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When people think of Kirsten Dunst the first images that typically jump to mind are the little kid in “Interview with a Vampire,” the teenager in “Bring It On” or the girl in US Weekly who used to date Jake Gyllenhaal. But after those people get a load of her in the powerful “All Good Things,” they will start to see Kirsten as a woman and a force to be reckoned with.

Along with Ryan Gosling, Kirsten brings to life the haunting true story of David & Katie Marks (based on Robert Durst) — a seemingly idyllic couple living in NYC circa 1980. Emphasis on the seemingly because Katie’s 1982 disappearance has yet to be solved.

I caught up Kirsten to find out what attracted her to this genre spanning script, how an unorthodox rehearsal process worked to the film’s benefit and which character she’d love to revisit. Hint: she’s perky, she’s cute, she’s popular to boot.

PopWrap: This is your first role in nearly two years, why the break?
Kirsten Dunst: It’s funny because I filmed this movie two years ago, so it seems like longer of a break to everyone else. So I did take a break, but for me it wasn’t as much. I’ve been working so long and I’m at a place now where I can wait for the projects I really feel passionate about. Waiting for something great is, or should be, part of [the business]. I think it’s nice to take breaks, I always like when I don’t see actors all the time.

PW: So did you sit on a beach somewhere and just kick back?
Kirsten: No [laughs], I have such a strong work ethic that I couldn’t do that. I’m a creative person so I need to fulfill those impulses somehow. I did a short film and went to art school for a bit. It was a course where we started with charcoal, moved to acrylic – all about getting the base and form of bodies.

PW: What was it about this script that made you put down the sketch pad?
Kirsten: I read the script alone in a hotel room and afterwards I was so frightened. The fact that a person could be hiding a monster inside, that someone could be so capable of love and do these awful things too. Then how [his father’s] corporation hid all these truths. It’s about how money can stop justice – that you can buy your way out of so many things was so insane to me.

PW: It’s almost too good to be true.
Kirsten: If you wrote this as an original story, you’d think, “no, I can’t put that in – no one’s gonna buy that!” But these things happen. I listen to “This American Life” a lot and it makes me realizes how much these crazy things occur more than you think.

PW: I can’t recall a time I’ve seen you play this adult of a role before — was that also appealing?
Kirsten: Of course. Roles like this don’t often come along. I think now that I’m 28, they’re more and more [frequent], but it’s still borderline. People want to see the perfect girl, or the sweet cute girl all the time. The men usually get the prime roles. I felt like I could bring so much to Katie, but also that it would be so challenging and exciting for me as an actress.

PW: I thought you and Ryan Gosling had tremendous chemistry — did you do much prep work?
Kirsten: We had an 8 week rehearsal process that was very interesting because I don’t think we rehearsed a scene once. It wasn’t about going through the dialog. It was important to feel the love between these two characters otherwise you’d think, “why doesn’t she leave?”

PW: I read that there was a lot of freedom to improvise — do you enjoy working that way?
Kirsten: It’s boring to do a scene the same way every time — that’s why it was always exciting with Ryan. We both work in very similar ways and are very comfortable with improv.

PW: The film really hops between a bunch of different genres — romantic comedy, drama, courtroom thriller — does one appeal to you more than another?
Kirsten: For me it’s all about a good story that challenges me. And the director. There’s not a type of film that I’m drawn to more than another, it’s all about strong female roles – that’s what I aim for. Also, there are times when you read something and just feel “I can play this” – it’s instinctual.

PW: As a fan of yours, I know there have been a lot of great women on your resume — if given the chance to revisit one, who would it be?
Kirsten: Oh gosh, I have to think because .. I died in that one, I died in that one, I died in that one [laughs]. It could be funny to do a much darker “Bring It On” sequel – like what happened to all of them after the first one. Like what happened to Torrence Shipman?

PW: Well, what did happen to Torrence?
Kirsten: I feel like she’s a mom. Married to the brother she wanted and they’re still in Calabasas – living a pretty chill life. That would be kinda funny.

“All Good Things” is now available on VOD and hits theaters December 4

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