Kirsten Dunst Co-Wrote and Will Direct an Adaptation of Sylvia Plath’s ‘The Bell Jar,’ Starring Dakota Fanning


Deadline has announced that Kirsten Dunst is in the midst of planning an adaptation of Sylvia Plath’s 1963 novel The Bell Jar, set to go into production in early 2017. Not only will the project be Dunst’s feature directorial debut (she’s directed short films — 2010’s Bastard and 2007’s Welcome, which starred Winona Ryder and John Hawkes), it also boasts her as a writer, alongside Nellie Kim. Dakota Fanning, who’s serving as one of a handful of producers, is reported to be cast in the role of protagonist Esther Greenwood.

The book, which was released in England just a month before Plath committed suicide (it was her only novel), follows Greenwood to New York City for a magazine internship that proves to be a disappointment, and leaves her reeling at the lack of possibilities women had at the time — either work that provides little stimulation or motherhood.

The book was previously adapted by Marjorie Kellogg in a film directed by Larry Peerce in 1979, which was panned by the Times on its release, and has been somewhat forgotten. Dunsts’ Mona Lisa Smile costar Julia Styles had, incidentally, been trying to get a film adaptation of Plath’s novel going starting back in 2007 — the plan, according to A.V. Club was for her to star in and produce it, with an adaptation by playwright Tristine Skyler.