Kirsten Dunst: The Web of Murder in ‘All Good Things’ Still Not Untangled

“They really covered it up in a big way,” the actress says at TheWrap's Academy Screening Series

Kirsten Dunst is still baffled about the disappearance – and possible murder  — of the character she plays in her new movie, “All Good Things.”

In Andrew Jarecki's new film, Dunst plays Katie Marx, a character based on Kathleen McCormack, the wife of New York real estate scion Robert Durst. McCormack disappeared in 1982. Many suspect she was murdered, though no body has ever been found.

The film strongly suggests that she was, and that the family was complicit in knowledge of the crime; Dunst seems to have come to that conclusion as well.

“Why wouldn’t they put more money or more investigators into finding his wife?” she wondered, about the Durst family’s strangely limited effort. “They really covered it up in a big way.”

She added, referring to Durst's later dismemberment of a friend: “I think that someone who is capable of cutting up someone’s body would probably be OK with killing someone.”

In December of 2000, Susan Berman, longtime friend of Durst (Ryan Gosling), was found murdered in her Benedict Canyon home. The following year, Morris Black, a neighbor and associate of Durst, was found dismembered and floating in Galveston Bay, Texas.

Durst was arrested for the murder of Black but jumped bail, becoming for a time the nation’s first billionaire fugitive — he was finally acquitted in 2003.

The actress sat down to discuss the tangled web of murder and disapperances with TheWrap’s Editor-in-Chief Sharon Waxman. The Q&A follwed a showing of the film Monday night at Santa Monica’s Aero Theater, part of the site’s Academy Screening Series. (Photographs by Jonathan Alcorn)

The filmmakers changed the names of the characters so as to avoid a legal dispute with the Durst family, who vowed to sue when the film was released, later pulling back on the threat. Durst — now a real-estate developer in Florida — told the New York Times the movie is “as reasonably accurate as anything out there.”

“They were upset that we accused them of owning property in Times Square and using it for the porn industry,” marveled Dunst. “That’s the one thing that they were upset about — defaming the Durst name.”

For Dunst, it was important as an actress not to portray her character as a victim. “That’s why they hire you,” she said going on to describe subtle changes she made from script to screen. “I think that if you live in the shoes of this person, you should know what they would do better than anyone else on the set.”

As for working with Ryan Gosling, who plays Durst in the film, “I had a really good time working with him,” she confessed. “But the one scene where he pulls my hair, he did send me flowers the next day. He felt really bad about that.”

Although Durst currently lives in Florida, Dunst revealed that he also has a place in Los Angeles. “Someone told me he drives a yellow Smart Car. I’ll speed away if I ever see a yellow Smart Car.”

With “All Good Things” in theaters, Dunst has just completed “Melancholia,” the latest from Lars Von Trier, and next year she’ll be seen playing Camille Cassidy in Walter Salles’ much-anticipated, “On the Road” a film adaptation of the classic novel by Jack Kerouac.

Such titles represent an art-house turn for Dunst, who seems to like the switch. “The one thing that’s difficult is waiting around on set for a really long time and then be emotionally engaged,” recalled Dunst about working on the “Spider-Man” tentpole. “When you have those big breaks and then you’re supposed to cry — it definitely slows down the process and having the momentum you can on a small movie.”

She’s hoping her next movie will be a comedy, but unfortunately finds herself hitting a glass ceiling: “I just want to have fun on the next movie but I want to do something smart,” said. But she isn’t hopeful: “It’s like stoner-boy comedies only.”