Kirsten Dunst was ‘terrified of taking an antidepressant’ when she was depressed

The Power Of The Dog Premiere

Kirsten Dunst has a supporting role in Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog. She and her real-life husband Jesse Plemons star as a newlywed couple, and Plemons’ character is the younger brother of Benedict Cumberbatch’s character. The film is about toxic masculinity and repressed men and all kinds of sh-t. As Dog made its way through the film festivals, Benedict and Kirsten both got a lot of notice, and there’s talk of an Oscar campaign for her as well as the (ongoing) campaign for Bendy. Kirsten is in a really good place in her life right now – happily married to Plemons, mother of two, and in one of the most creative periods of her career. Dunst chatted with the LA Times about Dog and life, and here are some highlights from the piece. For what it’s worth, I know this isn’t the most soundbyte-y interview, but I enjoyed hearing from her:

On the possibility that she could get an Oscar nom for Dog: “I don’t really think about it too much because I just can’t. So it feels like, if I get nominated or something like that, incredible. But if not, I got to work with Jane Campion. That trumps any other thing to me.”

On Sofia Coppola: “At 16, that age where you don’t feel cool or pretty, Sofia gave me confidence. She made me feel good about myself for entering this, like, more male gaze in Hollywood. So I always felt like I didn’t have to do anything to try and be like a Hollywood blond, like fix my teeth perfectly or anything like that. I didn’t feel that pressure because Sofia thought I was beautiful, and I thought she was the coolest, you know?”

On her Dog character, Rose: “I think Rose is a very old part of myself that I had to rehash of just feeling really bad about myself, or allowing myself to feel bad about myself because of other people’s comments or control. In your early 20s, it’s very easy to get swayed into different things or thinking about yourself in a certain way, especially when you’re putting yourself out there as an actress and you’re in a public light. So there are definitely things I can relate to in terms of feeling really badly about yourself.

How it felt playing a woman who was terrorized by her BIL: “I wasn’t as confident. I’m happy that Jesse was there with me because I had someone to give me a hug or have lunch with. I remember this one scene I did, and Noriko [Watanabe], who did my makeup and my wig in the movie, I’ve worked with on a couple films, and I just remember crying in her arms one day after some takes. Because it doesn’t stop just because somebody yells cut. It’s not like, “Oh, my tears just dry right up, and OK, out to lunch.” I just felt with Rose it was a very painful experience to play her. Not a role I’d migrate to if it wasn’t in the hands of Jane Campion.

On Jesse Plemons: “We fell in love creatively first. He was like a creative soul mate to me and the way we both work. On “Fargo,” I knew after two weeks. I didn’t remember saying this, but one of my best friends told me that I said to her that “I will know this man for the rest of my life. I just know it.” Just because I felt such an immediate connection. Working together on this, it’s just easy. We love working together. So, it’s really, really easy to work with each other. We’re very honest. We’re very down to try anything. No one judges anybody. There’s no ego. It’s just, how do we make this the most alive together and the most real?

Talking about her depression circa 2010-11: “It’s so personal. But I do feel like it’s so mishandled. I personally was so terrified of taking an antidepressant at that time. Like, terrified. And it really just helped me clear something so I could start to see things again. So I’m willing to talk at length with anyone who’s struggling…. It wasn’t really a “problem.” I wasn’t, like, using drugs or anything. It was just literally my brain got depressed. It was just like, the old way of being and working within the world didn’t work anymore. I just never really got angry. I was just never really angry about things. So that is the definition of depression pretty much. Anger turned inward.

[From The LA Times]

Personally, I love Kirsten and Jesse together and they make so much sense. I can see it lasting for a long time, if not forever. Kirsten was clearly in the mindset of “I want to be married with children” and it was probably a right time/right place/right guy situation. What does surprise me about Kiki and Jesse is that she’s kept working – I thought she would take a big break from Hollywood as soon as she started having babies! That seemed to be her plan. So all of this has been kind of cool, to see her navigate everything now. As for what she said about what Sofia Coppola gave her and how Sofia made her feel cool… that’s pretty awesome.

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16 Responses to “Kirsten Dunst was ‘terrified of taking an antidepressant’ when she was depressed”

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  1. Selene says:

    Sofia’s perception of her altered everything for me because I didn’t see Kirsten as beautiful until I saw her through Sofia’s lens. I didn’t understand how MJ did nothing for me, but then I fell madly in love with Lux Lisbon. Sofia Coppola’s aesthetic befits women and they’re made for the female (or feminine) gaze.

  2. lana86 says:

    Oh i love them both

  3. Orangeowl says:

    Describing the antidepressants as “clearing the way” for her is a good way to frame it. Although there should be no shame in having to take them indefinitely. Some people’s pancreas don’t function properly so they take insulin – the brain that doesn’t function properly should be regarded the same way.

    I’m glad she is feeling better and doing so well in general, I’ve always had a soft spot for her.

    • Meg says:

      I don’t like how she describes antidepressants as a cure. They are a management tool and for most people they are a lifelong tool.

      • steph says:

        This! Maintenance or mood stabilizers are the best words to describe how antidepressants work and thinking they’re a cure will get you in trouble. I learned that the hard way.

      • BeanieBean says:

        I think it may be highly individualistic & depend on the kind of depression. Per my therapist, mine was ‘situational’. I took Lexapro for a year & a half and it worked for me. I can’t describe how, because it was subtle & gradual, but my thinking/feeling changed & continues to this day. I’m very grateful.

  4. Ginny says:

    Wow, I have never followed Kirsten that closely, so this interview added so much more depth/nuance to my perception of her. I haven’t seen “Power of the Dog” because I wasn’t sure I was emotionally up for it, but now I feel more inclined if only to take in her performance.

  5. Driver8 says:

    She’s excellent in every role she takes on. Has anyone seen her in On Becoming a God in Central Florida? I love her and Jesse Plemmons together too.

    • AmB says:

      Yes, I paid actual $ for “On Becoming a God,” which I Do Not Do, and loved it. KD’s character was headed down such an fascinating path – I was really disappointed it fell to COVID after one season. Hopefully if things settle down it’ll get back into production. I think it’s still a great time in history to tell that story (for another couple years anyway), and it hadn’t even come close to earning its title yet! KD’s character had so much more to do …

      • Driver8 says:

        It’s so special. She GOES.FOR.IT. I got my best friend to watch and he sent me video of the scene where she’s dancing with the mannequins. My friend is howling thru it, so I had to save it forever. Fingers crossed it comes back. What a treasure it is!

    • Green Desert says:

      I LOVED On Becoming a God in Central Florida. Such a unique and strange and wonderful show, and she was fantastic in it. I hope it comes back at some point!

      I love Kiki so much. We’re about the same age so I’ve watched her since we were teenagers. I’m so happy for her personal happiness and professional success.

  6. ooshpick says:

    She is a very good actress. Melancholia showed me that. I love Jesse Plemons because I miss Philip Seymour Hoffman and he has a similar coloring and stature. He radiates embodiment and I love that in an actor. Basically: love this couple.

  7. Emily says:

    Love that she’s speaking about it, and saying there wasn’t some big reason (aka drugs) and that her brain was just depressed.

    I started taking anti-depressants this year for the first time in my life. I feel like the problems haven’t gone away but I’m thinking more clearly about them. I only wish I’d taken them in my 20s during a bad depressed period, but at the time I didn’t recognize I had depression — there was so much stigma back then.

  8. tempest+prognosticator says:

    I’ve always had a soft spot for Kirsten. She’s a talented actor. I like what she said about Sofia Coppola and that she was able to see herself through Sofia’s eyes. Kirsten looks real and that is beautiful.

  9. JanetDR says:

    I have loved her since Drop Dead Gorgeous and glad to have another couple of movies to add to my list!
    I am not planning to watch Dog because it sounds too intense for me though.

  10. Bambam says:

    I wish for every girl, on their 16th birthday, for Sofia Coppola to show up and they spend the next year brainstorming, collaborating, and filming a movie in which every thing that girl doesn’t like about herself is instead presented as the coolest and most awesome things about her, they drive the plot and then there is a epilogue where she is an old woman and it turns out those things were objectively cool and defined who she was her entire life, always the coolest girl no matter what life threw her way.