The singer Debbie Harry has leapt to the defence of the actress Kirsten Dunst after fans of the singer accused the Hollywood star of not having " the edge, quirkiness or charisma" to play Harry in a planned biopic.
Dunst received a torrent of abuse from fans of Harry, lead singer of the group Blondie, who claimed that she lacked both the necessary acting and singing ability to play the 1970s icon.
Dunst was forced to declare publicly that she had received the singer's blessing for the role following campaigns to revoke the casting on internet message boards. "Debbie chose me for this role so anyone who disputes this can take it up with her," said Dunst, who recently starred in Spider-Man 3. She added: "I'll work hard on this character because she is the coolest women of all time."
Harry moved to quell the controversy by speaking out for the first time about the casting. "[Kirsten] is a really sweet person," she said. "I've met her a couple of times and hung out with her socially.
"She's just a sweetie. She's probably capable of a lot of things she hasn't been asked to do yet, and doing something that's sort of left-of-centre would be great for her".
Fans of Harry, whose sassy East Coast voice featured on a long list of huge hits including "Hanging on the Telephone" and "Heart of Glass", used message boards to voice their disgust at Dunst's casting for the film, to be directed by Michel Gondry.
On cinemablend.com, fans' comments included "Please no, not Dumbst" and "How the hell can Dunst possibly play Debbie Harry? They don't even look remotely similar... Kirsten Dunst is so bottom-of-the-barrel". One fan said, "Does anyone besides gullible Sofia Coppola [who cast her in the title role for Marie Antoinette]... and silly brainless girls actually think Dunst can act", while another added, "We can only hope and pray that Kirsten doesn't sully the Blondie icon".
Such views were part of a sustained bout of criticism that followed the initial rumours about who might play Harry. On the stereogum.com site, one fan asked: "Doesn't playing a singer like Debbie Harry actually entail singing?"
Another said: "Kirsten Dunst would be a horrible choice to play the hottest rock chick in history. I don't think she has the edge, quirkiness, or charisma for such a role."
Harry's public defence of the Hollywood A-lister, who was applauded last year for her performance in Marie Antoinette, is testament to the increasing influence on the film industry of fans' blogs and message boards.
The film is still only in planning stages, but shooting is scheduled for early next year. It will be the first time Harry has been portrayed on the big screen.
The Florida-born singer, herself a veteran of more than 40 films, rose from being a waitress and dancer in Union City, New Jersey, and then a Playboy Bunny, to become one of the most distinguished performers of the 1970s. Blondie have released eight albums since 1976, selling over 13 million copies in the US alone.
It will not be the first time that Dunst, who is starring in the film version of Toby Young's memoir How to Lose Friends and Alienate People due for release next year, has been required to sing in a film. She performed two songs in the role of Kelly Woods in Get Over It (2001), and in The Cat's Meow (2002), she gave a jazz rendition of Henry Creamer and Turner Layton's "After You've Gone".