Sofia Coppola met her muse Kirsten Dunst in 1998. The actress was just 16 at the time, & the 27-year-old daughter of Francis Ford Coppola was about to make her directorial debut with “The Virgin Suicides,” based on a novel that she loved. Dunst was so innocent, she brought her mom along to chaperone their initial conversation. “I was a little nervous,” she says. “It was my first adult role!”
So much of Hollywood is filtered through the male gaze. But Coppola, who tells stories from the perspectives of her heroines, immediately put Dunst at ease. “She was always a good influence on me as a young woman,” Dunst says, recalling a compliment that Coppola once paid her that she never forgot. “She said to me, ‘I love your teeth; don’t ever fix your teeth.’ I remember doing a ‘Spider-Man’ movie later, and one of the producers was like, ‘I need to take you to the dentist!’ They even fixed my teeth on the poster. But I just knew I was never doing that. Sofia is the chicest, coolest girl, and she thinks my teeth are great.” At the risk of sounding “a little corny,” Dunst adds, “She gave me confidence in little things that I wouldn’t necessarily have had.”
Coppola & Dunst are the rare female duo in an industry ruled by men and notable for director-actor teams like Marty & Leo, Spielberg & Hanks, Tarantino & Samuel L. Jackson. These two women have fostered an unbreakable bond over the past two decades and four movies. “I feel big-sisterly to her,” Coppola says, sipping a mint tea near her home in New York, where she raises her two kids.
Both spent their formative years on movie sets — one as a young actress (“Interview With the Vampire,” “Little Women,” “Jumanji”), the other as the observant daughter of a famous director. After 1999’s “Virgin Suicides,” they reteamed on Coppola’s 2006 period drama “Marie Antoinette.” Dunst even popped up seven years later in a cameo in “The Bling Ring,” as herself. And now the two are headed to Cannes with Coppola’s latest endeavor “The Beguiled,” a Southern gothic thriller that will premiere at the film festival later this month & debut in theaters June 23.
When Coppola first met with Dunst for “The Virgin Suicides,” she was drawn to a particular quality — a depth beneath her all-American-girl looks. For “Marie Antoinette,” which Coppola wrote with Dunst in mind, she liked that her actress could blend in with the 18th-century corsets and wigs. “She has a German background,” Dunst says. “She’s part of that world.”
Coppola decided to cast Dunst against type in “The Beguiled,” as a shy teacher at a girls’ school who befriends a wounded Civil War soldier (Colin Farrell) taking shelter there. “I like casting her in this because it’s so opposite her personality,” Coppola says. “This character is so oppressed and she’s not at all.”
All these years later, Coppola, 46, still feels protective of Dunst, 35. When it came to directing a love scene between Dunst & Farrell, Coppola wanted to make sure Dunst was comfortable. She kept it short, and both actors kept their clothes on. “Having that sex scene with Colin is so not Sofia’s style, even though it’s brief,” Dunst says. “She gets embarrassed for me, which is funny because she’s my director.”
The ease & respect the two share was evident at their Variety photo shoot at the Houdini Estate in Laurel Canyon. They bantered nonstop, as they cracked each other up between shots. Just as the session was about to begin, Dunst noticed they were wearing nearly identical gold watches, & in a sweetly deferential gesture, she took hers off & handed it to an assistant.
When Coppola suggested that Dunst lose some weight for her role in “Beguiled,” the actress pushed back. But she said her director was very understanding. “It’s so much harder when you’re 35 & hate working out,” Dunst says. She even used the shoot’s location—in rural Louisiana—as an excuse. “I’m eating fried chicken & McDonald’s before work. So I’m like, ‘We have no options! I’m sorry I can’t lose weight for this role.’”
On behalf of everyone at kirsten-dunst.org I’d like to wish you all a (slightly early) very Merry Christmas. Have a great time everybody!
To mark the occasion we’ve got a nice gallery update. First up we’ve added some additional pics to the beautiful 2016 Jenny Gage & Tom Betterton photoshoot. We’ve also added the fabulous 2016 Johan Sandberg photoshoot. Last but definitely not least we’ve added the gorgeous 2016 Ruven Afanador photoshoot.
Kirsten Dunst and Patrick Wilson were on opposite ends of the law in the second season of “Fargo.” But Noah Hawley’s acclaimed crime-thriller had a common effect on their careers, putting them back squarely in the mainstream.
Dunst’s repressed Minnesota housewife on “Fargo” hoarded beauty magazines, owned grand dreams that sometimes turned into weird visions and acted out in strange, often scary ways.
“She’s nuts,” Dunst says, laughing.
The versatile actress visited The Envelope recently for a video interview to talk about “Fargo” and her career, part of our series of Emmy season conversations. We so enjoyed the conversation that we asked her to stick around a bit. Here are excerpts from what Dunst said after the cameras were turned off.
We hadn’t seen you much before “Fargo.” Had you made a conscious decision to take something of a break?
I’m someone who waits. And my manager will be like, “You need to work! Look at this script!” But I can’t do it. I physically can’t do it. I think it’s because I’ve been working so long that I’m kind of at a normal person’s retirement age.
You’ve been acting for 30 years …
I started when I was 3 and I just turned 34. I should be a retiree! I’m tired! I’m not hustling. I’m happy to spend my summer off and then work with Sofia [Coppola] in the fall. Do I need to squeeze another project in there? No!
The projects you have made lately have been independent films …
… which don’t pay much. And no one sees. That was what was amazing about “Fargo.” My mom’s saying, “I went to Bloomingdale’s and everyone’s telling me how much they loved ‘Fargo.’” It’s been awhile since anyone has said anything to her.
No Lars von Trier fans in her circle?
[Laughs] I remember I went to that same Bloomingdale’s at the Fashion Square mall in the Valley and I was perusing the shoe section and one of the women came up to me, sweetly, but also curt too, saying, “I miss you in film.” And meanwhile I had done “Melancholia.” I had done films, just not the kind normal audiences would ever seek out and see. So doing “Fargo” was such a relief. People were actually seeing my work.
You spent six months filming “Fargo” in Calgary. Allison Tolman told me Bob Odenkirk was a great advance scout in the first season, finding the bookstore and the good restaurants …
Oh, I found the good restaurant. Model Milk. Such an odd name. We also found the casino. I won a lot of money! I love gambling, but I’m not bad with my money at all. I will take like $300, put it aside and only gamble with that. I’m very conservative. If I win, I walk away for sure. And I won over $1,000 in under two minutes playing slots.
No wonder you don’t need to work. You can fall back on gambling!
[Laughs] I’m not that big of a gambler! I gambled twice over the course of the past year.
It sounds like watching “Fargo” was something of a family activity with you and your mom and your brother.
My only wish is that my grandma could have seen it. She’s from Minnesota and she passed away before I did all this. That was the most heartbreaking thing for me watching it. My grandma would have gotten such a kick out of “Fargo.” We were very close. I was born on her birthday.
Did you incorporate her at all in your work on the show?
Oh, I used everything. A little dash of my grandmother. My dreams. Things that annoy me. People on set. I used everything possible to give my character an inner life that felt grounded. But it’s not like I felt my grandmother’s presence on set. I did have one blatant moment with her though … with a hummingbird. I was driving home from a friend’s house and this hummingbird was in the middle of the street and it wouldn’t move. And it forced me to stop my car. I drove home and told my mom what happened because that’s not in the nature of a hummingbird to do that. They’re always dashing around. And my mom realized that it was the day my grandma passed. So I think it was my grandma saying “hi.”
In March The Hollywood Reporter held a roundtable with actresses Jennifer Lopez, Kerry Washington, Julianna Margulies, Sarah Paulson, Kirsten Dunst, Regina King & Constance Zimmer. The May 27th issue of “The Hollwood Reporter” magazine will feature their discussion & photoshoots of all seven actresses.
You can read part of the discussion, see some of the beautiful photoshoot pics, & watch videos of the roundtable discussion at hollywoodreporter.com