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Guardian Unlimited - 18th October 2007

Is Kirsten Dunst the right actor to play Debbie Harry?
Most definitely not. Blondie's fans are distressed at the choice, and so am I. But who would be better suited?

The thinking, you have to admit, verges on the ingenious. "Right, guys. So we're making a movie about that Debbie chick. Blondie, wasn't it? Right. Blonde. Who's blonde? Hmmm, that Reese Wotserface? Nah, not quite right, a bit chinny. Hey, what's that Kirsten up to? And she's going around with that rock guy, Pete Doherty or someone who looks just like him! Blonde and in close proximity to someone who sings! Sign her!"

But while studio execs who probably think Heart of Glass is a rom-com starring Debra Messing might be happy, Blondie's fans have been somewhat less enthused and, in true modern fan style, have taken to cyberspace to voice their distress. So much so, in fact, that Harry herself has felt compelled to step in and defend Ms Dunst saying, "She's probably capable of a lot of things she hasn't been asked to do yet." Exactly. Just as I know I'd be simply AMAZING at canyoning and should host a documentary on said sport, it's just that I have never been asked to do so.

To be honest, I used to like Dunst. But then The Virgin Suicides happened, followed by Elizabethtown, to say nothing of Marie Oh My God I Think My Brain Just Dissolved Antoinette, and it finally sunk in that angelic looks and a bored voice do not a great actress make.

I interviewed Dunst not very long ago for the newspaper and, with the exception of the time I interviewed Claire Danes, I don't think I've ever lost a more monosyllabic, life-sapping hour of my life. So, I asked her, what's this about you playing Debbie Harry? "Yeah, it's cool," she replied in a tone of voice that would be just perfect for describing how she'd spent the day waiting for British Gas to turn up.

OK, fine, maybe she could think of better things to do in London town on a Tuesday afternoon but, for chrissake, Kirsten, play the fricking game! Compare this to a recent interview with Harry, which includes two phrases I would wager have never even crossed Dunst's mind: "I had a chubby phase", and, most excitingly, "thank God for wheelie bags!"

And therein lies the reason why Kirsten should not play Debbie: one comes from a more relaxed, less uptight, less PR-conscious time, which is reflected in her art. And the other, um, doesn't. 

So who should play Harry? Well, there's a good suggestion on the cover of Vogue this month, with Sophie Dahl looking so like her it's freaky. But like Dunst, she hasn't been asked to play Harry before and, like Dunst, I suspect there may be a reason for it. ChloŽ Sevigny has the bored tone of voice down pat and she wouldn't be an overly horrific choice. To be honest, casting anyone as someone who's still alive is a bit of a tricky one, leading one to the inevitable question of what the point of the damn film is anyways? 

Oh, one final thought: Kirsten's one apparent qualification for the role - her hair colour - seems a bit of a moot point seeing as one of the many brilliant things about Harry was her inch long of can't-be-arsed dark roots. Some people really, really don't get it.

Link: Guardian Unlimited - 18th October 2007

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