[UPDATE: The Roller-coaster continues. Now Jude Law has left the film.]
There was a bit of drama earlier this week when news broke that the upcoming western drama Jane Got a Gun – which is produced by and stars Natalie Portman – had lost its director on the very first day of production (Lynne Ramsay, of We Need to Talk About Kevin fame) . When Ramsay simply failed to show up for work, the whole cast and crew – which includes Jude Law, Joel Edgerton and Rodrigo Santoro – was understandably thrown into a bit of chaos.
However, as financier/producer Scott Steindorff promised, a new director for the project has quickly been found… in the form of Gavin O’Connor, best known for the 2011 MMA drama, Warrior.
Deadline reported the update, saying that O’Connor is currently in final stages of negotiation to take over directing duties; word is that there was some sort of negotiations breakdown with Ramsay, which led to her departure after nine months of development on the film. Needless to say, the repercussions from such an unprecedented move will be making headlines for months to come (seriously, this thing is making waves).
UPDATE: For instance, Deadline now updates us with news that Jude Law has dropped out of the film. Apparently Law wanted to work with Ramsay, and with her gone, his interest has dissipated. We’ll keep you updated regarding his replacement.
O’Connor may not be a widely-recognized name in directing – but his work has certainly left an impression. In addition to the breakout success of Warrior, O’Connor made the Kurt Russell hockey drama Miracle (2004), and more recently directed the well-received pilot for FX’s critically-acclaimed new series The Americans (which he also executive produces).
In each of those cases, O’Connor’s work earned fair praise from critics – but didn’t necessarily generate big buzz with moviegoers. Warrior and Miracle earned word of mouth support that provided a slow and steady boost in exposure; The Americans is similarly starting off slow (about 1.7 million viewers a week), but could potentially be talked-up enough to achieve similar successes. This type of career arc would explain why O’Connor is not yet a household name, but may be perfect for Jane Got a Gun.
For those unfamiliar: the film centers on a woman named Jane (Portman) whose outlaw husband suddenly returns home riddled with bullets, having been betrayed by his gang. Facing the threat of the gang’s retaliation, Jane reaches out to an ex-lover (Edgerton) to help defend her farm from John Bishop (formerly Law) and the rest of his bandits.
Like O’Connor’s aforementioned work, there’s a nice mix of personal drama and gripping melodrama/action to explore – and the script by Brian Duffield apparently explores it well enough to have earned a spot on the Hollywood Black List of the best unproduced screenplays. Given O’Connor’s strengths (which are a nice compliment to the subject matter of Duffield’s screenplay), this may all turn out to be a serendipitous calamity, when all is said and done.
Jane Got a Gun is currently back on track to make its 2014 release date: