So far Jeff Nichols has only directed three films, but when those three films are as good as Shotgun Stories, Take Shelter, and Mud, it really only takes three films for pundits to start painting you as being one of the most exciting directors currently making movies. And once somebody gets anointed as being one of the most exciting directors currently making movies, every time they announce a new project it tends to be a momentous occasion of celebration.

That’s why we were so excited to hear that Nichols would be keeping his streak of working with powerhouse actor Michael Shannon alive for his next film, a father/son drama with a chase element called Midnight Special. Factor in that Nichols has since added another one of the top acting names working in the business, Joel Edgerton, to the cast, and things have started to look even more promising. With these three guys collaborating, Midnight Special has to be seen as one of the most notable movies currently being made, which is good news for Kirsten Dunst, because Deadline is reporting that she’s the latest name signed to come on board and help out the cause.

Dunst is still a young performer, but she’s nonetheless already had a lengthy career that’s seen her working alongside all sorts of prominent directors, including real auteurs like Joe Dante, Sofia Coppola, Michel Gondry, Woody Allen, and Lars von Trier—and now that you can add Nichols to that list as well, it might be time we start reassessing how we look at her as an actress. While she started off her career getting a lot of praise for her surprisingly-adept-for-a-child performance in Interview With the Vampire, the middle phase of her career mostly saw her starring in teen-aimed fare like Bring It On and Crazy/Beautiful, and somewhere along the way we seemed to forgot that she was once viewed as being a real dramatic actress with a lot of potential. With each interesting new choice she makes in this later section of her career she seems to be clawing her way back closer to that original position of respectability, however, so it should be interesting to see if working with Nichols manages to be the thing that finally gets her all the way over that hump.

Of course, while Dunst’s role here is being described as the female lead, the only plot synopsis we have so far says that Midnight Special is a film about a father (Shannon) who takes his young son on the run from the government after he discovers he has some sort of supernatural powers, so it’s hard to say how meaty of a role she’s actually going to be getting. Regardless, given Nichols’ current hot streak, getting a chance to appear in one of his movies has to be seen as an enviable position for any actor to be in right now. Here’s to hoping that everyone involved in this one ends up turning in the most exciting work they’ve done to date.

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