Prior to Kirsten Dunst’s turn as Mary Jane Watson in 2002’s Spider-Man, she had prominent roles in The Virgin Suicides, Little Women, and Interview With a Vampire (for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe). Despite this track record, the actress says she was paid significantly less than Tobey Maguire, her co-star in the superhero flick. “The pay disparity between me and Spider-Man was very extreme,” Dunst revealed during a recent interview with The Independent.
Dunst would reprise her role as the actress love interest to Maguire’s web-slinging Peter Parker in 2004’s Spider-Man 2 and 2007’s Spider-Man 3. At the time, “I didn’t even think about it,” she said of the pay gap. “I was just like, ‘Oh yeah, Tobey is playing Spider-Man.’ But you know who was on the cover of the second Spider-Man poster? Spider-Man and me.” Dunst previously referenced the franchise’s pay disparity during a 2017 interview with Variety. “Because I was young, I thought, ‘Oh wow, I’m getting paid a lot of money for the Spider-Man movies,” she recalled. “But definitely the men were getting paid more.”
The actress, who’s currently in the Oscar conversation for Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog, said the Spider-Man production team also suggested she fix her crooked teeth for the films. “I was like, ‘Mmmmm, no, I like my teeth,’” Dunst told The Independent, noting that Virgin Suicides director Sofia Coppola had praised her grin. “The fact that the coolest girl liked how I looked, that’s what preserved me. 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.”
Dunst is one of several female stars to have spoken out about the Hollywood wage gap in recent years. Others to have spotlighted the issue include The Crown’s Claire Foy, who was paid less than co-star Matt Smith, and Michelle Williams, who made a paltry $1,000 for reshoots on All the Money in the World compared to Mark Wahlberg’s $1.5 million. Dunst has yet to disclose the level of discrepancy between her and Maguire’s earnings.
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