Simon Kinberg made his feature directorial debut with “Dark Phoenix,” but according to a new report from Deadline the latest “X-Men” movie was hardly the first time the writer and producer stepped behind the camera on the long-running superhero franchise. Kinberg was reportedly forced into a director’s role on 2014’s “X-Men: Days of Future Past” and 2016’s “X-Men Apocalypse” after Singer repeatedly went AWOL from the set. Kinberg would work alongside producer Hutch Parker, cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigel, and editor John Ottman to keep the “X-Men” productions moving whenever Singer disappeared.
A representative for Singer denies the claim, telling IndieWire, “A spokesperson for Mr. Singer can affirm that he never went ‘AWOL’ from the sets of ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ and ‘X-Men: Apocalypse.’
News that Singer would not show up to set during the making of two “X-Men” movies should sound familiar to anyone who paid close attention to the behind-the-scenes drama on the Freddie Mercury biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Singer was fired from the film by 20th Century Fox for disappearing from set, which caused tension among the cast on set. Fox was also behind the “X-Men” movies where Singer reportedly would go missing for extended periods of time.
Variety reported in December 2017 that Singer had been absent from the “Bohemian Rhapsody” set on “numerous occasions throughout filming.” Similar to what reportedly went down on the “X-Men” movies, cinematographer Sigel stepped into the director’s chair on days when Singer went missing. A representative from the Directors Guild of America was brought to the “Rhapsody” set to monitor the production. Eventually Fox brought on director Dexter Fletcher to oversee the completion of the movie.
Singer’s absence on “Rhapsody” reportedly created tension between himself and leading man Rami Malek. The two men allegedly got into a confrontation on set that ended with the director throwing an object at the star. The two were believed to have settled their differences, but Singer did not return to the set at all after the 2017 Thanksgiving holiday with just weeks left on the production.
Kinberg’s work keeping the “X-Men” movies together when Singer went AWOL reportedly made him a favorite among the ensemble cast. “X-Men” movie contracts for Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, and more expired after “Apocalypse” but everyone agreed to do one more when it was Kinberg who was planning to direct the next movie, which ended up being the just-released “Dark Phoenix.”
Prior to saving the “X-Men” productions, Kinberg stepped in to direct reshoots on Josh Trank’s 2015 superhero film “Fantastic Four.” IndieWire has reached out to Singer’s representative for further comment.