Inside Kirsten Dunst's Road to Starting a Family and Finding Happiness With Jesse Plemons

A look at the twists and turns in the veteran actress' personal life leading to her coupling up with her Fargo co-star

By Natalie Finn Apr 30, 2020 4:00 PMTags
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Peggy and Ed Blumquist's marriage was the stuff nightmares are made of, but that didn't faze Kirsten Dunst and Jesse Plemons.

The Fargo co-stars hit it off while shooting the second season of the darkly comedic crime series, started dating a year later, got engaged, and are now parents to son Ennis, who will be 2 in May.

"If I hadn't met Jesse, I would have frozen my eggs," Dunst, who's celebrating her 38th birthday today, told PorterEdit last summer. "[But] it feels like I lucked out."

We're guessing the feeling is mutual for this super-private couple, one of whom, at least, probably wasn't as used to having anyone pay much attention to his off-screen life.

Plemons had become increasingly familiar over the past decade from memorable turns in Friday Night Lights (the nicest guy) and Breaking Bad (the nastiest guy), and then Fargo, in which he played a butcher with some serious self-defense skills but really poor judgment. That led to roles in bigger movies such as The PostGame Night and The Irishman.

Meanwhile, Dunst has been famous since the early 1990s. So call us invested in her long-term happiness, if you will.

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Plemons' personal life is a fairly closed book (well done, sir!), but Dunst—who was 12 when she gave a lauded performance in Interview With the Vampire—dated in the public eye for decades.

Probably another reason why she eventually ended up with such a low-key guy.

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When she was about 15, fresh from an arc on ER and the Oscar-nominated Wag the Dog, Dunst hit it off with Jake Hoffman, son of her co-star Dustin Hoffman. "He wants me to be his daughter-in-law!" she joked at the time.

But they were just a couple of kids. Dunst had a few things she needed to do first, before devoting serious time to romance—such as finish high school. She graduated from Notre Dame High in L.A. in 2000, and never looked back as her career further took off with The Virgin Suicides and the insta-classic Bring It On.

(Well, she looked back once. In 2010 she and Hoffman were spotted cuddling during a Tribeca Film Festival event.)

Friendly Celebrity Exes

Dunst's first A-list-yet-under-wraps relationship started in 2001 while shooting Spider-Man with Tobey Maguire. Neither of them ever expressly talked about getting together, dating or, inevitably, breaking up, but word got out thanks to a couple of very close observers.

"I actually had some worries about [their breakup]," Sam Raimi, who directed their whole trilogy, told The Sydney Morning-Herald in 2007 after Spider-Man 3 came out.

"They apparently began dating with each other, I think, in the middle of the first movie...although I didn't know it at the time...but definitely they eventually broke up before the second movie. I was concerned they wouldn't get the same chemistry back, but it was just me worrying.

"They really like each other, I think, very much. And that relationship probably just added to their ability to trust each other."

Columbia Pictures

They were consummate pros, too, looking quite comfortable with each other as they proceeded to do press for Spider-Man 2 and over the next five years. 

Asked at the Spider-Man 3 premiere if it was easier doing press with Maguire and Raimi, because they'd known each other for so long, she told a reporter, "Yes, 'cause we can wink at each other and have a camaraderie that's, you know, stronger over the course of three movies."

Meanwhile, James Franco, the other side of the cinematic love triangle in the films, was just as jealous as Harry Osborne!

"Tobey and Kirsten became a couple around that time," the actor recalled in a joint interview with Raimi for Playboy in 2013. "I had a crush on Kirsten, and I think I was upset about that as well....Tobey was mad at me for a while. By the second film, we were cool, but that's another reason I felt hurt, with you [Raimi] giving Tobey all the attention...You were the father who wouldn't give me the love I needed."

Such a brief relationship, so many residual feelings!

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Once he was single, Maguire became known as a bit of a party guy, a close cohort of Leonardo DiCaprio and his pack of bachelor pals—a rep he didn't bother to shake until he got married in 2007 and became a dad. (Maguire and Jennifer Meyer divorced in 2017.)

And not long after Spider-Man came out, Dunst started dating Jake Gyllenhaal after they were introduced by her Mona Lisa Smile co-star Maggie Gyllenhaal, a relationship that actually went public—red carpet, moving in together, sharing a dog—and lasted for about two years. (Small world, Maguire would later star with Gyllenhaal in 2009's Brothers.)

Justin Goff\UK Press via Getty Images

They split up in 2004 and went their separate ways.

"Kirsten and Jake remain the best of friends," Gyllenhaal's rep said at the time. "Details regarding when and why their romantic relationship stopped are not being provided, but suffice it to say it happened some time ago. They are still very close."

But that was a long time ago. "It would be nice to see him," Dunst told Allure in late 2009. "But we're not good friends."

In 2015, Gyllenhaal blamed a fear of commitment for past relationships failing—he didn't say which—even though he was in love. When they first got together, anyway, Dunst didn't sound too concerned about the long haul, telling People, "Oh, I'm too young to get married, Seriously, I'm 22 years old. It's so annoying that they put pressure on you."

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All the while, there had been the guys she was romantically linked to, without much to go on.

There was Ben Foster, whom she's rumored to have dated while shooting Get Over It, but they had gotten over it by the time the movie came out in 2001. She was reportedly spotted making out with Virgin Suicides co-star Josh Hartnett at a club in West Hollywood after she and Jake broke up. And lastly, there was supposedly a brief fling with Adam Brody around that time as well. 

If her Motorola Razr could talk...


Then there was a brief bit of hanging out with The Strokes drummer Fabrizio Moretti in 2007, after he dated Drew Barrymore and before he dated Kristen Wiig.

But her next documented relationship came with former Razorlight frontman Johnny Borrell, who readily admitted later that he was a bit of a prat in those days.

Evan Agostini/Getty Images

"I guess I was constantly attempting to be what I thought I should be doing in that scenario [as a rock star]," Borrell told the U.K.'s Telegraph in 2013, referring to the time frame that included his relationship with Dunst. "To be fair, I'm sure there were times when I was obnoxious. But that's rock'n'roll, you know?"

According to a 2014 profile of him in the U.K.'s Independent, Dunst dumped him not long after he rode his motorcycle through her house, leaving a trail of oil in his wake. 

"Couldn't understand the fuss," Borrell recalled.

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But Dunst had had enough after that turbulent time. In early 2008, she was treated for depression at Cirque Lodge, a celeb-friendly center that offers rehab of all kinds.

"It was a good six months before I decided to go away," Dunst told E! News in May 2008. "I was struggling, and I had the opportunity to go somewhere and take care of myself. I was fortunate to have the resources to do it. My friends and family thought it was a good idea, too. But I didn't know where to go. My doctor recommended Cirque Lodge."

Asked why she was opening up about her struggles, the actress, who'd been in the public eye since she was 12 at that point, said, "There's been a lot of misrepresentation about what is going on in my life, and it's been very painful for my friends and family. Everyone feels like they have to defend me. They hear the rumors, and it puts them in a defensive position. Now that I'm feeling stronger, I was prepared to say something."

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Not that that stopped the rumor mill when she was hanging out with Justin Long in August 2008, after he broke up with Drew (as the world shrinks!), but officially the word from his rep was that they were always just friends.

Then, that November, Dunst was spotted out with documentary maker and voting rights activist (and now NBC News correspondent) Jacob Soboroff, but that's because they were collaborating on a project about voter registration.

Philip Ramey/Corbis via Getty Images

"Being a part of this is constantly teaching me new things," Dunst told NPR. "I feel totally honored and was really proud to vote [in the 2008 presidential election], and have never been so proud to vote in my entire life."

Of course the natural assumption was that they were dating, but Dunst's rep said they were just "great friends."

And the actress really was taking time for herself. When she talked to Allure in 2009, she said she was single, and it wasn't until 2011 that she popped up with another boyfriend—and some major perspective.

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"We all want the bad guy who doesn't give you what you want," she recalled to Elle in its September 2011 issue, which also featured Dunst on the cover. "I did a lot of sitting in my car, listening to sad music, crying over boys."

She was dating Rilo Kiley drummer Jason Boesel when she gave the interview.


"He's not into partying and that works," Dunst said. "We have similar schedules: long periods of time off and periods of mad work. When I've finished work, I travel to be with him. It's special."

However, she was also shooting On the Road at the time—and by the beginning of 2012, she and co-star Garrett Hedlund had paired off.

They seemed pretty settled, too, becoming each other's other half on the red carpet and looking awfully happy to be there.

Caroline McCredie/Getty Images

Explaining how he won Dunst (whom he called "my gal" in the interview) over, Hedlund told Details in 2013: "I took her out on a 3 a.m. canoe ride. It was not a stable canoe. We fell out and had to swim back in mucky, sh--ty water, like golf-pond water."

And the timing seemed to be right, because Dunst was finally letting herself enjoy the fruits of her labor.

"I'm not as worried as I used to be," Dunst told Red magazine in 2014. "When I was younger, if I wasn't working, I would get anxiety. I'd feel like I should be doing something. But now I'm so good at chilling out. In my thirties I've become really good friends with relaxing."

Asked about Hedlund, Dunst told Town & Country in the summer of 2015: "We've been together for three and a half years, so, yes, it's going really well. We're the same age. We have similar backgrounds. He feels like family to me."

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Speaking of family, Dunst had told Red U.K. in 2014, "I'm in baby mode because two of my really good friends are pregnant right now. Thirty-three is a good age to have your first baby."

It also proved a great age for her to do some prestige TV. In 2015 she joined many of her fellow film stars in taking part in the small-screen renaissance, scoring a role on the second season of the critically acclaimed FX series Fargo.

Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

And 21 years after her first Golden Globe nomination, for Interview With a Vampire, she got another one, Best Actress in a Limited Series or Made for TV Movie for her role as unfulfilled hairdresser Peggy Blumquist, who won't let her husband (Plemons, also Emmy-nominated)—or the guy she mows over with her car (Kieran Culkin)—stand in the way of her dreams of self-actualizing. (She has since been nominated for another, this year, for Showtime's On Becoming a God in Central Florida.)

"I'm so proud and excited to be nominated. It's nice to be part of something people like," Dunst told in December 2015. "And it's great to hear that, I should keep getting better! I take it as a compliment that I'm growing. I'm getting older as an actress, so it's a good thing to mature. Also, when the right role fits it's amazing. It doesn't always happen, that you're given opportunities to play a role like this—this is such a well-thought-out, funny, crazy character. They don't always get written that way, to be honest."

Peggy is "so fun to play, and it's nice for me too because now I'll have more opportunities to play roles in the comedic world again. People always remember the last thing you did. And I love comedy—I really enjoy playing weird characters."


Hedlund accompanied her to the Emmys and when she was nominated for a Golden Globe in 2016, but by that April they had broken up.

That year Dunst was also in theaters twice, in the sci-fi drama Midnight Special and in Hidden Figures, about the black female math whizzes who proved instrumental to getting American astronauts safely into space in the 1960s. (The cast would win the SAG Award in 2017 for best performance by an ensemble in a film.)

Then Plemons quietly swooped in and got the girl. And with that, Dunst's days of crying over the bad boys were over.

"He's my favorite actor—the best I've ever worked with," Dunst recalled to PorterEdit in 2019. "I just knew he would be in my life forever. I didn't know what capacity that would be at the time. When [Fargo] was over, I just missed him terribly. We didn't get together until a year later.

"We were both smart enough that we were wondering if the connection was just because we were working together. But it was real."

(Originally published Jan. 13, 2017, at 3 p.m. PT)