What would Stan Lee say?

She might be pigeonholed ‘Mary Jane’ for a couple of years thanks to her commercial turn in “Spider-Man” and it’s upcoming sequel, but Kirsten Dunst is well and truly on her way to becoming quite an actress. According to the trades today, she’s in talks with Director Curtis Hanson to play a 19-year-old prostitute in a powerful new drama set in the 60’s.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Hanson is in final negotiations to develop and direct Columbia Pictures’ big-screen adaptation of Michael Faber’s novel "The Crimson Petal and the White" for producer Laura Ziskin. The project is being developed as a starring vehicle for Dunst, but no deal is in place with the actress. Set in London during the 1860s, the story centers on a 19-year-old prostitute named Sugar. Her yearning for a better life begins to become a reality when she finds herself the secret mistress of a member of a powerful London family.

"Even though it’s a Victorian novel, it has a contemporary sensibility," Ziskin said. "It’s about a woman who is in many ways ahead of her time. It’s a very surprising, very triumphant and very sexy story." No writer has yet come on board to adapt the novel, but a scribe is expected shortly and will work closely with Hanson to develop the script.