BEVERLY HILLS, California — She sings, she dances … and she’s better than anybody at dangling precariously from various city landmarks in New York. Over the last five years, movie fans have gotten to know the beautiful Mary Jane Watson almost as intimately as Peter Parker himself, and in the upcoming “Spider-Man 3,” they’ll watch Kirsten Dunst continue to paint her portrayal with what might just be the finishing touches.
In anticipation of the Friendly Neighborhood Box-Office Champ’s May 4 return, Dunst spoke exclusively with MTV about bringing music to the geeks (see ” ’Spider-Man 3′ Details: Musical Mary Jane, Jared Leto-Like Spidey” ), drowning her miseries in pinot grigio and grappling with the Spidey sense that this could be her final flick with Tobey Maguire and the gang.
MTV: The third installments of superhero-movie series — “Superman III,” “Batman Forever,” “X-Men: The Last Stand” — haven’t been very good. How has “Spider-Man 3″ improved on their mistakes?
Kirsten Dunst: I think it’s a testament to [director] Sam [Raimi] and all of us, that we never rest on our laurels with these films. We always want to make a better movie, and we always get the best actors to play our villains.
MTV: And it’s also important that the studio didn’t try to replace any of you with, say, Val Kilmer.
Dunst: Yeah, but they’ve set it up with the Batman movies; you can get away with [replacing the stars] for some reason. They’ve done it with Bond too … but it’s so emotional to see [Peter Parker] grow from the beginning; I really think you need the same person.
MTV: In the opening credits, there are clips from the other two movies, and it’s hard to not notice that we’re watching you, Tobey and James Franco growing up together in these movies.
Dunst: You are; I mean, you have. We’ve definitely had our breaks and had time to do other things, but when we come together, we always come together re-energized … this third one was [for the first time] adult individuals coming together — so this one, for me, was the most collaborative.
MTV: Mary Jane gets to sing quite a bit in this film. How did that come about?
Dunst: Sam was like, “Hey buddy, we’re gonna put a song in there for you!” and I was like, “OK, Sam.” I sing; I’m just not gonna put out an album or anything. [She laughs.] I was excited to do that. Finally, MJ gets a gig!
MTV: What was the process?
Dunst: I just recorded it, and then I’d lip-sync to it.
MTV: When those scenes come on, do you find yourself looking around at the audience to see if they like you singing?
Dunst: No! I’m more like this! [She covers her face.] My mom and my grandma are gonna be really proud, because it’s [an] old-style ’40s [performance]. She’s gonna be real proud, because she sang in the choir.
MTV: I was having flashbacks to “The Cat’s Meow.”
Dunst: Oh yeah, sure. I did a little song at the end of that movie too.
MTV: How has Tobey’s acting style grown since the first Spidey flick?
Dunst: He’s definitely more open, and he’s grown into a man. He’s had a child now, so he’s changed for the better and is more responsible in that way … he’s a very see-through actor; you can see the sincerity in his eyes. It’s nice to have that connection with him.
MTV: But at the same time, he gets to turn that sincerity on its ear in “3,” when the Venom suit turns him into an evil ladies’ man.
Dunst: Yeah, that’s nice. He can do angry; he has a lot of different things inside him. It’s just that Peter was always this younger guy trying to figure it out. Now he gets to bring out this other side in Peter — and even James had the opportunity to do that too. They both had great chances to totally flip their characters in this movie.
MTV: Speaking of James, let’s talk about the scene in which you do “The Twist” with him …
Dunst: … That was actually my favorite scene! It’s rare to have a scene in these movies that aren’t storyboarded to death — wide shot, medium close-up, extra close-up. [Most shots], by the time you’re done matching so anally to what you did previously, it takes out the freshness of why you love acting.
MTV: So how was the “Twist” scene shot?
Dunst: That was the only scene shot from a wide shot, and it felt the most spontaneous. We could change it every time, and it was fun.
MTV: You’ve made no secret of your dislike for action scenes. Do you feel like you got to do a bit more “acting” this time?
Dunst: [Raimi] is an independent spirit … but yeah, I really hate sitting around. As it came to the end of our film, it was like this three-week period of sitting in the trailer, just zoned out on MTV. It was like “[My Super] Sweet 16″; I was dying in my trailer. [She laughs.] Occasionally, we’d do a shot and it [lasts] the blink of an eye in the film. It’s really arduous and depressing.
MTV: And once again, they have you dangling in distress. That must have been more weeks of you sitting around, just shrieking.
Dunst: Oh please! [She laughs.] I actually remember my best friend was living with me — she works for MTV; she casts reality shows for you guys. She’d come home super-bored, depressed from her job, and I’d come home depressed from mine. We’d drink pinot grigio and watch “American Idol” and be like, “I hate our lives!” [She laughs.] For three weeks, we had the worst time.
MTV: Now that superheroes are behind you for the time being, what’s next?
Dunst: Next I’m doing a movie with Simon Pegg called “How to Lose Friends & Alienate People.” He’s in “Hot Fuzz” and he was also in “Shaun of the Dead.” I think he’s a genius.
MTV: What’s the plot?
Dunst: It’s based on a book by Toby Young, this Vanity Fair writer. It’s about how he worked in London and got to Vanity Fair. It’s really funny, it makes fun of everybody. I work at the pseudo-Vanity Fair.
MTV: So is it like …
Dunst: … “Devil Wears Prada”?
MTV: Wow. I guess you’ve heard that before.
Dunst: Yeah. But it’s definitely not like that at all.
MTV: By now, the whole world knows that you guys were only signed for three “Spider-Man” movies. So, do you have any more of this in you?
Dunst: I would do it if Peter [she laughs] … I mean, Tobey and Sam were onboard.
MTV: If you do return for “Spider-Man 4,” where would you like to see MJ go?
Dunst: Well, they still have to work on [Mary Jane and Peter’s] relationship a lot, so hopefully in the next one they’d get it together a little better in terms of them getting together. And then maybe MJ could have, like, eight babies. [She laughs.]
Check out everything we’ve got on “Spider-Man 3″.
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