It’s difficult not to root for Jane Got a Gun, the independent Western being produced by and starring Natalie Portman, which has been absolutely plagued by problems in the months leading up to – and following – the scheduled start of filming. A major casting change took place shortly before the film went into production, when Michael Fassbender walked away from his role as Jane’s ex-lover, leaving Joel Edgerton to switch parts in order to take his place, with Jude Law eventually being cast in the role formerly occupied by Edgerton.
The real drama began when director Lynne Ramsay (We Need to Talk About Kevin) failed to show up for filming and left Jane Got a Gun with a fully assembled cast and crew, but with no one at the helm. Gavin O’Connor (Warrior) was speedily brought on as a replacement, but by that time Jude Law had followed Ramsay off the project and Jane Got a Gun no longer had a villain.
Things seemed to be on track for a little while when A-list star Bradley Cooper signed up for the part most recently occupied by Law. Now, however, Deadline reports that Cooper, who was the third actor to be cast in the role of villain John Bishop, has also dropped out of the film and left the producers once more scrambling to find a replacement for one of their leads. Cooper has stated that he was very much looking forward to working on Jane Got a Gun, but scheduling conflicts with David O. Russell’s new film American Hustle - possibly caused by the delays in filming that occurred as a result of the Boston bombings – meant that he couldn’t commit to both films. Cooper is also currently engaged with promoting The Hangover Part III, which is another drain on his time.
Just as last time, the filmmakers have disclosed a wishlist of actors to replace Cooper, including earlier target Tobey Maguire and new hoped-for stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Tom Hiddleston. Out of those, Gordon-Levitt would probably be the best choice; Maguire just isn’t a good fit for a villain role (as his stint as “Bad Peter Parker” in Spiderman 3 demonstrated), and while Hiddleston has received much acclaim for his portrayal of Loki in Thor and The Avengers, Gordon-Levitt is arguably the better casting fit for a rugged Old West bandit. Even more so if they reinstall his Bruce Willis face prosthetics from Looper.
For a mainstream studio film these problems would be bad enough, but Jane Got a Gun is an independent production with a limited budget, which has no doubt already lost thousands of dollars to the delays and setbacks. There’s still enough talent attached to keep the movie going strong – and potentially to draw extra backing from financiers – but if the producers can’t collect together a primary cast and keep them tethered to the film, then the ramifications could start to get serious. Portman might even have to join in with the current trend of resorting to a Kickstarter campaign.
Clap your hands if you believe in Jane Got a Gun, and this film just might get back on track without too much further hassle.