The star of ”The Virgin Suicides” and ”Bring It On” is no stranger to glowing reviews, and the critics are already hyping her performance as real-life starlet Marion Davies in Peter Bogdanovich’s ”The Cat’s Meow” (opens April 12). What the 19-year-old Kristen Dunst has yet to experience is the sort of obsessive adulation that comes with playing a comic book character in a summer blockbuster. That will all change May 3 when she appears in ”Spider-Man” as photographer Peter Parker’s red-headed main squeeze Mary Jane. Dunst discusses the hazards of wearing skimpy costumes and her rumored affair with costar Tobey MaGuire.
What’s it like on the set of an action movie?
More like play than work, really, but also a little too much male energy. When the first assistant director nicknames you ”Girly-Girl,” you kind of figure that out [laughs]. Eventually [producer] Laura Ziskin came to the set, and it was so good to have a powerhouse female. Without her, I would have been kind of overblown by all the guy stuff.
Girly-girl? What’s that about?
Well, I did spend three nights freezing my butt off in the pouring rain in a skimpy little outfit. We had to get multiple takes, so I’d run into a heated room on the Warner Brothers backlot, dry off, and do it all over again — and again and again. The thing was, it didn’t look wet enough on the back lot because the sidewalks are a lot higher than they would be on a regular street, so they had to really flood the place. It got to the point where I was standing in water above my ankles, and let’s just say the drainage system wasn’t so good. And then, at 6 a.m., when I’m wet and frozen, I had to act all sexy and romantic with Spider-Man for a close-up.
What attracted you to Mary Jane?
I wanted to do ”Spider-Man” the minute I found out about it, even before Peter Parker had been cast. But as soon as I learned Tobey [Maguire] was doing it, I wanted to do it even more. He’s so talented and adorable, but more than that he has an immaculate body of work. I had been wanting to work with him for a long, long time.