Sony and Scott are adopting a similar line of thinking with All the Money in the World, a true-crime thriller about the 1973 kidnapping of John Paul Getty III. Spacey, caked in prosthetic makeup, was cast as the oil tycoon J. Paul Getty, who famously refused to pay his grandson’s ransom and then harshly negotiated the terms. He was being positioned for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar campaign and loomed prominently in the film’s trailer. Now, that version of the movie will never see the light of day—Scott is busy reshooting scenes with Plummer, who was ironically his original choice for the role (the studio reportedly insisted on a “bigger name,” so Spacey was hired).
The recasting may be the most drastic example to date of the “Weinstein effect”—the wider reckoning sparked by women coming forward with sexual-assault allegations against the mega-producer Harvey Weinstein—affecting the material business of Hollywood moviemaking. It’s one thing for House of Cards to freeze production and try to find another way to complete the season without Spacey; the show has no set release date. All the Money in the World is due out in less than two months on December 22. But Scott is apparently committed to sticking to that date, as are the project’s co-stars, Mark Wahlberg and Michelle Williams.
If Scott pulls off the reshoot in time, it’ll be a remarkable filmmaking feat, though he is famed for working quickly and has already released one movie—the big-budget Alien: Covenant—this year. The dramatic lengths to which Sony was willing to go to salvage its project suggests the studio recognizes the weight of the wide-ranging allegations that are gripping Hollywood. This isn’t a typical industry scandal, where a celebrity can apologize, retreat into privacy (perhaps attending a rehabilitation program), and then reemerge after a while, perhaps even taking advantage of a “comeback” narrative as some do. Spacey, who tested the waters with a “mea culpa” approach that immediately backfired, may never make a movie again, certainly not within the studio system.
There are other instances of the industry actively adapting to the wave of assault and harassment allegations. Wind River, The Weinstein Company’s most prominent 2017 film, stripped out the Weinstein name in its home release after a concerted effort by the movie’s director and stars. “[Weinstein] did terrible things, and they affected a lot of people, and they affected our film,” Wind River’s writer and director Taylor Sheridan said of the process. “And now, the profits he would have made are going to benefit people that endured exactly the abuse that he doled out.” (The movie’s DVD and streaming profits are being donated to the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center.)
It’s harder to imagine Sony doing something similar with its profits for All the Money in the World, given the millions the studio is spending on these drastic reshoots. But rather than bury the movie because of Spacey, the studio and Scott have decided to bury Spacey instead. Given the sheer number of works the actor has appeared in, the age-old question of whether you can separate a toxic artist from his art will persist. But in this case, Scott is erasing that very quandary.
“There are over 800 other actors, writers, artists, craftspeople, and crew who worked tirelessly and ethically on this film,” Sony said in a statement. “It would be a gross injustice to punish all of them for the wrongdoings of one supporting actor in the film.”