If you want to talk pre-production shakeups that will reverberate across the industry for the foreseeable future, this is one I would never have seen coming. Amongst the most exciting developing projects on the horizon recently has been Lynne Ramsay directed western Jane Got a Gun, boasting a black list screenplay by first time screenwriter Brian Duffield and starring Natalie Portman, Joel Edgerton, and until recently Michael Fassbender. The production’s already seen a difficult change-up after Fassbender had to abandon the project due to scheduling conflicts with X-Men: Days of Future Past, with Edgerton filling in his role and Jude Law taking up Edgerton’s villainous role. It was worrisome to say the least, but it seemed like the film’s troubles were behind it.
And then Lynne Ramsay didn’t show up on the first day of shooting, as reported by Deadline on Tuesday morning. No explanations were given for her shocking departure from the project, though some say a falling out with Fassbender and a negative series of negotiations afterwards were part of the problem. In any case, the split was clearly not on good terms, and producer Scott Steindorff is so far the only voice heard on the matter, clearly one of disappointment.
I have millions of dollars invested, we’re ready to shoot, we have a great script, crew and cast. 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.
Indeed a replacement was imminent, with Deadline now reporting that Gavin O’Connor has been called in to bring the film through production. O’Connor has previously worked on sports dramas like Miracle and Warrior, and though he’s a step down from a distinct visionary like Ramsay, he’s not at all a bad choice given the circumstances. The film will likely still hold some degree of Ramsay’s signature, the pre-production notes making the transition easier for the entering O’Connor. The crew remains intact, so far as we know, with cinematographer Darius Khondji (Amour, Midnight in Paris), production designer Tim Grimes (The Wrestler), and Costume Designer Catherine George (Life During Wartime, We Need to Talk About Kevin) still contributing to the production.
Questions remain obviously of how this will affect the final outcome of the film, and if O’Connor will be able to carry this film across the finish line in pristine quality. It’s the kind of situation nobody wishes upon a crew, but concern shouldn’t be absent for Lynne Ramsay. This turn of events certainly hasn’t earned her any fans, but has reinforced her status as an individual talent of her own motivations. We can only wonder if this will sour her relationship with the industry at large, and how long it will take her to mount another project. Our hopes and wishes go with the crew still hard at work on turning Jane Got A Gun into the film they always wanted it to be, as well as with Ramsay that she finds a happier situation on her next project, whatever that might be.
UPDATE: Throwing a further cog into Jane Got A Gun‘s tumultuous production situation, actor Jude Law has opted out of playing the villain in the film, stating that “he signed on to work with Ramsay.” Offering another shade in the chaotic debate, Ramsay’s former manager Jessica Steindorff is the daughter of outspoken producer Scott Steindorff. Siding clearly with her father, the younger Steindorff says “My father Scott Steindorff prevails under extreme amounts of stress and the show will go on. Sorry, but in this town it’s family first.” In short, Lynne Ramsay may not have a public representative other than herself anymore, which may be another reason for her silence. Where the production will go from here remains as uncertain as ever, but we’ll remain hopeful as the production perseveres.