What has Kirsten Dunst been doing since she said goodbye to Spidey three years ago? Changing her life.
“Most people my age probably stop for a second and question, ‘Is this really what I want to do?' ” says Dunst, 28, who started acting in commercials when she was 3. “I took some art classes. I moved to New York and did my apartment. I made a short film. I'm definitely different now.”
Perhaps most important, she spent a chunk of time at Cirque Lodge, a rehab facility in Utah, to deal, she says, with depression.
“Depression is something that's pretty heavy,” Dunst says, her dimpled, girlish smile fading. “I watched friends go through it, and I experienced it, too. Now I'm OK.”
Today, Dunst sits serenely in a chair at Hollywood's Four Seasons Hotel. It's the beginning of Oscar season, and for the first time in her career, she is a contender. The movie is All Good Things, a love story and possible murder mystery inspired by true events in New York three decades ago. It offered Dunst her first truly adult role: She plays a naive woman from a modest family who falls in love with the son (Ryan Gosling) of a New York real estate tycoon (Frank Langella). The relationship turns abusive.
Dunst says she welcomed the chance to explore obsession, dependence and the elusiveness of human behavior. Those are serious issues for an actress who came to notice as the child vampire in Interview With the Vampire (1994), a cheerleader in Bring It On (2000), an airhead queen in Marie Antoinette (2006) and the girlfriend in the blockbuster Spider-Man trilogy (2002-07).
But Dunst has something few of her peers seem to possess. “I wanted someone who could convey a level of accessibility and realness,” All Good Things director Andrew Jarecki says.
Dunst says she wouldn't have it any other way.
“I never had people around me who constantly guarded me from reality,” she says. “I went grocery shopping. I've always had friends who weren't in the industry, and I always felt just like them. I went to regular school.