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Kirsten Dunst, though still only 29, has been around for quite some time. Put it this way: remember 'Bonfire of the Vanities,' the critical and box-office train wreck from 1990 with Tom Hanks and Bruce Willis? Kirsten Dunst is in that movie. Since 1989, Kirsten Dunst has been in a lot of movies, but 'Melancholia' may be her best performance yet.
In Lars von Trier's new film, Dunst plays Justine, a newlywed whose wedding could not have gone more wrong and whose planet, Earth, will soon be destroyed by a collision with a rogue planet called Melancholia. (Yeah, this is not a feel good movie.) Moviefone sat down for a long chat with Dunst, discussing her feelings toward director Lars von Trier after his ill-fated "Hitler" remarks at Cannes, her thoughts about a new Spider-Man franchise being launched so soon (and don't you dare get confused and call it 'Superman' by mistake, which happens to Dunst regularly), and her memories of being a child actor on the sets of 'Bonfire of the Vanities,' 'Star Trek: The Next Generation,' and, of course, 'Interview with the Vampire.'
I find this movie hard to talk about.
Well, it's hard to explain to people. Especially when you're doing the quick kind of questions. Like, "So, what's this movie about?" It's not really a movie that you can sum up. And everyone has such a different experience watching this film -- which is pretty incredible. It's not manipulative in any way; that it tells you how to feel afterwards. Some of my friends were smiling afterwards. Some were shaken to the core.
My one friend is like beaming afterwards!
Maybe she was just happy for you? With your performance.
No, no ... she found a lot of hope in the film.
Here's what scared me when I was doing research for this: There are twice as many rogue planets in our galaxy then there are stars.
This could actually happen.
Really? I didn't know that. But they're staying in their zone? But, then again, they are rogue, so... Well, I don't know, if it happens, at least we're all here for it. That's pretty crazy.
Is this your best role? What you're most proud of?
I'm proud of so many movies. I've always done things that ... I was proud of 'Virgin Suicides.' I'm proud of a lot of things in my career. 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,' I was very proud to be in that movie.
I am very fond of that movie.
It's beautiful. When you reach an audience of people enjoying films that you do, it's so satisfying as an actor. Because you want to be part of storytelling -- and to affect people is what your job is. And that is the best when it works and people really celebrate the movie and they come up to you and are emotionally moved by it. I mean, that's your job. So, when that happens, and all of it falls into place, and it's a good film, it's great to be a part of that.
But with 'Melancholia,' you have to know that a good many people aren't going to get it.
Yeah, it's a Lars von Trier movie. You know, it's not for everybody. I think of all his films, this is probably the most accessible one -- in a way, I think.
I don't disagree with that.
And there are a lot of cast members in the beginning. It's kind of funny in the beginning. And the idea of a planet hitting you, just brings up all your feelings of death and being human and what that means. Like, we have one life to live and all of those things. Our mortality, all of it. So I think that all of the themes are very relatable -- that's what I mean as accessible.
I'm under the assumption that this isn't supposed to matter, so this may be a stupid question, but your character doesn't have a British accent, but the rest of your character's family does...
I know, I asked Lars that, too. It doesn't matter. I was like, "OK, maybe I went to boarding school somewhere?" I'm supposed to have a different dad. That's not supposed to be Charlotte's dad, that's my father. But I asked Lars about that, too, because I started watching interviews with Charlotte -- both Charlottes [Gainsbourg and Rampling] -- and Charlotte Gainsbourg doesn't really have a British accent, it just sounds very proper to me... But, yeah, Lars couldn't care less.
Your character almost becomes supernatural. How do you interpret that?
For me, I thought, well, maybe I'm from this planet? It's like my mother Earth coming. So that was one of the things I used as what that planet meant to me. The familiarity, of some sorts.
I have a stupid question.
[Laughs] You've said that before, they're not stupid. What is it?
I know this isn't the point of the movie...
See, ask fun ones...
While we watch what's going on in front of us on-screen, do you think there's a mission of some sorts to stop the planet from hitting Earth?
I never thought about that. I know exactly what you mean. I never thought about that once...
No! If I had seen the movie, I'd maybe think about that, too – because I experienced it and I can't watch it with fresh eyes. I don't have those kind of things floating around in my head. But I did always think that Charlotte's line, "I'm going to the village"... The village? You know [laughs], what? It's like old-timey talk there. But I think it's cool that it's periodless-ish.
There is an Internet.
Yeah, there is an Internet. And there are cars. But even the Internet, the images kind of feel not so modern.
And once the Internet goes out, maybe there is a rescue mission. You wouldn't know.
I like the way your mind goes. You're really seeing the big picture [laughs].
Does it make you angry that you have to answer question after question about Lars' Hitler comments at Cannes, as opposed to a role that you put a lot of effort into?
I didn't think that way while that was happening. I was like, "Oh my God, my friend is spiraling out of control with this. This isn't going to go over well." I was shocked that he kept going. And I was so embarrassed, too, for him. I thought about him first and what was happening in the moment. And I didn't know the repercussions, but I also knew that the film stood on its own and it wasn't going to affect the film.
So you weren't angry?
I wasn't angry with him. I was angry with what he was saying, while he was saying it. I know Lars, too. I was angry that I kept having to talk about it, but I wasn't ever feeling like, "Oh, this is going to overshadow what I did in the film." I never thought that.
What are your feelings about the Spider-Man movies being rebooted so soon? Does it feel at all like what you guys did is being erased in the sense of almost, "Look at the chemistry between Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone now, forget about what Tobey and Kirsten had."
Right. I don't feel that way. I feel what we did was special and I don't think that goes away. I don't think so.
Do you think there's a push to forget your movies and just pay attention to the new series?
I don't think they will. I don't feel that way. Also there's a new generation of kids that will watch these and this will be theirs. These are the people they'll identify with as Spider-Man. But I think what we did was special enough that it won't... I don't feel that way. And I do like those two, I do think they're going to be good together.
When looking at your filmography, there's a lot of stuff that I completely forgot that you're in. Like 'Bonfire of the Vanities.'
Oh, yeah! When I was really little.
What were your memories of 'Bonfire of the Vanities'?
I remember sitting in the backseat of a car and there was a dachshund sitting in the car with me. And I remember feeling so nauseous because we were driving. And in the scene, we just kept having to turn around and do it again. The dachshund threw up on me, or something. I remember that. And they dyed my hair brown for that. I remember that was vegetable dye – I thought that was weird. But Tom Hanks was so nice to me. And so was Kim Cattrall. Tom, he's like a dad to me; he's just the kindest dude.
Then, long before you hosted, you were on 'Saturday Night Live' as a child.
That's fun, because the one time I hosted, they put on the clips of the things that I had done. I was a child actress then, I did commercials and modeling and, like, it was the same thing. I auditioned for a Victoria Jackson [parody] commercial and they picked some cute kids and I was one of them. It's awesome. In the hallway when you first walk into 'SNL,' I'm sitting there as a young child with curly blond hair sitting next to Dana Carvey. Awesome.
That's an intimidating place.
I was so little. When you're little, you're not intimidated. You're just a kid having fun. Now, though, when I go back, it's so impressive what they do every week in that space.
And then you did 'Star Trek: The Next Generation.'
Oh, yeah. That's funny, because I went to audition for that the day that I got 'Interview with the Vampire.' And it was like a buzz of, whatever. It's like, "Oh, they cast the girl." I went to audition for 'Star Wars' and I got it and they were all so nice to me. They were like, "Oh, congratulations, we heard you got this role." So I'm sure I got the role just because I landed that part.
To save you from rabid fans, I must point out you said 'Star Wars' instead of 'Star Trek'.
Oh! 'Star Trek'! Sorry. I'm tired. I mean, people call 'Spider-Man,' to me, 'Superman.'
Yes! So they can't do that to me.
Who gets those two confused? They seem very different.
All the time! People will ask me a question and I have to say, "No, it's 'Spider-Man.'"
So you don't let that go.
Well, if we were talking, I'd be like, "'Spider-Man'!" But a person on the street, I'm like, "Whatever. They thought they said 'Spider-Man.' It's fine."
You mentioned 'Interview with the Vampire." It's been 17 years since that came out. How do you look back on that now?
I mean... really fond memories. I was treated so lovely on that set. And, still to this day, in terms of where we shot and costumes and sets and everything – I mean, they burned down an entire fake village. Things that I still haven't seen to this day, done on that film – in terms of the money spent and the quality of what was there. It was really unbelievable.
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