New mom Kirsten Dunst stars/produces “On Becoming a God in Central Florida” Showtime Aug. 25

 Remember Kirsten Dunst as a darling child performer who starred with Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise in Interview With The Vampire (1994) when she was just twelve. Then she starred opposite Robin Williams in Jumanji (1995). And about two dozen films later, that bought her a home  in Toluca Lake at age 20, Kirsten was Tobey Maguire’s leading lady in Spider-Man (2002), teaming with him for two more sequels.

 Dunst, now 37, has racked up more than 60 major film and TV projects and continues to add to her impressive credits. The latest is Showtime’s series On Becoming a God in Central Florida, about life, liberty, and the pursuit of pyramid schemes. Set in 1992, it’s a bit quirky, and has a fun indie film vibe to it, that helps it standout in the TV/cable/streaming field of too many shows competing for viewers. It’s worth watching because the sharp, dark comedy is a release valve for the heartbreaking realities of how multi-level marketing companies prey on poor, desperate people.

 Dunst plays Krystal Stubbs, one of the many people struggling to survive as she pursues a better life. Krystal, a water park employee who gets entangled in a pyramid scheme, will not be denied the ever elusive American dream, and the result is a spirited show about female empowerment and the rise of the underclass.

 Dunst not only stars in the 10-episode series, she is also the executive producer. So Dunst was happy to be on hand at the Television Critics Association’s summer 2019 press tour to talk about the entertaining cautionary tale. Joining Dunst at the Showtimes session were her co-stars Mel Rodriguez, Théodore Pellerin, and Beth Ditto; plus executive producers and creators Robert Funke and Matt Lutsky, and showrunner Esta Spalding. The series is from George Clooney and Grant Heslov’s Smokehouse Pictures and Sony’s TriStar Television.

Theodore Pelegrin as Cody and Kirsten Dunst as Krystal Stubbs in ON BECOMING A GOD IN CENTRAL FLORIDA. (Photo Credit: Patti Perret/Sony/SHOWTIME)

 With a good eye for scripts, Kirsten said she seeks out interesting roles for her projects. Her struggling hard-working Southern character Krystal is not the butt of the jokes, although Kirsten admitted, “I did watch some ‘Honey Boo Boo’ just to free myself up. I kind of make my own witch’s brew for every character. And this material was so special to me. It took three years, and we’ve really had a roller coaster for how this actually got made to now being at Showtime. There were times I said, ‘I don’t know if I can do this.’ I just had a baby. We’re the little engine that could. We did it and couldn’t be happier.”

 Dunst, a very proud and involved producer, got emotional and praised her colleagues on the Showtime panel. “Everyone here is a very authentic actor who’s very of the moment, like every scene with Beth and Mel. This is one of the best things I’ve read, so it’s half intuition of what I want to play, and also what I’d like to see personally. I actually haven’t felt so much pride for something as I have for this.”

 As a new mom (with fiancé, Jesse Plemons, Fargo, Friday Night Lights), Dunst also had pride about how Krystal’s baby daughter was a key part of her character’s motivation, and a great opportunity for more realistic comedy. Doing scenes Dunst would request, “We gotta have that baby in here, because it’s such a big part of Krystal. When you don’t have money, your baby’s with you all the time or you’re worried about who’s watching Destiny, the baby.” Also she thought about the film Raising Arizona and how well they used the baby for a comic hook. “But there’s the other side to it, you’re worried about time and only have the baby for so many hours. Let’s get a shot of it, is the baby happy or sleeping. After having a baby, I had a whole other perspective of babies on set and how to interact and all that stuff. It was a totally new world for me, but also I felt more comfortable. We did have our fake baby too.”

 On Becoming a God in Central Florida premieres Sunday, Aug. 25 on Showtime. Tune In.

(Photos courtesy SHOWTIME)

Margie Barron has written for a wide variety of outlets including Gannett newspapers, Nickelodeon, Tiger Beat and 16 Magazine, Fresh!, Senior Life, Production Update, airline magazines, etc. Margie is also proud to have been half of the husband & wife writing team Frank & Margie Barron, who had written together for various entertainment and travel publications for more than 38 years.