How Screwed is ‘Jane Got a Gun?’

The Natalie Portman western has lost two big stars and a director, and production has only just begun.

William Bibbianiby William Bibbiani

Natalie Portman Jane Got a Gun

We were all excited about Jane Got a Gun, which was meant to be the latest film from director Lynne Ramsay. Her last feature, We Need to Talk About Kevin, was CraveOnline's #1 film of 2011, and this cowboy drama about a frontierswoman, played by Natalie Portman, who enlists the aid of her ex-lover to save her husband from a gang of outlaws looked like the next step in her evolution from indie director to a major force in Hollywood. Michael Fassbender and Joel Edgerton were all set to co-star in Jane Got a Gun, and production was set to begin this week.

And then… Lynne Ramsay didn't show up. Everyone else was there, but not the director. Lynne Ramsay walked off the film altogether, reportedly after a series of disagreements with producer Scott Steindorff. It's not the first time this sort of thing has happened. When rumors circulated that director Pete Travis had left Dredd 3D in the middle of post-production, CraveOnline even released a list of other directors who abandoned their post for one reason or another. But rumors of Travis's departure were apparently exaggerated. Lynne Ramsay, on the other hand, is gone, replaced almost immediately with Gavin O'Connor, whose last film – the mixed-martial arts drama Warrior – also made CraveOnline's list of the best films of 2011, strangely enough.

This wasn't the first sign of trouble from Jane Got a Gun. Barely a week ago, Michael Fassbender – originally slated to star as Portman's ex-lover – dropped out of the project due to scheduling conflicts with X-Men: Days of Future Past. He was swiftly replaced with Jude Law. Or rather, he was replaced by his co-star Joel Edgerton, who went from playing Jane Got a Gun's villain to playing a hero, and whose villain role was then taken by Law. Now, in the wake of Ramsay's departure, Jude Law has also left the project, because he really wanted to work with Lynne Ramsay, damn it.

Steindorff seems committed to keeping Jane Got a Gun in production, but with the cast and crew exiting left and right, he's got the deck stacked against him. It's entirely possible that the film could fall apart, and even if O'Connor does finish the movie, Jane Got a Gun now has a stigma against it. If it's good, it will be a shocker. If it's bad, everyone will claim they know why. It's a tough job O'Connor has. He doesn't get to develop the film around his own sensibilities, since production is already starting. He just has to go in there and make the best Lynne Ramsay movie he can, without the aid of a Lynne Ramsay. He's a talented director, but we have no idea if he's going to be able to overcome the many obstacles in his path.

What will happen to Jane Got a Gun next? Jude Law will have to be recast, assuming it doesn't collapse altogether. We'll keep you posted at CraveOnline with the latest details.

William Bibbiani is the editor of CraveOnline's Film Channel, co-host of The B-Movies Podcast, co-star of The Trailer Hitch, and the writer of The Test of Time. Follow him on Twitter at @WilliamBibbiani.