For instance, the premiere of her latest movie, "Spider-Man 3," happened to fall on her 25th birthday. There was a huge red carpet affair in Queens, N.Y., attended by all her co-stars and literally dozens of photographers and reporters. (Just for the record, the actual carpet was black).
Most young stars would revel in that kind of attention, but Dunst found it "weird to spend part of your birthday in that limelight and everyone asking you about it. It was a little like, whoa, an intimate day and I'm sharing it with all of you."
Dunst told The Early Show co-anchor Hannah Storm that she tries to keep her stardom in perspective. "I love what I do," she said. "It's one of the passions in my life. It's not my life." If she gets a bad review, she said, she doesn't let it consume her. "If they don't like me, they don't like me. My friends and family like me, so I'll be fine."
In this third installment of the Marvel comic epic, Dunst's character, Mary Jane Watson, is having a full-blown romance with Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire), who juggles their nascent relationship with his often time-consuming work as Spider-Man.
Parker is "kind of on a high. The city's embraced him," said Dunst. "He's really into himself and thinks life is great. He's ready to propose" to MJ, who has a crisis of confidence when she is fired from a Broadway show after a spate of bad reviews. "He's not there for her and she has nowhere else" to turn for support so the couple just "grows further apart."
Her character, said Dunst, has "always been very insecure, struggling. In this movie, we really put her through emotional and physical dilemmas. It's pretty intense."
The final month on the lengthy shoot was really taxing for Dunst, she said.
"It's all blue screen (special effects). It's just so unfulfilling as an actor. I was tired and ready for a break," she recalled.
To recharge, "I went to art school for a while in New York. I needed to explore my other passions that were private to me."
But, after a lifetime in the public eye and dozens of trips down the red carpet, Dunst also knows that "I'll have my life back soon. No one will care about me then."