Kirsten Dunst and Sofia Coppola have been close friends and collaborators since Coppola cast Dunst as a sexy teenager in the 1999 film The Virgin Suicides. And the director’s new film, The Beguiled, casts Dunst as a teacher for a Gothic girls’ boarding school alongside Elle Fanning and Nicole Kidman.
In a Variety interview with Dunst and Coppola, which is unfortunately but unsurprisingly written by a man despite using the headline “The Future Is Female” on the cover, the two stars talk about their new movie as well as the barriers aging women actresses and directors face in Hollywood today. One of those barriers includes expected weight loss for roles, which Coppola asked Dunst to do before starting the film.
When Coppola suggested that Dunst lose some weight for her role in “Beguiled,” the actress pushed back. But she said her director was very understanding. “It’s so much harder when you’re 35 and hate working out,” Dunst says. She even used the shoot’s location—in rural Louisiana—as an excuse. “I’m eating fried chicken and McDonald’s before work. So I’m like, ‘We have no options! I’m sorry I can’t lose weight for this role.’”
While Coppola in general is described as a laid-back director to work with as someone who doesn’t really worry about box office numbers and finds it unnecessary to take on mainstream movies like The Little Mermaid, Dunst’s commentary on the industry is a little darker. She describes watching Feud, the Ryan Murphy show about the rivalry between Joan Crawford and Betty Davis and feeling sad:
“I was getting depressed watching ‘Feud,’” Dunst says. “I was like, ‘I’m an aging actress!’ But they also had a lot more leverage because they had contracts. So even though they were stuck, they could also bully the studio back. Now you work for nothing on independent films, and you rely on the fashion industry to support your artistic endeavors.”
Dunst is also currently trying to make her directorial debut with a remake of The Bell Jar starring Dakota Fanning, but she stresses how hard it has been to get the necessary funds.
But there’s just one holdup. “We need our financing,” Dunst says. “I’m telling you, I have so many great actresses attached. People are afraid of the name Sylvia and that this is a depressing movie, which it’s not at all.” She hopes to shoot later this year. “It’s always harder for women,” she says. “Everyone has to work 10 times harder.”
Damn Dunst! An interview like this really puts into perspective how much easier it is for someone like Coppola, who can afford to require final cut and has the built-in finances to only make the movies she absolutely wants to every so often. Maybe one of the gazillion men in Hollywood whose pockets are just overflowing with cash that they’ll use to make five more Neighbors sequels or something can through Dunst a bone? Just a thought.
Also, Kirsten, if you’re reading this and you want to talk more about much Hollywood sucks, my email is below.