Reshooting 22 scenes in 9 days no problem for director Ridley Scott
Director's experience helped him finish All The Money In The World in time
Ridley Scott admitted he was "annoyed" that he "had to do this again".
The veteran 80-year-old English director added: "But then I was also afraid it would affect all the great work in the film. So I knew I had to do it."
He was Skype-ing in from London last month to the Sony lot in Culver City.
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association had just seen the rough cut of his crime thriller All The Money In The World, a few days after he had reshot key scenes, scrambling to make the deadline for the voters of the Golden Globe Awards, which was held on Jan 7.
Scott was referring to the multiple sexual misconduct allegations against disgraced US actor Kevin Spacey, which led to his decision to reshoot the role - and 22 scenes - with replacement Christopher Plummer, 88.
Plummer was in the running for the original casting but lost out to Spacey.
"Kevin Spacey did a fantastic job," Scott said.
"There were no regrets about casting until I... got this information that would affect us.
"The reason I went with Kevin first is because when you are making a movie, your job is to make people go to the cinema.
"Therefore, you go with whatever help you can get. At that point, Kevin was inordinately well known for his role in (TV series) House Of Cards. So he became a valuable asset."
Scott did not hear a word from Spacey.
"I was stunned when this came out, and I didn't take long to think about it, because what I was waiting for was for Mr Spacey to call me up and say whatever he wanted to say...
"But I got nothing, not even from his representatives, which in a way left me free to just move forward. I think, without question, (Spacey being in it) would have damaged the playability of the film."
Opening here tomorrow, All The Money In The World is based on the 1973 kidnapping of 16-year-old John Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer, no relation to Spacey's replacement), grandson of US billionaire J. Paul Getty (Christopher Plummer), and the desperate attempts of the boy's mother Gail (Michelle Williams) to convince the latter to pay the ransom.
When he refuses, she forms an alliance with his adviser (Mark Wahlberg) to save her son.
Scott said: "I think the new Mr Getty is even better than the first Mr Getty. This gentleman (referring to Plummer) displays more dimension and more heart. There is something about Christopher. He has charm, a smile and a twinkle.
"When you take these three elements, and he is coming out with the words he comes out with, it makes him hawkish. So in a funny kind of way, it adds dimension to the character."
The logistics of the nine-day reshoot in London and Rome in mid-November were daunting.
Scott was expected to make the Dec 18 Los Angeles premiere and Dec 25 North America release date when the studio agreed to let him reshoot.
"We needed everything to fall into place, from locations to the actors returning for reshoots. But it all hinged on this essential performance, and I had an overwhelming feeling Chris could do it. If he had been busy, then we probably couldn't have made it."
Miraculously, everything fell into place. Plummer and Scott met at the Four Seasons hotel in New York, and according to Scott, Plummer said of the offer: "About bloody time."
Plummer said in a separate Skype interview from New York: "I have always wanted to work with Ridley, and there were two chances I had and he didn't hire me. And at last came the call in the most strange way and I was thrilled.
"I said, 'Yes, I don't even have to read the script. I would love to do something with you.' Then I read the script. Overnight, I jumped at it with great glee."
As for replacing Spacey?
"Like all selfish actors, I didn't think about it at all."
It was not the biggest challenge of Plummer's career, though the pressure helped.
"King Lear and a few other parts demanded a bit more. But because it was so short a period of time, it did help me. There was no point in being nervous. There was no time, so the thing I was worried about was that (my character) never stops talking.
"It was one monologue after another, and I was nervous about the memory.
"I didn't have any problem with it, and that was because of my theatre training."
But the controversies surrounding All The Money In The World did not end there.
Though Scott said in our interview that the other actors came back to work for free, it turned out Wahlberg was paid US$1.5 million (S$2 million) to return, while Williams received US$1,000 for the reshoot.
As the cast was called in for reshoots, the performers had agreed to be paid modestly. But Wahlberg insisted on, and received, a much higher sum.
After being publicly shamed for the salary disparity, Wahlberg pledged the entire amount to the Time's Up Legal Defense Fund in Williams' name.
Of course, the fact that his base salary was US$5 million while she got only US$625,000 slipped under everyone's radar.
The new version of All The Money In The World is excellent, gaining three Golden Globe nominations for director, supporting actor (Plummer) and lead actress (Williams) - quite a feat when the Hollywood Foreign Press Association voters had seen everything else in contention and had pretty much made up their minds.
When asked how stressed out he was over the redo, Scott insisted: "Nothing stressed me. I am so experienced that somebody would say, 'Oh, the roof is falling' and I would say, 'Okay, let us fix the roof and move over here.' You have to.
"Films are about the unforeseen happening, and when you get an experienced film-maker, like I am, you see a problem coming up and you have got to deal with it immediately before it gets near you."
So what gave him that kind of confidence to pull it off?
Scott said: "Four thousand commercials, 30 movies and 200 productions. I can hit the ball from any direction."