9 Milestones in the Evolution of Kirsten Dunst

In this weekend's Melancholia, Kirsten Dunst stars as a conflicted bride anticipating the end of the world only hours after her wedding. So just how did Dunst transform herself from a child vampiress vixen to a Lars von Trier muse?

You can always trace a direct line through a few important roles to illustrate what led to an actor's current success. As such, let's look at nine pivotal performances that track the evolution of Kirsten Dunst.

Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (1994)

After making her film debut in the Woody Allen short Oedipus Wrecks (part of the New York Stories anthology), Dunst, a New Jersey-born child fashion model, dabbled in acting before landing her breakthrough role in Neil Jordan's Interview with the Vampire adaptation. To win the prized role of Claudia, the mature vampire trapped inside the body of a ringlet-tressed 5-year-old, Dunst reportedly beat out other recognizable young actresses like Christina Ricci, Dominique Swain and Evan Rachel Wood. The wisdom and rage that the relative newbie conveyed behind a face so cherubic (not to mention that kiss with Brad Pitt, who is nearly two decades her senior) proved that Dunst was not just another child actress. For this role, Dunst was nominated for her first (and only, so far) Golden Globe.

Jumanji (1995)

The following year, bolstered by the one-two punch success of Interview with the Vampire and Little Women (in which Dunst impressed critics with her portrayal of Amy), the actress established herself as a bankable child star in the supernatural comedy Jumanji. As Judy Shepherd, an innocent board game player who unleashes Robin Williams and a jungle's worth of nightmarish images while attempting to play the titular game with her brother, Dunst helped ground a movie packed with Williams's zany energy and a terrifying special effects bonanza. Although it received mixed reviews, Jumanji grossed over $250 million worldwide, ensuring that Dunst was also one of the most exposed young actresses in the mid-'90s.

Fifteen and Pregnant (1998)

Some audiences may argue that The Virgin Suicides marked Kirsten Dunst's crossover into adolescence -- but clearly, they have never seen a greasy high school kid unbutton Kirsten Dunst's jean shorts and impregnate her (offscreen obviously) in the uber-educational and unintentionally hilarious television drama Fifteen and Pregnant." How Dunst went from the above blockbusters to a TV movie in which she stars as Tina Spangler opposite an actress named Park Overall and back to a successful blockbuster franchise like Spider-Man is incredible. If you want to learn more about this movie, I encourage you to head over to the remarkably detailed plot summary on Wikipedia (kudos to whoever completed that), watch the entire movie available on YouTube and then I implore you to use the actual line "sperm doesn't entitle you to much" to your teenage daughter's deadbeat baby daddy next time he shows up at the delivery room with his new girlfriend.

The Virgin Suicides (1999)

After a few forgettable films (All I Wanna Do and True Heart, anyone?), Dunst rebounded with her critical breakthrough in The Virgin Suicides. In her first collaboration with Sofia Coppola, Dunst earned positive reviews for her restrained portrayal of Lux, the most rebellious of the five overprotected Lisbon sisters in this 'dark 70s-era tale of suicidal sisterly despair.

Pages: 1 2


  • kate says:

    She is one of my favorite actresses and I believe highly underrated.

  • Morgo says:

    Oh I loved her in little women and interview with the vampire when I was a kid (looks so campy now!) From my hazily remembered knowledge gained during those days as super-fan, she more than dabbled in acting pre-IWTV, and did something like 70 TV commercials before getting those major roles. She must have been auditioning virtually nonstop!