Kirsten Dunst: from boos to cheers at Cannes

22nd May 2011, Comments 0 comments

For US actress Kirsten Dunst, winning best actress at the Cannes film festival Sunday is all the sweeter as it comes five years after she was booed on the Croisette.

The 29-year-old, whose career has ranged from Woody Allen to the blockbuster "Spider Man" franchise, was feted at the Palais des Festivals for her role as Justine in controversial Danish director Lars von Trier's "Melancholia."

In 2006 she had to endure boos from French critics at a Cannes screening in Sofia Coppola's "Marie Antoinette," in which her performance in the title role clearly did not live up to Gallic expectations.

Born on April 30, 1982 in New Jersey to a German father and a former art gallery owner mother, she appeared in TV adverts from the age of three and launched her proper acting career when the family moved to Los Angeles.

Her feature debut was in Allen's 1989 "New York Stories," although she had to wait until 1994's "Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles" for her big screen breakthrough, alongside A-listers Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt.

Over the next few years she was in a string of middle-ranking hits including "Little Women," "Jumanji," "Small Soldiers" and scored rave reviews in Coppola's "The Virgin Suicides" in 1999.

Her blockbuster credentials were cemented when she played Peter Parker's love interest Mary Jane Watson in the first "Spider Man" movie, a role she reprised in "Spider Man 2" in 2004 and "Spider Man 3" in 2007.

With success came the usual temptations, and Dunst has spent at least one spell in rehab, checking into a Utah facility in 2008 that has also treated troubled starlet Lindsay Lohan, according to People magazine.

While Sunday's Cannes success will certainly have been a more welcome experience than the 2006 boos, she was philosphical about the criticism at the time.

"Of course the French are going to boo!" Dunst told Entertainment Weekly afterwards. "I didn't take it to heart. How would we feel about the French doing a movie about George Washington with French actors?"

Her success in "Melancholia" may be clouded slightly though by the row triggered by its director, who was declared persona non grata during this year's festival after saying he had some sympathy for Hitler.

When von Trier made the comments at a press conference half way through the 11-day filmfest, Dunst was among the first to register shock, murmuring "Oh my God, this is terrible" to her co-star Charlotte Gainsbourg.

Von Trier, whom she thanked in her acceptance speech, was not able to be there to celebrate with her, having been blackballed by festival organizers even though his film remained in competition.

© 2011 AFP

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