Ridley replaces Kevin Spacey with Christopher Plummer and delivers a winner
LOS ANGELES—Ridley Scott revealed details and talked openly about how he accomplished his unprecedented move to delete Kevin Spacey’s scenes in “All the Money in the World” and reshoot with Christopher Plummer. All in just over a week.
The feat is that Ridley came up with a solid, impressive film, period. It’s a masterful adaptation of John Pearson’s book, “Painfully Rich: The Outrageous Fortune and Misfortunes of the Heirs of J. Paul Getty.”
Christopher is commanding in the billionaire oil tycoon role first played by Kevin. Ridley quickly decided to erase Kevin from the film when sexual allegations against the actor surfaced, one after another.
The story centers on the true-life kidnapping of John Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer), then 16, in 1973. His devoted mother, Gail (Michelle Williams), tries desperately to convince the young Getty’s wealthy grandfather to pay the $17-million ransom.
As the senior Getty refuses, the boy’s kidnappers became increasingly volatile and brutal. Gail forms an unlikely alliance with the senior Getty’s advisor (Mark Wahlberg) to get her son back.
Michelle, Mark, Charlie and the entire cast deliver fine performances.
The brilliant director behind the film, who showed incredible energy in doing the seemingly impossible task of reshooting the scenes under a tight deadline, just turned 80 last Nov. 30.
“I am not 80, I’m 40,” Ridley joked in our interview via Skype. We were in New York, while he was in London because he was still doing some postproduction tweaks.
Excerpts from our chat:
How and why did you decide to replace Kevin Spacey so fast? I was stunned when this (sexual allegations against Kevin) came out. I didn’t take long to think about it because what I was waiting for, frankly, was for Mr. Spacey to call me up on the phone and say whatever he wants to say. But I got nothing, not even from his representatives, which in a way left me free to just move forward.
There were only two people on my list, there was Christopher, and there was Kevin. So I immediately leaped back to Christopher.
Did you worry about the audience reaction, that the Kevin Spacey issue would take them out on the film? The dangerous thing is yes, I was worried about that. But by doing that in a way, it wipes the slate and we start again, with the same cast, but with a different person.
So, you wanted to save the work of others in the movie. Of course. You have terrific work in this film and not just the actors and the writer, not just the cameraman and the art department, wardrobe. So yes, I am certainly pissed that I could
actually have this all infected by one man’s behavior. It’s absolutely unacceptable.
The film works well and you forget about the issue. Do you think anything good came out of this? The new Mr. Getty is better even more than the first Mr. Getty … I think this gentleman displays more dimension and heart. There’s something about Christopher— he’s got charm, a smile and a twinkle.
Was reshooting stressful? Nothing stressed me, dear.
Do you think the sexual misconduct issue will dominate the tone of this awards season? No, I think we have to get on with what we do, whoever we are and move ahead.
Can you talk about the moment when you talked to Christopher Plummer about him replacing Kevin Spacey? I think he was thrilled to bits. I met him in New York at the Four Seasons Hotel. It was a good meeting.
What were the other phone calls like to the rest of the cast about reshooting their scenes? They didn’t need a phone call. When I said, “You know what this is about …” I said, “Will you?” They said, “Absolutely.” And for how much? They said, “Free.”
What made you decide to cast Kevin instead of Christopher in the first place? Kevin Spacey did a fantastic job. At that particular point, Kevin Spacey is inordinately well-known for his role in five seasons of “House of Cards.” So from that, he became a valuable asset.
Were you annoyed that you had to reshoot? Was the script revised to accommodate the demands of the reshoot? Nothing changed—it was great material. Of course, I was annoyed that I had to do it again.
You had to do scenes twice with the main cast. In the case of Michelle Williams, for example, was she different in the same scenes, but with two different actors? No. Michelle is one of the most interactive actresses. With her, it was, let’s go play again.
What gave you the amazing confidence to do what you did in the past few weeks? 4,000 commercials, 30 movies and 200 productions.
Is there a chance that we will see the scenes with Kevin in the DVD version? I doubt that very much.
There’s an age difference between Kevin and Christopher. How did that affect the makeup hours? Christopher is 87. You don’t need to use any makeup. Oddly enough, he was kind of a handsome version of Getty.
Getty had three facelifts. He had one that I think was OK … the second one went wrong and … another one to fix it. I was concerned that Plummer was a bit too handsome.
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