Kevin Spacey just lost a starring role in a major feature film — one that’s already filmed and set to hit theaters on Dec. 22.
Spacey is being cut from the finished production of director Ridley Scott’s “All the Money in the World” as sexual harassment allegations against him continue to mount. He’s being replaced with Christopher Plummer, 87, best known for his role in 1965 as Captain Von Trapp in the “Sound of Music.”
Such a last-minute recasting in a finished movie is entirely unprecedented. Even so, Scott is reportedly determined to keep the Dec. 22 release date and will be reshooting Spacey’s scenes in the film immediately.
Spacey, a two-time Oscar winner who hosted last year’s Tony Awards, has been accused of sexual harassment or assault by more than a dozen men since late October. The first to go public was actor Anthony Rapp, who told BuzzFeed News that when he was 14, the then 26-year-old Spacey made sexual advances toward him.
Fallout from the accusations has been swift. London police launched an investigation, production of his Netflix show “House of Cards” was suspended and he was cut from CBS’s upcoming “Carol Burnett 50th Anniversary Special.”
“All the Money in the World” is about the 1973 kidnapping of 16-year-old John Paul Getty III in an attempt to acquire a ransom from his billionaire tycoon grandfather, J. Paul Getty.
Spacey, in the role of the elder Getty, spent eight days filming the movie alongside co-stars Mark Wahlberg and Michelle Williams. The latter two will reportedly participate in the reshoots.
Spacey promoted the movie on Twitter in September, writing, “J. Paul Getty had a fortune. Everyone else paid the price.”
The race to finish the movie in time for its original release date isn’t only about audience expectations. The movie is expected to be a prime contender for the 2017 awards season. But to be eligible for the Oscars, it must hit theaters before Dec. 31.
The movie was produced by Imperative Entertainment and Scott Free Productions for Sony’s TriStar.
Sony’s TriStar pulled the movie from the prestigious closing slot of the AFI Fest in Los Angeles earlier this week because of the allegations against Spacey.
The movie is “more than worthy of its place of honor in the AFI Fest. But given the current allegations surrounding one of its actors and out of respect for those impacted, it would be inappropriate to celebrate at a gala at this difficult time,” Sony’s TriStar said Monday in a statement obtained by the Hollywood Reporter. “However, a film is not the work of one person. There are over 800 other actors, writers, artists, craftspeople and crew who worked tirelessly and ethically on this film, some for years, including one of cinema’s master directors.”
“It would be a gross injustice to punish all of them for the wrongdoings of one supporting actor in the film,” the statement concluded.
AFI said in a statement that it supported the decision to postpone the movie’s premiere “in order to ensure the thousands of people who worked together on this film are honored at a proper time and in a proper light.”
Scott is no stranger to reshooting films. Actor Oliver Reed died three weeks before shooting concluded of Scott’s 2000 film “Gladiator.” Scott rewrote parts of the movie to include the previously filmed scenes featuring Reed. He then shot new scenes with a body double and use then superimposed Reed’s head on the double’s body during the editing process.
“When he died we had to make sense of the whole end of the film. It’s a very weird thing to have to do — particularly then, when the technology wasn’t really there at all,” visual effects supervisor Rob Harvey, who won an Oscar for his work on the movie, told the BBC. “It was a clever bit of directing and scriptwriting. We just tried to do it as tastefully as possible.”
Plummer was actually Scott’s first choice to play Getty, but studio executives pressured him into casting a more famous actor, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
The immediate response on social media was overwhelmingly supportive of the recasting, hinting that Scott’s instincts may have been correct in the first place.
“Kudos to Sony for doing this. It’s an unprecedented but right move,” wrote journalist Connor Behrens.
“If I ever get embroiled in a scandal and get fired in disgrace please let Christopher Plummer replace me,” tweeted the New York Times’s Farhad Manjoo.
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