Kirsten Dunst and Carl Sagan

By Phil Plait | March 6, 2007 4:54 pm

Yes, that really is actress Kirsten Dunst, and yes, she really is reading Carl Sagan’s book, The Varieties of Scientific Experience.

I’m not sure precisely why I’m posting this, except that

1) I am reading that same book right now (I finally picked it up; it’s the only Sagan book I have not yet read),

2) I think it’s funny for some reason (not to imply Ms. Dunst is a stereotypically dumb actress; in fact I think it’s terrific she’s reading it),

3) It’s also funny that she’s smoking while reading it — it’s jarring and odd, though I’m not sure why — and there are other pix of her at the link above where she has, um, other things to say (or gesture),

3) I love link bait.

I am not a huge fan of hers, though she was pretty good in the second Spiderman movie. But I do like Sagan’s writing quite a bit. So I’m glad it’s getting some coverage.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Cool stuff, Humor, Time Sink

Comments (50)

Links to this Post

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  1. RAF

    Smoking is so very attractive….NOT.

  2. slang

    But it goes so well with reading.. that and a good single malt :)

  3. Keith

    I think the book was photoshopped in.

    God I used to think she was good looking. (eugh!)

    I guess a caulking gun and a few hours of time and any women would look good.

  4. Danny

    I smoke whenever I read Sagan (or Gould) too! As for that book, I haven’t gotten it yet.

    And I like Kirsten in Interview With a Vampire.

  5. Would it be rude of me to suggest that she looks like a frog in that picture?

  6. spacewriter

    Must we always focus on womens’ looks?

    I think it’s interesting reading, and hey guess what — sometimes even actors like to read the same stuff!

  7. …and the sunglasses! eeuuuw!

  8. Mmmmm cigarettes. On a somewhat related note wasn’t Sagan a pothead?

  9. Chip

    Cool. I’m also reading Carl Sagan’s “The Varieties of Scientific Experience” this week while on vacation, on the West coast of Florida. It is a fine book. I like the Q & A chapter near the end too.

  10. You’ll like the book.

  11. Man. At first, I liked Kirsten Dunst because I thought she brought a freshness to her movies. Then, with increased coverage on the Spiderman movies, I more and more felt she was just a pot-smoking ditz. And now she reads Sagan, so I might have to change my opinion again? I’ll chalk it up to her growing up, but she better have her eyes fully open in Spiderman 3.

  12. Damn paparazzi ought to leave all these girls alone. She doesn’t look ugly at all, she just looks like a normal person…

  13. Soren Kongstad

    If you click through to the site with the pictures there are a bunch of misogynistic comments.

    Its sad that people are so stupid about women and their appearance.

    She was relaxing, and guess what, we all look different relaxing on the beach from when we are shined up.

    Besides that I actually love the shades, but my opinion should be discounted, as I am married to a woman working as an optician, and she gets new shades 3-4 times a year, all brand, and all very noticeable.

  14. Melusine

    Spacewriter, I was thinking the same thing. Has anyone looked at their wife or girlfriend without make-up on when she gets out of the shower or wakes up in the morning, or has been sluffing all day? Standing in line at the grocery store, I thumb through the magazines and see Catherine Zeta Jones, who I think is beautiful, look FAR from how she looks in the movies when she’s on the beach with no make-up, covered with sun tail oil, greasy hair covered with salt from engaging in the *normal* act of ~gasp~ swimming in the surf.

    Isn’t it nice to know that Sagan’s words carry on with people in their 20s…hopefully they have reached some people (via the Science Channel & Cosmos even younger.

    I agree that she looks like a sort of young “Maxine” (you know, from ther greeting cards) in that photograph, but it’s about a second’s thought.

  15. Melusine

    Correction: I’m not sure what “sun tail oil” is..should be suntan oil, as in Hawaiian Tropic stuff, otherwise known as “Sizzlean.”

  16. I remember reading that Kirsten Dunst is a friend of Sasha, daughter of Sagan and Ann Druyan. It wouldn’t surprise me if she’s reading this great book. If you do a Google search you can see a picture of Sasha Sagan and Kirsten Dunst watching the planetary society’s solar sail launch.

  17. Whoops! I’m sorry for posting this twice. I tried to stop the submission when I notice I misspelled “daughter” in the first post. Hope you can delete it.

  18. Heather

    Spacewriter and Melusine re “Spacewriter, I was thinking the same thing. Has anyone looked at their wife or girlfriend without make-up on when she gets out of the shower or wakes up in the morning, or has been sluffing all day?”

    Men first thing in the morning are hardly nature’s wonder either. Disappointing that so many responses were about looks.

  19. Mark Martin

    “On a somewhat related note wasn’t Sagan a pothead?”

    Yes, he was. In private he swore by it as an intellectual stimulant. For instance, in Poundstone’s bio of Sagan, it’s told how Sagan was high one day while showering, when he arrived at some sort of statistical argument refuting the validitiy of racism. He hurriedly recorded the insight by drawing functional curves on the shower wall with bars of soap. He then (reportedly) used this in some of his early books. (Poundstone never says explicitly what the argument was.)

    Publicly Sagan was paranoid of being discovered, for fear of damage to his career. Also in the bio is the story of how Sagan was on a cruise in the waters around Hawaii. The night before the ship was to dock, he collected all his marijuana leftovers, wrapped them together in a package, and tossed it overboard, weighted down with an ash tray from his stateroom.

  20. Melusine

    Soren said: If you click through to the site with the pictures there are a bunch of misogynistic comments.

    I was curious about that – is that for real? There are just so many nasty comments in one place. Really pathetic and vulgar. Phil, do you really want to be linking to that degree of swamp morass here? I thought we had to be a bit more “family friendly” here, no?

  21. Gary Ansorge

    Mark: I hadn’t heard of the shower tale but I’m pretty sure I saw Carl at a Dead concert,,,

    ,,,then of course, there’s the tall tale of the Killer Green Buds from Beyond the Stars,,,

    ,,,as the Rasta say, ” Yoh, mon, the higher you are, the closer you are to God,,,”,,,
    and the closer you are, the more you can hear,,as in, eavsdrop on,,

    You just know the first plant smuggled into the construction zone on the moon will be pot. It was and probably still is, among the favorite intoxicants in the construction camps of Saudi Arabia, thought the Saudiis will claim that’s a lie,,,but then it was Philapinos who did most of the real work,,,

    So, which Buds for you? Light or smokey?

    GAry 7

  22. Mark Martin

    “So, which Buds for you? Light or smokey?”

    I’m somewhat of a toke-agnostic. :)

  23. kingnor

    thats a terrible picture, but i’ve seen the others of her reading. Personally i think she’s kinda cool and i’m glad to see she’s giving the good american FU to the media via a Sagan book..

    someone had to say it! Might as well be an actor.

  24. Gary Ansorge

    She’s cute. As to all those misogynists,,,as any accomplished person knows, when you’re good, there will be those who’s only ability is to denigrate you. It’s much easier to tear someone down than acknowledge they are better than you,,,

    Go Kirstan!

    Gary 7

  25. Will. M

    “About The Superficial
    The Superficial is a brutally honest look at society and its obsession with the superficial. It is not satire. It is not social commentary. It is the voice of our society at its worst. It is first impressions without sense of social obligation. It is the truth of our generation. It is ugly racism. It is jealousy. It is honest.
    Just kidding. Our goal is to make fun of as many people as possible.”

    I don’t see the humor in the comments posted on the above website, nor do I understand how the comments, which are REALLY mean and ugly and reflect more about the posters’ own withered little spirits, can be “making fun of” the supposed superficiality of the day. Often, “The Daily Show” is an example of humorous social commentary, as was Mad Magazine (I don’t know if it still is ’cause I haven’t read it in years), Art Buchwald’s and Molly Ivins’ writing, and so on. Simply making nasty and sour comments about a person doesn’t make the commentary funny in any way.

  26. Irishman

    Wow, there are some horrible remarks on the linked site. I guess it’s not called “The Superficial” for nothing. Untan /= bad. Yeah, smoking doesn’t do it for me, and that pic does have a particularly odd expression.

  27. HawaiiArmo

    Reading through these pages, I can’t believe the malicious comments and cynical responses. First of all, how superficial can you be judging a person from one photograph. I’m sure you all have the looks of Greek gods or something, but it goes to show how important intellectual stimulation is to a few. Let’s understand the bigger picture here, she’s reading a book by Carl Sagan, one who’s touched many people with his words and eloquence. The universe definitely looks different with a little Sagan Perspective, and yet, there are those stuck with labels such as pot-head, or pale and ugly or all those negative adjectives.
    Sagan used Marijuana as a mind altering, and relaxing substance. At least he wasn’t stumbling around drunk, driving recklessly, and endangering lives like the rest of the population because itsusage is legal. Let’s not forget, that just because a substance is illegal, and vilified, does not represent that association with every person. Alcohol was illegal during prohibition, so was slavery, as well as the “seperate but equal” laws, but does that mean we have to think in the box that those legislative morons (the same ones who purport to believe in intelligent design, and know very little Science) have devised? If sciences has taught me anything, it’s to think for myself. I’m not advocating marijuana use for anyone, but if it helped Carl Sagan, then good for him. Let’s be less judgemental and more willing to accept people for their thoughts and ideas, as opposed to their looks or their private activities.

  28. Yeah, all those terribly superficial people, judging a person just by a few pictures, as opposed to judging them by a comment made on a celebrity gossip site…

  29. WB

    Seeing her reading Carl Sagan, I am now a fan of Kirsten Dunst.
    She gets lots of slams on various snarky gossip sites for her looks. But they slam everyone sooner or later. The undertone is “if you aren’t perfect and gorgeous every second of your life, you shouldn’t exist.” Hmm, since she’s flipping off some stalkerazzi, I’d say it was a private time and none of our business what she looked like. Leave her alone and let her enjoy Carl.

    I love Carl, I miss Carl.

  30. Troy

    Q: What do Babylonians smoke?
    A: Ziggaurats!

    P.S. Would love to see an updated Pale Blue Dot as a PBS miniseries! Are you listening Ann Druyan?

  31. jess tauber

    Many in the Hollywood crowd are smarter than they appear- Jennifer Connelly is reportedly a physics nut, and Danica McKellar got an undergraduate degree in advanced mathematics. Anyone for a Beverly Hills Brainiacs show?

    Jess Tauber

  32. Rockingham

    Amazon has just told me that my copy of this book is going to be another 3-5 weeks. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

    And may I say how intelligent Ms Dunst looks in that photo. I had a pair of sunglasses like that when I was 4.

  33. reasonable

    woah. I never thought a picture of a human female holding a Carl Sagan book could be unattractive. I stand corrected.

  34. KellyT

    Dunst was at the launch of the Cosmos 1 solar sail mission
    with Sasha:

    What bothers me is how skinny actresses feel they have to be
    for acceptance. Obese, no, but women looking like teenage
    boys isn’t attractive, either.

    Judging by comments from other Web sites on these photos,
    most people think she is only holding that book as a prop, to
    pretend how smart she is.

    On the other hand, it is making those paparazzi aware of a
    book and a scientist most of them probably don’t have a clue

  35. Irishman

    I don’t care what goobers on gossip sites think about her or her book choice. Some of her acting work is pretty good, whatever you think of Spiderman. She’s made some interesting career choices. I don’t think she’s ugly, though she does have a goofy expression in the above picture. If people want to perceive her as a “dumb blond actress”, that’s their choice. I’m willing to think she is reading the book because it interests her. Maybe because her friend is Sasha, but maybe because Sagan’s work is accessible and interesting.

    I think if most of the people posting those hateful remarks on that web page had someone scrutinize their appearance to the same degree, they would come out on the losing end.

    Now if only she weren’t smoking…

  36. The photo was taken by Richard C. Hoaxland, and that other pic was Kirstin guestering and suggesting that he mosey on over and have a discussion with her about papparatzzi.

  37. steve-o

    @Rasputin Says: (March 6th, 2007 at 7:11 pm)
    “Would it be rude of me to suggest that she looks like a frog in that picture?”

    D’ya reakon she’s *ahem* reddit yet?

    (I’m so, so, sorry…)

  38. HotPatatta

    Love your blog. Carl Sagan is the late father of Kirsten Dunst’s best friend, Sasha. And apparently, Carl smoked pot…a lot! Here is the source of the info:

  39. Lewis Archer

    I enjoy reading Carl Sagan books, but one would have to believe he is burning in hell. I mean the man was an obvious atheist. I remember reading Billions & Billions and thinking, “Where in the heck is this guy digging this stuff up from”… and people believe it to. Needless to say it was fun to read. Some of the scientist are nuts. A few years of reading text books and the think they have life figured out. Ha-Ha…..


  40. Paul L.

    If one were to take an accurate “head” count of all the people
    that toke the mellow smoke, do you think the actual count
    would number (ohhh i’m gonna hate myself for saying this) in
    the BILLIONS ?!? (((lol)))

  41. Athletemel

    I think she is pretty, without make-up, no one is pretty. And she is a good actress.In the spidermans,she was pretty but she has a complicated life so drugs and alcohol makes actress look worse.Just look at Madonna without make-up and even with Madonna still looks ugly
    But Kirsten is fine.

  42. Jesus4rk

    Kirsten is like most lost people, looking for a loophole, a way out. Carl preached a kind of pseudo-theological science to give desperate folks a lifeboat. But its sinking!

  43. I think it’s great that Kirsten Dunts smokes pot. I think all people at least try it once. maybe twice if they like it. Maybe 100 times if they really like it.

  44. Azkyroth

    Hmm. The book suggests she’s smart, but then what’s with the cigarette? O.o

  45. Regarding the statements on her smoking. I will remind the people who are supposed to be smart enough to know this: being intelligent doesn’t prevent people from doing stupid things, or taking on bad habits. It’s not stupidity that gets people started, we started for a variety of reasons and then struggle the remainder of our lives to get past that. It doesn’t make us stupid or less smart.

    I have not smoked for three months now, but even while I was smoking I was smart enough to read Sagan’s books.

  46. Looks like you’re missing out on a marketing tool here, Phil. You need to start mailing out copies of DEATH! to movie stars so paparazzi can sell the books for you.

  47. Anonimo

    It amazed me how Danica Mckellar is writting books about math for teens, I mean it would not be the best thing for humanity, but it encourages little girls to know math and since it’s clearly that math guides logic then we should thank her for that, helps improve our society educational level.


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