The continuing drama of Jane Got A Gun
As Jude Law becomes the latest name to leave the indie western, Jane Got A Gun, Ryan looks at the production's continuing drama...
When news broke on Tuesday that director Lynne Ramsay had failed to turn up for the first day of shooting on her latest film, Jane Got A Gun, the story immediately conjured faintly comical images in our tiny minds. Of Natalie Portman, Joel Edgerton and the rest of the 150-strong cast and crew standing around on a set somewhere in Santa Fe, drinking coffee out of polystyrene cups and wondering what the hell was going on. "It's just going to voice mail," producer Scott Steindorff says in our imaginary version of things, as he walks anxiously in circles with his mobile phone.
But really, the continued reports from the set of are but the tip of what we suspect is a rather depressing story - one that's likely to compromise what would otherwise be a highly promising indie western, and harm the reputations of at least a few of those involved in its making.
Ramsay's last film was We Need To Talk About Kevin (2011), a disturbing, low-key and quite brilliant adaptation of Lionel Shriver's novel. A critical rather than financial success, it paved the way for what should have been an exciting next project; the indie western, Jane Got A Gun. In it, a young woman enlists the help of an ex-lover to defend her homestead from her outlaw husband's gang. Natalie Portman had been brought in as both the lead and producer, while Jude Law and Michael Fassbender had signed up for the two men in her life - a sterling cast for a relatively low-budget ($15m) picture.
The problems appeared to begin earlier this month, when it was reported that Fassbender had dropped out of the role due to scheduling conflicts with the X-Men franchise, forcing a last-minute recasting before filming began on the 18th March. Joel Edgerton was hired in Fassbender's place.
Then, of course, came the surprising reports that Ramsay hadn't turned up for the first day of shooting. Stories circulated of actors left in the lurch, and a producer fuming to Hollywood trade websites about millions of dollars' worth of investment.
Adopting a stoic, 'show must go on' attitude, the producers managed to hire Gavin O'Connor - director of the MMA drama Warrior - within around 24 hours, meaning that this fragile project could, it seemed, carry on shooting after all.
Within hours, there was yet another twist: Jude Law had also dropped out. It's said that Law had signed up for the film because he wanted to work with Ramsay, so with her abrupt exit, he was now bowing out, too.
Exactly how well the production will weather this latest storm isn't clear, but given the centrality of Law's role in the film, it's certainly another major setback. There'll no doubt be some tense phone calls and meetings going on behind the scenes, we suspect, as producers struggle to fill yet another hole in the line-up.
One person who's remained extremely quiet during the whole situation is Lynne Ramsay herself, though as Film Drunk has recently pointed out, that may be because the director's manager (now ex-manager, it's said) is related to the producer.
One can only speculate about what led to such an abrupt and acrimonious split between director and producers (if indeed it was abrupt as it seems from the outside - that Gavin O'Connor and Joel Edgerton, who worked together on Warrior, were signed up so close to one another might suggest that the producers already had an understudy director in mind). But one thing we hope, as fans of cinema, is that Jane Gets A Gun gets made, and that Lynne Ramsay will find her way onto a new project soon - particularly if it's her proposed sci-fi retelling of Moby Dick.
More news on Jane Got A Gun as it comes in.
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