Kirsten Dunst: Thirsty for More

At age 11 Kirsten Dunst gave the consummate precocious-kid performance in Interview With the Vampire as Claudia, a lustful bloodsucker forever trapped in a child's body. By the time the sun charred her to ashes, she'd mouthed lofty, formal 18th-century dialogue, cozied up to Brad Pitt in a coffin and gleefully slashed Tom Cruise's throat.


No such Grand Guignol horrors darken Dunst's bright backyard today. In the Valley home she shares with her mom, brother, three cats and a tiny terrier with a huge yap, Dunst, now 16 and a head taller than in her vampire days, angles her chair for direct sunlight--"I never burn, for some reason," she says--and confronts the more mundane terrors of life as a teen star. "I told one person that I dated Dustin Hoffman's son, Jake, and that we were friends, and last night on KIIS-FM, they were like, 'Kirsten and Jake have been spotted everywhere--they're hot and heavy.' It's crazy. I have to call him and say, 'I'm sorry--I'm not the one spreading this stuff.'"

Dunst has shown poise and charisma well beyond her years in films like Little Women and Jumanji, but she's simply her age in real life. "I keep my acting life and my kid life separate," she says. However, not all of her roles call for her to abandon her kid-ness. Her latest, for instance, is Small Soldiers, a comedy/thriller about evil toys running amok. "I just shot this really fun scene," she burbles. "These mutant dolls go psycho on me. I got to destroy them all--I went crazy." Before long, though, she figures there'll be the challenge of a love scene. "I haven't done one. That's gonna be a weird deal. But I've already been pregnant at 15--in a Lifetime TV movie, 15 and Pregnant." As for that staple of a teen's life, school, Dunst already professes to be beyond it. "The only time I use math is to figure out tips. There should be a school for kids who know exactly what they want to do." Does she? "I want to go to USC or UCLA and study film. I want to direct."


Joshua Mooney