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Dunst caught in 'Spider-Man' web

Young actress known for diverse roles

Kirsten Dunst
Kirsten Dunst  

By Paul Clinton

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Kirsten Dunst just turned 20 on Tuesday, but she has already established a name for herself.

The New Jersey native transplanted to Los Angeles has been acting since she was 3. She first appeared on the celebrity radar in 1994 when she co-starred with Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt in the film adaptation of Anne Rice's "Interview With the Vampire." She was 11 at the time.

Since that highly publicized role -- and her first screen kiss with Pitt, no less -- Dunst has established herself in a number of diverse films, including 1999's "The Virgin Suicides"; 2001's "Crazy/Beautiful"; and the 2000 comedy "Bring It On." She's currently starring in her first adult role, playing William Randolph Hearst's mistress, Marion Davies, in the period film "The Cat's Meow."

But what may prove to be the biggest film of her young career is about to open. Dunst landed the highly coveted role of Mary Jane Watson in the big-screen interpretation of "Spider-Man," with Tobey Maguire playing the comic book hero.

CNN spoke with Dunst about her career, fame and one challenge of working with a man wearing head-to-toe spandex.

CNN: How did this role in "Spider-Man" come about for you?

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Kirsten Dunst: I auditioned and I was nervous as hell. They all flew out to Berlin -- (producer) Laura Ziskin, (director) Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire. ... I'd been working all day (on a shoot for "The Cat's Meow"), and just got home from work and they'd set up this little ballroom in some hotel. It was pretty intense, but I think they knew the chemistry between Tobey and me was working.

CNN: Superhero action movies are still a man's world. What attracted you to this project?

Dunst: I really felt this one had a lot more depth, and with Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire already added to the mix, I knew this movie would be more than just a fluffy kind of action-hero movie.

CNN: In your role as Mary Jane Watson -- the girl on whom Peter Parker/Spider-Man has a secret crush -- you do get to kick some butt.

Dunst: Did you like how I defended myself a little bit? Of course, Spider-Man has to save me. But I did tell Sam, "I just don't want to be the damsel in distress. I'll scream on the balcony, but you've got to let me do a little action here."

CNN: How do you feel about the finished product?

Dunst: After seeing it I'm really proud to be a part of it and it's really a great film, it really is. It's amazing how much work you do and how fast it goes by on screen. I was thinking to myself, "We spent a month on that scene and it goes by in a minute."

Dunst and Maguire share a unique kiss in "Spider-Man."  

CNN: You did one scene in the pouring rain -- a scene that has become known as "the upside-down kiss" when you and Spider-Man finally connect, so to speak.

Dunst: Two nights of freezing in the rain. It was hard to film because Tobey couldn't really breathe because (of his) mask ... and before we got into the kiss he'd take a couple of deep breaths, and then we'd lock lips. He'd be breathing out of the side of his mouth while we were kissing, so it was really one of the most unromantic kisses, but it looked really romantic and nice.

CNN: You've worked with some very famous people in a fairly short time span. What advice have they given you about fame?

Dunst: Tom Cruise is just an adorable guy. He would always tell me to just always keep your family around and stay true to who you are. Don't get caught up in all this, because it you do, you lose a lot of yourself.

CNN: You seem to have taken that advice.

Dunst: It's a tough town, but I have a pretty good team around me. You know you always think, "Yeah, they like me in this movie, but they could be quick to tear me down too," so I just take it with a grain of salt.

CNN: Are most of your friends in or out of the business?

Dunst: All my close girlfriends I grew up going to high school with. Good girlfriends are hard to find. They really are.

CNN: How do you deal with personal issues like dating?

Dunst: I'm pretty open in interviews and talking about things, but dating -- I'm a young woman. You know girls date, they don't date, whatever. The deal is that's pretty personal and I don't want to exploit that in any way.


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