Though Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette (now in theaters) tries very hard not to be your typical stale costume drama the soundtrack is full of modern rock and '80s New Romantic tunes, and no one speaks in a fake accent star Kirsten Dunst certainly had to don a lot of fancy dresses and wigs to portray the world's most fashionable queen. Under all those layers of pastel and corsets, the actress was able to add depth to the story of the 14-year-old Austrian princess who was thrust into very strict French society and placed on view for the very judgmental eye of the people. Was that because she could relate to the pressures of being a public figure at such a young age?
"I'm not running a country, I'm acting!" Dunst tells TVGuide.com. "I can understand feeling like a lot of people have opinions about you and they don't want the best things for you, but I can have a distance from that. They don't have to know about me, but when you're running a country it's a completely different thing. I can understand feeling isolated sometimes, but I can't compare myself to Marie Antoinette!"
Too late, Kirsten it's our job to make you compare yourself to your characters! At least this Marie Antoinette is not the oft-reviled, heartless monarch we all imagine. According to the historians whose work Coppola studied closely, she was too isolated and ignorant to actually wish ill on her poor subjects. "I never knew how young she was when all this was happening," Dunst says. "I knew that she didn't say, 'Let them eat cake,' but I never tried to look at somebody who's such a historical figure in such a personal way before."
As is Coppola's style, there are many scenes in the film with sparse dialogue. Dunst (who also starred in Coppola's Virgin Suicides) says this has already affected her acting style in other movies. "The silence and the way that we filmed this movie gave me a new energy in what I do, and how you can approach it a different way. I just have more of a grasp of storytelling; I'm more of an observant person [after Marie Antoinette]. It just gave me a confidence that I hadn't had on other movies."
Surprisingly, Dunst says the transition from making this lovely, girly film in Paris to doing the very dark, special-effects-laden Spider-Man 3 wasn't difficult. "[Working with] Sam Raimi is like working with an independent director," she explains. "Even though we were making a big movie and there are elements about it that are straining like blue screen and acting to nothing, and all those things that make you a little crazy when it comes down to the scenes, it's always collaborative. [Mary Jane] is really important to me, so I was really excited to do that again."
And will Marie Antoinette also hold a special place in her mental résumé? "This film feels very close to me," she says. "I have such fond memories of Paris. I made a really good friend there, who played one of my ladies-in-waiting. It's part of my life forever."
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