What You Don't Know About Kirsten Dunst

Kirsten Dunst evolved from a precocious child star into an actor with broad range who has earned critical acclaim for her work in film and television. Over the course of her successful career, "Kiki" has vividly captured the essence of a wide array of characters, from the resentment and frustration of an immortal soul imprisoned in the body of a child in "Interview with the Vampire" to the competitive spirit of a peppy cheerleader in "Bring It On."

Dunst gave a damsel in distress some strength of her own in the first "Spider-Man" trilogy, and in "The Virgin Suicides," she explored the lust for life and ruinous angst of a spirited teen girl rebelling against her sheltered upbringing in the suburbs. Dunst realized that she was mature beyond her years when she was a child transitioning from appearing in ads to working with the likes of Woody Allen. "I clearly had something old inside of me that was a little bit more than your average commercial kid," she told The Irish Times in 2021.

Dunst has an imaginative theory about where her drive comes from. "I am very determined. And, who knows, maybe it's because in my past lives I was a struggling performer, and I never got to where I wanted to be," she told Nylon in 2001. But she eventually got there, keeping her head even after playing Marie Antoinette. She's talented, astute, and popular to boot, but there's a lot you might not know about Kirsten Dunst.

For Kirsten Dunst, kissing Brad Pitt sucked

Kirsten Dunst's acting career began with a little body horror, but the bodies in question didn't bleed. While filming commercials, she was introduced to some dolls that made her cringe, including one that was pregnant. "This doll would shoot out a little baby with this nice little smile on its face," Dunst recalled to Rolling Stone. "Creepy." She was also disgusted by a doll of the diaper-filling variety, but the gross outs got worse when she began working with actual humans.

Dunst was 10 years old when she was cast alongside Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt in "Interview with the Vampire," and her role as the forever-young vampire Claudia called for her to share a chaste peck on the lips with Pitt. Dunst got asked about shooting this scene often. "It was horrible and I hated it. Brad and Tom were like my big brothers on the set, so it was like kissing your big brother," she said in a 1994 interview with the Los Angeles Times. A year later, she told SFGate, "It was gross because his lips were so ... dry."

But parched skin was definitely not the issue when it came to the most disgusting scene Dunst had to shoot. "I remember the worst thing I had to do on that film was suck this person's blood from their neck," she told The Cut. "They were just sweating so badly. And I put my mouth on their neck, and I was dying."

Inside Kirsten Dunst's close relationship with her mom

"My mother told me that when I was born a wave of feeling came over her," Kirsten Dunst recalled to The Telegraph. "She just knew that I was destined to be an actress." During her childhood in Point Pleasant, New Jersey, Dunst's star quality was so dazzling that strangers remarked on it to her mother. "Every time we'd go to the grocery store everyone would come up to her and say, 'Your daughter is so animated, she's such a happy child, she has such a light, you should put her in commercials,'" she recounted. 

Kirsten's dad, Klaus Dunst, worked for the German corporation Siemens, while her mother, Inez Rupprecht, helped run an art gallery, per "Awards Chatter." Rupprecht played a vital role in Kirsten's early career, accompanying her to New York for auditions and the gigs that she booked.

Sometimes, child stardom can make young entertainers grow resentful of their stage parents, but this wasn't the case for Kirsten and Rupprecht. "I'm lucky. We're more like friends than mother and daughter," the actor told Rolling Stone. As a token of this friendship, Kirsten purchased a house for her mom after Rupprecht and Klaus got divorced. So strong was their mother-daughter bond that Rupprecht joined Kirsten when the actor was reviewing footage of her first love scene in "Crazy/Beautiful." Director John Stockwell recalled to Rolling Stone, "Her mother turned to her and said, 'Kiki, where did you learn to make that face?'"

Sofia Coppola convinced her not to change her teeth

Kirsten Dunst has bitten into a few juicy roles with memorable teeth scenes. There was the moment her "Interview with a the Vampire" character grew deadly fangs, the Vaseline-greased grin she had to keep plastering on her face in "Drop Dead Gorgeous," and when she got flirty while practicing good oral hygiene in that beloved "Bring It On" tooth-brushing scene. However, producer Laura Ziskin didn't want Dunst's natural gnashers to appear in "Spider-Man." Dunst didn't realize why Ziskin had shared a dentist recommendation with her until her mouth was being examined. "They immediately just started to talk about my fangs and fixing them," she recounted to "Awards Chatter." 

Dunst refused to get her two askew incisors altered, telling InStyle that director Sofia Coppola convinced her that she didn't need a cookie-cutter smile to be a successful actor. "Sofia said to me when I was 16, 'Don't ever change your teeth,"' she recalled. At the time, Dunst and Coppola were working together on "The Virgin Suicides."

Coppola's advice had a profound effect on the young actor. "Sofia is the chicest, coolest girl, and she thinks my teeth are great ... She gave me confidence in little things that I wouldn't necessarily have had," Dunst told Variety. And so her denticles remained unchanged in "Spider-Man," although she revealed that they were digitally straightened for the film's poster. Her fierce fangs later made a small cameo when she starred alongside Jake Gyllenhaal in those unforgettable salad-eating snapshots.

Two of Kirsten Dunst's Spider-Man co-stars allegedly fell for her

Oh, what a tangled web some celebs weave when they hit the dating scene. Many actors don't have to look further than the faces in front of them when they're looking for love, and Kirsten Dunst allegedly fell for a co-star whose face actually got smooshed up against her own: "Spider-Man" actor Tobey Maguire. Director Sam Raimi spilled some tea on their rumored romance, telling The Sydney Morning Herald, "They apparently began dating with each other, I think, in the middle of the first movie ... although I didn't know it at the time ... but definitely they eventually broke up before the second movie."

Seeing Dunst and Maguire pair up off-screen was admittedly tough for their co-star James Franco, who was interviewed by Raimi for Playboy in 2013. "I had a crush on Kirsten ... Tobey was mad at me for a while. By the second film we were cool," Franco confessed. He didn't get much of a chance to make a move because Dunst started dating Jake Gyllenhaal before filming began on "Spider-Man 2." At the time, Maguire was recovering from an injury, and there was actually talk of Gyllenhaal replacing him. Dunst later expressed relief that this didn't happen. "It would have been weird," she told Black Film in 2004. "I mean I would like to work with [Gyllenhaal] and I would, I'm happy it wasn't this because I would rather do a more intimate movie with him."

The actor originally turned down Bring It On

It's hard to imagine the cheerocracy being led by anyone but Kirsten Dunst in "Bring It On." However, according to director Peyton Reed, Dunst actually passed on the role of Torrance Shipman in the 2000 film about a rah-rah rivalry. "She wasn't interested. She was booked for another movie," Reed recalled to Insider. The director's second choice was Marley Shelton — who turned the role down to play a cheerleader in a different movie, "Sugar & Spice."

Reed reached out to Dunst again, and after a discussion about alterations to the script, the actor agreed to play Torrance. Interestingly, her future "Spider-Man" co-star James Franco wanted to be the one brushing teeth beside her in the movie, but he lost the role of her love interest to Jesse Bradford.

Even though she was hesitant about the film at first, Dunst became one of its biggest cheerleaders. "You know what I like about this movie? It doesn't show cheerleaders in a bad light. It shows how hard they work," she told Interview. Still, she admitted that she was surprised by the movie's success when recounting an accurate prediction one of her family members made. "My brother was like, 'This is gonna be huge!'" she recalled on the "Awards Chatter" podcast. "And I was like, 'Really, Christian?' He was like, 'Yes!'" In a 2019 appearance on "The Kelly Clarkson Show," Dunst said that she would totally bring it in a sequel, so our spirit fingers are crossed.

Why she passed on a role in American Beauty

Kirsten Dunst had no regrets about her decision to turn down a role in the Oscar-winning 1999 drama "American Beauty." Instead, "American Pie" star Mena Suvari ended up playing the high school cheerleader who becomes an object of obsession for a middle-aged neighbor (Kevin Spacey). One of the film's most famous scenes is a fantasy sequence in which Suvari's character is naked. "When I read it, I was 15 and I don't think I was mature enough to understand the script's material," Dunst told TV Guide. "I didn't want to be kissing Kevin Spacey. Come on? 15? Lying there naked with rose petals?"

At the time of the TV Guide interview, Dunst was only 17, but she complained that she was already feeling a lot of pressure to film nude scenes. "There hasn't been a role where I've felt it's been necessary," she said. While speaking to Jamie Dornan for Variety's "Actors on Actors" series, Dunst revealed that the first time she filmed a topless scene was when she worked with him and director Sofia Coppola on the 2006 movie "Marie Antoinette." Dunst recalled, "[Coppola] never used the take, and I don't even think you were there. I felt overwhelmed too."

She was more comfortable stripping down by the time she filmed "Melancholia" in 2011. "What we made as a film means more to me than the fact that, you know, I'm on the Internet naked," Dunst told ABC News.

Kirsten Dunst has been open about her mental health struggles

Before Kirsten Dunst played a woman suffering from severe depression in "Melancholia," she faced her own mental health crisis. In 2008, she checked herself into a rehab facility in Utah. The treatment center, Cirque Lodge, offers programs for people struggling with substance use issues, but Dunst told E! News that she was undergoing treatment for depression. "It was a good six months before I decided to go away," she said. "But I didn't know where to go. My doctor recommended Cirque Lodge."

Dunst opened up to The Sunday Times about how grappling with negative emotions made her realize that she needed help. "You don't know that you are repressing all this anger, it wasn't a conscious thing," she said. She told Harper's Bazaar (via Express) that her stay at the treatment center was a fruitful experience and helped her come to the conclusion that she was trying to be too much of a people pleaser. "I wasn't expressing my anger. I was making nice all the time," she stated.

Speaking to Town & Country, Dunst elaborated on the impossible balancing act that she was trying to put on at the time, pointing out the dichotomy between the thick skin an actor must have to survive in the entertainment industry and the vulnerability they're expected to tap into for their roles. "Medication is a great thing and can really help you come out of something," she told The Sunday Times.

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

The beginning of her relationship with Garrett Hedlund was straight out of a romcom

"I think it's best to date someone who doesn't do what you do," Kirsten Dunst told The Telegraph in 2011. But she went against her own advice by dating a number of actors, and one of her longer relationships was with her "On the Road" co-star Garrett Hedlund. The actors first became acquainted after being cast in the 2011 film, but they weren't at work when their romantic relationship began. Instead, they were floating around in a canoe in the middle of the night — then the vessel capsized. "We fell out and had to swim back in mucky, s****y water, like golf-pond water," Hedlund recalled to Details. And all romcom fans know the end result of comedic disasters that involve two people getting soaking wet.

But alas, Dunst and Hedlund split in 2016. "They have very different personalities and weren't on the same page when it came to their future," an insider told People. Dunst's next serious relationship was with her "Fargo" co-star Jesse Plemons.

Dunst has had other movie-worthy relationship moments with her famous exes. Per the Independent, she allegedly dumped musician Johnny Borrell because he took his motorcycle for a drive inside her home, and we wish she and Jake Gyllenhaal had filmed their fun date activity. "We bought eggs and everybody at the dog park was throwing eggs at the paparazzi ... it was Easter so it was perfect," Dunst recalled to Black Film.

Despite her pay disparity with her male co-stars, Kirsten Dunst has a high net worth

Kirsten Dunst's career has earned her a tidy sum of around $25 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth. A big chunk of her wealth — $20 million — came from her work in the "Spider-Man" trilogy, but if she and her co-star Tobey Maguire had been paid the same amount for their roles in the web-slinging superhero flicks, she would have netted a lot more. "The pay disparity between me and 'Spider-Man' was very extreme," Dunst told the Independent in 2021. According to Variety, Maguire earned a $17 million paycheck for "Spider-Man 2," while Celebrity Net Worth lists Dunst's salary for the same movie as $7 million.

Dunst's earnings were still far more than those of your friendly neighborhood tradesman, but she had to take on additional jobs with the likes of L'Oréal and Bulgari to support her pursuit of lower-paying parts. "If it weren't for fashion and beauty campaigns, I wouldn't have the finances to pick and choose my projects," she told InStyle. Dunst hinted that a certain critically acclaimed movie was among these. "You don't want to know how much I got paid for Melancholia!" she said in an interview with Lucky.

The fight for equal pay in Hollywood might be far from over, but Dunst told The Telegraph, "You know I feel very lucky that I don't have to rely on a man to give me financial security. That's a big deal."

Inside Kirsten Dunst's experience with motherhood

"I've always wanted to get married and have kids," Kirsten Dunst told The Telegraph in 2011. The man who would help her make these dreams come true was her "Fargo" co-star, Jesse Plemons. "We had a creative connection that bonded us," Dunst gushed to IndieWire. They began dating in 2016, and by the time they played husband and wife for the second time in the 2021 movie "The Power of the Dog," they were parents to a son named Ennis. His younger sibling, James, arrived mere months before the film's Venice premiere. Per Page Six, Dunst and Plemons wed in Jamaica in July 2022.

Not long after Ennis' arrival, Dunst started filming the Showtime series "On Becoming a God in Central Florida." "I remember two weeks into [filming] crying to my mother-in-law saying, 'I don't think I can do this. It's just so much,'" Dunst told IndieWire. But she persevered and even remained mentally sharp enough to solve the mystery of why Ennis' hair was suddenly changing color. "Every time I get home from work, there's spray tan all over me. You can't really wash the stuff off completely, and it turned Ennis into sort of a redhead for a minute," she recalled to Watch.

Trying to balance motherhood and her career also meant that Dunst was forced to stop breastfeeding early. "I already have nice-size breasts, so can you imagine them filled with milk?" she told The Sunday Times. "I wouldn't be able to get dressed."

Her comedic Oscars bit with Amy Schumer took a dark turn

Speaking to SiriusXM host Larry Flick in 2019, Kirsten Dunst expressed some hurt over her treatment by her Hollywood peers. "I've never been recognized in my industry," she said. "I've never been nominated for anything." That changed in 2022 when Dunst finally got the recognition she deserved for her work in "The Power of the Dog." Her first Oscar nomination was made even sweeter when Jesse Plemons also received a nod for his role in the Jane Campion film. "I just can't believe that we both got nominated together for the same movie. It sounds like an old-fashioned thing that wouldn't happen now, you know what I mean?" Dunst said in an interview with USA Today.

Unfortunately, their achievement was somewhat overshadowed by a bit that they participated in at the Oscars. Host Amy Schumer pretended to mistake Dunst for a seat filler and asked the actor to vacate her chair. Schumer then filled the seat herself and began trying to chat to Plemons, who said, "Um, you know that that was my wife?" 

Apparently, Dunst and Plemons did such a good job acting perplexed and indignant that some viewers didn't realize the entire interaction was planned. On "The Howard Stern Show," Schumer described the sinister reactions of some enraged Dunst stans. "I got death threats," she said. "They were so bad that the Secret Service reached out. ... They were that serious and that many." 

Kiki kidnapped Ryan Gosling's dog

Ryan Gosling spent so much time with his late dog George that the lovable canine became a celebrity in his own right. Kirsten Dunst was lucky enough to meet the furry legend when she and Gosling starred together in the 2010 drama "All Good Things," and George unknowingly helped her pull a doggone delightful prank on his human.

"We abducted his dog one day," Dunst recalled to Vanity Fair. Thankfully, she made sure to send Gosling plenty of proof-of-life photos to keep him from getting too worried about his faithful friend's wellbeing. "We dressed him up in high heels and funny hats. And then we sent all these funny pictures to Ryan on his cell phone, with these weird messages from his dog," she revealed.

Like Gosling, Dunst has fallen prey to the power of the dog. In 2000, she told Interview, "I have four cats and a dog ... I always take Beauty — that's the dog — on location with me, so that's when she gets quality time." When Dunst dated Jake Gyllenhaal years later, the couple became the proud parents of a German Shepherd named Atticus. Per TMZ, the canine resided with the actors in their shared Hollywood home until they split in 2004. The Telegraph later reported that Gyllenhaal retained custody of Atticus, and at some point, Dunst filled the furry void in her life with a pair of beagles, per photos published by the Daily Mail.

She's a reality TV fan

Even an accomplished Hollywood icon like Kirsten Dunst can't escape the allure of reality TV. When she wants to unwind and free her mind, her guilty pleasure is watching singles look for love on dating shows. She's a proud citizen of Bachelor Nation, as she revealed when she chatted with Lucky about "The Bachelorette" in 2011. "I'm obsessed with that show!" she enthused. "The girls go so crazy. And the fact that everyone is freaking out about the roses! It's insane!"

Dunst is such a huge fan that she and her friends even invited Season 6's singing suitor, Kasey Kahl, to a Rodarte runway show. Some of the other reality shows she enjoys are "90 Day Fiancé" and "Love is Blind." "I like watching real people. It helps me find good character moments to incorporate," she told Watch. Her knowledge of TLC shows came in handy when she was prepping for her role as a sassy Florida mom in the scripted Showtime series "On Becoming a God in Central Florida." "I watched a lot of Honey Boo Boo," she told Fast Company. "It was the accent, the not-caring, the kind of, like, letting it all hang out there."

Perhaps Dunst's "Interview with the Vampire" co-star Brad Pitt is to blame for her reality TV obsession; he introduced her to the genre's granddaddy when she was 11. "I remember Brad would watch lots of 'Real World' episodes," she told Bullett.

Kirsten Dunst has refused to change her weight for roles

Since her child star days, Kirsten Dunst has held an uncompromising opposition to changing her appearance for roles. In 1995, she could have joined the star-studded cast of the coming-of-age classic "Now and Then" and worked with her contemporaries Thora Birch, Christina Ricci, Gaby Hoffman, and Devon Sawa, but the year the film was released, Dunst told SFGate, "I didn't take it, though, because they wanted me to gain weight and play the chubby girl, and I won't ruin my body for any role." According to Vogue, the character Chrissy (Ashleigh Aston Moore) is ridiculed over her weight, so this is likely the part that the unfiltered 13-year-old was talking about.

When Dunst was asked to slim down for a role two decades later, she didn't turn it down; she just explained to director Sofia Coppola why she would not be shedding any pounds. The movie, "Beguiled," was filmed in an area of Louisiana where much of the most convenient food was high in calories. "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,'" Dunst recalled to Variety. She also told Net-a-Porter that worrying about working out to achieve a certain look is not something that appeals to her. "I have a healthy amount of vanity that hasn't tipped into something really destructive," she said. "I want to find parts where I don't have to be that person."

The actor preps for roles in her dreams

In "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," Kirsten Dunst's character works for a company that erases memories, but in real life, Dunst has tapped into the power of the dreaming mind. In an interview for the Los Angeles Times' "The Envelope" podcast, she described how she uses her dreams to improve her acting. "It's just checking in with what your unconscious mind thinks about what you're doing or how to approach something," she explained.

According to Dunst, she asks her subconscious to help her prepare for a part before going to sleep. She and her acting coach, Greta Seacat, later analyze her dreams to see what the inner Kiki came up with. For example, after Dunst dreamed about the show "Scooby-Doo," she based her "Fargo" character's walk on the way the cartoon gang sneaks around when they're solving mysteries.

Dunst discovered another nifty trick that helped her nail her audition for "The Cat's Meow." "I was listening to Coldplay the whole way there, getting myself in a state of mind to be emotional," she told Rolling Stone. "I kicked a**!" But it was her "Drop Dead Gorgeous" co-star Allison Janney who taught her a simple but effective technique for pretending to be drunk: spinning until you get dizzy. "It also really works well for feeling like you're stumbling naturally," Dunst told AV Club. And thus ends your master class on how to bring it like Kiki — no stealing from Clovers required.