Kirsten Dunst and Jim Sturgess: In Upside Down Love
By: Lynn Barker
News Flash! Kirsten Dunst advises us to travel to middle America to find a “real man”. Humm, her sweetie Garrett Hedlund is from Minnesota so it must work! She and her adorable Upside Down buddy/costar Jim Sturgess (Cloud Atlas, 21, Across the Universe) sat down with us in Beverly Hills to talk about their very romantic and original Sci-Fi romance.
Jim plays Adam, from a more working-class planet, in love with Kirsten’s Eden from an upper class world. Of course such cross-class romance is forbidden. The catch is, the two planets orbit together but are twin worlds with opposite gravities (picture one planet’s highest mountain range almost touching the top of the other planet’s highest mountain..so, to the inhabitants of both worlds, there is another planet “upside down” above them. Very cool!
Upside down kisses, hanging from wires and getting romantic when the other actor wasn’t even in the room were some of the unique challenges for the film couple. Picture Jim in a cute porkpie hat and letterman jacket over white tee and gray jeans. Kirsten was casual/cute in black vest over white tee and leggings with a subtle plaid, sheer tunic dress over it all. A tiny diamond flower necklace and matching earrings finished off the look.
Kidzworld: Kirsten, you do a lot of unique little films as well as blockbusters (original Spiderman films). Do you look to do things that people haven’t already done because you tend to gravitate towards the unusual?
- Kirsten: I gravitate towards the director always. It’s really all up to them. They’re the orchestrators of the entire process. With (this film’s director) Juan (Solanas), he is such a visionary director and I loved his short films so much so I knew the story would be important but the visuals would be so magnificent. It was a concept that I’ve never heard of before. It was incredible.
Kidzworld: The movie does look incredible! Did it come across in your mind's eye as it did when it was finished?
- Kirsten: I honestly didn’t know exactly what it would look like but Juan showed both of us mock-ups and pictures of things and it’s interesting because it wasn’t too sci-fi or anything like that. It felt grounded in reality which is so beautiful and something that I’d never seen before.
Kidzworld: What was the most difficult scene emotionally and what was the most difficult scene physically?
- Jim: Hummm, physically, that’s easy, they built a room on a wheel where I flip upside down for the very first time. I take out the weights holding me down and am in a storeroom. I was sort of loose inside the room and the room spun 180 degrees. I had to do a back flip and land on my feet. So, that was one of my prouder cinematic moments. It’s weird. These days you see these special effects films and don’t know what goes into it until you get in that one shot for five seconds but I was proud of that.
- Emotionally, when we are meeting on the mountaintop and have to be pulled apart to maybe never see each other again, when you are shooting the scene Kirsten isn’t really there so you have to kind of draw on those actorly things and act with the ceiling.
- Kirsten: I definitely think I stood on a ladder once and we were yelling back and forth, I remember doing that. Physically, I wasn’t really put through the ringer on this like Jim was. I had to learn the tango which was fun. I had a lot of classes, it was good.
- Emotionally, the hardest one was thinking Jim had died because we were doing it and I was lying against a green, foam mat and there was green screen all around and it was such an emotional moment thinking you’ve lost the love of your life like forever. It’s just, a few people (on the crew) there this close (indicates a foot or two away). Sometimes that’s how it is making a movie but the wiring and all the logistics of it and to be emotional over and over again (for different takes), it’s hard in that kind of situation because it feels so not real. I really had to rely on Jim’s (facial expressions) to help me get those emotions because it can be a numbing process sometimes.
Kidzworld: You guys are a hot couple on screen. (Kirsten and Jim high five!)
- Both: Thanks!
Kidzworld: Jim, your character Adam has to do so many things to get Kirsten’s character Eden to go out with you. Was that from a personal past experience?
- Jim: (laughs) For me, no. I haven’t gone to great lengths to get the girl but I’ve travelled across the world to go see a girl to surprise her but we were already in a relationship at that time. She was surprised when I turned up. It was nice. I just usually just go to the pub. (He and Kirsten laugh).
Kidzworld: Most American guys wouldn’t do all that traveling for a girl.
- Kirsten: What American guys are you meeting? (We laugh.. a subject for another time). Go to middle America! Then you’ll find a real man..well that’s what they tell me anyway.
Kidzworld: What kind of tango dancer are you? You looked really good to me.
- Kirsten: I was getting pretty good. I was jumping up. I had a lot of classes.
Kidzworld: The tango is like a metaphor for love, did you get that?
- Kirsten: For (my character Eden) to go to this club where both worlds are allowed to participate; above they are dancing to the same music as below was great. I think she was drawn to that place because of that and something that she couldn’t remember but was inside of her. Also when you feel lost in something like the music and the dance, it’s like her passion or her release basically.
Kidzworld: What stood out for you when you were reading the script for this film?
- Kirsten: For me it was like a fairy tale and I haven’t been a part of something like that and I thought I was so sweet and so special at the same time. There are little things that felt relevant to our time but then it’s in this beautiful fairy tale world and then Juan was really the person that I knew that would make a special movie.
- Jim: I think sometimes when you read a script and don’t understand it completely, that can be more exciting. You can read a lot of scripts where you’re like “no, I’ve seen that before” but when you’re reading it and you can’t even visualize it in your mind, that can be intriguing. “Okay, what’s this going to be? What’s it’s gonna look like?” So, the next stage was to be shown some imagery to help us see what Juan the director was visualizing. They sent both of us this book with all the imagery of what Juan was hoping to achieve. Then it was like “Wow, this could be really exciting”. I was amazed at how beautiful it looked (she nods in agreement).
Kidzworld: There were a lot of technical details to this movie with being up on wires and working with green screen etc. Did you find that that made it more challenging to connect and to act when you often didn’t even have the other person there? That’s hard especially for a romance.
- Jim: It was an extra challenge. It wasn’t two people in a room. Often Kirsten wouldn’t really be there. So it forced you to push your imagination that much farther and work that much harder to make it work. Without the audience connecting to the two lead characters you just lose the story. There were times when we’d be shooting the scenes at the same time but on separate sets (one for the Up world and one for the Down). Sometimes you are looking at a moving red dot to give you your eye-line.
- Kirsten: It was hard because Jim and I have very few scenes in order to explain the relationship and explain what happens, so sometimes it was hard for me to fill in the dots just with my face and one line would have to mean a lot more. It’s simple but a big and complicated story because she lost her memory (in a fall when the couple is pulled apart early in the movie). A lot of scenes I was on wires with him but I didn’t have as complicated a time as he did. Jim got the brunt of all that work.
Kidzworld: Was it weird having an upside down kiss again and was it in the script or an homage to your previous work in the earlier Spider-Man films? (as Mary Jane, Kirsten kissed Tobey Maguire as Spidey while he was on a wall upside down!)
- Kirsten: (laughs) Well, we weren’t really upside down. I was actually up against a rock facing down and had to look like I was relaxing on a rock and Jim was just in front of me below so it wasn’t really an upside down kiss, he was in front of me still.
Kidzworld: Has it gotten easier to work with special effects than in the past? Kirsten, you were on wires a lot for Spiderman.
- Kirsten: It’s not easy. A lot of sets were built. It’s just the technicalities which slow things down. That’s why sometimes it’s more exciting when you’re not working with all the special effects because it starts to hinder you more and more depending on how uncomfortable this or that feels. There’s a lot more little annoying things to get over to make the scene feel real but then you just go for it even though you’re in pain and you’ve been in a harness all day. The most important thing is the story and no one knows watching the movie what it’s like filming that day or how you felt for real.
Kidzworld: You shot this in Montreal mostly. Did you get to hang out in town when not shooting?
- Jim: Yeah. They have a great music scene. I loved it there.
Kidzworld: What’s next for both of you that we haven’t seen yet?
- Jim: I have Electric Slide with Chloe Sevigny. It’s a cool true story about a bank robber in the 1980’s who ran a furniture store in L.A. and he hung out with all the high end celebrities like Jagger and Jack Nicholson. Due to a drug addiction, he needed money so he robbed the most amount of banks in the shortest amount of time ever. 64 banks in 9 months.
- Kristen: Two Faces of January with Viggo Mortensen (Lord of the Rings movies) a thriller in Greece. We shot in Crete and Istanbul and London. In Crete there are so many stray cats. I would open a can of cat food and feed them and sit with them. I love cats. I’m a cat lady and proud of it.
- Jim: Crazy cat lady! (they laugh)