How Kirsten Dunst of ‘On Becoming a God In Central Florida’ Prepared to Play An Ex Beauty Queen

Kirsten Dunst has appeared in a host of films, from Drop Dead Gorgeous and Bring It On to playing Mary Jane Watson in Sami Raimi’s Spider-man trilogy between 2002 and 2007. Now the actress is taking on television in a new offbeat Showtime series, where some good ‘ol binge watching of cable shows helped her prepare for her role.

“On Becoming a God in Central Florida’s” Kirsten Dunst | Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic

The premise

According to Entertainment Weekly, On Becoming a God in Central Florida is set in the 1990s in – where else – Central Florida. Dunst plays Krystal Stubbs, an Orlando-adjacent waterpark employee, mom, and former beauty queen that becomes entangled in a pyramid scheme called Founders American Merchandise (FAM), and will stop at nothing to move up the ranks even though it already drove her family to ruin. Alexander Skarsgård plays her workaholic husband.

Dunst was drawn to the role, saying it represented a strong woman. “I couldn’t let this character go. I read other shows before that I could’ve done, but this was just so different,” she said, as reported by Entertainment Weekly. “I don’t have to be crying about some man or what the man did to me. It doesn’t matter. This is Krystal’s show and it’s not about that, which most female roles kind of still are… This is the age range where it’s easier to find good material in television. That’s where the best work is for me and what I’m interested in doing.”

The actress made the decision to pursue more creative roles rather than just going for what makes big box office.  “I wanted to be more of an artist in my acting, instead of making tons of money being a star of every big whatever. Post-Spider-Man it was like, I could definitely go down this romantic comedy route. Those were really popular then, too, but it just was like, ugh, no thank you,” she said. “It wasn’t for me. I hated that kind of acting. It was so hard for me to do. Thank God Sofia Coppola would sweep me away to do a Marie-Antoinette in between.”

View this post on Instagram

#tbt Cannes film festival, dope as fuck @chrislilley

A post shared by Kirsten Dunst (@kirstendunst) on

Perusing pageantry for prep

Since her character is an ex-beauty queen, Dunst did some practical research to prep for her role. “I watched actually some Honey Boo Boo and Toddlers & Tiaras for this role,” Dunst told People. “It’s in her, she is an ex beauty pageant queen, no matter how high or low grade that version is.”

Dunst was also able to draw from her role as Amber Atkins, an aspiring beauty queen in the 1999 film Drop Dead Gorgeous. “I mean, I loved making Drop Dead Gorgeous,” she said. “I’ve always been into beauty contestant stuff and Krystal comes from that world.”

The actress noted her character’s fashion choices, saying her clothes reflected Krystal’s persona. “Well, it’s kind of what she can afford and what could be in her closet, so I always wanted to look a little bit like not as polished as everyone else … or wearing the wrong outfit to the event she has to go to,” Dunst said. “Krystal should look like a fish out of water, even though she tries to not be.”

Working mom

Dunst has been keeping busy in her personal live as well. Us Weekly reported that she and former Fargo co-star Jesse Plemons got engaged in 2017, and Dunst gave birth to their son Ennis Howard in 2018.

According to People, Dunst purposefully chose a challenging role after having some time on the home front. “I basically went for the hardest thing that I could possibly do after having a baby,” Dunst said. Playing a single mom on the series, Dunst brings her paternal instincts to the set. “I remember getting episodes and I would be like, ‘Where’s the baby? We have to have the baby in that scene or this scene. Krystal’s a single mom.’ That became apparent. You can’t forget the baby!” she told People.

Showtime’s On Becoming a God in Central Florida premieres on August 25!