The indie feature Jane Got a Gun started out as a genre film with potential – a western starring Natalie Portman, with Lynne Ramsay (of We Need to Talk About Kevin fame) directing from a script that made the Hollywood Black List for best unproduced screenplays – but, over the past month, has evolved into the movie underdog story of the year. That stems from Ramsay’s departure as director, which most of the cast and crew didn’t learn about until the first scheduled day for principal photography.
Ramsay leaving also prompted Jude Law to back out from playing the film’s villain. He was going to be replaced by Bradley Cooper, until the Boston Marathon bombing delayed filming on director David O. Russell’s American Hustle (starring Cooper) and prevented the actor from having enough time to commit to Jane. For now, it seems the antagonist role has been filled (again), as Ewan McGregor has entered negotiations for the job.
Deadline is reporting that having actors play musical chairs with the villain role hasn’t affected filming on Jane Got a Gun, as scenes with the character were, from the beginning, scheduled to shoot later in production. Moreover, the focus of Brian Duffield’s script is Jane (Portman), who has to deal with her husband – played by Noah Emmerich (The Americans) – arriving half-dead at the family ranch, riddled with bullets. Jane, well aware that her husband’s ex-comrade outlaw (McGregor) and his gang will eventually show up to finish the job, seeks help from her former lover (Joel Edgerton).
Edgerton was originally going to play the violent outlaw gang leader in Jane Got a Gun, but switched over to the role of Jane’s ex-flame after Michael Fassbender vacated the role (due to an unexpected scheduling conflict with X-Men: Days of Future Past). Since Law abandoned ship, actors spanning the age spectrum – ranging from 63-year old Oscar-winner Jeff Bridges to 32-year old Tom Hiddleston (Loki in Thor and The Avengers) – have been considered to replace him; pending any unforeseen complications (knocking on wood), it seems Portman will reunite with her Star Wars prequel trilogy costar, McGregor, instead.
Overall, despite having to jump through multiple, unexpected, flaming hoops, Jane Got a Gun is in pretty good shape; after all, it still has a great (if not better) cast now, as a whole, and is being directed by Gavin O’Connor, who previously worked alongside Edgerton and Emmerich on the acclaimed MMA drama Warrior. In fact, the raw emotional drama, intimate character story and gritty aesthetic called for by Duffield’s screenplay, arguably, sounds like something that’s more in O’Connor’s wheelhouse anyway; who knows, maybe Ramsay’s departure will prove a blessing in disguise, at the end of the day.
So long as talks with McGregor result in a deal, you can expect the next major update on Jane Got a Gun to be about an official release date; as always, we’ll keep you posted.