Lynne Ramsay & Jane Got A Gun
MJ Kim/ Getty
To everyone who’s asked “have you heard about Lynne Ramsay” in the last 24 hours, the answer is yes, I, like you, heard about her abrupt departure from Jane Got a Gun on Monday. I waited to write about it, though, because I was hoping we would hear FROM Ramsay, not just ABOUT her. But as news has come fast and furious throughout the morning and early afternoon regarding the project, no statement—not even “sources” from her camp—have come forward to represent her side of the story.
Here’s what we know:
On Monday, the Western Jane Got a Gun, starring Natalie Portman and also co-produced by her, was supposed to start principal photography. Except the director, Lynne Ramsay (We Need to Talk About Kevin), didn’t show up, and the cast and crew were then informed she had quit the project.
As of this morning, Gavin O’Connor (Warrior) was on his way to take over as director.
Also this morning, Jude Law exited the project, as he had signed on specifically for Ramsay.
That is what we know—that Ramsay failed to report to set, has been replaced by O’Connor, and Law has left, too.
And it turned out that Ramsay’s manager was Jessica Steindorff, daughter of the film’s producer, Scott Steindorff—who has done all the official statement making, to date—and that Steindorff the Younger has since dropped Ramsay as a client.
This is the speculation:
That Ramsay was difficult and butting heads with Steindorff, that she was attempting to renegotiate details of her contract at the last minute late last week, that Michael Fassbender, originally slated to star opposite Portman as her gunslinging former lover, backed out in February not because of the publicly stated scheduling conflicts but because he, too, was at odds with Ramsay. The focus of the (Steindorff driven) narrative is that Lynne Ramsay was difficult, that she was unprofessional and that he is, heroically, rescuing this project from the brink, where its careless and crazy lady-boss director so wantonly cast it when she walked out on the production.
Now for the problem:
I want to give her the benefit of the doubt. There is more to this—there HAS to be more to this—than what we’ve been presented so far. Did she inform anyone before leaving? The initial Deadline report—directly from Steindorff and so far not contradicted—makes it sound like Ramsay snuck off in the dead of night, only to be discovered missing when everyone else showed up for work on Monday morning. But if they were having problems, if there really was a renegotiation happening, surely someone must have had a read on the possibility of Ramsay exiting? Admittedly, Ramsay’s camp is now diminished as she’s lost her manager, but she still has an agent. She has friends—hell, she can pick up a phone and have THR on the line in a second, ready to run her side of the story. But she has remained silent. Which is maybe taking the high road, but…
But we’re left with an ugly picture, one of a wildly unprofessional and irresponsible director who has jeopardized millions of dollars and hundreds of jobs on what is being painted as sheer capriciousness. Calling around to contacts last night, everyone was completely stunned that anyone would pull such a move, and in a troubling but common thread, no one even questioned what her side might possibly be. The closest I came was a former boss, an entertainment lawyer, pointing out that if she did walk away in such manner at such a late date, then she is junking her contract, rumored to have been a pretty lucrative play-or-pay deal, meaning if she walks, she isn’t getting paid. To leave that kind of money—how bad was it for her?
This is the question not being asked—how bad was it for Lynne Ramsay?
Do we not ask because we’re in the first 24 hours of such a surprising story? This kind of thing, it’s like leaving someone at the altar and the shock was palpable last night. Or are we not asking because Ramsay is a woman and a producer painting her as difficult and childish jives with a pre-existing bias toward lady-bosses? Is it because it’s easy to believe Steindorff, especially since Ramsay has offered no defense? Why are we so anxious to condemn Lynne Ramsay as the sole perpetrator of any fault? It takes a lot of people to make a movie. Why is she the only one being called out for whatever problems they were having?
She left, yes. It looks bad, yes. But this is a story being driven, with the kind of precision that looks damn well pre-planned, by a single source, Steindorff, and that story also conveniently absolves him (and also Portman, who developed Jane as a vanity project and brought Ramsay on board—where is she in all this?) of any possible responsibility for the situation.
Put it this way: If you saw two kids playing in a sandbox, and then you heard what sounded like a scuffle and the next time you looked over, one of them was nowhere to be seen while the other had all the sand and toys to himself, what would your assumption be? Would you shrug and assume the kid ran off, or does it cross your mind? Do you wonder if that kid left holding all the toys might be a little bit of a bully?
(Lainey: Ramsay is tight with Tilda Swinton, and well, my default position is that I’m down if Tilda’s down, you know?)