EXCLUSIVE: When We Need To Talk About Kevin helmer Lynne Ramsay pulled a no-show and dropped out of helming Jane Got A Gun on the first day of shooting, producer and financier Scott Steindorff said they were determined to set a new director quickly and keep the picture from falling apart. Well, it looks like they’ve gotten themselves a good one. A deal is closing with Gavin O’Connor, the writer-director of Warrior, Pride And Glory, Miracle and Tumbleweeds. O’Connor will get the picture underway Thursday.
Considering how fragile independently financed productions can be, this is fairly remarkable that Steindorff and his fellow producers including Natalie Portman and Aleen Keshishian have managed to keep this picture from falling apart, and prevent the cast and crew from leaving the Sante Fe set and scattering to the winds. As Deadline revealed exclusively yesterday, the production endured what has to go down as the worst first day of shooting in movie history, when Steindorff was forced to gather the crew and castmembers Portman, Joel Edgerton, Jude Law and Rodrigo Santoro to tell them that after nine months of developing the project, the director wasn’t showing up after a series of negotiating twists and turns took place over the weekend.
Her exit was the talk of the town yesterday and no one I spoke with could recall an example of a helmer dropping out in similar circumstances, as this was akin to being stood up at the altar. Steindorff told me yesterday Ramsay was pay or play and that he’d retained litigator Marty Singer to keep his legal options open. I’m sure this one isn’t over. Repeated attempts to get comment from Ramsay’s side were unavailing yesterday.
“I have millions of dollars invested, we’re ready to shoot, we have a great script, crew and cast,” Steindorff told me yesterday. “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.”
I wondered at the time whether some of this was bluster, and maybe he got lucky in landing an accomplished helmer who happened to be available. O’Connor is exec producer and directed the pilot of the FX series The Americans, and has done gritty dramas before. In this Brian Duffield-scripted Jane Got A Gun, Portman plays the title character, a woman whose outlaw husband returns home riddled with bullets. Convinced his gang will return to finish him off and destroy her farm, the woman turns to an ex-lover she hasn’t seen in a decade to help her defend the farm.