Kirsten Dunst starred alongside Tobey Maguire in the Spider-Man franchise and was featured on posters for the sequel, but she did not receive the same pay check as her co-star; now, she’s speaking out about it. The actress, 39, starred as Mary Jane Watson, love interest and wife of Peter Parker in the 2002 superhero film, reprising her role in the second and third film. While the first film brought in $821 million (and its sequel raking in $789 million), the star said the disparity between her and her male co-star, 46, were “extreme.”
“The pay disparity between me and Spider-Man was very extreme,” the actress recalled to The Independent in a recent interview. “I didn’t even think about it. I was just like, ‘Oh yeah, Tobey is playing Spider-Man.'” She quipped, “But you know who was on the cover of the second Spider-Man poster? Spider-Man and ME.” During the interview, she also recalled a Spider-Man producer taking her to get her teeth fixed at the age of 19 for the role.
The star said she was unaware of the plan until her car arrived at the dentist’s office. She declined the procedure, thank you very much. “I was like, ‘Mmmmm, no, I like my teeth,’” Kirsten told the outlet, adding that Sofia Coppola, her director on The Virgin Suicides, “loved” her teeth. The actress credited the director for instilling confidence in her at a young age. “The fact that the coolest girl liked how I looked, that’s what preserved me,” she said.
Kirsten continued, “She made me feel pretty. As a 16-year-old girl, you feel like crap about yourself, right? So to have my first experience of a more ‘sexy’ role be through her eyes gave me a confidence that helped me deal with a lot of other things.” Despite the pay disparity and teeth procedural requests, the Golden Globe-nominated actress still looks back at her time as Mary Jane with fondness.
Kirsten recently revealed that she would be open to reprising her role, 14 years later. At the premiere of her upcoming film The Power of the Dog on Nov. 11, Kirsten told Variety when asked if she’d be open to returning to that superhero world: “I would do it. Why not? That would be fun. I would never say no to something like that.” She joked, “I’d be old MJ at this point with little Spidey babies.”