About Kirsten Dunst
One of the leading actors of her generation, Kirsten Dunst had over 50 television and film appearances under her belt by the time she was 25 years old. Best known to mainstream movie audiences as Mary Jane in the Spider-Man franchise, Dunst made her mark as a young up-and-comer by playing the creepy tot Claudia in Interview With the Vampire (1992, with Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt, a performance for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress.
She was born Kirsten Caroline Dunst on April 30, 1982 in Point Pleasant, New Jersey, to Inez (née Rupprecht) and Klaus Dunst. She has one younger brother, Christian. Her father worked as a medical services executive, and her mother was an artist and one-time gallery owner. Dunst is of German descent on her father's side, and Swedish on her mother's.
Until the age of six, Dunst lived in Brick Township, New Jersey, where she attended Ranney School. In 1991, she moved with her mother and younger brother to Los Angeles, California, where she attended Laurel Hall Day School. In 1995, her mother filed for divorce. The following year Dunst began attending Notre Dame, a private Catholic high school in Los Angeles.
After graduating from Notre Dame, Dunst continued the acting career that she had begun at the age of eight. As a teenager, she found it difficult to deal with her rising fame, and for a period she blamed her mother for pushing her into acting as a child. However, she later expressed that her mother "always had the best intentions". When asked if she had any regrets about the way she spent her childhood, Dunst said: "Well, it's not a natural way to grow up, but it's the way I grew up and I wouldn't change it. I have my stuff to work out ... I don't think anybody can sit around and say: 'My life is more screwed up than yours.' Everybody has their issues."
Dunst made her acting debut before she was able to walk. She was signed to the Ford Modeling Agency as a child and by age 12, she had made over 100 commercials.
In 1989, Kirsten Dunst made her film debut with a small role in Woody Allen’s New York Stories. This was soon followed by a role as Tom Hank’s daughter in the film adaptation of Tom Wolfe’s bestselling novel, The Bonfire of the Vanities.
Dunst got her big break at the tender age of 11, when she played the pre-pubescent bloodsucker Claudia in the screen adaptation of Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire. Although critical response to the film was mixed, Dunst received high marks from reviewers for her controlled portrayal of an adult perpetually trapped in a child’s body. Rice’s literary following flocked to the film and made Dunst a ghoulish cult favorite. For her performance, Dunst received the MTV Movie Award for best breakthrough performance and a Golden Globe nomination for best supporting actress.
She went on to appear in a string of major Hollywood productions including Little Women (1994), Jumanji (1995) and Wag the Dog (1997), but also received critical attention for her performances in the less-publicized mock-documentary Drop Dead Gorgeous (1999) and the political spoof Dick (1999).
Dunst engineered a successful transition to “adult” roles with her 2000 appearance in Sofia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides. Dunst received positive critical attention for her facility with the movie’s weighty themes of teen suicide and burgeoning sexuality.
In 2002, Kirsten Dunst brought the much-loved comic book character Mary Jane "M. J." Watson to the big screen in the blockbuster film Spider-Man. With Tobey Maguire in the title role, it showed the transformation of Peter Parker into the legendary web-slinger. The film marked her first foray in action films. To play Peter Parker’s spunky love interest, Dunst had to dye her blonde hair to red and handle being put in great peril. The duo reprised their parts for the sequel Spider-Man 2 in 2004, in which the superhero battled Doc Ock (Alfred Molina). In the latest installment, Spider-Man 3, Peter Parker must wrestle with internal forces as well as villains to keep from destroying his relationships with those he cares for, including his great love M. J.
In addition to her work in the mega-successful Spider-Man franchise, Kirsten Dunst has continued to work in smaller, off-beat films. She appeared in the unusual romantic drama Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) with Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet. Working again with Sofia Coppola, Dunst took on the title character in Marie Antoinette (2006), one of most infamous members of the French aristocracy.