Kirsten Dunst's "disgusting" kiss with Brad Pitt: Why was it ever okay?

It's about to get steamy in here. (Photo: Warner Bros.)Disgusting. That's how Kirsten Dunst, 30, described her infamous kiss with Brad Pitt in the 1994 film "Interview with a Vampire"  in a recent interview with Bullett magazine. In fact, kissing Pitt was so vile and repulsive that the experience scarred her.

"It was just a peck. Everyone at the time was like, 'You're so lucky you kissed Brad Pitt,' but I thought it was disgusting. I didn't kiss anyone else until I was 16, I think. I was a late bloomer," said Dunst.

At the time, not many people saw a kiss between a girl who had just hit double digits and a 31 year-old man as a big deal. In an 800-word review of the film, Roger Ebert had plenty to say about Tom Cruise's convincing British accent but the infamous kiss got no ink. And Entertainment Weekly gave the film a C-minus but it wasn't because a girl barely in 6th grade made out with a grown man—it was because of Pitt's "dismal" performance. 

Back then, child stars were often paired with grown male romantic partners in movies. It wasn't considered taboo or controversial, but rather titillating. Blame the success of Woody Allen "Manhattan" or Nabokov's "Lolita"—explorations of pedophilia that both shocked and fascinated audiences decades ago. But by the time Dunst's first love scene came around, age differences were just character accents rather than full-fledged plot-lines.

Dunst's kiss wasn't an anomaly, but part of a disturbing trend that fetishized prepubescent girls, pitting them in roles opposite grown men. The same year that "Interview with a Vampire" was released, Dunst starred in "Little Women" where had a bizarrely romantic scene with a character played by then 20-year-old Christian Bale. (He promised to be her first kiss.) 

More unsettling were the films where the characters' sexual chemistry are expressed in subtle sexual overtones—prolonged eye contact, intense stares, or pervy father-daughter vibes. 

Natalie Portman was only 13 in 1994 when she played the role of Mathilda, a 12-year-old runaway who forms a Lolita-like relationship with hit man Leon (played by 46-year-old Jean Reno) in "The Professional". Two years later, Portman played a 13-year-old girl in love with Timothy Hutton's character, a 29-year-old Manhattan lounge pianist in the 1996 film "Beautiful Girls." And never mind that Rosanna Arquette at age 39 would have made a more suitable love match for a 36-year-old Vincent Gallo in "Buffalo 66." Nope, that role was reserved for 17-year-old Christina Ricci, who later revealed that Gallo had "attacked" her when she was teen for having weight issues and accused her of being an addict. 

A few years later, Dunst auditioned for the role as Angela (played by Mena Suvari) in 1999's "American Beauty" but when she learned that she would have to kiss Kevin Spacey, 25 years her senior, Dunst balked. "I was only 15 then," she told Entertainment Weekly in 2006. "I didn't want to kiss Kevin Spacey or be seen lying naked in those rose petals." Could you blame her?