Kirsten Dunst was pretty selective when it came to picking her first series regular role since starring on the second season of FX’s “Fargo” in 2015.
But what finally made her come around to returning to the small screen was the George Clooney-produced “On Becoming a God in Central Florida” — which was initially set up at AMC in 2017, before moving over to YouTube Premium in 2018, and then being picked up by Showtime in June — was the story “about the inner rage of a woman who’s swallowed too much s–t.”
“I almost backed out a couple of times, but it kept calling me back,” Dunst told TheWrap during the Television Critics Association press tour earlier this month. “It was just too good. It was too fun of a role to play and the whole world was so weird to me and I’d never seen anything like it on television.”
The 10-episode series, which premieres Sunday, is set in a small, Orlando-adjacent town in 1992, and “follows Krystal Stubbs (Kirsten Dunst), a minimum-wage water park employee who lies, schemes and cons her way up the ranks of Founders American Merchandise (FAM) — the cultish, flag-waving, multibillion-dollar pyramid scheme that drove her to ruin in the first place, run by the powerful Obie Garbeau II (Ted Levine). Determined to make a better life for herself, Krystal dives deep into FAM and develops a tangled relationship with FAM’s most loyal and fanatical follower Cody (Théodore Pellerin), until her business begins to affect those closest to her, including Ernie (Mel Rodriguez), her affable water park boss, and his FAM-skeptic wife Bets (Beth Ditto).”
“Krystal realizes she has all this merchandise that she doesn’t know what to do with, but realizes her husband, Travis, (played by Alexander Skarsgård) bought it, so she has to sell it all,” Dunst said. “And it’s worthless because basically her husband just bought it and there’s so much and she has to sell it but, meanwhile, she has no one to sell it to! So she needs to find people who will buy this product that she doesn’t give a rat’s ass about. It’s basically crap, she thinks it’s all crap. So she has to sell all this crap — side note: she says crap all the time — and she, in order to make any money or make it work for her, she has to get more followers.”
Here’s where the Showtime star explained how the ’90s-set show is actually topical because it reminds her of social media influencers and how they brand themselves to sell products.
“It’s almost like Instagram, you know what I mean?” she said. “It’s like the more followers you get, the more paid advertisements you get, the more money you make and all your followers are now buying the products you’re selling. I just realized this is a great correlation for the modern day people. Yeah, Instagram. A pyramid scheme.”
In the picture above, you’ll see Dunst dressed like a mermaid — and might be wondering why. It’s a photo shoot for a billboard that’s all part of Krystal’s plan to sell, sell, sell, this time through a water aerobics class she holds at the Rebel Rapids water park during the first season of “On Becoming a God.”
“She gets people to come down and get inspired,” Dunst said. “It’s all about giving people hope, getting them inspired, and selling more products. So it’s just bringing people, getting more people to buy more things. Like buying into her water class, buying products from her, just branding yourself — like Instagram.”
“On Becoming a God in Central Florida” premieres Sunday at 10/9c on Showtime.