Two Films That Bring Kirsten Dunst’s Talent Into Focus

In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Beguiled, the actress’ empathy stands out.

Born on April 30, Kirsten Dunst moved when she was just 3 from New Jersey to Los Angeles, where Hollywood was just waiting for her to show up. After working as a child actor in TV commercials and various films, she had her break-out role at age 8 in Interview With the Vampire. Over her career, Dunst has brought to life a wide range of characters, gracing each role with her unique insight and empathy.

So to celebrate, we’re showcasing two of her beloved turns.

Kirsten Dunst and Tom Wilkinson in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

In Michel Gondry’s unforgettable Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Dunst plays Mary Svevo, the receptionist at the biotech company Lacuna, Inc., which is responsible for helping Joel Barish (Jim Carrey) and Clementine Kruczynski (Kate Winslet) erase each other from their minds. Svevo—who is dating Lacuna technician, Stan Fink (Mark Ruffalo), and enamored with the company director, Dr. Howard Mierzwiak (Tom Wilkinson)—is both witness and subject to love’s cruel vicissitudes. Indiewire writes, “The offbeat love story is packed to the brim with great performances, but it’s Kirsten Dunst as lonely-in-love Mary who is possibly the saddest of them all.” It’s a feeling that one hears in her poetic, plaintive voice when she recites Alexander Pope’s immortal lines from which the title is taken.

Watch Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind on Apple TV or Amazon!

Clip from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Colin Farrell and Kirsten Dunst in The Beguiled

The Beguiled

In Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled, Dunst plays Miss Edwina Morrow, a teacher at an all-girl Southern academy. Along with the school’s founder, Miss Martha Farnsworth (Nicole Kidman), Morrow tries to keep her young wards safe during the Civil War, even after they admit a wounded Union soldier (Colin Farrell) into their cloistered home. But the handsome young man’s presence ignites a slow explosion of confused emotions for everyone there.

Dunst, who previously starred in Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides and Marie Antoinette, intuitively knew how to translate the director’s vision to the screen. “Kirsten is some sort of alter ego I connect to in myself,” Coppola told the Los Angeles Times. Among the talented cast, Vanity Fair writes, “The true standout, though, is Dunst, who gives poor Miss Edwina a quiet dignity that rescues her from outright sad spinsterhood. Pinched and forlorn, Edwina is pitiable without being pathetic, a balancing act that Dunst…pulls off with understated aplomb.”

Watch The Beguiled on Apple TV or Amazon!

The official trailer for The Beguiled