How Kirsten Dunst has not allowed vanity to determine her career or her style

Kirsten Dunst at the premiere of Woodshock, in which she stars, directed by her friends and Rodarte masterminds Kate and Laura Mullleavy. (Photo: Getty Images)

When you pal around with the masterminds behind Rodarte, you are sure to get looped into some cutting-edge projects. And that’s exactly what happened when Kirsten Dunst signed on to star in Kate and Laura Mulleavy’s directorial debut, Woodshock. The film transports viewers into the inner monologue of Theresa, a young woman who struggles with loss and experiments with a mind-altering drug to cope with her turmoil. “It’s a very beautiful movie,” says Dunst, “and one that would never be made by a man!”

The trio is currently promoting the film (in theaters now), but that’s not the only collaboration they have in the works. Dunst tells Yahoo Style that she and the Mulleavy sisters are also in the process of custom-making the dress that she will wear at her upcoming wedding to Jesse Plemons — and that she has had this plan in the works long before her former Fargo co-star popped the question. “They know what looks good on me,” she says of her designer BFFs. “I feel like it will be fun and something creative to do together.”

We caught up with the star to discuss being the muse of cool-girl directors like Sofia Coppola, fighting off social media trolls — “I almost feel like when you get older, they get more critical,” she says — and how she’s had to toss out all notions of vanity to make it in the business.

“I think I’m more drawn to the women first,” said Dunst about her relationship with directors like Coppola and Mulleavy sisters. “When I worked with Sofia, I was only 16. I think we were drawn to each other. It was Sofia’s first film. I was a little nervous when I read the script because there was some sexual-innuendo stuff that I had never even come close to in life or having to pretend onscreen. I just felt very safe with Sofia, so that’s kind of where that started.”

As for the Rodarte designers turned filmmakers, Dunst recalled that she was the the first actress to wear their clothes. “I wore three dresses of their first collection on the second Spider-Man tour, so I kind of fell in love with what they did first, before I ever even knew them. They were very much friends that I met that were immediately soul mates of mine.”

Kirsten Dunst with Kate and Laura Mulleavy — BFFs — at the premiere of Woodshock in Hollywood. (Photo: Getty Images)

Because of that friendship, Dunst’s role in their film resulted from more than just reading a script and being offered a part. “Woodshock was a very natural thing that we discussed over too much limoncello when I went with them to Italy once, in 2011,” she confessed. “We were jet-lagged and we drank a lot. They were like ‘we are thinking of making a movie.’ They had a script of 30 pages, and we read the whole thing together.”

“There is no one that is doing what they do,” Dunst pointed out about the Mulleavy sisters and their work. “This movie is so beautiful. It’s like watching a poem. I think that it’s so interesting to see a film that’s so interior from a female perspective. You get to see men think onscreen all the time, but you don’t always get to have that journey with a woman. It’s a very different kind of film. This movie would never be made by a man, that’s for sure.”

Some of the Mullleavys’ work at the Rodarte show for Paris Fashion Week 2017. (Photo: Getty Images)

Dunst took her Woodshock appearance to a more vulnerable place than we’ve seen in recent years, very much a plain Jane with minimal makeup. Was it a nice change of pace or scary to see herself onscreen that vulnerable?

A scene from Woodshock. (Photo: A24)

“It definitely fit the character,” said Dunst. “It would have looked ridiculous to be dolled up while I was dealing with the grief of losing my mother. But also, the movie is shot so beautifully. Vanity in acting, that’s the last thing you have to worry about. You lose everybody if you have that I think. That’s a pretty bad thing to have, man or woman.”

Probing a bit deeper into Dunst’s perspective on body image and self-confidence, the actress had some unique insights, particularly for young girls and women who want to go into acting themselves. “To me the most important thing is, if you can — because I understand if you are on a TV show, you can’t always go to normal schools — but I always went to normal schools. I think that is so important not to be home-schooled or go to professional acting schools. You should be surrounded by kids your own age that are going through the same things as you, even though you happen to be doing this other thing too. Other kids are focusing on tennis or are focusing on learning an instrument very well. Whatever it is, I think it’s important to go to a normal school and experience all the things that come along with it.”

And about her own self-image and how she deals with the inevitable criticisms, Dunst finds it rarely stops. “Oddly enough,” she said. “I feel like the older I get, the more people comment on things and get critical. I remember in Fargo they were like ‘has she gained weight? She gained a little.’ I was like, “Who cares?” They almost never do it to a dude … I don’t take it to heart. It’s up to me whether I want to take that on or not, and I don’t. I think I have enough confidence in my career and what I’ve accomplished. My work isn’t based on my vanity and so I don’t feel like my worth is in my looks.”

She doesn’t have much advice for her younger self, were she to ever turn back the clock. “I was a good girl at 16 I feel like. I’d give myself more advice when I was 18 … ‘Do not date that dude.’”

But everything leads you to where you are now, and she wouldn’t have ended up with her fabulous fiancé unless she dated Mr. Wrong at 18. “It’s true,” she laughed. “But still, some people could be deleted.”

Regarding her fiancé and wedding, we heard rumblings that the Mulleavy sisters will be making Dunst’s wedding dress, for her it was a no-brainer that her designer buddies would be her go-to. “They are two of my best friends. I don’t have that relationship with anybody in my life who makes beautiful things like that, so definitely. They’ve done that before in the past for friends. I knew they were doing that long before [my engagement] — for a long time. Design-wise, I feel like we’ll pick a fabric and go from there. Because we are friends, I feel like it will be an easy process. They know what looks good on me. I feel like it will be fun and something creative to do together that is not stressful.”

Dunst has also admitted to us that she’s using Pinterest to plan her wedding. And while she’s not a fan of the social media platform’s personalized suggestions, she’s finding it a useful way to share ideas and now realizes she’s far from a typical Pinterest do-it-yourselfer. “I just don’t want anything to be too stuffy,” she says about her upcoming nuptials.

From her film debut in the late 1980s on through to her current wedding-planning self, Dunst has had many different looks throughout the years — everything from ’90s butterfly clips to those stellar Bring It On updos. Dunst looks back at her early years as a time of freedom: “I feel like when you are a kid, you can do whatever you want,” she said. “I remember I wore jellies with knee-high socks to an MTV Awards. That was a pretty strong look. I really liked the pink dress I wore in Venice. I really loved that. I remember the first Academy Awards; my stylist dressed me in this beautiful vintage Christian Dior dress. It was one of the prettiest dresses I’d ever seen. I had never been exposed to dresses like that before.”

Still, Dunst is the first to admit that the early days didn’t always boast style successes. “I don’t want to criticize my little self because that’s mean [laughs]. But there was a really weird age-inappropriate dress that I wore that was green, and it was see-through all down the side. I don’t remember where I wore it to, but my hair was a little ’40s-ish with a flower in it. It just looked a little adult for my age … I wouldn’t even wear that now!”

One of Dunst’s self-professed style errors from her early days: at the red carpet arrivals for the 2000 Screen Actors Guild Awards. (Photo: Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)

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