Director Lynne Ramsay Abruptly Abandons Western 'Jane Got a Gun'
by Ben Pearson
March 19, 2013
Whoa. Everything appeared to be on track for Jane Got a Gun, the upcoming western which Natalie Portman is headlining and producing. But Deadline is now reporting that director Lynne Ramsay (We Need to Talk About Kevin) has abandoned the project on its first day of production and let everyone know by simply not showing up to the set. Prometheus star Michael Fassbender also left the project just last week, with Joel Edgerton taking his spot and Jude Law stepping into Edgerton's vacated role as the film's villain. Producer Scott Steindorff says the "a replacement is imminent," but they have not found a new director.
The Black List screenplay from writer Brian Duffield follows a woman (Portman) whose outlaw husband returns home barely alive and riddled with bullet wounds. She is forced to reach out to an ex-lover and ask if he will help defend her farm when her husband’s gang tracks him down to finish the job.
While it's not unusual for directors to exit projects, it's highly unusual for someone to do it in such dramatic fashion on the first day of filming. Steindorff told Deadline:
“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.”
Ramsay must have encountered some massive creative differences in the past few days for her to just leave like that, but it's important to know that we don't have the full story yet. It seems childish and wildly unprofessional for a director to leave in a huff this way, so we'll have to see what further details emerge that might enlighten us as to Ramsay's reasoning. The report says she has a pay or play contract, which typically means that Ramsay would only be compensated if she was forcibly removed from the project or if the film fell apart completely. Neither of those options seem to be the case here, and we're not entirely sure of the legal ramifications here, but if she gave up her compensation to walk away, things must have beenbad.
The film is apparently still up and running, so hopefully they can track down a replacement director soon so all of that preproduction work isn't completely wasted. This is a tough thing to deal with from a production standpoint, and I can't imagine how crazy it would be as a director to have to jump in and start filming immediately without having any time at all to plan things out. The cast and story sound great, so we wish this project the best as we wait to find out more.