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.
Wow, I loved We Need to Talk about Kevin, but this is the kind of move that can get me to boycott a childish director. I'll wait until she issues an official response before passing judgement though.
Matt Peloquin on Mar 19, 2013
Super disappointing. I hope the project finds the new blood it needs to succeed; I was really looking forward to this one.
Ali Miller on Mar 19, 2013
What the what? I was really looking forward to this(still am) and keeping a close eye. Hopefully they find someone versatile and talented enough to take on this difficult situation. Oh the journeyman/workhorse directors of the studio system, sometimes you are sorely missed.
Christopher Koch on Mar 19, 2013
How many people in the world get to direct a film like this and work with this level of talent? There may be more to the story here, but anyone with a job knows you can't just not show up for work - particularly if millions of dollars are at stake. If this is really how it went down, then once again I am surprised at the behavior of someone I thought was a "professional".
John on Mar 19, 2013
I'll direct this for free.
Jesse Kellestine on Mar 19, 2013
She'll never eat lunch in that town again.
$126191 on Mar 20, 2013
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