Kristen Dunst discusses why she thinks there will be a fourth film, what kinds of projects attract her, and the new movie she's doing with Simon Pegg

With a variety of roles to her credit Kirsten Dunst is probably best known as the Mary Jane (M.J.) Watson character in the Spider-Man movies. In Spider-Man 3, we see the relationship between Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) and M.J. put to it's greatest test.

Peter Parker has finally managed to strike a balance between his devotion to M.J. and his duties as a superhero. But there is a storm brewing on the horizon. As Spider-Man basks in the public's adulation for his accomplishments and he is pursued by Gwen Stacy (Bryce Dallas Howard), who rivals M.J. for his affections, Peter becomes overconfident and starts to neglect the people who care about him most. His newfound self-assuredness is jeopardized when he faces the battle of his life against two of the most feared villains ever (Thomas Haden Church, Topher Grace), whose unparalleled power and thirst for retribution threaten Peter and everyone he loves.

Related: Far from Home Banners Put Spidey's Multiple Costumes on Display

Did you do a lot of collaboration with Sam and the others on the Mary Jane character in this film?

Kirsten Dunst: I did. The fact that they're in a relationship, now you have to deal with real relationship stuff. I was happy that Mary Jane finally got a gig. Sam is obviously the one who developed the storyline and everything, but he was open to our our suggestions.

That's really you singing in the movie? Was that nervewracking?

Kirsten Dunst: I got to prerecord it so...

Do you enjoy showing yourself off in that way?

Kirsten Dunst: It was fun to do.

You do big budget movies and you've also done smaller movies. Which do you like to do the most?

Kirsten Dunst: Sam to me is of a very independent spirit and mind. To me, working with Sam, he's the most collaborative director I've ever worked with. To me it's like doing a small film, obviously on a large scale, but when it comes to the scenes in the relationship it's treated like any other movie it's very important for all of us, but I don't really look at movies big and small. The bigger movies take longer to make and you have to do more prep on them. Usually, it's a little bit more coverage, too. Those are the elements, "Do I want to spend 6 months of my life doing this film?"

On the subject of Spider-Man 4, Sam has said that he wouldn't do it if you or Tobey wasn't involved...

Kirsten Dunst: I feel the same way, I would only do it with Sam and Tobey. You can't do that to the fans, number one. Two, you can't do that to each other we're a team and we've grown up together now. What makes this movie special is our collaboration on it.

Has anybody broached that part of the conversation, yet?

Kirsten Dunst: Not really. We never felt like it was really the end anyway. I just think there will probably be a slight reprieve and we'll come back.

At one point you did say that three movies would be enough.

Kirsten Dunst: I do feel like it's enough. I feel like we ended a chapter with this film. Definitely, I think this book is closed. Now we'll approach it in another way that will refresh all of us. We've had really amazing actors who have come in and played our villains. People respect this franchise, they respect Spider-Man and they know we want to make the best film every time.

Mary Jane is a bit different in the movies than in the comic book...

Kirsten Dunst: She's more sexed up in the comic book. We wanted to develop Mary Jane into a woman that all the girls could look up to.

Would you like Mary Jane to cut loose a little bit?

Kirsten Dunst: I don't know we'll see where it goes. All I'm thinking about is this movie right now. That's not up to me, you know?

Are there aspects of this movie that you can relate to in your own life?

Kirsten Dunst: So many things. Good and evil, religion plays a big part in comics to me. Even our visuals James laying as the sun's rising at the end. Or, Tobey in the second one being passed over people in the tram like he's Jesus. It's very much like good and evil which I think is in a lot of religion. Also, I think it's about heroes and Peter's the everyman. When Spider-Man swings through the city you hear melancholic music, he's always tortured with his responsibility. He's trying to grow up and be a man with these powers that you have. I can compare it to Superman. When he flies through the air it's like happy music but Spider-Man has always been tortured with his work. That makes him human. You don't separate the man from the mask.

How do you interpret where Peter and Mary Jane are at the end of the film? It's a little ambiguous...

Kirsten Dunst: Which I love because that's relationships. It's not cut and dry.

What challenges do you face in your career trying to find the right roles?

Kirsten Dunst: I don't deliberate so much. I'm very instinctual. I'm not career planning.

What kind of characters are you drawn to?

Kirsten Dunst: For me it's about the story and the director and who else is in the film.

What do you have coming up next?

Kirsten Dunst: I'm doing a movie with Simon Pegg, we're doing a movie called How To Lose Friends & Alienate People. I work at the magazine in the film. Its such a well written script and I was just like, "Yes." Even before I finished it. I've always done comedies though. I want to do something fun.

Did you like that Mary Jane showed more strength in this movie? She helps out in the fight scene.

Kirsten Dunst: Yeah, it's like, "Sam, give me something." That was the one thing, so he gave me a cinder block. It's so funny because the cinder block weighed less than all of these things. It was like holding air. It was foam so I had to pretend to pick it up and ache with it. That was really funny.

What sort of character do you play in How To Lose Friends & Alienate People?

Kirsten Dunst: I play Alison. She works at the faux Vanity Fair. It's not Vanity Fair in the script. He plays a writer from London who is very controversial who comes to the Vanity Fair. It's all about the goings on in that whole celebrity gossip world. How he's kind of rejected as a writer. It's all in the book. When I read the script I just died. It's so good. It makes fun of so many people.

Including acting is there anything you would like to do?

Kirsten Dunst: I'm directing my first short film this summer. I'm also starting to produce. It's a ghost story and it's part of Glamour Reel and they give me carte-blanche. I pick my writer, I write my script, I pick everyone that I want to work with.

Are you going to be acting as well in it?

Kirsten Dunst: Michele Williams is a friend of mine. We did a movie together when we were younger. I want her to be my star. She said she would but now it's all about dates and that kind of stuff.

What's it called?

Kirsten Dunst: I don't know yet.

What's the story?

Kirsten Dunst: I'm not gonna share that yet. It's a surprise.

Are ghost stories a genre you want to work in?

Kirsten Dunst: I've always... Roman Polanski, Repulsion... Rosemary's Baby, those are my favorite movies. They just don't make movies like that anymore. The Others was the closest in that genre.

What were the biggest challenges for you on Spider-Man 3 vs. the other two films?

Kirsten Dunst: It's challenging in a different way. Every movie is a different entity. Even with these movies, we've all changed as people so much. Our standards are so high for each other. We just call each other on our stuff. We're so honest. It's like a really close family, we can get in fights and love each other.

The taxi cab scene must've been...

Kirsten Dunst: I hate doing that crap. Basically, you spend all day for one shot that's like the blink of an eye. It's weeks and weeks of this. There's 5 Units going on, Sam isn't even directing you, it's like all different people. They have to get approval and then they run it back, and we end up reshooting it anyway because Sam needs to do it his way. It's the most frustrating arduous process of the whole filming. The acting is nothing and it's not why I'm in this business. I understand that it's part of this movie and I'm still doing it.

What about the relationships between the Gwen Stacy, Peter and Mary Jane characters in the movie?

Kirsten Dunst: Now that they're older, all the things they have to deal with in their life are coming out. It's nice for people who are true fans who have seen the first and second, the comics, they'll have an extra emotional connection to all this because we all know Mary Jane's past. I feel like Mary Jane is a strong girl but one tug and she unravels completely. It was nice to bring all of that from the first and second into this. Harry and his whole thing with Tobey, our trifecta of our friendships, loves and hates, there's so much there and I think it all really comes out in this movie.

Who would win in a smackdown with M.J. and Gwen?

Kirsten Dunst: (laughs) That's all your fantasy!

Spider-Man 3 swings into conventional theaters and IMAX on May 4 from Columbia Pictures.

Evan Jacobs