EXCLUSIVE: Kirsten Dunst is set make her feature film directorial debut with The Bell Jar, an adaptation of Sylvia Plath’s famed 1963 novel. Dakota Fanning has been set to play the lead role of Esther Greenwood in the pic, which Dunst has co-written with Nellie Kim. The Stanford Prison Experiment producer Priority Pictures optioned remake rights from Studio Canal, and production is eyed to start in first-quarter 2017.
Priority’s Lizzie Friedman, Karen Lauder and Greg Little will produce alongside Fanning and Echo Lake Entertainment’s Brittany Kahan. Celine Rattray is executive producing.
The Bell Jar is set in the 1950s and follows Greenwood, who takes an internship at a magazine in New York City and, after she returns home to Boston, begins to suffer from mental illness. A 1979 movie adaptation of the book was directed by Larry Peerce and starred Marilyn Hassett.
Dunst, just nominated for an Emmy for her work on FX’s Fargo, has directed a pair of short films: Welcome starring Winona Ryder and John Hawkes, which was screened at Sundance; and Bastard starring Brian Geraghty and Lukas Haas which screened at Tribeca and Cannes. Her recent film credits include Jeff Nichols’ Midnight Special and she’s next up in Woodstock and Ted Melfi’s Hidden Figures. Dunst is repped by UTA and Management 360.
Fanning, whose recent credits include The Secret Life Of Bees and The Runaways, is next up in Ewan McGregor’s directorial debut American Pastoral. She’s repped by CAA and Echo Lake.