Spider-Man may have helped Kirsten Dunst become a star, but the truth is that the actress had been in the limelight for several years, starting acting at a young age. In fact, before Sam Raimi cast her to co-star in the wall-crawler’s first cinematic adventure, Dunst had appeared in Interview with the Vampire, Little Women, Jumanji and, of course, Sofia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides. When she arrived at the Marvel film and found herself earning considerably less than Tobey Maguire, who played Peter Parker, she wasn’t too surprised since he was the superhero. However, with the passing of time, she has been pondering it and now has observations about it.
These days Dunst is promoting The Power of the Dog, a Jane Campion western for Netflix where the actress shares the bill with Benedict Cumberbatch (another Marvel presence) and Jesse Plemons, who happens to be her real-life husband. The film opens on December 1, and during promotion, she has had to respond to rumors about her alleged return in Spider-Man: No Way Home, whose multi-versal transfer would favor the appearance of her Mary Jane Watson. The actress replied that she considered herself very old for the role, although she said that she would not mind being in the film if they called her (taking into account it opens on December 17, perhaps the call will never come), and via The Independent she also recalled what happened to the salaries of the Spider-Man trilogy.
Dunst was not surprised that Maguire was paid much more than her in the first installment, but with Spider-Man 2 things were noticeably different. “The pay disparity between me and Spider-Man was very extreme,” she says. “I didn’t even think about it. I was just like, ‘Oh yeah, Tobey is playing Spider-Man.’ But you know who was on the cover of the second Spider-Man poster? Spider-Man and me,” she explained, pointing at her chest with a smile. Spider-Man 2 is one of the most beloved films of the character (as evidenced by the enthusiastic reception of Alfred Molina’s return as Dr. Octopus in the first trailer for No Way Home), and being primarily a romantic comedy, it was logical that Mary Jane would have a privileged position on the poster with the superhero.
During the interview Dunst also alluded to certain conversations related to the film, where it was suggested that she straighten her teeth for the role. “I was like, ‘Mmmmm, no, I like my teeth,’” she recalls, identifying her experience in The Virgin Suicides as something essential to gain confidence, and not to allow this type of advice to cause insecurity. “The fact that the coolest girl liked how I looked, that’s what preserved me. She made me feel pretty. As a 16-year-old girl, you feel like crap about yourself, right? So to have my first experience of a more ‘sexy’ role be through her eyes gave me a confidence that helped me deal with a lot of other things.”
For instance, refusing to alter her look for Spider-Man 2. Although, of course, her refusal didn’t extend to all areas of production. On the poster for Spider-Man, Mary Jane’s teeth were magically straightened.