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But the movie's secret weapon is Dunst herself, who went for the role of Crazy/Beautiful's bad girl because "I was so ready to play a part like that. I don't want people to just see me as the cute, sweet girl." She needn't worry. Although her biggest success so far came last year as the chirpy cheerleader in the surprise high school hit Bring It On, Dunst (known as Kiki to friends and family) has shown impressive range in a career that began with a Kix cereal commercial at age 3 and spans three dozen movie and TV roles. At age 12, she appeared as the creepy little girl in 1994's Interview with the Vampire; she spent her adolescence learning her craft in diverse movies like Jumanji, Wag the Dog and The Virgin Suicides. After seeing footage of Dunst's strung-out scenes in Crazy/Beautiful, Disney executives called Stockwell to make sure their star wasn't actually partaking at work. "Before I would say, 'Action,' she'd be Kiki--perky and bright-eyed," recalls Stockwell. "Then cameras would roll, her eyes would glaze over, and her voice would change. She became this moody, depressed, dysfunctional girl."
Dunst's youthful fan base and cool cache landed her a role as co-host (alongside Saturday Night Live's Jimmy Fallon) of this year's MTV Movie Awards, but like her fans, she has grown tired of the high school genre. "I'm over doing those kinds of movies," says Dunst, who graduated last year. She campaigned diligently--and successfully--for the role of Tobey Maguire's love interest in Sony's upcoming big-budget, highly anticipated Spider-Man. Despite reports that she is also Maguire's leading lady offscreen, both say they are just friends. And she recently finished starring as William Randolph Hearst's mistress, Marion Davies, in director Peter Bogdanovich's The Cat's Meow, a fact-based, murder-on-a-yacht film set for release this fall. "I play someone who's 27, so hopefully they'll see I can do other roles," says Dunst. "I'm just on that edge." Despite the growing pains, Dunst is maturing quite nicely. If Crazy/Beautiful is any indication, the same can be said of teen movies.