Hubert Burda Media

Making Movies with Kirsten Dunst

Child star turned leading lady, Kirsten Dunst has proven her mettle in the notoriously fickle business of film and television.

We spoke to beautifully at-ease leading lady Kirsten Dunst on a recent visit to the Rosewood Hotel in Beijing, to discuss the art of film-making, why she made the move into TV and how she deals with negative press. With part one of our interview in print and out now, read on to discover more about the universally acclaimed actress, in her own words.

Unlike many child-star cautionary tales, you’ve got the best rep in the biz. How did you not lose it – unlike your predecessors and a few contemporaries?

I always went to a normal school. I’ve had the same best friend since sixth grade and I wasn’t really into the party scene. In fact, I was never in the scene… I was like in the valley of LA, which is much more, suburbia central. My mum made sure that I had normal friends.

Beguiled is yet another intriguing drama. Have you stayed away from comedy?

Fargo [The television series that’s an off-shoot from the Oscar-winning film] is comedy, Bring it On was comedy – I love doing comedies. I think I did more comedies when I was younger. I also think when you get older, I think people like to put people in boxes, so comedic actresses will always get the comedies and they have a harder time getting a drama. I’m fine doing drama but am having a harder time getting a comedic role. Fargo to me was a good balance of both.

Is working on a television show very different from film?

Yes, because in film, you have one script, you prepare it, you go shoot it. But in TV, you are always re-preparing for the new script. It’s actually much harder work on a TV show.

What was the impetus to do TV?

I felt like, when I first got the script, the few episodes that I got were so well-written, this character I knew was going to have a crazy trajectory over the season and also the first season was so well done. So I knew going in that I was going into a really high-brow environment; the writers, such a smart group of people behind the scenes, and its shot so well, I knew I was in good hands. The only thing I was worried about was, can we make it as good as the first season.

Calm amongst the madness

Does your mum love everything you do? Who is your best, unbiased critic?

No, my mum does not love everything I do! It's not that she doesn’t love it… but its too personal for her. She can’t disassociate between her daughter and the actress on screen. I have a few good critics. I never do a movie that everyone will like. My brother liked this one, my mum liked another. To me, I guess my fiancé is the most neutral, I’d trust his opinion the most!

Have you been to China before?

I’ve been to China two other times. Jumanji was one of the first Hollywood productions to be shot here – so I came here when I was 15. And then I went to Shanghai about five years ago. We’ve always done tours and gone to places. I’ve been to The Great Wall already, and I always make sure that we – whoever I’m traveling with - see the place instead of just being in a hotel.

How do fans react to you?

I think fans, anywhere in the world, it depends on their personality, They behave according to how they were raised. I’ve had people shove me a little bit versus some who just wanna shake my hand and say they just wanted to say hi. When I meet certain people, I turn really shy or feel overwhelmed – so I react differently to different people too.

How do you deal with the papz?

Where I live, its not so bad, but I have to say, no matter how much I’ve done or how often I’ve had my photo taken on the red carpet, when people are screaming at you – I’ve never felt comfortable. Ever. I back up a little bit. It's intense – it can be so intense. It is not something you’ll ever get used to.

Do long trips away from home make you nostalgic?

When I travel, I’m not gone for that long, it's only three or four days. When I’m shooting on location, it feels like I’m on vacation from my life. To be honest, we shot The Beguiled with Sofia in New Orleans and it's the best city. It’s so beautiful and so charming and great jazz and it’s so fun. So leaving LA and going to a new place, you rent a little house and you feel like you’re having a whole new way of life for a few months - which is really fun. And people don’t bother you on your cellphone cause they know you’re working, which is great.

What’s the worst part of being on location? The endless wait as lights are set up?!

I’m used to waiting around. So I read a book, talk to people on set, eat something. It's worse when you’re working on a big movie, that’s when you’re left waiting around. When you’re on a smaller budget film there’s no time wastage. I prefer working on a small film. Less people, less of a production, it's immediately getting down to work rather than so many people to harness together, so many crew members to sort through, it takes some of the spontaneity out of what you’re doing. And it’s more intimate to work on a small film. I think the worst part is… I’m drawing a blank. I’m very fortunate.

After working hard on a film, when a review is rough, does it sting?

In the past, the reviews were hard. When you work on something for long, when I was younger, I’d take criticism to heart. Now with experience and the maturity, I’m not letting that bother me.