Kirsten Dunst Opens Up About “Extreme” Pay Gap Between Her And Tobey Maguire In ‘Spider-Man’

"Definitely the men were getting paid more."

Kirsten Dunst has revealed that she was paid an “extreme” amount less than Tobey Maguire in the 2002 film Spider-Man.

In an interview with The Independent, Dunst opened up about the sexism she endured as a result of pay disparity and that despite gaining worldwide acclaim and receiving top billing for her role as love interest Mary Jane Watson, she wasn’t paid fairly compared to her co-star.

“The pay disparity between me and Spider-Man was very extreme,” Dunst explained. “I didn’t even think about it. I was just like, ‘Oh yeah, Tobey [Maguire] is playing Spider-Man.'” 

“But you know who was on the cover of the second Spider-Man poster?” she continued. “Spider-Man and ME.”

As for how much Dunst made for her time onscreen as Mary Jane remains unknown, however it’s important to note that Maguire secured USD $4 million (approximately AUD $5.4 million) in his role as the arachnida superhero. As per VarietyMaguire also negotiated a new salary equating to USD $17.5 million (AUD $23.9 million) for the film’s sequel.

Back in 2017, Dunst previously opened up to Variety about how it feels to be working within Hollywood’s seemingly everlasting gender pay gap.

“Because I was young, I thought, ‘Oh wow, I’m getting paid a lot of money for the Spider-Man movies’. But definitely the men were getting paid more,” she told the outlet. “So yes, I experienced that.”

Kirsten Dunst

But that wasn’t all the sexism that she endured at the hands of Spider-Man. She also revealed that prior to filming the 2002 flick, producers tried to force Dunst to get her teeth fixed, presumably to look more ‘beautiful’ for the role.

She explained that when she was merely 19-year-old, the film’s production team drove her to the dentist’s office but she refused to go inside, saying, “I was like, ‘Mmmmm, no, I like my teeth’.”

And it was due to working with Sofia Coppola on the 1999 film The Virgin Suicides that she found her confidence with her crooked teeth. In the film, Dunst played Lux Libson, one of five sisters who struggled with depression and troubled thoughts.

“The fact that the coolest girl liked how I looked, that’s what preserved me,” she said, referring to Coppola. “She made me feel pretty. As a 16-year-old girl, you feel like crap about yourself, right? So to have my first experience of a more ‘sexy’ role be through her eyes gave me a confidence that helped me deal with a lot of other things.”

However, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing for Dunst. Earlier this month, she opened up about her battle with depression, revealing that she checked herself into a rehabilitation facility at the age of 25.

Explaining that she was depressed and struggling with repressed anger, Dunst checked herself into Utah’s Cirque Lodge treatment centre in February, 2008. 

“I feel like most people around 27, the shit hits the fan,” the actress told The Sunday Times.

“Whatever is working in your brain, you can’t live like that anymore mentally. I feel like I was angry.”

“It’s hard to talk about such a personal thing, but it is important to share too,” Dunst said.

“All I’ll say is that medication is a great thing and can really help you come out of something. I was afraid to take something and so I sat in it for too long. I would recommend getting help when you need it.”

Related stories