Kirsten Reveals Why She’s Ready To Swap Hollywood For Motherhood
Most A-list actresses come with an entourage. A publicist, an agent, perhaps a make-up artist and an assistant (or two). So I’m amazed when Kirsten Dunst arrives alone at the Covent Garden café where we’ve agreed to meet and offers a friendly handshake and a simple, ‘Hey, I’m Kirsten.’ That, though, is Kirsten all over. Normal, warm and so amusingly chatty, yabbering away about everything from crazy cats to cockroach-ridden Lithuanian hotels she has had to stay in for work, that it’s easy to forget you’re talking to Hollywood royalty. She feels more like the friend you rely on to make you laugh over an Aperol Spritz at her new-found East London hangout Bistrotheque.
She has flown in from Los Angeles to promote a new line of L’Oréal Professionnel products and salon services, of which she is international spokesperson, and we chat about her forthcoming film Midnight Special too. She is also on a mission to find a house for her boyfriend of two years, actor Garrett Hedlund (star of the Tron films), for the pair to share while he films another movie here this summer. She fancies North London – Hampstead for its greenery, maybe. Or somewhere more central. She’s fitting in our meeting between viewings.
‘I’ve been coming to London a lot ever since I was 11 years old. My mum and brother did the whole sightseeing thing that time, but I was already working on Interview with the Vampire,’ she says. Ah yes – the cult 1994 film in which she played the orphan Claudia, co-starred with Tom Cruise as Lestat de Lioncourt and had to kiss Brad Pitt’s vampiric character Louis de Pointe du Lac. Kirsten received a Golden Globe nomination for her trouble and possibly went down in history as the only girl in the world whose recollection of kissing Brad Pitt is just plain ‘disgusting’. But then she was only 11.
It’s easy to forget that Kirsten was a true child star, appearing in TV commercials from the age of three, before being cast in Woody Allen’s 1989 New York Stories just a few years later. Since then, she has been amazingly prolific, starring in more than 40 films, with every Hollywood great from Tom Hanks in The Bonfire of the Vanities to Julia Roberts in Mona Lisa Smile, Viggo Mortensen in The Two Faces of January, Charlotte Gainsbourg in Melancholia and, of course, opposite Tobey Maguire in Spider-Man. She even appeared in ER back in the day, and has had cameos in music videos for REM and the Beastie Boys. Still only 32, she’s been busy – and is now more in demand than ever.
‘I do get sent a lot of scripts,’ she laughs. ‘I try to read at least one a week, but I have to be in the right headspace. When I’m deciding whether to do a role I have to think, “Can I really play this person?” and, “How do I feel about this character?” Incredible actresses such as Charlotte Rampling, who I worked with on Melancholia, have also been such an inspiration and shaped my film choices.’ The tally of Hollywood handsomes that she has starred alongside (apparently Ryan Gosling’s body is as amazing as it looks on screen, and the very mention of Viggo Mortensen makes her go all coy and girlie) must have helped too.
But she doesn’t like to name-drop. I practically have to drag it out of her that the jumper, skirt and boots she’s wearing are from Chloé, Miu Miu and APC respectively. She’s worried she’ll come across as a spoilt Hollywood luvvie who’s lost her grip on reality. Which, frankly, there seems little danger of. She lives 12 metres away from her Swedish mother Inez’s LA house, spends her free time hanging out with her childhood friend Molly, watching American musical drama Nashville, taking road trips or meeting up with other pals. Although times are changing now that she’s in her 30s.
‘Two of my good friends are currently pregnant – it’s a little weird. No one can drink any more!’ she says. She’s unwilling to confirm rumours that she and 29-year-old Garrett might be next in line to marry, but family is clearly something on her mind.
Earlier this year, she stirred up controversy by defending traditional gender roles of the nurturing, housebound mother and male ‘knights in shining armour’. When I ask about whether she’d like to start a family soon she pauses and then says, ‘I think my main ambition now is to have healthy children – maybe two or three. I like girls’ names, like Lila. But one of my cats is called Lila so is that a little weird? I’ve got a cat called Taz who’s kind of old and normal, then Lila who’s a total headcase!’
Despite the industry pressures of keeping up her appearance, Kirsten is seemingly unconcerned about ageing and how pregnancy might change her body, taking a low-key approach to her beauty regimen. Never one to sport a tan, she is meticulous about protecting her milky skin tone – and those slightly kooky teeth have become something of a trademark. Having dyed her hair red for her role as Mary Jane Watson in Spider-Man, she is now back to her natural blonde with a few highlights.
‘I think I’m my own best hairdresser. I don’t like my hair to look overly styled,’ she says. For red carpet events she might work a tousled updo with a dress from one of her favourite designers – Chloé, Chanel, Christian Lacroix or the Rodarte sisters, for whom she is something of a muse. Yet most days she just slicks ‘L’Oréal Professionnel Mythic Oil through my hair after I’ve showered and let it dry naturally. It stops it going frizzy and keeps it super hydrated and shiny.’
Behind this relaxed approach to her everyday looks is a quiet confidence she feels has developed since reaching her 30s. Yet under the intense scrutiny of the Hollywood spotlight, that hasn’t always been the case. ‘When I was younger, I used to worry so much about what food was good and bad, and calories. But now I’m more comfortable in my own skin. I’m not perfect but I’m healthy. If I eat rubbish one day, I’ll just tone it back the next. And oh – I smoke a ton of cigarettes still.’
‘I’ve never done a cleanse – no!’ As her visit to Soho’s Bob Bob Ricard restaurant the day before we meet testifies, she’s more of a chicken pie girl. In any case, she burns off most of it. At home, she works out with her fitness buddy and Bachelorette co-star Isla Fisher at Tracy Anderson’s gym – high repetitions of dance-style movements using light weights are the name of the game in attaining a long, lean body. ‘I love it – Tracy’s method works. But it’s annoying because there are always paparazzi outside. I mean, I know Gwyneth Paltrow and all these big models go there, but who wants to see a photo of someone looking all sweaty? I’m so over paps!’
There was, of course, a time when the spotlight got too much. In 2008, she checked in to the Cirque Lodge treatment centre in Utah after suffering from depression. Speaking about it on the Ellen DeGeneres show a few years later, she said she needed time out after having spent so long working in a relentlessly tough industry. Now, though, she seems to have reconciled herself to the inevitable rhythms of life as a high-profile actress.
‘Everyone’s career ebbs and flows,’ she says philosophically. ‘At times you’re wanted and at other times you have to work harder for it. The down times can really affect your confidence. So I guess what I’ve learnt is not to nest your confidence completely in your job. That and keep your family close. I’ve been lucky in that my close friends and family have come along with me on the ups and downs.’
Her 29-year-old brother Christian, with whom she grew up in New Jersey, currently lives with their former artist and gallery owner mother Inez while he builds his own internet business DayJam – ‘a more refined version of Facebook’, apparently. And despite her parents divorcing back in 1993, Kirsten’s German father Klaus, a medical services executive, is also now a Californian resident who has had a great influence over his daughter’s life.
‘I took dual citizenship between America and Germany about five years ago. I still have a grandfather who lives in Germany and we’ve kept some European traditions in our family – such as opening our presents on Christmas Eve instead of 25 December. It’s interesting that I also seem to have attracted a lot of friends whose parents are European. I think when you’re raised by foreign parents you have a different mentality, so it gives us something in common.’
She attributes her work ethic to her father. ‘Dad is such a hard worker and I think he has instilled that in me. With every movie, I never know whether people are going to like it. But I think the older I get, the more cathartic I find the film-making process. I feel very connected to my work right now – and I’m having more fun.’ She also had a ball filming Midnight Special – a sci-fi thriller shot in Louisiana alongside Adam Driver of TV’s Girls fame, set to be released later this year. She wouldn’t mind a cameo or two on Girls herself. But really, she’s ‘a director’s girl’ at heart and adored working with Midnight Special mastermind Jeff Nichols.
She is still close to Sofia Coppola who directed her in 1999 film The Virgin Suicides and again in the 2006 Marie Antoinette. It was Sofia, says Kirsten, who helped her transition from a child to an adult actress. In the future, she’d love to collaborate with Quentin Tarantino.
At some point, she might even book a holiday she’s been planning for years: ‘I typically don’t take vacations but enjoy going anywhere with a beach and warm water. I’ve always wanted to stay at the GoldenEye hotel in Jamaica.’ Now, though, she is hunting for that London house. It’s time for her next viewing – the estate agent has arrived. She extends her hand and, with characteristically disarming modesty, says to the slack-jawed fellow holding keys, ‘Hi, I’m Kirsten’. I think he knows.
By Bella Blissett, www.dailymail.co.uk
A very interesting interview. Some of you might remember the pics of Kirsten & Garrett searching for her missing cat way back in February 2012. Taz was that missing cat & they obviously found it! It does also sound like Kirsten isn’t going to be making a film this Summer after all.
I’ve added to the gallery pics of Kirsten & Garrett out for dinner in London last night with Oscar Isaac & another friend.