While it took nearly a decade for Lynne Ramsay to deliver “We Need To Talk About Kevin,” her third feature following 2002’s “Morvern Callar,” things seemed to be moving swimmingly for her foray into the western genre with “Jane Got A Gun.” Natalie Portman signed on last spring, and the film quickly assembled a top-shelf cast including Joel Edgerton, Rodrigo Santoro and Michael Fassbender. But a week before production was to start, surprising news arrived that Fassbender has exited the movie, with Edgerton taking his role instead, and Jude Law filling in the gap in the cast. And while “scheduling” with “X-Men: Days Of Future Past” was blamed (it actually doesn’t start shooting for a few weeks yet), was it the first sign of trouble on the horizon?
We’re sure there’s much more to come, but for now, Deadline reports that Ramsay herself has exited the movie, and hasn’t shown up on set for the first day of production which was supposed to be today. So far, the only side of the story being heard is from producer Scott Steindorff of Scott Pictures, and naturally he’s shocked and angry. “I have millions of dollars invested, we’re ready to shoot, we have a great script, crew and cast,” Steindorff said to Deadline. “I’m shocked and so disappointed someone would do this to 150 crew members who devoted so much time, energy, commitment and loyalty to a project, and then have the director not show up. It is insane somebody would do this to other people. I feel more for the crew and their families, but we are keeping the show going on, directors are flying in, and a replacement is imminent.”
The producer notes that Ramsay has a pay-or-play deal, and that he’s looking at his legal options, but he insists the movie will shoot as they are scrambling to find a replacement director. But here’s the thing: unless Ramsay truly inexplicably bailed, whatever the reasons for her departure, it must have been something brewing behind-the-scenes for a while to force such a drastic action. And as it tends to go with these sorts of things, this is probably only the start of the details that will emerge.
Either way, it will be interesting to see if a director does sub in — we’d imagine it will have to someone of particular calibre to keep the involvement of Portman, who tends to be selective. And it will be a pretty ugly gig to step into, not only with the production in disarray, but with all the prep work being done for the distinct vision of another filmmaker entirely. Much more to come undoubtedly, but our dream of a Ramsay-directed western is on hold for now.