What the Hell Happened to Kirsten Dunst?

dunst 2013

Kirsten Dunst

Kirsten Dunst was a child actor who successfully transitioned into adult roles.  She worked opposite Brad Pitt, Robin Williams and Jim Carrey.  She was directed by the likes of Woody Allen, Sam Raimi and Neil Jordan.  She played a cheerleader, a vampire and Spider-man’s true love.  But when her web-slinging stopped, Dunst disappeared from the once-hot spotlight.

What the hell happened?

dunst model age 3

Kirsten Dunst – Age 3

Dunst started modeling at the ripe old age of three.  Clearly, she had committed herself to her craft rather than being pushed into the spotlight by a stage mom.  Surprisingly, Dunst would later express some anger over having been “pushed” into show biz by her mom.  Hard to believe since her mom waited three entire years to put her child to work.

Soon, Dunst was doing commercials like this one for Pillsbury microwave potatoes from 1985:

And here she is shilling for Crayola Christmas of 1989:

Good lord was she adorable!  That same year, she was pitching Baby Doll Surprise, a baby doll whose hair grew:

This was also the year in which I graduated from high school which makes me feel a little weird about those Maxim covers I found while I was doing my research for this article.  In 1989, Dunst had her first movie role in Woody Allen’s short film, Oedipus WrecksOedipus Wrecks was part of a collection of films set in New York called New York Stories.  Dunst had a small role as one of Mia Farrow’s children.  Hopefully she kept a safe distance from Woody.  He has a history with Farrow’s kids.

Kirsten Dunst - Bonfire of the Vanities - 1990

Kirsten Dunst – Bonfire of the Vanities – 1990

In 1990, Dunst had another small role as Tom Hanks’ daughter in Brian DePalma’s infamous adaptation of Tom Wolfe’s Bonfire of the Vanities.

The book was an acidic social satire which took on race relations, journalism, and Wall Street amongst other things.  DePalma decided to make it silly.  It didn’t work at all.  The movie received scathing reviews and flopped at the box office.  It was a major career speed bump for Hanks (who reinvented himself as a dramatic actor shortly afterwards), DePalma (who was basically exiled for a while) and Melanie Griffith (who would continue working but stopped getting good roles).  Bruce Willis was lucky he had Die Hard to fall back on.

For Dunst, the final fate of Bonfire wasn’t all that important.  As a child actor, the fact she worked in a major motion picture with A-list talent was a stepping stone.  Here’s a scene in which Hanks’ character tries to explain his Wall Street job to his daughter only to be corrected by his wife played by Kim Cattrall.

In 1991, Dunst appeared in a low budget comedy called High Strung.  The movie was co-written by and starred Steve Oedekerk.  It is best known for featuring a pre-fame Jim Carrey in a supporting role.

Next: Interview With the Vampire and Little Women


Posted on July 28, 2013, in Movies, What the Hell Happened?, WTHH Actress and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 324 Comments.

  1. Kirsten Dunst reveals the trauma of filming sex scenes

    ‘I don’t like it, I don’t like it. To be honest, I’m like, ‘Let’s get this over with as fast as possible,’ says actor


  2. Woodshock Trailer Has Kirsten Dunst on a Surreal, Drug-Induced Trip

    The Woodshock trailer shows Kirsten Dunst in the woods high on hallucinogens on an insane trip of a horror thriller.


  3. What was your WORST celebrity encounter??

    I sat at a table across from Kirsten Dunst at the Abbey while she was having breakfast with a male (probably gay) friend. He was pretty much silent the whole time while she bitched about this person who screwed her over, that person who’s jealous of her, etc. And when a staff member approached her table, she simply waved them off with her hand. Her friend looked uncomfortable and embarrassed. She seems like an extremely unpleasant person.


    reply 32 Yesterday at 6:32 AM


    • Kirsten Dunst Isn’t Going To See ‘Spider-Man’ Reboots Or Fix Her Teeth, OK?

      Kirsten Dunst has no problem letting you know that she just doesn’t care anymore.

      The 35-year-old actress, who became a household name after she starred as Mary Jane in Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” trilogy, sat down with Variety for a profile with frequent collaborator Sofia Coppola in lieu of their new film “Beguiled.” And boy, does Dunst let some of her opinions be known.

      For instance, she could care less about those “Spider-Man” reboots. Per Variety:

      She’s ambivalent about Sony’s decision to keep rebooting the franchise, now in its third iteration. “I don’t care,” she says of the reboots, admitting she didn’t see the last installment. “Everyone likes our ‘Spider-Man.’ C’mon, am I right or what? Listen, I’d rather be in the first ones than the new ones.”
      Dunst, who also starred in movies like “Bring It On,” “Wimbledon” and “Elizabethtown,” also thinks playing a romantic lead is a big ole snooze-fest.

      “It’s just so boring. I think that was a time when the romantic comedy was so big. I knew it wasn’t for me. I just didn’t have fun making them. I guess it’s not in my DNA.”

      Dunst also lets out a few verbal gems in regards to criticisms she’s gotten about her body over the years — one of which recently came directly from Coppola herself.

      According to the profile, the director asked Dunst to lose a few pounds for her role in “Beguiled,” and she pretty much said, “Uh, no thanks.”

      “It’s so much harder when you’re 35 and hate working out,” Dunst told the magazine. She then used the film’s location in Louisiana as an excuse for why she couldn’t shed the pounds.

      “I’m eating fried chicken and McDonald’s before work. So I’m like, ‘We have no options! I’m sorry I can’t lose weight for this role,’” she said.

      But it may have been Coppola’s influence that turned Dunst into the self-assured and outspoken woman she is today. In the interview, Dunst also recalls a compliment Coppola gave to her when the two first began working together in 1999 for the film “Virgin Suicides.”

      “She said to me, ‘I love your teeth; don’t ever fix your teeth.’ I remember doing a ‘Spider-Man’ movie later, and one of the producers was like, ‘I need to take you to the dentist!’ They even fixed my teeth on the poster. But I just knew I was never doing that. Sofia is the chicest, coolest girl, and she thinks my teeth are great.”

      She added, “She gave me confidence in little things that I wouldn’t necessarily have had.”


  4. Re: Sofia Coppola Says “The Beguiled” Is About The Gender Dynamics Of The Confederacy, Not The Racial Ones

    Quoting for emphasis.

    When white women say women, they do not mean black women.

    You know what’s funny? White women are forever expecting black women to allign themselves with white women’s cause, yet….

    Didn’t Kristen Dunst recently play in Hidden Figures? Her character wasn’t needed in that film. Yet it was included because someone deemed it necessary to include the white female voice and perspective.

    I wonder if Dunst spoke up for the inclusion of the Black female voice in Coppola’s film. Ha! Hell freaking no!!!



    • SJW Crowd Goes After Sofia Coppola For Not Including Black Character in ‘The Beguiled’

      The pitchforks are out but – her response is perfectly logical: she creates characters she can relate to (i.e. rich white women which is WHAT SHE IS) plus all movies can’t be about all people or all stories.

      “I feel like you can’t show everyone’s perspective in a story. I was really focused on just this one group of women who were really isolated and weren’t prepared. A lot of slaves had left at that time, so they were really— that emphasized that they were cut off from the world. [Hallie’s] story’s a really interesting story, but it’s a whole other story, so I was really focused on these women.”


      • Re: For Sofia Coppola, black women are NOT women JUST black.

        I’ve always side-eyed her weird obsession with Nazi blonde white women.


        • Is Sofia Coppola the most boring film-maker in the history of cinema?

          Her films are so tastefully dull, aren’t they? The height of mediocrity.
          Is she the most boring film-maker in the history of cinema? Or is it still Terrence Malick?
          —Anonymous (234 views)

          28 replies 9 hours ago

          She’s a bougie princess who would be better off making perfume commercals and/or instagram pages.


          reply 2 9 hours ago

          She’s very untalented and she’s gotten awards and acclaim because her last name is Coppola. In interviews she comes across as dumb as a rock.


          reply 4 9 hours ago

          Her inarticulacy, reticence, and moodiness are supposed to be interpreted as “shyness.”


          reply 5 9 hours ago

          It’s not the pacing of her films that I’m referring to, it’s the whole mediocre mindset behind them. They’re so lifelessly dull. They seem to be made solely for a certain type of middle class audience. The kind who purchase coffee table art books. She’s a Taschen film-maker, like Terrence Malick and Tom Ford.


          reply 6 9 hours ago

          Second only to her grossly overrated father, who made his name ripping off gangster films of the 30s.


          reply 8 9 hours ago

          I like her first film, VIRGIN SUICIDES. It did an excellent job conveying the feeling of the book. Of course, it was an award winning book, and she had daddy’s backing. I did recently re watch the BLING RING, forgetting it was she who directed it, and it was a nice little period piece of a very short span of time, honestly. She does have the connections and $$ to get great music, though, and the soundtracks are usually very good.

          I agree, mostly, she should stick to perfume commercials, as capturing a feeling is what she is best at. LOST IN TRANSLATION is an overrated piece of shit.

          I will never forgive her performances as an actress, though.


          reply 10 9 hours ago

          Not a huge fan of hers, but I did like Marie Antoinette a lot – mixing all those crazy rococo costumes and new wave music was f***ing genius and quite unique. The fact that they were allowed to film the movie at Versailles itself also made it very special.


          reply 11 8 hours ago

          A slower pace, attention to detail, and subtlety is welcome in these loud, barbaric times.


          reply 14 8 hours ago

          I thought MARIE ANTOINETTE was the absolute worst. It’s the epitome of style over substance. And the style is so boring. What was the point of using new wave music on the soundtrack, apart from the fact it appeals to people of her generation and it probably struck her as a terribly daring thing to do?


          reply 16 8 hours ago

          I didn’t mind THE VIRGIN SUICIDES but MARIE ANTOINETTE was dull and brainless.


          reply 17 8 hours ago

          I tried to sit through “Marie Antoinette”, I fell asleep. I tried to sit through “Lost in Translation”, I feel asleep. I don’t want to waste my time. Did she ruin the remake of “The Beguiled”? I’m tempted to watch it, but I’ll fall asleep. I do like Colin Farrell, though.


          reply 24 5 hours ago


        • 15 “Great” Movies That Are Incredibly Boring


          Lost in Translation is one of the most unlikely box office hits of all-time. Shot over the course of 27 days, Sofia Coppola’s movie about a washed up actor working in Japan and the young woman he falls in love ended up garnering almost $120 million at the box office off of a $4 million budget. Critics loved the film, but few felt it would find the audience that it did.

          Years later, it’s easy to wake up from the film’s dreamlike qualities and start asking yourself what it is about this movie that’s really so compelling. The answer has to do with the subdued performances of Scarlett Johansson and Bill Murray, as well as Coppola’s creative direction. You have to be willing to fall in love with this little slice of Tokyo that the film portrays if you’re going to be able to get through the movie’s almost nonexistent plot and lack of traditional dramatic moments. Others have criticized the movie for its almost comedic portrayal of the Japanese, which isn’t a completely unfair criticism.


    • 25 Celebrities Who Were Body Shamed for a Role

      Kirsten Dunst for The Beguiled

      The actress is beautiful and has been able to work in Hollywood for quite some time now. But that doesn’t mean she hasn’t been body shamed for a role. In an interview with Variety, she revealed director Sofia Coppola told her to lose weight for her role in The Beguiled.

      “It’s so much harder when you’re 35 and hate working out,” she said, so Kirsten Dunst told Coppola she wouldn’t do it. Dunst said the director was “very understanding” about her refusal. “I’m eating fried chicken and McDonald’s before work. So I’m like, ‘We have no options! I’m sorry I can’t lose weight for this role.’”


    • Sofia Coppola followed Kirsten Dunst from girlhood to womanhood

      For a long time, it seemed as if Kirsten Dunst might be hell-bent on becoming America’s sweetheart at any applicable age. In her younger days, she appeared as the girl hero of two different movies, Jumanji and Small Soldiers, that were essentially about toys coming to life and wreaking adorable havoc on picturesque towns. She has also played bubbly teenagers (Bring It On, Dick, Drop Dead Gorgeous, Get Over It), the beloved crush of Spider-Man, and the original Manic Pixie Dream Girl, among others, usually falling somewhere on a spectrum between cheerleader type and girl next door.

      Yet there has long been a river of melancholy rushing below Dunst’s shiny, oft-blond exterior—an unarticulated sadness that creeps in past her warm, sometimes heavy-lidded smiles. It was there in her first attention-grabbing movie role, as the vampire doomed to eternal childhood in Interview With The Vampire, just as it’s there in the otherwise stock part of the unfriendly white lady standing in Octavia Spencer’s way in the recent Hidden Figures. Some movies use this quality better than others, but there’s hardly a filmmaker who uses it as well as Sofia Coppola.

      Although they’ve collaborated on three movies (four counting her quick cameo-as-self in The Bling Ring), Dunst and Coppola work together infrequently enough for their collaborations to feel like check-ins. It’s particularly noticeable with Dunst because she has had the fascinating (and presumably sometimes terrifying) experience of growing up on movie screens. Her first movie with Coppola was The Virgin Suicides, which was playing in U.S. theaters the same summer Dunst appeared in the ebullient cheerleading comedy Bring It On.

      In Suicides, Dunst plays Lux Lisbon, one of five Lisbon daughters who fascinate the neighborhood boys, who are onscreen characters but are most clearly represented by the disembodied voice of narrator Giovanni Ribisi. Theoretically, Lux is part of an unknowable gaggle, but she emerges almost immediately from the pack—the first shot of the movie is of Dunst alone in the frame, finishing up a popsicle in front of a suburban backdrop. Coppola’s first movie has her recognizable dreamy-melancholy vibe, but it’s more stylistically playful than her other films, so it occasionally cuts away to fantasy close-ups of Lux, subtly matched by one-shots of Dunst in the “real” world that separate her from her older and younger siblings.

      Even when the Lisbon girls are shown walking into a room together, Coppola’s camera zeroes in on Dunst. Some of this focus is clearly for plot reasons (and may be even more clear in the Jeffrey Eugenides source material, unread by me), as Lux is the sister who is romanced and then cruelly abandoned, post-sex, on a football field by jocky Trip Fontaine (Josh Hartnett). With the Lisbon girls headed for the same fate, Dunst’s casting as Lux is key; she becomes a sort of figurehead for all five sisters. Given that, she has to convey a lot—especially considering the story isn’t really told from her point of view.

      Lux’s interactions with the neighborhood boys have the same mischievous light hassling, a kind of pretend insouciance, that Dunst shows in her kid-movie and teen-movie parts. When her all-night tryst with Trip (and his subsequent abandonment) leads to the Lisbons’ strict parents placing their kids on lockdown, Dunst—playing a character who’s just 14—shows off a hardened, more resolved version of her flirtiness as she invites the neighborhood boys in for what turns out to be the discovery of the Lisbon sisters’ lifeless bodies. Dunst would have shot Suicides before Bring It On, and if the movies don’t have much in common, there is a kind of desperate determination to Torrance Shipman that doesn’t feel worlds away from Lux Lisbon’s eerily confident taking of her own life, sitting in a garage, breathing in exhaust, dangling a cigarette outside a car window.

      By the time Coppola and Dunst reteamed for Marie Antoinette, Dunst had graduated to adult roles, a rite of passage depicted by her literally graduating high school in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man, and also falling in love with a radioactive nerd over the course of that movie and its sequel. (This may seem like a bizarre way to make the transition into young adulthood, but Dunst got off lucky; plenty of female stars after her have been forced to graduate and re-graduate high school repeatedly in movies, like super-seniors who keep failing.) Yet when Marie Antoinette begins, she’s playing the title character at the exact same age as Lux Lisbon: Marie is 14 when she is married off to the man who would become Louis XVI (Jason Schwartzman).

      During the events of the film, she ages about two decades, though it doesn’t always register as such because Coppola lets the events of her life run together, sometimes jumping years in a single unannounced cut. It’s one of many strategies the film employs to make the world of Marie Antoinette feel both tactile and disposable. Coppola displays the enormous wealth and royal glitz on hand, but doesn’t linger on it. Indeed, one of the movie’s highlights is a montage of clothes, shoes, desserts, and champagne that wouldn’t look out of place in a merry teen comedy. The difference, though, once again lies in Dunst’s ability to convey desperation beneath frivolity—her Marie Antoinette revels in drinks and up-dos and gambling because she’s trying to latch onto something joyful. It’s a superficial façade as a defense mechanism.

      That façade is visible straight away, as Coppola again gives her star the very first shot: Dunst’s version of the queen is seen lounging in a chair, swiping at the frosting of an elaborate cake, and looking at the camera, betraying little of the loss she registers as her story begins in earnest moments later, capturing her as a fidgety teenager. In both luxurious repose and in aimless ennui, so much of Dunst’s performance in this film is nonverbal. Marie is rarely shown in extensive conversation with anyone (least of all her lock-obsessed husband), and when she does speak, Dunst doesn’t use an Austrian accent, a gambit that pays off with extra vulnerability. This version of Marie Antoinette has little in the way of regal bearing, and despite her supposed position of power, is not encouraged to speak her mind.

      It’s easy to see why Coppola’s intrigue-light version of palace intrigue drew mixed responses during its initial 2006 release, but with Dunst’s help, she turned Marie Antoinette into, among other things, a study of arrested girlhood. Even as queen in waiting, Marie doesn’t have much control over her fate, and as her teenage years turn into her 20s, she remains stuck. She has some room to wriggle, by spending money on lavish parties or keeping company with amusing friends, and later in the film, she’s able to express herself, to some degree, through motherhood. But even that modest emotional allowance is tied up in the duty to provide an heir to the country that eventually turns on her.

      It would be a stretch to say that The Beguiled rejoins Dunst in middle age; she’s still well within her 30s, and despite the 11-year gap between the films, The Beguiled picks up with her character approximately the same age as she is at the end of Marie Antoinette. But The Beguiled also places her alongside several younger actors, in a time period where 35 was not nearly so youthful as it is today. So while every major female character in the movie is at some point infatuated with Colin Farrell’s Corporal McBurney, Dunst’s Edwina, in all her unsmiling dutifulness, has the strongest emotional impact. Nicole Kidman, playing the head of the Southern girls’ school where Union soldier McBurney lays low, commands some degree of power, even as she fights her improper attraction to this man, while Elle Fanning gets many of the movie’s surprising number of laughs with her youthful petulance. Edwina is stuck in the middle, neither spitfire ingénue nor steely woman in charge.

      Coppola seems aware that Edwina warrants some extra attention; Dunst isn’t the only recipient of close-ups in the movie, but it does often feel like Coppola’s camera gets in tighter on her face in a film that otherwise uses plenty of multiple-character tableaux. She’s the character who has the most invested in believing McBurney’s opportunistic flirtations and intimations. She’s also the only one who doesn’t conspire to get rid of him—expecting, as she does, that they will run away together.

      It’s a heartbreaker of a performance, and one of several areas where the new film improves upon the 1971 version directed by Don Siegel. That movie had something of a hallucinatory hothouse atmosphere, while Coppola’s re-adaptation manages to be both funnier and sadder. There’s a weight to seeing Dunst—Mary Jane Parker, Torrance Shipman, absurd screenwriter’s fantasy from Elizabethtown—with her slyness stripped away and her smile weakened or vanished when forced to, say, cover up her dinner dress with a shawl. Edwina has clearly given up hope that she can either work or charm her way into a better, more fulfilling life, which makes McBurney’s suggestion that they run away together a cruelty disguised as a kindness.

      Coppola isn’t the only filmmaker to tap into the sadness that’s accumulated behind Dunst’s eyes as she’s matured. Dunst gave a terrific performance in Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia, playing a woman whose deep depression leaves her perversely prepared for the literal end of the world, and assayed a less consuming but still palpable sense of ennui on season two of Fargo. But there’s something distinct about Coppola’s treatment of her, maybe because she can see her star’s glamorous side so clearly, even if it does sometimes serve as a façade.

      Coppola has been painted, for better and for worse, as an expert chronicler of White Lady Malaise. If she does lean into that role by, say, jettisoning a slave character from The Beguiled on the grounds that she didn’t think herself qualified to tell that story (however tangentially), her focus is far from the narrowest in Hollywood, as evidenced by just how few female directors there are, nevermind how even fewer get to make a movie with The Beguiled’s three-quarters female majority in its principal cast. She turns out to be the perfect director to check in on a star over the course of 15 years, because her work is unusually attuned to the subtleties of life’s disappointments (which is strange because, as we’ve been informed countless times, her standing as the daughter of Francis Ford Coppola inoculates her against any human feeling beyond luxuriating in her enormous wine fortune and collection of Apocalypse Now memorabilia).

      This is perhaps clearest with Marie Antoinette, who Coppola turns into a sympathetic figure not by trumpeting or recontextualizing her accomplishments, but by observing a version of her behavior in her situation with empathy, recognizing both the decadence and the beauty of a palace lifestyle. Plenty of starlets—and at least one famous director’s daughter—have been scorned for appearing pampered, unsympathetic, and out of touch. It’s a charge that seems to stick more firmly to women, and all three of these Coppola movies take the time to consider femininity in a male-dominated world.

      Coppola’s ability to examine this material is an especially good match with Dunst, who can appear aloof, even in lighter fair. Think of how the emotional side of the sweetly goofy Watergate story Dick belongs to Michelle Williams, hilariously besotted with Richard M. Nixon, while Dunst’s character has a certain emotional distance by comparison. When Coppola catches Dunst in close-up (or even a well-framed medium shot), she’s pushing past a natural sense of remove.

      This tension between remove and intimacy exists in all of Dunst’s characters for Coppola. Lux laments her parents’ strictness but toys with the mysterious allure it gives her. Marie Antoinette is cut off from anything resembling an average life, but also sometimes cut off from life, period. Edwina tamps down her emotions but gives herself over to McBurney with heedless passion. In Coppola’s hands, this series of contradictions is a young woman’s dilemma: living in the world, but not always permitted to be a part of it.



    Not sure where her actor boyfriend was when this A- list mostly movie actress who we all know was in a superhero franchise and has a drinking problem when she was shoving her (tongue) down the throat of a guy at a street corner while out of the country. Kirsten Dunst (Jesse Plemons) (in Paris)


  6. Kirsten Dunst: I struggle to get roles in Hollywood

    Thirty-five-year-old Kirsten Dunst has spoken out about the difficulties women in Hollywood face when trying to get work throughout their thirties. The actress, who recently appeared in a supporting role in Hidden Figures, chatted with Nylon magazine about the lack of roles available for women in her age bracket (which is CRAZY) and the impact of that:

    “You’re almost better off being older,” she told the mag, explaining that “good” roles for women are few and far between and when they do appear, they are given out to the actress who are of the moment.

    Once you reach your thirties in Hollywood, you’re no longer able to play “the young girl who’s just, like, beautiful and things are happening to her” and so, opportunities dry up, Dunst explained.

    The actress, who has been working since age three, revealed that to add to the difficulties of finding roles as a woman, social media influence is now a factor in getting work in the biz:

    “You can get jobs based on your Instagram following these days. That’s insane. But that’s why I have it now,” she told Marie Claire in a recent interview.

    “As a man, you could get away with not having it. As a woman in this industry, I think you gotta do it now, she continued.


  7. Kirsten Dunst Accidentally Got Stoned Out of Her Mind on Some ‘Strong Sh*t’ While Filming Her New Movie

    Kirsten Dunst’s trippy stoner-chic movie Woodshock, made with the Rodarte sisters, is at least in part cinema verité. On Jimmy Kimmel Live, Dunst talked about how she accidentally smoked a joint that had been mixed in with the pot-free joints made for the movie, and got extremely high without realizing it. “We’re talking about Humboldt weed,” Dunst explained (the movie was shot in Northern California). “I don’t smoke full joints. This is, like, strong shit.” Hey, better to have that accident happen here than on the set of something like Requiem for a Dream.


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