Kirsten Caroline Dunst was born to Inez and Klaus Dunst, who are separated. Her father, a German medical services executive from Hamburg, remained in New Jersey but now lives in Los Angeles. Her mother, a Swedish art gallery owner, also moved to California. Dunst has a younger brother, Christian.
She started out in showbiz at the tender age of three, when she began filming TV adverts, eventually racking up 70 appearances. Dunst made her feature film debut with a small part in Woody Allen's 1989 'New York Stories', and that same year her family moved to Los Angeles to further her career.
In 1994, she made her breakthrough performance in 'Interview With The Vampire', alongside Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise. It was for this role, at the age of 11, that she performed her first screen kiss with Brad Pitt, earning her a Golden Globe nomination.
She co-starred with Robin Williams in 'Jumanji' (1995) and received rave reviews for her role in Sofia Coppola's 'The Virgin Suicides' (1999). In 'Bring It On' (2000), she starred as a cheerleader and consolidated her success in the gritty romantic drama 'Crazy/Beautiful' (2001).
In 2002, she raised her profile in 'Spider-Man' opposite Tobey Maguire, a role she reprised in both sequels. Other appearances have included Mike Newell's 'Mona Lisa Smile' in 2003 and the romantic comedy 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind' in 2004.
She has also started her own production company with her mother, called Wooden Spoon Productions. In 2004 she starred in the drama 'Wimbledon', alongside British actor Paul Bettany.
Dunst has since seen her acting career go from strength-to-strength starring in 'Elizabethtown' with Orlando Bloom in 2005 and portraying the tragic French queen Marie Antoinette in a film with the same name in 2006.
Next was 'How to Lose Friends and Alienate People' in 2008, which was followed by 'All Good Things' (2010) and a memorable performance in the sci-fi drama 'Melancholia' in 2011. For this role, she won the Best Actress Award at the Cannes Film Festival.
In 2012 she appeared in 'Bachelorette', 'On the Road' and 'Upside Down'. Her latest roles include parts in'The Bling Ring' (2013) and 'The Two Faces Of January' (2014).
In terms of her personal life, she started dating actor Jake Gyllenhaal in 2002, after meeting him through his sister, Maggie Gyllenhaal (her Mona Lisa Smile co-star). They broke up two years later. She was then spotted with Razorlight singer Johnny Borrell but this relationship was also short-lived. In 2012 she started a relationship with actor Garrett Hedlund.