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Interview: Kirsten Dunst for "Spider-Man 2"

By Paul Fischer Tuesday June 22nd 2004 11:37PM
Kirsten Dunst for "Spider-Man 2"

Kirsten Dunst looked delightful as she arrived to talk about Spider-Man 2, the sequel to the original box office hit. Arriving in a short, black, mini-skirt, the perpetually good-humoured actress, begins by emphasising that after she wraps Spider-Man 3 early next year, as far as she is concerned, it is Spidey no more.

"The next one will be it. I'm only contracted to 3 and don't see myself signing for a 4th or a 5th," says Dunst, emphatically. Asked if she would love to see her Mary Jane character killed off in Spider-Man 3, Dunst laughs. "It would actually be really interesting if SPIDER-MAN died. Why doesn't the superhero ever die? I think if Mary Jane was alone, pregnant and he died, she could give birth to a spider baby and carry on the series with another young boy or something like that. I doubt Tobey would come back for a 4th or a 5th either." She's only kidding, really! "I don't know what will happen in the third movie. I hope she doesn't die. I just think that's kind of an obvious way to go; we have to end it, so let's just kill her. I just think three's a good number. Mary Jane is a huge, important piece of this film as it's all about the love story. How many movies can you really make about it before you want to stop it while it's still great? You don't want to keep going."

Though Dunst was already an established star prior to Spider-Man's release two years ago, Dunst says that she has changed to some extent. "It's been two years since the last movie so of course, when anybody goes from 18 to 22, you change a lot." Dunst says that the huge success of first movie did not impact on her personally. "Now, I'm known worldwide, I guess. I can finance movies - money, and production when you think of it that way, so that's changed a lot for me. Now, it's not a question whether I can get whatever people to come and see a movie that I'm in, so that all helped me and I get paid more now too," she adds laughingly. There is also the recognition factor that Dunst has had to contend with. "More people recognize me and I live in LA where everybody's too cool to come up to you anyway, but talk about you behind your back and gossip about you in Los Angeles." Dunst says that she deals with her post-Spider-Man celebrity a bit differently than before that movie came out. "I just have to be more conscious about security. I have all fencing up and everything, but it's something that isn't engrained in my head." These days, the public's insatiable fascination with celebrity has certainly impacted on her private life and her relationship with actor Jake Gyllenhaal. "The paparazzi follows us everywhere in L.A. It's really sickening actually, such as in the grocery store. And we don't do anything interesting either, so it's really obnoxious." She says that she deals with it by refusing to get angry and choosing to ignore it, "but we were at the dog park one day, we bought eggs and everybody at the dog park was throwing eggs at the paparazzi so that was perfect."

What was not perfect was that at one stage, Spider-Man star Tobey Maguire had to pull out of the franchise due to much-publicised back problems, and his replacement may well have been Gyllenhaal. "That was really a complicated time of course. I'm just so thankful that Tobey ended up doing the movie because he is Spider-Man and it wouldn't have been good. I think Jake can do any movie because I think he's one of the best young actors and he probably would've done an amazing job." Dunst admits, however, that working with her boyfriend under those circumstances "would have been weird. I mean, I would like to work with him but I'm happy it wasn't this, because I would rather do a more intimate movie with him where I could actually have many scenes with him. If we had done this, we could probably have never done another movie together."

Spider-Man 2 further explores the complex relationship between Peter parker and Mary Jane, while the former continues to find a balance between normalcy, responsibility and heroism, leading to some major plot surprises. Without giving too much away, Dunst predicts more surprises regarding their relationship, in the third instalment. "It will be complicated because if they do get together, he would be basically risking his life everyday and she's probably worried about him risking his life while in danger, so it adds all kinds of other layers of complication." On Spider-Man 2, Dunst says there are definite advantages of reprising a character the second time around. "I feel like all my relationships develop so much more on this one and just felt more comfortable. Sam and I got to know each other better, I change a lot from how I was in the first movie, how I approached my work and my relationships with them. I also felt that I could be more creative and open." Asked why these particular comic book films have succeeded where so many have failed, Dunst says "I think it's what the film is. It's this guy, who every man and every person can relate to, because he hasn't gotten it all figured out, he has this huge burden and he's kind of a darker, more complicated mystery with him. It's really sad and complicated and I think that's why people respond to him so well because he is the most human out of any superhero character." Also admitting that the movie is also very empowering for women because her character gets to make a choice, Dunst says that it important in relationships to stand up in that way, as she does in her own life. "Of course I think it's something you have to learn. With any woman, or man, you always want something that's not good for you and everybody does it. It's something that I've learned and of course I'd stand up for myself." As physically daunting it was to shoot Spider-Man with wires and harnesses, she says that her next film, the romantic comedy Wimbledon, was tougher. "That was more physical than Spider-Man 2 and actually, romantic comedies are the hardest to do. It's just hard to not dig into it too much. I mean, it's so much easier to make a dramatic scene I work and just hard to be in that momentum of love everyday when sometimes, you're in a horrible mood. Some of the words are sometimes hard to say. But it's an adorable movie, just hard to keep those romantic scenes fresh and feeling great and fun on take 40. It's hard to keep that freshness of flirting when you're on take 20 with a different person's close-up, yet you're still delivering these lines that are cute and you have to be sexy." Before Dunst starts work on herb final Spider-Man adventure, she will shoot Cameron Crowe's Elizabethtown. "That's a hard movie to talk about, because we just started and Cameron's very private and I know to respect him that I'm not really going to talk about it yet." Dunst refuses to even delve into the kind of character she is to play in that top-secret film. "It's so early for me. I'm just rehearsing and am still figuring her out for myself so it's not something that I even feel comfortable talking about." Dunst says that she yearns to work with Pedro Almodovar, and would even do a nude scene for him, "because he would be so tasteful. I just love Talk to Her and thought it was beautiful." At a mere 22, Dunst is a true Hollywood veteran, who has appeared in close to 40 films. A far cry from the cute kid and teenager we remember, Dunst is focussed on her work and her life. After Spider-Man 2, Dunst says that she continues to learn something new from every film experience. "You know what's funny? Sometimes, three years from now, I realize why I did the movie and why this and this. When I read a script, I don't even realize why I sometimes feel connected to this role or why I should play it until later on when I've discovered something else about my life or my relationship with someone. Sometimes, it happens later why I did that particular movie."

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