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ARTICLE CHRISTOPHER BARTLEY

PHOTOGRAPHY MARIO TESTINO

STYLIST NICOLA FORMICHETTI

CREDITS ARTICLE CONTENTS

MIUCCIA AT THE MOVIES

THE VIDEO: DEVIL OR ANGEL BY LOU DOILLON

THE ART OF BEING KIRSTEN DUNST

EXTRA CREDITS

makeup linda cantello for giorgio armani cosmetics (joe management)  hair christiaan  manicure gina viviano  photo assistants alex franco, hans neuman, roman harper  stylist assistants emily eisen and rich aybar  tailor olga (lars nord)  makeup assistant william murphy (joe management)  hair assistant taku (artists by timothy priano)  lighting designer chris bisagni  videographer augusto araujo (higher+higer)  production Lucy lee (art partner)  catering ilili  location canoe studios, nyc  retouching R&D

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THE ART OF BEING KIRSTEN DUNST

PHOTOGRAPHY MARIO TESTINO
FASHION NICOLA FORMICHETTI
TEXT CHRISTOPHER BARTLEY

HOLLYWOOD'S BORED AND BEAUTIFUL BLONDE HAS BECOME AN ICON FOR A GENERATION, BUT IN THESE PAST COUPLE YEARS, IT'S BECOME ALL ABOUT REINVENTION. ART MUSE, RISING DIRECTOR, EVEN SERIOUS DRAMATIC ACTRESS—YOU CAN BE ANYTHING WHEN YOU'RE KIRSTEN DUNST


Kirsten Dunst is free. On a Monday afternoon in mid December, she’s packing for a flight back to L.A., where she’ll spend the holidays with her mother and her closest buddies, hanging out, doing girl things, making gingerbread houses, and hosting a Christmas formal in a Koreatown restaurant with her friends Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte. Dunst goes out, has fun, loves a late night, eats what she wants, maybe drinks what she wants too, and in general telegraphs a supernatural ease with the whole idea of Hollywood and the reality of being a young actress who’s already proved herself, but still wants to prove more. 

CHILDHOOD FAME COULDN'T DERAIL THE KIRSTEN DUNST TRAIN. IF ANYTHING, IT PREPARED HER FOR A LIFE IN FRONT OF THE CAMERA, ONE SHE'S FILLED WITH ROLES THAT HAVE, FOR A CERTAIN GENERATION, DEFINED MOVIEGOING AND LIFE EXPERIENCE.

For anyone who grew up in the 1980s, Kirsten Dunst’s filmography unfolds like the story of our lives: we were young and scared when she was young and scary in 1994’s cult classic Interview with the Vampire. We were coming of age and accepting sexuality when she emerged as the breathless ingenue in The Virgin Suicides. And when, in her 20s, that train ran off the tracks for a hot second—she fell in with reckless boyfriends like Johnny Borrell and earned the nickname “Kirsten Drunkst” on the Internet—we were similarly living life on the edge. She’s made mistakes, but she’s made them in tandem with career-defining roles. Her story is complicated, but her future is unfolding quite nicely.

Mistakes aside, Dunst is still one of the most intriguing women in Hollywood. Her fashion choices and the minute
details of her private life are voraciously consumed. And she induces hysteria with a certain sector of young girls—the Lula magazine demographic—while communicating a sense of
effortless cool in everything she does. Indeed, not trying has become the Dunst signature, sometimes to her detriment. But at the same time, it’s her glam insouciance that’s transported her to near-icon status.

Consciously or not, Dunst has aligned herself aesthetically with women like director Sofia Coppola, artist Karen Kilimnik, and the Mulleavy sisters, establishing a sort of creative female kinship. Dunst acts the way Coppola directs, Kilimnik paints, and the Mulleavys design clothes. It’s an interdisciplinary network of expression, and Dunst is at the center of it.

The actress sits front row at Rodarte each season, and the Mulleavys tend to be effusive with praise. “She inspires us to be more creative,” explains Kate. “She has a magical quality that all the greats, like Mia Farrow, have had before. You fall in love with her as a real person. She is both a character actor and a leading lady, which is a rare combination.”

It’s this real-girl quality that has led to Dunst being cast as precisely that, time and again. Throughout her career she has brought nuance and depth to otherwise one-dimensional young female characters—the cheerleader, the wild child, the
superhero’s girlfriend, Marie Antoinette. And she’s done so almost without saying a word—Dunst’s emotional intensity isn’t necessarily communicated in dialogue. It’s the stare, the hunger in the eyes, the slow-burning flame on display in many of her greatest screen moments. This has led to prominent roles in typically successful films, but also a reputation as something of a lightweight. “I feel like a lot of girls’ roles are just that,” she admits. She’s never been the Laura Dern of her generation, but maybe no one’s ever given her the chance.

This fall Dunst stars in director Andrew Jarecki’s long-awaited All Good Things, which is about as far as you could possibly get from the fashion fantasy of Marie Antoinette or the escapist
action of Spider-Man. Inspired by the true events surrounding the life of real-estate mogul Robert Durst (played by Ryan Gosling), the film casts Dunst in the role of beleaguered wife—abused and ultimately murdered. Its dates have been pushed for the past year, and on the Internet, fans have petitioned for its release, suggesting there’s an audience anxiously awaiting Dunst’s turn as a dramatic actress. She herself might be the most impatient of all. “I know I’ll be seen in a very different
light,” Dunst says. “This role is the most I can show of myself and I think it’s the best work I’ve ever done, for sure.”

Jarecki, the director who scored an Oscar nomination in 2003 for the documentary Capturing the Friedmans, imagined Dunst for the role long before the casting process began. “In Hollywood,” he explains, “the common wisdom is that you cast your male lead before your female because it is almost always the male who is the ‘bankable’ star and gets the movie financed. But I was so confident in Kirsten that we cast her first, and her performance speaks for itself,” which is to say that Dunst sunk her teeth into the film’s tortured flesh, playing something she’s never played before: a woman, and one on the verge at that. “She wasn’t afraid of the hard stuff, of the emotional breakdown,” Jarecki remembers. “People will see what Kirsten can do when she’s not held back, and it’s impressive. While I always thought she had it in her, nearly everyone who sees the film responds the same way: ‘Wow, I had no idea she could do that.’ She was fearless.”

The film also brought out Dunst’s competitive side. “I remember Ryan and I being very competitive with each other,” she says. “I don’t know if he felt it toward me, but I definitely felt it toward him. But it’s great, I think competition brings out the best in people.”

As one door opens, another slams shut. This January, pre-production on Spider-Man 4 ground to a halt with the news that Sony was severing ties with director Sam Raimi and his sensitive hero, Tobey Maguire, as well as Dunst. “We had a great run together,” she says. “It was bittersweet, but I think it was time.” What might sound like an unfortunate turn of events, however, could in fact be a boon for the maturing actress. While Spider-Man made Kirsten Dunst a household name, there were no more surprises. And she’s moving on to better, if not bigger, things.

Dunst has developed a curious relationship with Japanese pop artist Takashi Murakami, with whom she collaborated last August on a short art film. Directed by McG, it follows Dunst in a blue wig and full majokko costume, cavorting on the streets of Tokyo while screaming the lyrics to the 1980 Vapors hit “Turning Japanese.” For Dunst, it was a rare moment of wackiness. For the artist, it was his first collaboration with a Hollywood icon. “I thought to myself, So this is a real actress,” says Murakami. “The minute McG yelled ‘Action!’ her entire face would change. She would completely transform herself, from the actress Kirsten to the Akihabara Majokko Princess. I was truly astonished.” In turn, Dunst was shocked that a megastar of the art world could be quite so gracious. “I was just so surprised by how kind and humble he was,” she recalls. “I usually think artists are complicated by ego. But he giggles like a little kid and gets so excited.”

This winter, Dunst wrapped Bastard, a short film she produced, directed, and plans to submit to the Tribeca Film Festival. It stars her friends Lukas Haas, Juno Temple, and Joel David Moore, but Dunst remains tight-lipped about its subject matter, saying only that the film is “a two thousand-year-old religious tale told in a modern way.” It was filmed in the desert, and a baby was involved, but don’t expect The Passion of the Christ. Bastard is decidedly less literal. “I didn’t want to shoot the desert in a desert-y way, but more in a Woody Allen way,” the actress explains. “And we took a lot of inspiration from Paris, Texas.”

This decade, Dunst plans to spend more time with the
camera—behind it, in front of it, writing scenes for it. “I’m ambitious,” she says. “I want to do great work and work with great directors and do great movies and produce great films. I have criteria for myself that are probably too hard to ever meet, but I’m going to try. I think people who say they’re not ambitious and have gotten to a place of success are lying.” Kirsten Dunst, however, has never told a lie.   

EXTRA CREDITS

makeup linda cantello for giorgio armani cosmetics (joe management)  hair christiaan  manicure gina viviano  photo assistants alex franco, hans neuman, roman harper  stylist assistants emily eisen and rich aybar  tailor olga (lars nord)  makeup assistant william murphy (joe management)  hair assistant taku (artists by timothy priano)  lighting designer chris bisagni  videographer augusto araujo (higher+higer)  production Lucy lee (art partner)  catering ilili  location canoe studios, nyc  retouching R&D

MORE TO LOVE

FURVERTS THE HISTORY OF HYPE! THE INTROVERT INSTAGLAM
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