NEW YORK – They are the hottest young actresses in Hollywood and they've both dated their hunky co-stars — but that's where the similarities between Natalie Portman and Kirsten Dunst end.
Natalie — who plays Senator Amidala in Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones, which opens today — is a shy, painfully private person who's gone out of her way to avoid scandal and gossip.
But vivacious blonde Kirsten makes no secret of her romances, including Spider-Man co-star Tobey Maguire.
When Natalie briefly took off her bikini top at a beach and paparazzi photos appeared in newspapers, she was embarrassed and disgusted.
On the other hand, Kirsten, who does a wet T-shirt scene in her new blockbuster, is proud to show off what she's got.
"Nipples! It's not that big a deal. It's natural!" she boasted to an interviewer.
Natalie's big breakout film was to have been William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, but she lost the role of Juliet opposite Leonardo Di Caprio to Claire Danes because she looked too young.
"They said it looked like Leonardo was molesting me when we kissed," recalled Natalie, who was 13 at the time.
Meanwhile, Kirsten had her first screen kiss at the age of 11 with Brad Pitt in Interview With the Vampire.
"I hated it. It was gross. Like kissing your older brother. His lips were so dry," she said at the time. But Kirsten now gushes: "I would love to go back and do it now!"
Both women like their looks.
"I like having something special about me. I'm not an average blond-haired, blue-eyed American girl," Natalie says.
Kirsten says her beauty "doesn't hurt" and even admits she wouldn't be adverse to "having a nip and tuck when I get older."
In the romance department, Natalie keeps her lips zipped, insisting on keeping her love life secret.
But the rumor mill worked overtime during the Star Wars shoot, with gossips saying she had a dressing room fling with co-star Hayden Christiansen.
Kirsten has no problem telling friends that she and Maguire were hot and heavy for a brief time. They even spent a vacationed in Hawaii together.
Harvard student Natalie, who is fluent in Hebrew, French and Japanese, is circumspect about showbiz, claiming she might give it up to become a vet or clinical psychologist.
She once said: "I'd rather be smart than a movie star."
Kirsten, who graduated high school in 2000, still wants to go to college, but says right now she's content to make movies.
But with Natalie making $3.5 million for Star Wars, and Kirsten $2 million for Spider-Man — and the promise of even bigger paychecks for the upcoming sequels — it's doubtful either is going to do anything else for the near future.
TALE OF THE TAPE
Name: Kirsten "M.J. Watson" Dunst
Height: 5 feet, 7 inches
Weight: 116 pounds
Hair color: Blond
Birth name: Kirsten Caroline Dunst
Hometown: Point Pleasant, N.J.
Current home: California
College: Wants to go
Biggest hits: Bring It On, Dick, Interview With the Vampire, The Virgin Suicides
Biggest bomb: Bonfire of the Vanities
Seen with: Tobey Maguire, Jake Hoffman (Dustin's son), Josh Hartnett, Ben Foster
Sexiest moment so far: Eye-popping wet T-shirt scene in Spider-Man.
Name: Natalie "Padme Amidala" Portman
Height: 5 feet, 3 inches
Weight: 105 pounds
Hair color: Brown
Birth name: Natalie Hershlag
Hometown: Jerusalem, Israel
Current home: Long Island
College: Attends Harvard
Hit movies: Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace, Where the Heart Is, Everyone Says I Love You, Beautiful Girls
Biggest bomb: Mars Attacks!
Seen with: Hayden Christensen, Moby
Sexiest moment so far: Topless sunbathing pix taken by paparazzi.