GAME, SET AND MATCH AS DUNST PLAYS BALL WITH PRYING MEDIA.
EXCLUSIVE Kirsten Dunst/Wimbledon Interview by Paul Fischer in Los Angeles.
Kirsten Dunst wearily admits to being a bit thorny. Her last interview ofthe day as she was dutifully bouncing around promoting her latest film, thetennis-themed romantic comedy Wimbledon, Dunst was clearly becoming a tadannoyed at the press's obsession with her private life. Recently split upwith boyfriend Jake Gyllenhaal and starring in a romantic comedy to boot,the questions have been bouncing at her all day. Forcing a half smile, thepretty Hollywood star conceded that "just lately with the press, it's beenoverwhelming lately for me." Dunst says that she is not quite sure why it isthat at this juncture in her career, is her personal life of such paramountimportance to the media. "I don't know, maybe because of Spiderman II andWimbledon, I guess I'm in the limelight more now I suppose. Also, I live inLos Angeles where everybody is, so I think it's hard to keep things private,but this is where I live." The actress says that she continues to deflectprying questions about her private life by being as politely responsive aspossible, by "just saying, 'I'm sorry but I'm not going to answer thatquestion.'"
Dunst says that she tends to read articles in magazines about her and can'tavoid coming into contact with the tabloids. Knowing how much is writtenbased on untruths, the actress says that "you can't let it bother you somuch. It's out for a week, but I just hate when lies are made up aboutrelationships and nobody really knows what goes on between two people sothat can be frustrating or they make a big deal out of something I've saidthat I didn't even mean was a big deal, and then people get hurt. So it,I've just got to be a little more careful."
So it is time to move on to her latest movie, Wimbledon, a charming romanticcomedy that casts the diverse Dunst as a tennis star on the rise who fallsfor a former champ [Paul Bettany] who discovers his game on the verge ofretirement. Dunst said during the Spider-Man 2 junket that shootingWimbledon was in some ways tougher than that action film, a fact shecontinues to concede. "Spiderman, first of all I love, is more juvenile thanthis one and it's hard to keep that, every time before takes. Paul and Iwould, go here we go again, and he'd be like fresh and sexy, because it'shard to keep that thing going when it's a different take on a differentangle, and it's such in the moment with the dialogue. Sometimes we have suchlittle quips, and the challenge is to make them seem natural sometimes. It'ssometimes difficult to get that balance."
On screen, here Dunst plays an overly confident and toughly aggressiveplayer, whose serve is as powerful as her verbal barbs. Dunst says that shedid have to search within herself to find that character. "I think I had theconfidence to be that way because I got really good at certain parts oftennis, so to have that base of course makes you feel more confident, so itwas exciting to be that kind of a player. For me it was fun for me to throwthose racquets on the court." As convincing a tennis player she is, Dunsthad never been especially interested in tennis before shooting this movie."I never really watched it or played it," she says. Laughing, she says thateven having trained with the legendary Pat Cash, she wouldn't have thecourage to challenge anyone of note to a tennis match. "I think they'd beatme pretty bad, so I think I'd stick to amateurs, such as my Dad."
Asked what makes a good romantic comedy, which is perhaps the toughest genreto pull off, Dunst says that "in the Working Title world, [the producers ofLove Actually, etc], they seem to find a good balance and I think thatEnglish humour really helps out making it not so cutesy and the fact thatI'm really the masculine energy in the film which is different from mostromantic comedies. In the case of ours, you have this tennis world whichreally sets up a lot of the comedy and I think it's just a good balance inthe movie, so it's hard to make it not too cutesy." As for working with PaulBettany, Dunst laughingly admits that he did her some of the finer points ofBritish profanity. "He uses the word 'c - nt' more than anybody I've evermet, mostly for guys, but he completely uses it like he's saying the word'water'. I mean, he has the worst mouth ever."
At a mere 22, Dunst has appeared in over forty films, and as successful andfamous as she has become, the actress says that she is not surprised, yetcircumspect, at the success that she has attained. "I work hard but I've hadplenty of failures too, so I feel like I've learned a lot. I don't know ifsurprised is the right word at my success, but I feel that if you makechoices that really mean something to you, it's hard not to feel successfulbecause even if they don't make money, or don't do this, you're still doingsomething for yourself, then it's easier to feel successful."
It was Spider-Man that ultimately cemented her huge success, and despite thatfranchise's whirlwind publicity juggernaut and an intrusive media, Dunstsays that knowing the effect of that film on her life, she would take it onif offered to her today. "It's given me the opportunity to have more choicesand more opportunities and people who will go and see Spiderman now, mightgo see another movie I'm in that they wouldn't go to see normally, likeEternal Sunshine or something like that. So the fact that I have that powernow is really great and that I can be the lead in a movie and that theywould finance it with me because I'm known in places that I've never beento, all helps." And Dunst remains passionately proud of the films,especially the second one. "I'm completely proud of that movie and I thinkthat we made a great blockbuster. But all of us really loved the story andare moved by it, so I think that's why audiences responded because I reallydo put myself in that." While Dunst is committed to Spider-Man 3, a fourthseems unlikely, though regrets her previous comments that she wants hercharacter to die. "I was totally joking when I said that," but wouldn't bedrawn as to whether she would be convinced to continue on.
But there is certainly more to Dunst's career than Spider-Man, as she takeson the daunting task of playing the tragic Marie Antoinette for directorSofia Coppola, which is to be shot on location in Paris and the Palace ofVersailles. Though a historical epic, Dunst says "it sounds like a big moviebut the script takes it in a very personal way." Her Louis will be played byJason Schwartzman, and Dunst jokingly says that she "will have no problemplaying an Austrian character because my Dad's German."
The perpetually busy actress is still in the middle of shooting CameronCrowe's Elizabethtown, a project shrouded in secrecy. "I think Sofia andCameron are two really amazing directors and respectfully they want to keepthings private because why give away the movie when you can see it in ayear. It's more exciting to wait and wonder what it's about, and we'll talkabout it plenty in a year or so."
After Marie-Antoinette it's back to the world of Spider-Man, and Dunst hopesto try and have a break somewhere during that hectic schedule. "I finishCameron's movie at the end of September, then I don't work again untilMarch, which is a big break and then after that, Spiderman will probablystart in the Fall." Dunst hopes that during her break "I'd love to learnFrench because I'm going to be spending a lot of time in Paris and I don'tknow what I'll do, but get into the zone of Maria Antoinette, read a lot andtake classes."
WIMBLEDON OPENS IN SEPTEMBER