It’s the ill-fated production that just won’t die, no matter how many bullets you put in its head. The Brian Duffield-penned Blacklist screenplay Jane Got a Gun got off to a solid start (perhaps even with a bang?) when lauded director Lynne Ramsay signed on to helm the tale of a Western woman who must turn to her ex-lover to help protect her homestead and husband from a band of baddie thugs (well, horseback thugs) out to kill them. The addition of stars Natalie Portman (who also signed on to produce the project), Michael Fassbender, and Joel Edgerton only made the project sound still more enticing before, well, everything just went to hell in a big, Hollywood-shaped handbasket.
And now it’s going to court! But first, let’s begin with a recap of the situation – an extensive enough series of events that we truly hopes spawn some sort of behind the scenes book or oral history or something at some point in time.
- Portman came aboard the project in May of 2012, when she was set to star in and produce the film. At this point, Ramsay was already set to helm, and the director’s first post-We Need to Talk About Kevin piece seemed like a solid, inventive fit.
- In August of 2012, Michael Fassbender was rumored to star as the ex-lover.
- In December of that same year, Joel Edgerton was set to play the nefarious leader of the baddie gang.
- At some point before filming was due to start, Fassbender dropped the project, Ramsay moved Edgerton from his original role into Fassbender’s role (the ex-lover) and Jude Law stepped into his role (the baddie leader of the gang). Still with us?
- In March of this year, everything went to shit. Ramsay quit the film on the production’s first official day. Rumors swirled – they actually swirled! probably! – that the director was a no-show on day one and it was her bad behavior that contributed to her departure. The production soldiered on, however, as the cast and crew continued working, with rehearsals still on and pay still being distributed.
- The next day, Warrior director Gavin O’Connor emerged as the top pick to replace Ramsay, and it seemed as if things were getting back on track – until Law quit the very same day, as the actor had signed on to work with Ramsay and wasn’t interested in doing the project without her.
- Two days later, rumors persisted that the short list of possible Law replacements included Jake Gyllenhaal, Tobey Maguire, and Jeff Bridges.
- In early April, exactly zero of those short list picks panned out – Bradley Cooper was rumored to take the role.
- A couple of days later, the film finally got around to casting its third male lead role – Portman’s husband – when frequent O’Connor actor Noah Emmerich joined the film.
- Oh, and then Cooper didn’t take bad guy role. Cooper was on board for about a month before bailing due to “scheduling conflicts.” Sure, B-Coop. In early May, Ewan McGregor saddled up for the part. Are you keeping track? This is a role that, at various times, was set to star Edgerton, Law, and Cooper.
Jesus Christ, did this actually happen?
It did. And it’s only going to get worse. Over at HitFix, Kris Tapley passes along word from local New Mexico station KRQE that the film’s producers have filed a federal lawsuit against Ramsay, a suit that is packed with the sort of juicy details that ensure this will be an uproar we will remember for quite some time (as if there was any question).
The suit is for “breach of contract, breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, breach of fiduciary duty, conversion, unjust enrichment, negligent misrepresentation, fraud and fraudulent misrepresentation, tortious interference with contract, negligence” and while the suit requests an injunction to force WME (Ramsay’s agency) to pay back $360,000 the suit claims is still being held in escrow, along with more than $500,000 in damages to be determined at trial, Ramsay is the only defendant named. (While the limited liability company named “Jane Got a Gun Production, LLC” is named as the plaintiff, producers of the film include Scott Steindorff, Portman, Terry Douglas, Regency Boies, and Aleen Keshishian.)
The lawsuit includes plenty of jawdropping allegations against the director and claims that Ramsay was “was repeatedly under the influence of alcohol, was abusive to members of the cast and crew and was generally disruptive” and that she “failed to adhere to proper safety protocol for handling weapons on set, when she pointed a prop gun directly at a camera and, in turn, at the camera crew before first taking proper precautions.”
The suit also claims that Ramsay did not tweak Duffield’s script, despite that portion of work being explicitly included in her contract, a shirking of duties that reportedly added to the film’s initial delays (the lawsuit’s wording says that Ramsay “failed to provide the writing and directing services” leading to an “unreasonably delayed completion of a final budget for the Picture, and of the Picture itself”). It also claims that Ramsay walked off set on the first day of shooting after extensive attempts to renegotiate her deal fell flat.
The suit also includes copies of applicable contracts and lots of wonky information about Ramsay’s compensation package, which Deadline Hollywood has broken down as such: “Ramsay was initially paid $90,000 to direct the pic and $50,000 to fine-tune the Brian Duffield script. She was to receive $750,000 in total for her directing work on the pic plus 5% of adjusted gross and box office bonuses. Ramsay would have gotten another $25,000 for each Oscar or Golden Globe nomination the movie received and $50,000 more if it won one of those awards.”
The suit also alleges that WME has not “returned the money to them despite ‘multiple requests’ and that Ramsay has told the agency not to hand over the dough.” To add insult to injury, the lawsuit also adds that the director made “false and disparaging statements” to potential investors and somehow “caused a number of vital crew members to leave when she split.” (Well, she certainly might have caused a number of cast members to leave.)
A court date for the suit has not yet been set and Ramsay has yet to respond – but stay tuned, this thing is far from over and we’re happy to provide continued coverage on what just might shape up to be one of Hollywood’s ugliest splits yet.
If you’d like to read the entire 44-page lawsuit, Deadline has uploaded it right here.