Kirsten Dunst, actress

ShoWest 2007 female star of the year

With a career that began in commercials at the age of 3, Kirsten Dunst, now 24, has a resume that says "veteran" more than "ingenue." After making her silver-screen debut at age 7 in Woody Allen's segment of 1989's "New York Stories," she earned national attention at the tender age of 12 with her role as a ruined-girl-turned-vampire in 1994's "Interview With the Vampire," starring Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt. Since then, she's demonstrated her range by playing a girly girl in 2000's "The Virgin Suicides," going tomboy in 2004's "Wimbledon," philosophical in 2005's "Elizabethtown" (for which she pocketed a reported $8 million) and impetuous in 2006's "Marie Antoinette." She's just as comfortable in ensemble dramas featuring classy female casts such as 1994's "Little Women" and 2003's "Mona Lisa Smile" as she is playing the romantic lead, as in Sony's "Spider-Man" franchise. On the eve of reprising her role as Mary Jane Watson in this summer's "Spider-Man 3" and being named ShoWest's Female Star of the Year, Dunst took a moment to discuss working hard with Wolf Schneider for The Hollywood Reporter.

The Hollywood Reporter: What did the $300 million budget for "Spider-Man 3" buy that $200 million couldn't for "Spider-Man 2"?
Kirsten Dunst: More famous people and better special effects. Now, we have two villains and Bryce Dallas Howard.

THR: For a special-effects action franchise, "Spider-Man" has a philosophical angle about how the privileged should help others. Was that something that made it appealing to you -- along with, of course, the paycheck?
Dunst: Honestly, from the first moment I read it, I thought it was so moving and so emotional. The fact that Sam Raimi was directing and had chosen Tobey Maguire, who had done 2000's "Wonder Boys" and 1999's "The Cider House Rules," made it, to me, like an independent film. I auditioned and was so happy I got it.

THR: Tobey has said this third movie is his last, but Sam Raimi has said he's seriously considering four. Where do you weigh in?
Dunst: I weigh in with Sam. And Tobey would do it as well. If Sam and I were doing it? Yeah, of course. We're definitely a team at this point.

THR: It looks like you're moving into producing with "A Jealous Ghost," in which you plan to star as a young American woman haunted by disturbing spirits while studying in London.
Dunst: That's being written right now. We hired a writer (Megan Holley).

THR: What are you doing as producer?
Dunst: Right now, it's just about getting the script.

THR: So, it would be a dark psychological thriller in the vein of ...?
Dunst: I've always been a fan of Roman Polanski's horror films. And I love (1968's) "Rosemary's Baby" and (director Nicolas Roeg's 1973 film) "Don't Look Now." The only film I can compare to those two recently is (2001's) "The Others." So, I really would like to do a supernatural sort of film -- but not slasher or gore.

THR: What's happening with your upcoming Paramount film about relief worker Marla Ruzicka, who advocated for Iraqi and Afghani victims?
Dunst: (Marc E. Platt) is producing that, and I went in to talk with him about it. I just fell in love with her as a woman. To want to volunteer at 24 of your own accord? I don't know anybody who would volunteer like that.

THR: I hear you want to play Deborah Harry in a biopic of her band, Blondie.
Dunst: Yeah, I met with Debbie in Miami, and we both hit it off. We're both Jersey girls, and she wants me to play her. It's like the most amazing thing! I will work so hard, because she is the coolest woman of all time!

THR: By age 19, you were in 20 films and doing your first sex scene as a high school temptress in 2001's "Crazy/Beautiful." What's the most challenging sex scene you've ever done?
Dunst: Sex scenes don't affect me in the way probably most Americans are affected by them. I grew up with a German father, and we were pretty free growing up as kids. So, sex in films and women's breasts and things were never an issue for me.

THR: You're 24 now, and you've been in roughly three dozen movies. What makes you work so hard?
Dunst: I worked a lot when I was younger. Right now, I'm coming home from a trip to Maui, so I'm OK.

THR: You've worked with Sofia Coppola twice. What does she do as a director better than anyone else?
Dunst: She has a female perspective, and we don't have enough female directors.

THR: Do you feel like a more contemporary pop-influenced director such as Coppola or Cameron Crowe, for whom you did "Elizabethtown," is able to bring out a side of you that somebody like Sam Raimi just couldn't?
Dunst: Honestly, Sam is my favorite director I've ever worked with! He's the most collaborative. He's allowed me into the editing room. I can tell him what I think about the direction of a scene. And I adore Sofia -- she's my other favorite.