Column: Notable Natalie

NOTE: I am Kirsten Dunst’s biggest fan


During last year’s Oscars, a joke by Amy Schumer calling Kirsten Dunst a “seat filler” made me think about how much we don’t appreciate Kirsten Dunst for her genius. While it was a scripted joke that the actress was a part of, many do not understand how big a part Dunst was and still is in the movie and pop culture scene. Dunst mainly thrived during the late 90s and early 2000s.

Dunst starred in movies like “Bring It On,” where she plays a new cheer captain who realizes that all of their routines were stolen from another school by their former captain. This movie is not only funny but also shows the range of Dunst. While her character Torrance in “Bring It On” is supposed to be a fun and sassy cheer captain, her role as Lux Lison in “The Virgin Suicides” shows another side of what Dunst can bring to the screen. While her role as cheer captain shows the more fun and dramatic side of ‘high school life,’ Lux is a girl who is not fully seen as a person and not really recognized by the boys who fantasize about her and her sisters. Not only does her character reflect how women are seen on a daily basis, but also shows what can happen in those scenarios. In this role, Dunst perfectly encapsulates Lisbon’s book characterization and brings Lux’s life to the screen.

Dunst’s ability to bring these characters to life not only allowed her to star in several movies but also made her director Sofia Coppola’s muse. Her role as Lux is just one of the stars of Coppola’s movies; she also played in the vibrant arthouse drama “Marie Antoinette” as Antoinette. The film not only brought to life how young Antoinette was but also showed how extravagant life was as a teenage girl in a castle. Instead of depicting her in more academic lighting, Coppola “had this idea of how to interpret her life in a way that felt youthful and girly instead of academic.” Dunst was, in my opinion, the perfect person to play the role of Antoinette because she was able to bring the joy of youth you feel as a teenager and the struggle she had to go through in her circumstances.

I feel that Dunst’s best role was her role as Betty Warren in “Mona Lisa Smile.” The character was something that Dunst does not often play, which is the mean and bitter girl that not many characters in the movie like. She depicted a wealthy and privileged woman who attended Wellesley college in the 1950s. Warren’s sole purpose in her life was to marry a man with a good job and merge herself into the ‘perfect wife.’ She seemed to impose these views on anyone she met and often took the liberty to take to the college’s newspaper to write how she felt about these people. Her character took down her art history teacher specifically, a woman who was not married and was not planning to be, who encouraged her students to look beyond what they were taught was an ‘ideal woman.’ Her life takes an unexpected turn as she realizes how unhappy she is with her husband, and how her mother, who forced these rules of how a woman should act on her, didn’t really care about her life. Her character turns around her life by divorcing her husband, something which was extremely out of the ordinary in the 1950s, and having extreme respect for her teacher because she learned that she doesn’t have to fit the standards society puts on women. Dunst made me hate her for the hour and 57 minutes that the movie was running, which is why she is such an amazing actor. You could feel the bitterness, anger, and overwhelming sadness that Warren felt because of what she put into the role.

Dunst is a standout actor and a pop culture icon who has contributed so much to Hollywood that I couldn’t imagine a world where she wasn’t playing these characters. Not only should she be respected but also admired for the work she puts into every role that she plays.

I will end this with one statement: I am a Kirsten Dunst stan first, human second.