This Website use Cookies OK

Read more Entertainment News

The American dream is a scam in Kirsten Dunst’s ‘On Becoming a God in Central Florida’


Kirsten Dunst stars as Krystal Stubbs in "On Becoming a God in Central Florida." (Showtime)

Kirsten Dunst is “crazy” about her new role.

In the series “On Becoming a God in Central Florida” — premiering Sunday on Showtime — Dunst plays a water park employee who will do whatever she needs to put food on the table for herself and her baby.

“I like people that go a little crazy,” she told the Daily News. “I like her cutthroat survival, the things she does, the way she treats life.”

In the pastels of 1992 Orlando, the show follows Krystal Stubbs as she watches her life get ripped apart — literally and figuratively — by FAM, a multi-level marketing scheme that promises independence, wealth and power.

“On Becoming a God in Central Florida” weaves together the story of a woman trying to do her best for her family, a husband (Alexander Skarsgård) who can’t or won’t be happy with what he has, a naive man (Théodore Pellerin) who buys into the scam, and the grifters who surround them all.

“We wanted to build characters that you want what’s best for them, even if that’s not what they’re going after or what they’re going to get,” co-creator Robert Funke told The News of his and partner Matt Lutsky’s process. “We have a deep, abiding love for these characters.”

The dark comedy is full of people who simultaneously deserve pity and ridicule, well-meaning Floridians who live paycheck to paycheck and fall for the idea of more.

Mel Rodriguez, right, co-stars as the painfully naive Ernie.
Mel Rodriguez, right, co-stars as the painfully naive Ernie. (Showtime)

“The whole thing preys on the weak and the hopeless,” said Dunst, who also serves as an executive producer on the show alongside George Clooney, Esta Spalding, Charlie McDowell and Grant Heslov.

The actress, perhaps best know for costarring with Tobey Maguire in three “Spider-Man films,” came on board to the project more than three years ago She said she fell in love with the “uniqueness” of Krystal. Her purpose, for the most part, is providing for her daughter. But eventually, after enough lies and false promises, vengeance finds its way through too.

“Krystal does have a consciousness in all of this,” said Dunst, 37, who has a 1-year-old son with fiancé Jesse Plemons, her co-star on TV’s “Fargo.” “I would think she’s going to go and become really powerful and become everything she hates.

“There’s definitely karma. I think there’s a lot of revenge.”

Mel Rodriguez (“Enlisted”), who plays Ernie, Krystal’s neighbor and coworker before he too gets scammed into FAM, called it “the falsehood of the American dream.” His own mother, he told The News, got caught in a similar multi-level marketing scheme years ago.

“People are constantly trying to trick us and dangle the carrot in front of our noses,” he said. “In Ernie’s life, it’s God, family, people, FAM, everything comes before him. He really, really believes truly in his heart of hearts that he’s helping these people better their lives and creating a career for them and an opportunity for them. He thinks he’s helping them.”

Théodore Pellerin's Cody dreams of working his way into FAM's inner circle.
Théodore Pellerin's Cody dreams of working his way into FAM's inner circle. (Showtime)

Pellerin said the same of his character, a doe-eyed true believer who works his way into leader Obie Garbeau II’s (Ted Levine) inner circle and still can barely see a way out.

“He believes that (FAM) is an answer to a better life and success and financial freedom,” the 22-year-old Canadian actor told The News. “I think Cody really sees that as an opportunity for people.”

The question of intent may be most important to “On Becoming a God in Central Florida.” Who’s gullible and who’s evil? Who falls for the lie? Who believes you can actually achieve the American dream?

The answer, of course, is the people who can least afford to risk it all on a dream.

“To a certain degree, they all have to know, right?” Lutsky told The News. “They can know various versions of it, but even at the lowest level, you’re telling someone that if you buy this kit and perform the rituals, you’ll be a millionaire.”

Dunst and the creators all insist they’re not trying to moralize with their show, but the message is hard to miss: the rich get richer and everyone else keeps helping them.

“On Becoming a God in Central Florida” premieres Sunday at 10 p.m. on Showtime.