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Spider-Man stars Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst kicked off a tradition for the live-action Peter Parker — a real-life romance with his co-star. Though it didn’t last long, Spider-Man 2’s director thinks their relationship helped the movie.

Kirsten Dunst and Tobey Maguire’s relationship

kirsten dunst tobey maguire
Kirsten Dunst and Tobey Maguire at the ‘Spider-Man 2’ premiere | Toni Anne Barson Archive/WireImage

Dunst and Maguire met on the set of Spider-Man in 2002. Their on-screen chemistry was off the charts. Few can forget the iconic romantic scene when MJ kisses Spider-Man in the rain after he rescues her.

This chemistry translated off-screen. However, their romance remained under wraps. That is, until Spider-Man director, Sam Raimi, told everyone in 2007, years after the fact. It was also relatively short-lived. By the time they filmed Spider-Man 2, the couple’s romance had fizzled out.

Since they didn’t speak about the fling, its exact dates aren’t clear. However, most estimate it lasted about a year, leading to when Maguire began dating his future wife, Jennifer Meyer, in 2003. They married in 2007, remaining a couple for nearly a decade. They have two children, Ruby and Otis.

Dunst also moved on from Maguire. She soon began dating Jake Gyllenhaal. Years later, she began dating another co-star, Fargo’s Jesse Plemons. They began dating in 2016, later getting engaged. Though unmarried, they have two sons, Ennis and James.

How their relationship helped the ‘Spider-Man’ movies

During Raimi’s revealing interview in 2007 with the Sydney Herald, he confirmed Kirsten Dunst and Tobey Maguire’s romance. He also said he was concerned that the relationship and their split would mean losing some of their on-screen chemistry for the second film. But this didn’t come to fruition. 

“They really like each other, I think, very much,” Raimi said (via E! News) of their continued friendship. “And that relationship probably just added to their ability to trust each other.”

The feelings on set extended beyond just the two main stars. James Franco reportedly had a crush on Dunst, who his character, Harry Osborn, dates in the second film. 

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Despite the short-lived romance between Dunst and Maguire, the two continued to work together in both Spider-Man 2 and Spider-Man 3 as a couple. Their on-screen relationship went through its own ups and downs, but they ultimately get back together, making for a happy ending.

Considering how popular the two are as Spider-Man and MJ, fans were disappointed that Dunst wasn’t in Spider-Man: No Way Home, the newest Spider-Man release in December 2021. Maguire and fellow Spider-Man Andrew Garfield appeared, as did several villains from both franchises. 

As Dunst continues to put out acclaimed films, even scoring her first Oscar nod in 2021, she didn’t hold back on her opinion about the remakes. “‘We made the best ones, so who cares?” she told Marie Claire in 2017. “I’m like, “You make it all you want.” They’re just milking that cow for money. It’s so obvious. You know what I mean?’