(Click here for previous installments of the Career Prospectus series.)
Could you please do a Career Prospectus on Kirsten Dunst?
I loved her as an actress with Drop Dead Gorgeous, Bring It On and Dick being the best! She blossomed with Sofia Coppola and got millions for Spiderman. Things were looking good. Then came a break-up with Jakey, public outcry over her teeth (WTF!), drunkenness followed by rehab and, as we've read on your blog, bitchiness.
So in recent history she had Bachelorette, and now she has coming up Two Faces of January with Viggo Mortensen and Oscar Isaac. She has nothing else booked, except a project that looks doomed, and she lost a role in the next Paul Thomas Anderson movie to Reese Witherspoon. This is unconfirmed but rumors were strong that she had read for the part and many wanted her to get it.
My question is, where is she going? Is she lost among the Natalie Portmans and Michelle Williamses, her career companions for some time? Have the Emma Stones and Jennifer Lawrences taken over? Will she never mature to a Charlize Theron level?
We’ve actually gotten several requests for Kirsten Dunst, so let’s get into it. First, Drop Dead Gorgeous is one of my favorite movies of all time. There’s nothing else to that, it’s just a great f*cking movie. (“The swan ate my baby!”) Whatever happens to Kirsten Dunst, she’ll always have Mount Rose.
Dunst took a break in 2008, and everyone knows she went to rehab. Why she went is irrelevant; she did what she thought was necessary to take care of herself and be well, and beyond any other consideration, that is the most important thing. But there’s no denying there has been a loss of momentum ever since. It’s why so many of them are terrified to take a break for any reason—they’re told if they go away for even the shortest time that they will be replaced. And it’s not necessarily untrue. Dunst has been in the business her whole life. She’s connected, she has a legion of fans, and she is very talented, but by the time she came back in 2010, the landscape of young actresses had shifted. So there is pressure to make up for lost time.
The question is whether or not Dunst wants to make up for that lost time. I always think of her in relation to James McAvoy, who went through a slowdown himself about a year after Dunst withdrew. When he came back in 2011, though, he displayed a clear plan of attack for regaining his footing: major mainstream release to reestablish his foothold with the public, followed by a stage role to increase the acting cred, and then mixing smaller films with his comic book franchise. And before you say, “It’s easier for McAvoy, he’s a dude,” keep in mind that when he stepped back, he opened the door to Michael Fassbender and Benedict Cumberbatch, two of the most impressive talents in his generation. His competition is crazy.
Dunst hasn’t evinced a similar knack for planning. She’s definitely been avoiding major mainstream work, which is fine. She’s already been there and done that with Sam Raimi’s Spiderman, so there’s no urgency to go back there, though she does have a comedy with Jason Sudeikis penciled in for 2014, and a cameo in Anchorman 2 (although really, who doesn’t have a cameo in Anchorman 2?). And she’s scheduled to be in Jeff Nichols’ next project, which is backed by Warner Brothers, so there’s a slow creep back toward the mainstream after sticking to indies for the last three years.
But there doesn’t seem to be any motivation to it. Dunst works with top-tier people and she’s done good work in an array of interesting films—she won the Best Actress prize at Cannes for Melancholia—but there’s an ennui, not only on her resume but even kind of tangible in her performances (Melancholia, especially, was incredibly mannered). It looks a little like going through the motions. Like, “I’m an actress, so I act,” without any real regard to building a meaningful career. It’s not about becoming the most famous actress in the world, or being in some big studio project, it’s just about having a direction and carving out a niche. After Lord of the Rings, Elijah Wood dialed it back and has pretty well stuck to cerebral horror movies and black comedies like Wilfred. He’s indulging himself, plain and simple, but he’s also cornered a piece of the genre market and is very happy in his little cubby hole (hobbit hole?).
And that’s what is missing with Kirsten Dunst. She’s only 31 but she’s accomplished so much; she can work to please herself but it feels like she’s half-heartedly chasing someone else’s definition of success. She’s already conquered the cycle Emma Stone and Jennifer Lawrence are going through now, but she has yet to define what her second act will be.
Attached- Kirsten with Garrett Hedlund at LAX yesterday.