Lynne Ramsay is a tremendously talented director, as anyone who has seen her films We Need to Talk About Kevin and Ratcatcher can tell you, which makes the latest ripple in her career quite a bummer: when production began Monday on her latest film, the Natalie Portman-fronted Western Jane Got a Gun, Ramsay was nowhere to be found. Deadline broke the story (so beware; that site is notoriously cozy with studio types who might have it in their interest to paint Ramsay as wildly — and litigiously — irresponsible), reporting trouble right up to the start date. Ramsay still hasn’t issued comment on the matter, but the film’s producers have already lined up a replacement in the form of Gavin O’Connor, director of Warrior and Tumbleweeds (and the pilot of The Americans). Deadline branded Ramsay’s departure a “SHOCKER,” but it’s not as rare as you’d think; despite the intense work of developing a picture and preparing it, filmmakers have frequently walked away from pictures before — or even during — production. We’ve got a few examples for you after the jump.
Gone With the Wind
George Cukor was one of the most competent and reliable craftsmen of Hollywood’s golden age — and already had made a reputation as such by the time he was handed the reins of the highly anticipated film version of Gone With the Wind. (His credits at the time included Dinner at Eight, Little Women, David Copperfield, Camille, and The Women.) So it wasn’t much of a surprise when he got the gig; what was shocking was when he left the picture three weeks into production. He issued a joint statement with super-producer David O. Selznick, explaining their parting of ways thus: “As a result of a series of disagreements between us over many of the individual scenes of Gone With the Wind, we have mutually decided that the only solution is for a new director to be selected at as early a date as is practicable.” The reasons for his exit remain the object of gossip, ranging from script clashes with Selznick to personality problems with Clark Gable, but the film carried on under the hand of Victor Fleming (who was pulled from Wizard of Oz, still in production; King Vidor took over for Fleming) and, after Fleming had something of a breakdown, studio hand Sam Wood (who would later direct for the Marx Brothers). And Cukor bounced right back — the following year, he nabbed a Best Director Oscar nomination for The Philadelphia Story.