‘Jane Got A Gun’ Got a Director — Gavin O’Connor takes over for Lynne Ramsay. Jude Law Is Out

Mark Deming
Movie Talk

Natalie Portman's latest picture was supposed to start shooting Tuesday, but they lost something important – the director.

Lynne Ramsay, the British filmmaker who impressed art house audiences with "We Need To Talk About Kevin" and "Morvern Callar," has walked off her latest assignment, "Jane Got A Gun." The Western was to begin photography in Santa Fe, but director Ramsay, who helped develop the project, never reported to set.

After producers scrambled to find a replacement, Gavin O'Connor has been announced as the new director for the project. O'Connor is a veteran director and screenwriter whose credits include rough and tumble action pictures like "Warrior" and "Pride and Glory," as well as the coming-of-age drama "Tumbleweeds."

"Jane Got A Gun," which tells the story of a woman who turns to her former lover for help when a gang of outlaws storms her farm to take revenge on her husband, was originally set to star Natalie Portman, Michael Fassbender, and Joel Edgerton.

However, a week before shooting was scheduled to start, Fassbender left the cast, supposedly due to conflicts brought on by his role in "X-Men: Days of Future Past." Jude Law quickly came on board, but production hit another snag with Ramsay's departure from the film. Now that O'Connor has been secured for the shoot, producers are hoping that cameras will begin to roll by the end of the week.

While Ramsay has yet to release a statement about her departure, producer Scott Steindorff spoke to the press not long after the news broke. "I have millions of dollars invested, we’re ready to shoot, we have a great script, crew and cast," Steindorff said. "I’m shocked and so disappointed someone would do this to 150 crew members who devoted so much time, energy, commitment and loyalty to a project, and then have the director not show up. It is insane somebody would do this to other people. I feel more for the crew and their families, but we are keeping the show going on, directors are flying in, and a replacement is imminent."

With O'Connor in the director's chair, Steindorff has proven good to his word. And at first glance, O'Connor seems a shrewd choice; he's shown he can direct movies that are tough but thoughtful with "Warrior" and "Pride and Glory," Nick Nolte's Oscar nomination for "Warrior" suggests he can work well with actors, and "Tumbleweeds" demonstrates he can tell stories about women (Janet McTeer's work in the movie earned her a Golden Globe trophy and an Oscar nomination). The latter is especially important for Ms. Portman, who is not only the star of "Jane Got A Gun," but also the co-producer.

UPDATE: This production can't catch a break.  Jude Law has opted to leave the picture, saying he joined the cast in order to work with Ramsay. No word has yet surfaced on a possible replacement for Law, or how this will impact the revised shooting schedule. Since Joel Edgerton has worked with O'Connor in the past, it’s expected he'll stay on.