How Tom Cruise Helped Kirsten Dunst Land Childhood Interview With the Vampire Role

Nearly three decades later, Kirsten Dunst still remembers the way Tom Cruise made a subtle, but important difference at her Interview With the Vampire screen test.

By Samantha Schnurr Dec 02, 2021 6:43 PMTags
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In the words of Kirsten Dunst, "Jersey got Jersey's back."

In a newly published interview for The Cut, the Power of the Dog actress recalled the special way her Interview With the Vampire co-star, Tom Cruise, helped her land the breakout role. "Well, we're both from New Jersey," she said of herself and the Oscar nominee. "And we had this screen test where he had to pick up each little girl."

For Dunst, who turned 12 just before the movie came out, a few helpful words from Cruise might have made all the difference. "I was the tallest one, and he was like, 'Tuck in your legs,' so that I looked really tiny in his arms," she explained to The Cut. "He was trying to help me out since Neil Jordan, the director, wanted to see how each girl looked when Tom picked us up because they wanted the character to look like a bit like a doll, a little girl."

She quipped, "Jersey got Jersey's back." Dunst was born in Point Pleasant, New Jersey while Cruise, who was born in New York and reportedly attended many different schools, ultimately graduated from high school in Glenn Ridge, New Jersey.

The acclaimed actors have since made a splash in Hollywood, with Dunst earning her first of three Golden Globe nominations for her performance in the horror film. 

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Nearly three decades later, her memories of working on the movie are what you might expect from any kid in those unconventional circumstances. 

"Still to this day, I have not been on a set of that magnitude. But I felt very supported and very loved. And Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt were so sweet to me. They just treated me like a little sister," she recalled. "I remember the worst thing I had to do on that film was suck this person's blood from their neck. And the person was sweating so badly, and I was dying. I was like, 'Oh my God, please don't make me. How am I going to do this?' They were just sweating so badly. And I put my mouth on their neck, and I was dying."

François Duhamel/Sygma/Sygma via Getty Images

As she put it, "You can see that even my funniest memory is something very normal and very kidlike."

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