| August 21, 2015 | People
Kirsten Dunst gives Julianne Moore the scoop on her upcoming film and TV roles, her favorite directors, and her special memory of the Washington Monument.
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Kirsten Dunst began her career at the top, making her flm debut at age 6 in Woody Allen’s Oedipus Wrecks. She earned her frst major accolade five years later: a Golden Globe nomination as best supporting actress for Interview with the Vampire, opposite Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise. Since her precocious start, she’s had a wide-ranging movie career: Dunst is one of the few actresses who can claim both blockbuster success (as Mary Jane Watson in the Spider-Man franchise) and art-film glory. Her star turn in Lars von Trier’s apocalyptic masterpiece Melancholia garnered her a best actress award at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. This fall she displays her comedic chops as the deluded, manipulative Peggy on the hit FX series Fargo, and next spring she will headline hot director Jeff Nichols’s much-buzzed-about new supernatural thriller Midnight Special.
Julianne Moore: You have a busy fall, Kirsten! I want you to talk about your roles, starting with Peggy in Fargo. What drew you to the character?
Kirsten Dunst: The frst season was outstanding. I loved the writing and the way it was shot. Then I got two episodes for the new season with [creator/writer] Noah Hawley, and I knew that whatever trajectory Peggy was going on, it was going to be one of the nuttiest characters I’ve ever played.
JM: What’s the character trying to do?
KD: She’s trying to break out of Minnesota and become what she wants, which is basically a celebrity hairdresser.
JM: Maybe she’ll end up in LA.
KD: That’s her big dream.
JM: Is there tragedy looming for her? Is she going to achieve her goal?
KD: Something intercepts her goal, and she and her husband spend the series figuring it out. She’s pretty delusional.
JM: Who plays her husband?
KD: Jesse Plemons. He’s awesome. Most of our scenes are together, and we developed a great friendship.
JM: Have you had any interaction with the Coen brothers working on Fargo?
KD: We don’t. They gave Noah their blessing. The frst season, they read scripts and approved them.
JM: What’s your new movie Midnight Special about?
KD: [It’s] about a young boy, my son, who has special powers. It reminds me of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. I think Jeff Nichols is one of the best young directors of our time. I’ve wanted to work with him for a while, so I fought to be in this movie. I love Take Shelter [Nichols’s 2011 thriller], and I really like Mud [a 2012 coming-of-age drama he wrote and directed, starring Matthew McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon].
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JM: What kind of director brings out the best in you?
KD: Lars von Trier was the director who gave me the most emotionally. He knew how to put things into words like most people don’t.
JM: Did he talk to you about depression [when you were working together on Melancholia]?
KD: He did, and about his own. He was very open with me. He did the most with saying the least, too.
JM: I actually feel like the best directors are the ones who talk the least.
KD: I hate talking things over. If someone starts talking too much to me, I just want to walk away.
JM: I know, I know! Sometimes I’m like, “Shhh….” Your career shows quite a diversity, from Spider-Man to Marie Antoinette to Melancholia. How do you choose your parts?
KD: It’s the director every time. I’d rather play a tiny little who-cares role if the director’s great.
JM: One part you were great in was in the Walter Salles movie—I can’t think of the name…
KD: On the Road. That’s so sweet of you.
JM: You were very good. The weariness, the exhaustion, that guy coming in and out of your life—it was just heartbreaking. You did a lot with very little.
KD: Thank you! I wish more people had seen that movie. It was such a fun ensemble.
JM: Here’s a question I get a lot, and I’ll tell you my answer after you tell me yours. What movie role was the closest to your own character?
KD: When I was 16 and did Bring It On. I was that girl. It was like me being in high school as myself. It wasn’t a stretch at all. Like a normal 15-year-old. I was a cheerleader; my best friend was a cheerleader. I wasn’t in competitions, but I watched them on TV.
JM: I always say, “No one and everybody.” No one, because none of them are me, but then they all are because I have to find something in every single one of them to have a relationship with. Now we’re going to move to some questions about fashion. Did the clothes help you shape the character in Fargo?
KD: In the frst few episodes, I wanted people to look at Peggy and giggle a little bit—just a pinch! Not at her, but with her, just so that you’re on this girl’s side. Some of the stuff that she manipulates her husband into doing! Or I had red gloves because I was caught red-handed. And because this character wants to get out of Minnesota, I wanted her to have a beret to wear, or a shirt that has the Eiffel Tower all over it.
JM: Clothes are signifers. People are telling you who they want to be with their clothes.
KD: That was the most fun I’ve had with my wardrobe in a while. I got to make a real character. In Midnight Special, I was a real character, not just an actress who looks pretty for a role, playing whatever.
JM: It’s really challenging when you’re doing a mainstream film and everybody just wants you to look attractive. The great thing about clothes is that you get to tell a story. Which brings us to Marie Antoinette and all those costumes. Did you have any input into the designs? They were spectacular.
KD: We had a genius, legendary costume designer, Milena Canonero. She always brought in accessories, and I was like, “Oh, let’s do a red ribbon around my waist like I was cut in half, to foreshadow the beheading.” She liked that collaboration, but it was her fabrics, her designs. They were fabulous. It wasn’t very comfortable, but very impressive. Oh my God, corsets are the worst!
JM: You were the first major celebrity to wear Rodarte. How did you know them?
KD: I have worked with these stylists, Nina and Clare Hallworth, since I was very young, and they introduced me to Rodarte’s clothes. Then I met [designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy], and we became fast friends. Now we’re making a movie together, and we start in a week.
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JM: What’s it about?
KD: These girls will kill me if I say anything about it. Sorry, Julianne. If I were private with you, I’d tell you!
JM: What’s the best fashion advice you’ve ever received?
KD: I don’t think I’ve ever gotten advice. It’s more what I’ve seen other girls wear, and I had really good infuences. When I was 16, I was working with Sofia Coppola, who is one of the chicest women I’ve ever met. And my mom was always into fashion. She lived in Germany for 10 years and always had a lot of old Kenzo in her closet.
JM: What about career advice?
KD: The influence of how I was raised was the best career advice, because being a child actress can really be unhealthy for your psyche. But my mom always sent me to normal school, so I never missed out on the prom or feld trips or any of that stuff.
JM: I knew [an actress] who wanted to hang out at the mall, which she had never done as a teenager. We were in our 20s and she had never had a normal teenage experience.
KD: That’s sad. My best friend I’ve had since sixth grade. I think that’s why I’ve been able to reinvent what I do, because there was a time when I was over it.
JM: You’ve worked with some of the biggest names in the business: Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Jim Carrey. Who else is on your wish list?
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JM: I’d like to work with you, too.
KD: Why do you think I said, “Do you think Julianne could do this interview?” Maybe if we put it out in the universe.
JM: That would be great. We’d have a good time.
KD: Maybe with Sofia.
JM: Do you travel to Washington, DC, often? What do you admire about the city?
KD: I had my first kiss in Washington, DC, in the Washington Monument, going up in the elevator.
KD: Yup. I was on my eighth-grade feld trip. That’s a big deal! He was my really good friend and—
JM: Were you alone?
KD: No! My whole class was in the elevator in the Washington Monument. It was dark in there, and there were little shafts of light that came through. I was into his friend, and my best friend was into him, and he kissed me. It was so funny—we had this big group class picture afterwards and I’m fipping off the camera.
JM: That’s an awesome story.
KD: So much eighth-grade drama.
JM: I think that’s the best first-kiss story I’ve ever heard. You filmed [the 1999 comedy] Dick in DC.
KD: I think we shot in Washington, DC, for only a few days. It was really fun…. It was really crazy to shoot in monuments. It was a small indie comedy, so I’m surprised you were allowed to. Most of it was shot in Canada.... I’ve visited Washington, DC, a lot. I’m from New Jersey, so my family would take me to the Smithsonian, or my girlfriends took me to the ballet—I think the Bolshoi was playing. I went to go see Princess Diana’s exhibition. I’ve taken trips for cultural reasons my entire life. I haven’t been to a White House Correspondents’ dinner yet, though. I was invited once, but we couldn’t go. I would love to go to that.
JM: If you weren’t an actress, you would be…
KD: Defnitely something creative, like a painter or photographer or a fashion designer.
JM: Can you imagine yourself directing?
KD: I might be doing that next year.
JM: Do you have a script?
KD: We’re in the rewrite phase, and we have an actress. It’s almost all together, but I can’t fully talk about it yet.
JM: What are the charities you’re involved with?
KD: I work with The Art of Elysium. You can go to the hospital, talk to kids, do paint work. They have a program with older women and young girls, getting clothes, getting makeup, just doing fun things with kids in the hospital. I’ve known Jennifer Howell, who started the organization, since my early 20s.... Thanks so much for doing this, Julianne. Let’s hang when you come to LA.
JM: I would love to!
photography by RENÉ & RADKA. styling by GiolliosA + NAtAliE FullER