To state Kirsten Dunst (37) is enjoying a career resurgence isn't entirely accurate. But thanks to receiving both a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and rave reviews for her role as the downtrodden widow Krystal Stubbs on Showtime's new series, On Becoming a God in Central Florida, she is getting some well-deserved attention. This includes a love letter from Vanity Fair praising Dunst's long-overlooked acting chops.
Dunst's IMDb resume is impressive by anyone's standards with a whopping 82 acting credits which span from 1989 to the present. She's made the long journey from precocious child star to ingenue to mature actress, and Dunst appears to be just hitting her stride.
With Dunst very much in the spotlight, we decided to revisit her top 10 roles.
10 Lizzie Bradbury (Wimbledon)
Set in the world of competitive tennis, Wimbledon (2004) is a charming and underrated romantic comedy. Dunst stars as Lizzie Bradbury, a phenom who has her eye on the grand prize (and a Grand Slam). While in London for the oldest tennis tournament in the world, Lizzie meets Peter Colt (Paul Bettany) who is one last loss away from retirement after a fairly lackluster career.
Dunst hasn't built her career on becoming America's sweetheart, but she proves to be just as appealing a rom-com leading lady as Sandra Bullock or Meg Ryan when Dunst gets her hands on the right script.Wimbledon wouldn't work without the chemistry between Dunst and Bettany, and Dunst does a great job of balancing Lizzie's aggressiveness on the court, and her vulnerability off of it.
9 Nicole Oakley (Crazy/Beautiful)
In Crazy/Beautiful (2001), Dunst plays troubled rich girl Nicole Oakley who falls for Carlos Nuñez (Jay Hernandez), a hardworking guy from the wrong side of the tracks.
Dunst handles Nicole's addiction and mental and emotional issues in a way that doesn't come off as over-the-top and completely self-indulgent. She's not always likable, but Dunst breaks viewers' hearts as a young woman who is just desperate for love, understanding and acceptance.
8 Claire Colburn (Elizabethtown)
Claire Colburn (Dunst) is a perky flight attendant who possesses an endless amount of sage wisdom to spare in writer-director Cameron Crowe's Elizabethtown (2005). Crowe's movies (Jerry Maguire, Almost Famous) tend to revolve around men going through some existential crisis or another, and this time it's failed shoe designer Drew Baylor (Orlando Bloom).
Drew is dealing with his father's death when he meets the charismatic Claire. She serves as Drew's spiritual and emotional guide, enabling him to come to terms with his grief. Dunst does the free-spirited, quirky girl trope well. Dunst makes Claire the kind of person you definitely want around both during a crisis and after it passes.
7 Amber Atkins (Drop Dead Gorgeous)
Drop Dead Gorgeous (1999) chronicles the cutthroat world of beauty pageants through the eyes of a mockumentary film crew. Dunst plays Amber Atkins, a small-town girl from Mount Rose, Minnesota who dreams of winning the Sarah Rose Cosmetics Mount Rose American Teen Princess Pageant.
Victory becomes a matter of life and death when the contestants start dying off under suspicious circumstances. Dunst brings an earnestness to good girl Atkins that prevents her from becoming too annoyingly treacly. Dunst has a gift for playing confoundingly upbeat characters without crossing the line into ingratiating.
6 Torrance Shipman (Bring It On)
Bring It On (2000) was arguably a career-defining film for Dunst. She plays Torrance Shipman, the captain of a championship cheerleading squad who learns the former captain stole their winning routines from another squad.
Bring It On is mindless fun. Torrance is endlessly optimistic but not annoying. The movie isn't satirical and dark like Election, and Torrance is no Tracy Flick, but the film does take some self-deprecating jabs at cheerleading and cheerleader stereotypes. Dunst brings boundless enthusiasm to the role, invoking a cinematic anomaly -- a likable cheerleader.
5 Regan (Bachelorette)
In Bachelorette (2012), Regan (Dunst) is the de-facto leader of a group of girlfriends from high school known as the "B-Faces" ("bitch faces"). Regan's quest for the perfect life has derailed, and she can hardly contain her resentment as she serves as the maid of honor for the member of their clique nicknamed "Pig Face" (Rebel Wilson).
Regan is the quintessential mean girl and ultimate frenemy who is too Type-A to purposely sabotage her friend's wedding, expecting some karmic payoff for cleaning up mess after mess. It's a departure for Dunst whose sweet smile and dimples are replaced with red lips that utter profanity in rapid succession.
4 Edwina (The Beguiled)
The Beguiled (2017), Sofia Coppola's remake of the 1971 film of the same name, is set in the South during the Civil War. An injured Union soldier, Corporal McBurney (Colin Farrell), finds himself under the care and control of the headmistress, Miss Martha (Nicole Kidman), of an all-girls boarding school.
Dunst plays Edwina, a prim and proper teacher who becomes the object of McBurney's affections. Dunst never fully gives viewers access to Edwina's motivations. Dunst makes sure Edwina's truest, darkest thoughts lurk in the shadows of her mind. There are times the audience isn't sure if Edwina's affections for the Corporal are unwavering, and the film's ending paints her either as weak and complicit or belies the actions of a woman scorned.
3 Lux Lisbon (The Virgin Suicides)
The Virgin Suicides (1999) chronicles the short lives of the five beautiful Lisbon sisters as seen through the eyes of the neighborhood boys obsessed with them.
Dunst plays Lux who despite her sheltered existence knows the effect she has on the opposite sex. All of the Lisbon sisters are alluring, but Dunst oozes femininity with a toss of the hair, a sly smile or by battering her eyes. Dunst's portrayal is haunting as the one girl boys never forget, even long after leaving adolescence behind.
2 Marie Antoinette (Marie Antoinette)
Dunst plays the title role in Sofia Coppola's modern twist on the tale of the infamous Queen of France. Marie Antoinette (2006). Coppola steers clear of politics, choosing to showcase Dunst as a young Austrian girl who is seduced by the decadence of life at Versailles.
But over the course of the film, Dunst's performance evolves from one of a silly child who stuffs her face full of and neither spends nor loves in moderation into a doting mother and mature woman. Dunst takes us on the journey of a child whose destiny is infamy.
1 Krystal Stubbs (On Becoming a God in Central Florida)
On the new Showtime series On Becoming a God in Central Florida (2019), Krystal Stubbs (Dunst) wears the defeated look of a woman who has worked hard for her entire life and has nothing to show for it. This role feels like an odd culmination of many of the characters Dunst has played before, but they're all grown up, and things haven't entirely gone their way.
Dunst can no longer play the ingenue or the plucky cheerleader, but like Krystal, Dunst seems eager to move on to bigger and better things.