updated 08/31/2004 AT 3:15 PM ET
•originally published 09/03/2004 AT 6:00 AM ET
Even without Spider-Man, Kirsten Dunst is finding action onscreen. This time, though, the 22-year-old actress is coming out swinging in the tennis romance Wimbledon. Dunst (who earlier this year split from longtime boyfriend Jake Gyllenhaal) plays Lizzie, a rising star in the sport who falls for Paul Bettany’s experienced pro. She recently talked about picking up the racquet, acing her backhand and taking on the Williams sisters.
Your character has somewhat of a mean streak.
Everyone has a mean streak in them, don’t they? I don’t know if it’s mean, but I think that she’s a very angry girl. She’s got this doting father who she’s been with her whole entire life, and it’s probably one of the loneliest jobs to just be on the tour all the time and not have any friends.
How did you do in training?
I was really bad with my serve. I wasn’t so good with that. But my backhand was really great. Everyone was like, “Wow, you’ve got a great backhand.”
Were you worried about the action looking real?
I mean, I don’t want to look like a hack out there. A lot of it is sold in the expression and the force. But then we also had experts there standing off-camera the whole time telling me, “Do this a little higher, throw the ball this way.”
How did it feel to be on the actual Wimbledon court?
I definitely felt the weight of this arena, and it was an honor to be allowed to step on it and shoot on it. It was kind of weird actually in the beginning. I mean, if I had gone out there with the crowds (like costar Paul Bettany did), I probably would’ve cried or something. I mean, it just overtakes you when a whole stadium is cheering you.
Did you ask the Williams sisters for advice?
I talked to (Serena) a few times, and it just seemed like a really lonely life actually. I watched a match between her and her sister (Venus) and I just can’t imagine how complicated that must be, and I really felt a lot of like, you know, (that) they’re just normal really cool girls. I can’t imagine the stuff that they have to go through together as a family. It must be really hard.
So, now that you’ve trained, could you take them on?
Ha! Yeah, right. I’d be afraid, so afraid. I’d be just crashing in the corner. They could probably kill me with their serves.
Are you still playing tennis?
No. I haven’t played recently at all. I’m not the most athletic girl.
So, what is your game?