Ridley Scott is an absolute madman.
Now at the advanced age of eighty, Scott has always had a no nonsense reputation. In many ways, he’s a Hollywood studio head’s dream - a gifted artist respected by his peers who doesn’t waste money and delivers films bang on time, if not earlier. He brings in awards, and he can also bring in the big bucks at the same time, even if (in Blade Runner’s case), it can take a couple of decades.
Yet even for him, the recent reshoots for his new film All The Money In The World seemed like one time strapped challenge too far. Faced with the fact that one of his top tier cast members had been accused of multiple counts of sexual harassment, something which would instantly reflect badly on the film and its chances at the box office, Scott did what he always does - made a tough decision and stuck by it. Less than two months before the film’s US release, all of Kevin Spacey’s scenes were binned and venerated thespian Christopher Plummer was drafted in to replace him as real life oil baron oil baron J. Paul Getty.
Working like lightning, not only did Scott get Plummer in the final cut, he even got him into a new trailer and ensured that a screener was ready for awards season, erasing all signs of Spacey and ensuring that All The Money In The World will now get a fair shake from audiences and the Oscar judges. Astonishing.
As for the film itself, it’s right up Scott’s alley, full of global intrigue and tense scenes plucked from the true life story of the kidnapping of J. Paul Getty’s grandson in 1973. The kidnappers asked for $17 million for his safe return, a demand the insanely rich Getty refused, insisting that if he paid ransom for one grandchild, then all his others would instantly become targets. All The Money In The World follows Michelle Williams’s distraught mother and Mark Wahlberg’s ex-CIA operative as they try to track down the kidnappers whilst trying to convince Getty to pay the ransom - a situation that becomes drastically more urgent when the kidnappers send a severed ear to a newspaper.
Whatever audiences make of the film, it will be remembered primarily for Scott’s unprecedented move to delete an entire performance. Whether he did it for moral or financial reasons doesn’t really matter. All that matters is he did it, and you can bet Spacey isn’t happy about it.
Which makes it the absolute right decision.