When it was announced that writer/director Lynne Ramsey was joining forces with Academy Award-winning actress Natalie Portman on the Western Jane Got a Gun, the project sounded like stars aligning. It got better: cast opposite of the Black Swan star was the reliable, mesmerizing Michael Fassbender. As the film trekked forward towards the beginning of its shoot, it continued to gain prestigious additions, including a villain in the form of Zero Dark Thirty's Joel Edgerton. It sounded incredible.
And then it imploded.
Last week, Fassbender departed the film, a mere week before cameras were set to begin rolling. He was quickly replaced by Edgerton, who bumped up to the starring role opposite Portman, with Jude Law jumping on board as the film's villain (Edgerton's original role). Then on May 19 — what was going to be the first day of shooting — news broke that Ramsey had left the project, never arriving to set. With money invested, sets built, and production as underway as it could be without a person in the director's chair, producers on Jane Got a Gunscrambled to find a replacement. The ship wasn't going down, even if the captain had bailed.
RELATED: Michael Fassbender In Demand: See Everything He's Working On
Now the hopeful upswing in the debacle: in less than 24 hours, a replacement for Ramsey has been found. Deadline reports that Warrior director Gavin O'Connor has been hired to helm the picture. There have been casualties by the switch: after O'Connor was revealed to be on board, Law was announced to have left the film, his involvement originally linked to the idea of working with Ramsay. But Edgerton and Portman (a producer on the female revenge flick) are still on board.
This isn't the first time a high-profile movie has suffered from talent shuffling — but it might be the instance closest to the wire. In 2010, after two years of working on both the scripts and designs for The Hobbit movies, director Guillermo Del Toro picked up and left New Zealand, paving the way for last December's Peter Jackson-helmed epic. Del Toro has never explained his decision, suggesting that multiple factors influenced his decision to exit the movie — many pointed to MGM's ongoing financial issues. In less analytical departures, X-Men: First Class director Matthew Vaughn was two weeks away from directing 2006's X-Men: The Last Stand before bailing on the film due to creative clashes with 20th Century Fox. For some, having their vision represented is more important than avoiding a public frenzy.
Sometimes it's not even up to the directors. Steven Soderbergh was removed from his version of Moneyball days before shooting the Brad Pitt-led baseball drama. It was another case of the men with the money not seeing eye to eye with their director's vision: Soderbergh wanted a docudrama version of Moneyball that would intercut Pitt's performance with documentary footage. The idea didn't jive with Sony Pictures, who replaced Soderbergh with Bennett Miller.
RELATED: Only 3 Women Are Directing Blockbuster Movies in 2013, and That's a Problem
Ramsey penned the script for Jane Got a Gun, and it's possible that, even when the dust settles from the fiasco, she'll walk away with accolades for the film. The same thing happened to director Brenda Chapman, removed from the director's chair by Pixar halfway through her work on Brave. She ended up receiving a "co-director" credit — a title that earned her an Oscar for Best Animated Feature at the 2013 Academy Awards.
As is apparent from Jane's bumpy road to completion, actors are also capable of derailing a movie and sending behind-the-scenes players scrambling for replacements. Jean Claude Van Damme was set to play the title creature in Predator before ditching the movie last minute. He wasn't keen on the requirements of the role, which included wearing a bulky costume and remaining invisible for half the film. Eric Stoltz was infamously replaced by Michael J. Fox weeks into shooting Back to the Future after Fox (the original choice for the role) became available. And most recently, Peter Jackson, unhappy with actor Stuart Townsend's work as Aragon in Lord of the Rings, kindly asked the thespian to step down, eventually hiring Viggo Mortensen for the part.
On-set shuffling isn't a common occurrence in Hollywood, but it's not a sign of disaster either. A film can go both ways: X-Men: The Last Stand, helmed by back-up director Brett Ratner, is looked down upon as a low point in the franchise. Moneyball went on to earn a handful of Oscar nominations. O'Connor is a competent director who impressed (and earned box office cred) with Warrior. Having most recently directed the pilot for The Americans, he knows a thing or two about stepping into someone else's sandbox and building a great castle. If Jane Got a Gun was going to be strong with Ramsey in the driver's seat, it was going to be strong for a number of reasons beyond her directorial efforts (although it sounded promising in the hands of the visually-inclined auteur). Is Jane destined for disaster? Only if they never roll camera.
Which, if the set spontaneously combusts in an act of Godly smiting, could very well be the case.
Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches
[Photo Credit: Evan Agostini/AP Photo]
You Might Also Like:15 Oscar-Winning Nude ScenesYoung Jack Black Is Totally Unrecognizable
First we had the 70th birthday of John Lennon over the weekend. Then yesterday we had footage surface of Eric Stoltz as the original Marty McFly in Back to the Future. And today we have a weird hybrid of those two stories: Robert Zemeckis’ (Director of BTTF) 3D motion-capture remake of Yellow Submarine (popular Beatles’ song and movie) is still happening and starts filming in April (see the connection now?).
Also, further strange little side note - Eric Stoltz directed last night’s episode of Glee. Just thought I’d share that.
Anyway, while at the New York Comic Con, Cary Elwes confirmed that Yellow Submarine was still happening and filming begins in April. Now is this just a diversion? After all, April is pretty far off and this gives us plenty of time to forget about it or is it actually happening for real? Is Cary Elwes that devious? I’m going to have to say no.
Another strange side note - I loved Elwes in Robin Hood: Men in Tights, but I don’t really see what the big deal is with The Princess Bride. I mean, its a good movie but I didn’t think it was that funny? Sue me. Please don’t.
Back to the movie. Elwes has been cast as George Harrison. Dean Lennox Kelly will be playing John Lennon. Kelly is kind of amazing in his turn as Shakespeare in Doctor Who which I’m sure you all saw and by gosh, I am making that show popular in the US whether Americans like it or not. If you haven’t been watching Running Wilde, you are missing out on the delight that is Peter Serafinowicz who will be playing Paul McCartney. And the lovable Ringo Starr will be played by Adam Campbell.
Wait, what’s this? Adam Campbell dates Jayma Mays, the lovable Emma on Glee? Is the whole news cycle collapsing in on itself? Should I be worried? Do I need to get duct tape? Or is this just an instance of me reading too much into pure coincidences because Hollywood is a relatively small community of members who constantly work on other people’s projects? Nah, definitely a conspiracy.
Source: The Playlist
Actress Bridget Fonda and composer Danny Elfman tied the knot Saturday, MTV News.com reports.
The latest Hollywood newlyweds exchanged nuptials at a church in Los Angeles, during a candlelit evening ceremony. The bride was ushered down the aisle on the arm of her father, actor Peter Fonda, as a 20-piece choir serenaded the proceedings, The San Francisco Chronicle reports. The ceremony was followed by a reception at Cicada, a posh L.A. eatery.
It is the first marriage for Fonda, 39, who has been linked to Eric Stoltz and most recently Dwight Yoakam, and the second marriage for former Oingo Boingo frontman Elfman, 50, now an Oscar-nominated film composer.
True Hollywood royalty, Fonda is the daughter of Peter Fonda, the niece of Jane Fonda and the granddaughter of the late Henry Fonda, while Elfman is the uncle of actor Bodhi Elfman, who's married to actress Jenna Elfman. Elfman's mother, Blossom, is also in the biz as a writer and brother Richard is a sci-fi director.