Spacey’s out. Plum­mer’s in. The movie opens in 44 days.

Toronto Star - - FRONT PAGE - Peter How­ell

Forty-four days.

That’s how much time di­rec­tor Ri­d­ley Scott has be­fore Dec. 22, the sched­uled re­lease date of All the Money in the World, the hostage thriller he’s now fran­ti­cally re­vis­ing.

That’s as­sum­ing Scott got right to work on reshoots Thurs­day morn­ing, fol­low­ing his as­tound­ing an­nounce­ment late Wed­nes­day that he’s re­mov­ing scan­dalplagued ac­tor Kevin Spacey from the film and re­plac­ing him with Toronto-born ac­tor Christo­pher Plum­mer.

Plum­mer, who will turn 88 a week be­fore the movie’s planned re­lease, will as­sume the sig­nif­i­cant role of bil­lion­aire J. Paul Getty in the fact-based drama about the 1973 kid­nap­ping and ran­som of the oil­man’s 16-year-old grand­son, John Paul Getty III.

Co-stars Mark Wahlberg and Michelle Willi­ams have agreed to reshoot their scenes in which they ap­pear with Getty.

Ri­d­ley and movie stu­dio Sony felt they had no choice, given con­tin­u­ing rev­e­la­tions of Spacey’s al­leged sex­ual pre­da­tion on men in in­ci­dents dat­ing back decades but also as re­cently as last year. The film would be dead meat with Spacey still in it, with zero chance of Os­car at­ten­tion. There had even been talk of push­ing it into an early 2018 re­lease, es­sen­tially dump­ing it.

Swap­ping ac­tors at this stage of the game is a text­book ex­am­ple of chang­ing horses in mid­stream, some­thing that is meant to be fer­vently avoided. But it’s not en­tirely with­out prece­dent in Hol­ly­wood his­tory, al­though never be­fore on this scale and on such a per­ilous time­line.

Scott him­self has pre­vi­ous ex­pe­ri­ence with rad­i­cal cin­e­matic surgery, hav­ing em­ployed ground­break­ing dig­i­tal tricks to fill in gaps in his 2000 epic Gla­di­a­tor, after ac­tor Oliver Reed died dur­ing film­ing. Scott and his team used body dou­bles and vis­ual ef­fects to com­plete Reed’s scenes, and the movie went on to win that year’s Os­car for Best Pic­ture.

But Scott did all that long be­fore Gla­di­a­tor came out. All the Money in the World is so far along in the pro­duc­tion process, a trailer has been out for weeks promi­nently fea­tur­ing Spacey as the miserly Getty, al­though the ac­tor is al­most un­rec­og­niz­able un­der heavy makeup and fa­cial pros­thet­ics.

Sony will have to spend mil­lions on the reshoots and new mar­ket­ing cam­paigns. It will also have to fork out for a sculp­tor to make a new mu­seum-qual­ity bust of Plum­mer as Getty, to re­place the one of Spacey that ap­pears in the trailer and also the movie posters, which also re­quire changes.

Lav­ish amounts of money can make any­thing hap­pen in Hol­ly­wood. The real chal­lenge is the phys­i­cal de­mands on oc­to­ge­nar­ian Plum­mer, who is be­ing asked to do some­thing that would daunt an ac­tor 60 years his ju­nior.

But if any ac­tor can pull off a speedy switcheroo of such im­port, it’s Plum­mer, who has played many rogues and he­roes in a screen ca­reer stretch­ing nearly 60 years.

“He has the abil­ity to as­sume and con­sume a role,” says Toronto film­maker Barry Avrich, who pro­duced two Stratford Fes­ti­val films that Plum­mer starred in, The Tem­pest and Cae­sar and Cleopa­tra. Avrich also pro­duced the past two Cana­dian Screen Awards shows, where Plum­mer was warmly re­ceived as a pre­sen­ter and as an hon­oured guest.

“His com­mit­ment and ded­i­ca­tion to his craft is im­mov­able,” Avrich con­tin­ued. “Chris is so aware of the process of film­mak­ing that work­ing with him is an art­ful plea­sure.”

Avrich has more than a glim­mer of an idea of the task ahead for Plum­mer, Scott and the rest of the All the Money in the World team.

“(Christo­pher Plum­mer) has the abil­ity to as­sume and con­sume a role . . . His com­mit­ment and ded­i­ca­tion to his craft is im­mov­able.” BARRY AVRICH FILM­MAKER

He’s cur­rently at work re­vis­ing and ex­pand­ing his 2011 doc­u­men­tary Unau­tho­rized: The Har­vey We­in­stein Project, to ad­dress the al­le­ga­tions of mul­ti­ple acts of rape and sex­ual ha­rass­ment com­mit­ted by the de­throned Hol­ly­wood mogul that have ex­plo­sively come to light since Avrich made his film.

He plans to re-re­lease the film next year. In his re­cent mem­oir, Moguls, Mon­sters and Mad­men: An Un­cen­sored Life in Show Busi­ness, Avrich said he was forced to wa­ter down his We­in­stein film by dis­trib­u­tor IFC Films, whom he felt was act­ing at the be­hest of We­in­stein.

Avrich has months to ren­o­vate his film; Scott and Plum­mer re­ally have only a matter of weeks for their gi­gan­tic task be­cause they’ll have to lock the film be­fore Dec. 22 so it can be dis­trib­uted and pro­moted. Avrich and ev­ery­body will be watch­ing closely to see if the All the Money in the World team can meet their dead­line for a real Christ­mas miracle.

“It’s im­pos­si­ble for me to com­ment with­out read­ing the script,” Avrich con­cludes. “How­ever, Chris is a ma­gi­cian and eas­ily one of the great­est liv­ing ac­tors.”

There’s a huge in­cen­tive for Plum­mer and Scott to suc­ceed, beyond the ob­vi­ous fi­nan­cial ones: Os­car glory.

Prior to Spacey’s out­ing as an al­leged sex preda­tor, the two-time Os­car win­ner was be­ing touted by awards pun­dits as a likely Best Sup­port­ing Ac­tor nom­i­nee for his per­for­mance as Getty, in a film that was also likely to court golden at­ten­tion for ev­ery­thing from Best Pic­ture on down.

Os­car buzz about Spacey and the movie abruptly shut down in re­cent weeks, after the sex al­le­ga­tions be­gan. But a Spacey-free All the Money in the World could find re­newed life as an Os­car dar­ling, in part be­cause Hol­ly­wood likes noth­ing better than a story about a hard­luck kid who over­comes the odds and suc­ceeds.

Plum­mer would now seem a seri- ous can­di­date for Best Sup­port­ing Ac­tor, a prize he first won in 2012 for his per­for­mance as a late-bloom­ing fa­ther in Be­gin­ners. This de­spite the fact that he might not have even reached the movie set yet.

A nom­i­na­tion for All the Money in the World would not only be sweet ad­di­tional glory for a great ac­tor, but also a form of po­etic jus­tice: Plum­mer was orig­i­nally sup­posed to play Getty, but the stu­dio in­sisted on Spacey, think­ing him to be a more mar­ketable ac­tor.

Now it’s Plum­mer, and Richard Ou­zou­nian, a former Star theatre critic and col­league who has in­ter­viewed the per­former many times, sug­gests they’re lucky to have him, call­ing him “one of the most dis­ci­plined ac­tors I have ever had the priv­i­lege of meet­ing. If any­one could step into a com­pleted movie and redo one of the lead­ing roles overnight, it’s him. And he’s got a mind like a steel trap. Ri­d­ley Scott made the per­fect choice.” Peter How­ell is the Star’s movie critic. His col­umn usu­ally runs Fridays.


Ri­d­ley Scott’s All the Money in the World is go­ing to be re-cut to re­place ac­tor Kevin Spacey, above, with Christo­pher Plum­mer amid al­le­ga­tions of Spacey’s sex­ual pre­da­tion.

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