Not that that’s all translating into great riches. “You don’t want to know how much I got paid for Melancholia!” she says. “Okay, if someone were reading that I’m sure they’d be like, ‘Oh please!’ But hey, man, I’ve been doing independent films!”
While winning the award at Cannes was a milestone for Dunst, it’s probably not what most people remember about Melancholia’s debut. Dunst was sitting next to von Trier when he gave his now infamous press conference, in which he called himself a “Nazi,” saying “Israel is a pain in the ass” and he “understand[s] Hitler.” In the midst of the director’s verbal train wreck, Dunst was seated to his left looking composed and ladylike—her eyes slightly widening in horror as von Trier dug himself deeper into a hole. At one point she leaned over and whispered something in his ear.
“What did you say to him?” I ask her.
“I just said, ‘Come on, Lars,’ or something like that,” says the actress, shaking her head dismissively. “What was I supposed to say? There were a lot of us up there and I feel like if [my costars John Hurt or Stellan Skarsgård] had said something it would have been easier. I think one of the guys could have been like, ‘All right, Lars’ or made a joke out of it. We were all in shock.”
Champagne arrives. I’ve somehow convinced her that a 3 pm drink is a smashing idea. It’s easy to pretend you’re friends with Dunst, which is precisely her appeal. She’s like the cousin with a really cool job; the friend from class who would make fun of the professor but still get A’s; the roommate who wants to order in and watch The Bachelorette. Actually, that last part wasn’t a metaphor.
“I’m obsessed with that show!” Dunst suddenly gets really animated. “The girls go so crazy. And the fact that everyone is freaking out about the roses! It’s insane! I wish there was one person who was like”—she drops an octave—“ ‘Um, you guys are all crazy. This is the dumbest thing ever.’ ” I tell her I’ve never seen the show. “Oh my God. You have to YouTube ‘The Bachelorette Kasey’—he spells it with a K. He does this song …” At this point, Dunst starts singing. She’s trying to sound bad but she has too nice a voice. She actually can’t sing off-key.
“It’s my favorite reality-show moment,” she says. “We tried to get him to come to the Rodarte show.”
By “we,” Dunst means herself and her friends Kate and Laura Mulleavy, the sisters behind the California label. Dunst, the line’s unofficial muse, often wears Rodarte to awards shows. Now that we’ve swung back to fashion, I ask her if she has a favorite red-carpet look. This is what you call a throwaway question—the kind you toss out to buy time while you shake off the champagne and flip through your notebook hunting for something smart to ask. But Dunst takes a deep breath. I’m learning this is what she does when she’s about to go off. I brace.
“I hate red-carpet photographs!”
This is unexpected. Is it the gorgeous hair? The gazillion-dollar dress? Or the whole Cinderella fantasy in general? I’m missing something.
“It’s such flat lighting! They take away my cheekbones—I just become a moonface. I hate those photos so much. I always look terrible. And they don’t know angles on faces. There is no artistry to it. It’s like—” Dunst does an impression of what can only be called a lobotomy patient taking a picture. “I hate them!”
I point out that she’s hardly known as “Kirsten Dunst: That Moonface Actress.” But then again everyone has her thing. Or things. She’s also not a big fan of her nose (“I don’t love it. It’s round. I like strong noses on women”) or her skin tone (“I wear foundation every day; I look dis-gust-ing without it”).
Dunst, who says she has “the kind of skin that you touch and it gets red,” recently discovered spray tans. “You lose like five pounds immediately, and your face is glowing and gorgeous!” It’s fun to watch Dunst continuously cast herself in these one-minute roles. Talking about self-tanner, she becomes a mini opera star, puffing up her chest and opening her hands like she’s going to belt it to the mezzanine level. “I look amaziiiiiiing! I did it for my last movie. Then Isla saw me and was like, ‘I’m gonna get spray-tanned too!’ I only did it twice so I’m tan in like two scenes and super-pale in the rest of the film.”