In spite of her impressive track record, Lynne Ramsay has had some unpleasant struggles in the world of filmmaking. After coming out of the gate strong with Ratcatcher and Morvern Callar, she was hired to write and direct The Lovely Bones—until Peter Jackson unceremoniously muscled her off the project. Nine years passed before she completed her follow-up to Morvern Callar, the critically-acclaimed, award-winning We Need to Talk About Kevin. On the strength of that film, she landed Jane Got a Gun, a western that was set to star Michael Fassbender, who left the project last week. Ramsay picked up the pieces and approached production with a strong cast, including Natalie Portman, Jude Law, and Joel Edgerton. However, on the first day of production (Monday), Ramsay was a no-show. It quickly became clear that she had quit the film, though nobody seems to know—or be willing to explain—what happened.
Jane Got a Gun is being produced by Portman and Scott Steindorff, who is also financing the film. “I have millions of dollars invested, we’re ready to shoot, we have a great script, crew, and cast,” he told Deadline 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.”
Steindorff wasn’t exaggerating about that last part, as he has already announced an unlikely replacement. Although his sensibility has almost nothing in common with Ramsay’s, Gavin O’Connor (Warrior, Miracle) will take over directing duties when shooting begins on Thursday. A case could be made that this makes O’Connor some kind of directorial scab, but that all depends on the facts surrounding Ramsay’s departure. If this really was as sudden and inexplicable as Steindorff suggests, O’Connor gets to play the hero—even if his involvement does represent a creative 180 for Jane Got a Gun.
UPDATE: According to Deadline, Jude Law has also dropped out of the production, as his sole reason for signing on was his desire to work with Ramsay. There’s no word on a replacement, but if rumours about Fassbender’s departure—apparently, he clashed with Ramsay—are true, maybe the producers can convince him to return. (Admittedly, this is highly unlikely.) The production has offered no comment on Law’s departure, but further delays seem likely.