‘The Bell Jar’: Kirsten Dunst Making Directorial Debut with Sylvia Plath Adaptation

     July 20, 2016

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While those Bring It On memes continue to poke fun at Melania Trump and her RNC speech, Kirsten Dunst is grabbing the spotlight, as well. The actress, who was recently seen in Midnight Special and earned a Golden Globe nomination for her performance in FX’s Fargo, will now step behind the camera for the first time.

Deadline was the first to report the news of Dunst’s directorial debut, which will be a film adaptation of Sylvia Plath’s renowned 1963 novel, The Bell Jar. It’s the story of Esther Greenwood, who takes an internship at a magazine in New York City in the 1950s. When she returns home to Boston, she falls victim to mental illness, a fall that makes this a time-tested classic of American literature.

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Image via Adopt Films

The Bell Jar, the only book published by Plath before she committed suicide in 1963, was previously adapted for the big screen in 1979 from director Larry Peerce and starring Marilyn Hassett as Greenwood. The role will now be played by Dakota Fanning in Dunst’s upcoming indie, which is eyeing a production start in early 2017.


Dunst already got her feet wet in filmmaking in helming the short films “Welcome” (starring Winona Ryder and John Hawkes) and “Bastard” (starring Brian Geraghty and Lukas Haas). She also worked on the screenplay, which she confirmed during an interview with IndieWire earlier this year.

Though she couldn’t reveal what she was adapting at the time, she teased, “I just like movies that are funny when they shouldn’t be. So there’s a little bit of that. It’s not a dark comedy, though there’s an element of that — if you knew the thing that I was adapting, you might be like wow, that is absolutely nothing like a dark comedy!”

Some of Dunst’s most impressive performances in front of the camera have been in dark-tinged tales, like Melancholia, Interview with the Vampire, and The Virgin Suicides, which will no doubt serve her well when she directs a larger cast of her own.

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Image via Warner Bros.

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