movie received generally favorable reviews, and San
Francisco Chronicle critic Peter Stack noted in his review that Dunst
"beautifully balances innocence and wantonness".
In 2000, she played Torrance Shipman, the captain of a cheerleading squad
in Bring It On. The film generated mostly critical reviews, with Charles
Taylor of Salon.com writing that the film had failed to provide Dunst with
as good a role as she had either in Dick or in The Virgin Suicides.
However, Jessica Winter of The Village Voice complimented Dunst, stating
that her performance was "as sprightly and knowingly daft as her turn in
Dick. She provides the only major element of Bring It On that plays as
tweaking parody rather than slick, strident, body-slam churlishness." The
movie grossed $68 million worldwide.
The following year, Dunst had the lead in the teen comedy Get Over It
(2001). She later explained that one of the reasons for accepting the role
was that it gave her the opportunity to sing. Also in 2001, Dunst depicted
the late American actress Marion Davies in The Cat's Meow (2001). The
film, directed by Peter Bogdanovich, was described by Derek Elley of
Variety as "playful and sporty", saying of Dunst that this was her best
performance to date. "Believable as both a spoiled ingenue and a lover to
two very different men, Dunst endows a potentially lightweight character
with considerable depth and sympathy." In the Esquire review, Tom Carson
called her performance "terrific". For her work, she won the Best Actress
Silver Ombú category award at the 2002 Mar del Plata Film Festival.
In the 2002 superhero film Spider-Man, the most successful film of her
career to date, Dunst played Mary Jane Watson, the best friend and love
interest of the title character, played by Tobey Maguire. The film was
directed by Sam Raimi. Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly remarked on
Dunst's ability to "lend even the smallest line a tickle of flirtatious
music." In the Los Angeles Times review, critic Kenneth Turan noted that
Dunst and Maguire made a real connection on screen, concluding that their
relationship involved audiences to an extent rarely seen in films.
Spider-Man was a commercial and critical success. The movie grossed $114
million during its opening weekend in North America and went on to earn
$822 million worldwide.
Following the success of Spider-Man, Dunst appeared in the independent
drama Levity (2003), where she had a supporting role. In this year she
starred in Mona Lisa Smile (2003), part of an ensemble cast that included
Julia Roberts, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Julia Stiles. The film generated
mostly negative reviews, with Manohla Dargis of the Los Angeles Times
describing it as "smug and reductive". She next appeared in the supporting
role of Mary Svevo in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004),
alongside Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, and Tom Wilkinson. The latter film
received very positive reviews, with Entertainment Weekly describing
Dunst's subplot as "nifty and clever". The movie grossed $72 million
The success of the first Spider-Man film led Dunst to reprise the role in
the 2004 sequel, Spider-Man 2. The movie was well received by critics, and
it proved to be a big financial success, setting a new opening weekend box
office record for North America. With revenue of $783 million worldwide,
it became the second highest grossing film in 2004. Also in 2004, she
appeared in the romantic comedy Wimbledon, a film in which she portrays a
rising tennis player in the Wimbledon Championships opposite Paul Bettany,
who plays a fading former tennis star. Reception for the movie was mixed,
but many critics enjoyed Dunst's performance; Claudia Puig of USA Today
reported that the chemistry between Dunst and Bettany was potent, with
Dunst doing a fine job as a sassy and self-assured player.
In 2005, she appeared as flight attendant Claire Colburn alongside Orlando
Bloom, in Elizabethtown, a movie written and directed by Cameron Crowe.
The film premiered at the 2005 Toronto Film Festival. Dunst revealed that
working with Crowe was enjoyable, but more demanding than she had
expected. The movie garnered mixed reviews, with the Chicago Tribune
rating it one out of four stars and describing Dunst's portrayal of a
flight attendant as "cloying". It was a box office disappointment.
Dunst's next film role was the title character in the 2006 biographical
film Marie Antoinette. Adapted from Antonia Fraser's book Marie
Antoinette: The Journey, the film was Dunst's second with director Sofia
Coppola. The movie was screened at a special presentation at the 2006
Cannes Film Festival, and was reviewed favourably. International revenues
were $45 million out of $60 million overall.
In 2007 she again played Mary Jane Watson, in Spider-Man 3. In contrast to
the previous two films' positive reviews, Spider-Man 3 was met with a
mixed reception by critics. Nonetheless, with a total worldwide gross of
$891 million, it stands as the most successful film in the series, and
Dunst's highest grossing film to the end of 2008. Having initially signed
on for three Spider-Man films, she revealed that she would do a fourth,
but only if Raimi and Maguire also returned. In January 2010 it was
revealed that Dunst, Maguire, and Raimi had been dropped from the
franchise, which would be rebooted in 2012.
In the 2008 movie How to Lose Friends and Alienate People Dunst appeared
alongside Simon Pegg. The movie is an adaptation of the memoir of the same
name by former Vanity Fair contributing editor Toby Young. Dunst signed on
to the film, later revealing that she had joined the project because Pegg
was scheduled to appear in it.
She agreed to appear in All Good Things, in a leading role opposite Ryan
Gosling, portraying a woman from a run-down neighborhood who goes missing.
She also signed to appear in Sweet Relief as peace activist Marla Ruzicka,
a U.S. relief worker killed by a suicide bomb in Baghdad. She has
expressed interest in playing the role of Blondie frontwoman Debbie Harry
in Michel Gondry's upcoming biographical film about the band. She is set
to star opposite Jim Sturgess in Upside Down with a scheduled release in
Dunst made her singing debut in the 2001 film Get Over It, performing two
songs written by Marc Shaiman. She also lent her voice to the end credits
of The Cat's Meow, singing Henry Creamer and Turner Layton's jazz standard
"After You've Gone". In Spider-Man 3, she sings two songs as part of her
role as Mary Jane Watson, one during a Broadway performance, and one as a
singing waitress in a jazz club. Dunst revealed that she recorded the
songs earlier and later lip-synced to it when filming began. She also
appeared in the music video for Savage Garden's "I Knew I Loved You", and
she sang two tracks, "This Old Machine" and "Summer Day", on Jason
Schwartzman's 2007 solo album Nighttiming. In an interview with The
Advertiser, Dunst explained that she has no plans to follow the steps of
actors such as Russell Crowe or Toni Collette's in releasing an album,
saying: "Definitely not. No way. It worked when Barbra Streisand was doing
it, but now it's a little cheesy, I think. It works better when singers
are in movies."
Dunst has never been married and has not been identified with a long-term
partner. She has reportedly been involved in short-term relationships with
playwright Jeff Smeenge, actor Jake Gyllenhaal, and musician Johnny
Borrell of Razorlight.
Dunst supported Democratic candidate John Kerry in the 2004 U.S.
presidential election. Four years later, she supported Democrat Barack
Obama in the 2008 presidential election. Dunst revealed that she supported
Obama "from the beginning" of the presidential campaign. In support of
this, she directed and narrated a documentary entitled Why Tuesday,
explaining the United States tradition of voting on Tuesdays. Dunst
explained that Tuesday is "not a holiday, and [the United States is] one
of the lowest democratic countries in voter turnout". She felt it
important to "influence people in a positive way" to vote on November 4.
Her charity work includes participation with the Elizabeth Glaser
Pediatric AIDS Foundation, in which she helped design and promote a
necklace, for which all proceeds from sales went to the Glaser foundation.
She also has helped with breast cancer awareness; in September 2008 she
participated in the Stand Up to Cancer telethon, to help raise funds to
accelerate cancer research. On December 5, 2009, she participated in the
Teletón in Mexico, to help raise funds to treat cancer and children
Dunst has confirmed that she was treated for depression in early 2008. She
sought treatment at the Cirque Lodge treatment center in Utah. Dunst
explained that she had been feeling low in the six months before her
admittance to rehab. In late March she checked out from the treatment
center and began filming All Good Things. In May she went public with this
information, she said, to highlight the struggle faced by so many other
successful women and to dispel false rumors that had been very painful for
her friends and family.