Kirsten Dunst has had a long and prolific career. If you’re old enough, you probably remember her from “Jumanji.” Dunst appeared in the film with the late great Robin Williams at the age of 12. From there, her star power only continued to grow. She became a Hollywood “it girl” just a few years later.
Dunst went on to star in classics like “Bring it On” and “Drop Dead Gorgeous.” She also dated a slew of high-profile actors and celebrities, constantly finding herself in and out of the headlines. These days, she’s calmed down quite a bit.
As of 2021, Dunst is happily married to her “Fargo” co-star, Jesse Plemons, and expecting her second child. The type of films and television programs she does also matured with her. Dunst seamlessly transitioned from teen flicks like “Bring it On” to serious, more artistic roles, like “The Virgin Suicides,” finally taking more creative control in her 30s with her critically acclaimed show “On Becoming a God in Central Florida.”
As you can see, Dunst has grown a lot over the past 30 odd years. Below we’ve broken down her most iconic roles and her ever-changing persona. Check it out.
Kirsten Dunst had to balance stardom and childhood
Here we see Kirsten Dunst in 1995 in her breakout role as Judy Shepherd, the little girl in “Jumanji.” Dunst was just twelve at the time of the film’s release making her the same age or a bit younger in the photo above.
“Jumanji” wasn’t Dunst’s first foray into film (she also appeared in “Interview with a Vampire” and “Little Women”), but it was the role that cemented her place in Hollywood. Yet, being in the public eye at such a young age has its challenges. “It’s hard to be a child actress and make sure it’s balanced with school and friends and all that stuff,” Dunst reflected during a Q&A at the 2016 Berlin Film Festival (via Just Jared). Lucky for Dunst, she had parents and a slew of supportive adults that did their best to make sure the young star got the best of both worlds.
“I always had that, so I got lucky with growing up in that way,” Dunst added. According to a 2015 interview with Marie Claire, Dunst had a remarkably normal upbringing despite her rising star power. Her mother allowed her to continue acting but insisted she never miss school for a role. “Being a child actress can really be unhealthy for your psyche,” she told the outlet. “But my mom always sent me to normal school, so I never missed out on the prom or field trips or any of that stuff.”
Being a teen queen was a mixed bag for Dunst's career
Fast forward a few years to 2000, when a 17-year-old Kirsten Dunst burst back onto the scene with the cult classic “Bring it On.” In the campy, very early aughts vibe-y, film Dunst plays an overstressed Southern California cheer captain, trying to get her failing squad back on top. The film is definitely worth checking out if you love 90s style, humor that would no longer be considered politically correct, and living in a world where cheerleading is life.
While the film has earned an army of devoted fans, Dunst has mixed feelings about the film. For much of her career, Dunst has felt overlooked by her colleagues, even if audiences love her work. “I always feel like nobody, I don’t know, maybe they just think I’m the girl from ‘Bring It On,'” she said in a 2019 Sirius XM interview. “I just feel like, what did I do? I’m so chill, maybe I don’t play the game enough, I don’t know.”
It seems like Dunst wishes she was applauded and remembered for her more serious roles, not just her role as an uptight cheerleader — even if it is a teen classic today.
The Spiderman set turned romantic
Above we see a 19-year-old Kirsten Dunst transformed into a full-fledged adult celebrating her role in the 2002 blockbuster, “Spiderman,” in which she played Mary Jane. Her on-screen love interest, Spiderman, AKA Tobey Maguire, became her real-life boyfriend after meeting on set. The chemistry was genuine for Maguire and Dunst — Anyone who has seen the scene where the pair share a steamy upside-down kiss could tell you that much.
It might have been hot and heavy, but the relationship was short-lived. They broke up within a year, per Popsugar. That made movie producers worried for the future of the franchise. After all, what is Spiderman without his Mary Jane? “I actually had some worries about [their breakup],” director Sam Raimi told The Sydney Morning-Herald in 2007. “They apparently began dating 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. I was concerned they wouldn’t get the same chemistry back, but it was just me worrying.”
Raimi had no reason to worry, though, as Dunst and Maguire remained close friends after the split. “They really like each other,” Raimi explained. “And that relationship probably just added to their ability to trust each other.”
Kirsten Dunst has a creative collaborator
Next, we’re going to jump forward to a 24-year-old Kirsten Dunst (circa 2006), when she starred in Sofia Coppola’s “Marie Antoinette.” Critics at the time panned the biopic of France’s infamous child bride, but it represents an essential stage in Dunst’s career as it cemented her unofficial creative partnership with Sofia Coppola.
Dunst first worked with Coppola in 2000 when she landed the leading role of Lisbon in Coppola’s version of Jeffery Eugineds “The Virgin Suicides.” When the “Virgin Suicides” was in early production, Dunst was so intimidated by Coppola that she brought her mother to their meetings as a chaperone/comfort blanket, per Variety.
The pair got over their initial shyness, and have gone on to work with each other several times, again in “The Bling Ring,” and, most recently, Dunst appeared in 2017’s “The Beguiled,” in which she played a troubled teacher at a southern civil war era boarding school.
Aside from the career opportunities that the relationship has afforded Dunst, it has also been special to her on a more personal level. “She was always a good influence on me as a young woman,” Dunst told Variety when speaking about her early years working with Coppola. “She gave me confidence in little things that I wouldn’t necessarily have had.”
Kirsten Dunst found love on set… again
After a series of splashy tabloid-friendly relationships that didn’t go anywhere (*cough* Jake Gyllenhaal *cough*), Kirsten Dunst found her one and only on the set of “Fargo” in 2014. Of course, we’re talking about Jesse Plemons. Plemons and Dunst played a married couple in the second season of the show, per Us Weekly.
It would be an understatement to say that Dunst was smitten with Plemons. “I never thought I would be that person who had a [wedding] Pinterest board,” she said on “Live With Kelly and Ryan” in 2017 (via Us Weekly). “And because we created it together from the beginning, it’s a really nice thing to do together. It’s going to be so personal and fun. We are having a good time.”
For whatever reason, Dunst and Plemons (pictured here in 2015) aren’t married yet (as far as anyone knows), but that hasn’t slowed the love birds down. They welcomed their first child in 2018 and, as of this writing, are eagerly awaiting the arrival of their second.
Kirsten Dunst started taking control of her career
Finally, we’re jumping forward to 2019 when Kirsten Dunst (36 at the time) took complete creative control of her career by both starring in and executive producing the critically acclaimed — albeit short-lived — comedy-drama “On Becoming a God in Central Florida.”
Despite her pride in and belief in the project, it was still a grueling process for Dunst, who plays the lead character (pictured left), a scheming woman determined to climb the corporate ladder to the top of a pyramid scheme that cost her her life savings. “There were times when I wanted to drop out,” Dunst told Vanity Fair in 2019. According to Dunst, it took almost three years to conceptualize and produce the project. “I didn’t know that I wanted to do television again, but this came along — and I was blown away by the material.”
However, the project was plagued with issues. Even though Dunst was passionate about the material, she gave birth to her first child around the time she received the script and couldn’t see any way to juggle early motherhood and the demands of the highly stylized production. But when there’s a will, there’s away. “I just couldn’t let it go either,” Dunst told the outlet. “It was great material, and I wanted to work on something great.”
Sadly, even though the show received positive reactions from fans and critics, it was canceled after just one season. Even so, we’re sure Dunst has plenty of great material still to come.
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