Kirsten Dunst rises out of "Melancholia"

Fri Nov 11, 2011 1:10pm EST
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By Piya Sinha-Roy

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Kirsten Dunst steps out of her comfort zone and deep into a paralyzing depression in her latest film "Melancholia."

Better known for light fare like "Spider-Man" and romantic comedies, Dunst plays the lead in the part science-fiction, part family drama from Danish director Lars von Trier, which opens in select U.S. cities on Friday.

The actress, 29, found herself challenged with intense emotional scenes and nudity while portraying Justine -- a complex bride who deteriorates into a melancholic depression after getting married and immediately regretting it.

"It's a very vulnerable part and there are very difficult scenes, but the environment was very comfortable," said Dunst.

"Anything I had to do, which I may not have felt comfortable with in a different setting, felt protected so I could let loose and be open," the actress added.

Complicated female characters and visually arresting images have become a trademark for von Trier, who cast Nicole Kidman in the 2003 thriller "Dogville" and Charlotte Gainsbourg in the 2009 supernatural movie "Antichrist".

Dunst called von Trier "one of the great directors of our time." He, in turn, drew a performance from Dunst that won her the best actress award at the Cannes film festival and is now earning talk of a possible first Oscar nomination.

It is the best critical acclaim Dunst has experienced since her performance as a 12-year-old in the 1994 drama "Interview With the Vampire" alongside Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt.   Continued...