Kirsten Dunst has picked a doozy of a project to mark her feature directorial debut. The current Emmy Award nominee (for her acclaimed turn in the FX anthology series Fargo) appears to be going behind the camera for a film adaptation of Sylvia Plath’s immortal American classic The Bell Jar. Deadline was first on this story.
Along with directing the project, Dunst will also co-pen the screenplay along with Nellie Kim and Dakota Fanning looks to be taking on the lead role of Esther Greenwood. Set in 1950s New York, The Bell Jar explores Greenwood’s escalating depression after taking an internship at a New York magazine. The novel, the only one Plath ever published, has been a mainstay in high school English classes for decades and has proved an enduring piece of literature on terms of its exploration of mental illness. A 1979 feature film version of The Bell Jar was made directed by Larry Peerce and starring Marilyn Hassett.
For Dunst, The Bell Jar may mark a major step forward – the actress previously directed to short films (Welcome and Bastard, each of which played various film festivals in 2007 and 2010, respectively) and has been a fascinating role as of late. In 2011, Dunst won the Best Actress prize for her admired turn in Lars von Trier’s dreamy apocalypse drama Melancholia (Dunst was a jury member at Cannes earlier this year) and was last seen on screens in Jeff Nichols’ Midnight Special. Coming up, Dunst will soon appear in Woodshock, Ted Melfi’s all-star drama Hidden Figures and Sofia Coppola’s period western The Beguiled. Fanning last appeared on screen in The Benefactor and will next be seen in American Pastoral, Ewan McGregor’s upcoming adaptation of the famed Philip Roth novel.
Production on The Bell Jar looks like it will start at the beginning of next year.