All the Money in the World was in the can and kind of perfect when its star became toxic. The director wasted no time recasting the role, but not necessarily for moral reasons …
Ridley Scott makes a long, pained sound when I ask how he received the news four months ago that Kevin Spacey had become radioactive just as their film, All the Money in the World, was gearing up for release. Eeeeeeeh, the director sighs at the memory. You get that nasty, deep, gut feeling: oh shit.
It was late October when allegations of sexual misconduct started flying around, sending the Oscar-winning actor into disgrace and planting a big question mark over Scotts $40m thriller about the 1973 kidnapping of John Paul Getty III. Spacey, wearing facial prosthetic makeup, played Grandpa Getty, the octogenarian tycoon who refused to pay a ransom for his grandson.
The film was in the can and trailers were in cinemas. Sony Pictures was touting Spaceys performance as Oscar-worthy, an opinion Scott seems to share: When I finished it with Kevin, it was kind of perfect. The director had enjoyed working with the House of Cards star. I got on very well with him. Hes a very good actor, great fun to work with. You might think, then, that Spaceys sudden toxicity created a dilemma for Scott, some anguish before he decided to expunge Spacey from the film and reshoot it with Christopher Plummer in the role. You would be wrong. The director who brought us Alien, Blade Runner, Thelma & Louise and Gladiator doesnt do anguish.
My decision was almost immediate. I said: We need to re-do this. I phoned Christopher and asked if hed meet me in New York. Met him that night. An unprecedented Hollywood gamble to reassemble cast and crew for breakneck shooting and editing in a race to deliver a new version in time for the US Christmas box office, just like that? Scott nods. I didnt agonise. I never dwell on a problem, only the solution. You learn to do that, doing what I do.
Audiences in Britain can judge the results for themselves now that the film has opened in the UK. The Guardians Peter Bradshaw has called it a raucous pedal-to-the-metal thriller. Spaceys erasure has emboldened the BBC to do its own vanishing trick: scrubbing Ed Westwick from the Agatha Christie drama Ordeal by Innocence in the wake of sexual assault accusations against the actor, which he denies. He will be replaced by Christian Cooke.