Madame Figaro Interview

(Here is the English translation of Kirsten’s “Madame Figaro” interview. Thanks to The Invisible Fan for the translation).

The child-star who became a superstar can play everything. In The Two Faces of January, she swims in troubled waters. Under the Californian sunshine, the glamorous actress, muse of l’Oréal Professionnel, confides herself.

Seeing a candid and smiling Kirsten Dunst arriving for breakfast, at Chateau Marmont in Hollywood, it’s hard to conceive she has worked on movie-sets for nearly 3 decades – an eternity for one who has just turned 32. Cast for an advert (for cereals) at an age when her friends were just learning how to talk, chosen by Woody Allen some years after to portray his daughter in a short film (Oedipus Wrecks, based on the segmented-movie New York Stories), noticed at 12, for a troubling kiss received from Brad Pitt in Interview with a Vampire, then established as a nymph at the age of 17 in Sofia Coppola’s The Virgin suicides, Kirsten Dunst was a child star. One of the most dazzling ever.

If there is a reality which is (unfortunately) verified so many times, it is the fact that the spotlight can burn unwise butterflies’ wings – ask Lindsay Lohan or Drew Barrymore… To play this game, you have to stay neither too close, nor too far from the light, and Kirsten has always played this game brilliantly. So when she had to negotiate the transition to adulthood, the actress just did it simply : red haired, and upside down for a mythical kiss – this time to Tobey Maguire – in one of the biggest success of the 2000’s – Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man. After that, building her career with patience, between popular cinema and art-house movies, between bright characters and languid young women, she obtained the Best Actress Prize in Cannes in 2011, with her darkest role in Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia.

Having seen her so glamorous with Viggo Mortensen in The Two Faces of January, from Hossein Amini (in theatres on June 18th), and not less well dressed for the l’Oréal Professionnel hair care advert campaign, we expected to meet a superstar acting like a superstar. On the contrary, the one who answered our questions around a green smoothie was a charismatic, spontaneous, and charming young woman, and so disarmingly natural.

Madame Figaro – You’ve been acting for 29 years. What is your secret to last ?

Kirsten Dunst. – There’s no secret : everything depends on your choices. And the people that surround you. If you work with the right people you progress and last. It’s up to you. After Melancholia, do you know how many roles for depressed parts I was offered ? Fortunately, I did Bachelorette just after, a comedy, and this choice has relaunched me in other direction.

Would you like to do more comedies ?

Sure, but it depends on who the director is. Comedy requires a lot of energy, it’s harder than it looks. I think I’d like to do a film with Judd Apatow (Knocked Up, This Is 40).

A theory says each actor needs to be revealed to himself by a director, who can reveal his potentials. Who played this role for you ?

Without hesitation I would say Sofia Coppola with The Virgin Suicides. I was a teenager and she revealed the woman inside me, showing me what I was capable of, she has shaped me like no one else did. We’re still very close but, as she lives in New York, I don’t see her as often as I would like.

In 2011, you won the Best Actress Prize for Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia, at The Cannes International Film Festival. Has this award Impacted on the way you are considered in Hollywood ?

No, not really… You know, Cannes is very far, very exotic. It does not have the same impact as the Oscars have. Conversely, for these who are closely interested in cinema, it is quite prestigious. So it hasn’t changed anything, but I am very proud of it !

Did you have a happy childhood, despite the fact you were working at a very young age ?

I was enrolled in normal schools, and I had a tutor when I was working on a film. In fact, I had a fairly normal adolescence. I was in high school, I was dancing, I had a very balanced group of friends.

And if you had kids, would you like them to follow the same path as yourself ?

That’s a complex question. Of course I would like them to be happy, and if playing comedy makes them happy, I won’t prevent them. But I won’t push them. Especially not when they are young. I experienced it myself, and even though things went well for me, it’s still very hard. Besides, I’m not sure I want to raise my kids in Los Angeles. If I hadn’t grown up in this city I think I would hate it. I’m currently filming in New Orleans a movie called Midnight Special, and it reminded me how nice it is to be able to move without being followed by a mob of paparazzi constantly.

Can you tell us more about Midnight Special ?

I play the mother of a child who possesses special powers and who is pursued. When the movie starts, I haven’t seen my son for two years, because I have been excluded from the christian sect we both belong to. It’s a movie dealing with fugitives, including fantastic elements. It looks a little like Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Are you proud of all your Films ?

I’ve probably done a few movies when I was young that I would not be particularly proud of today. However I accepted all of them for valid reasons. Some turned out bad but I learned from them. So yes, I’m proud of my choices. I grew up in a European atmosphere : my father is German, and my parents worked in Europe for a long time. It gave me a particular sensitivity, I think. I feel more appreciated, more special, in France. In the United States, if you are not in the latest superhero movie, people forget you. In France, it’s different, people still talk to me a lot about my former roles, or about more underground stuff.

What is your definition of glamour ?

To me, someone who is glamorous has self confidence without arrogance. It is something that should be natural, without effort. Without sounding smarmy, I find that the French often approach this ideal.

Which actress best symbolizes glamour ? 

The first that comes to mind is Charlotte Rampling. She’s one of the world most beautiful women in the world, even with the years. Moreover she’s extremely nice, it’s a joy to work with her. I also like Gena Rowlands, Anjelica Huston, Julianne Moore… confident women, who don’t try to prove anything. It is a quality that is lost among young actresses.

Which director would you like to work with ?

There are many… (she reflects). To start, Michael Haneke : he has a magnificent style and knows how to film actresses. And I speak german, I think it might be an advantage ! Also Quentin Tarantino.

That is a big difference !

Yes, so what ? This is precisely the pleasure of being an actress : you can go from one universe to another without being accountable.

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