Ridley Scott reveals how he removed Kevin Spacey from All the Money in the World
The British director and his team used all sorts of movie magic to recreate the film with Christopher Plummer
Ridley Scott’s removal of actor Kevin Spacey from new film All The Money in the World following a string of sexual abuse allegations has already entered movie legend, with the veteran director still managing to keep to his original release date (give or take a few days) despite replacing Spacey in every scene with Sound of Music star Christopher Plummer.
And now, Scott and his team have revealed exactly how they pulled off the unprecedented reshoots, which took just nine days and added $10 million to the film’s budget.
"It would have been a pity if the film were completely neglected because of what happened," Scott told the Hollywood Reporter of his decision, which meant he had to film nearly 400 new shots on location in England and Italy.
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"I jumped into it immediately saying, 'I can fix this. We're going to have to recast, make sure everyone was available and the locations were available so I could go back as soon as possible and pick up every shot that [Spacey] was in."
In practice, this meant completely reshooting some scenes with stars Michelle Williams and Mark Wahlberg, while others were recreated by combining new footage with the original material that had been shot with Spacey (including a scene where Plummer’s character Jean Paul Getty speaks to some journalists).
“We were pressured with time, and the two gave very different performances, so it wasn't just a question of replacing [Spacey with Plummer]," said editor Claire Simpson.
"The rhythm was very different, his emphasis on the dialogue was very different, and that impacted the other performances in the scene. So we decided to replace complete scenes."
All the original locations were used for the reshoot, bar one scene in Rome where Getty buys an expensive painting and another that was shot in Jordan – due to the expense of returning, the latter was achieved by having Plummer stand in front of a greenscreen and the already-shot footage (with Spacey digitally removed) played behind him.
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"We staged them in a similar way, but we adapted a little based on the performance and the dynamic between the actors," cinematographer Dariusz Wolski said of the changes.
And this need for adaptation also extended to the makeup artists working on the film (who instead of ageing up the 58-year-old Spacey now had to age down 88-year-old Plummer for scenes set earlier in Getty’s life) and the sound artists, who had a lot of new dialogue and sound effects to deal with.
"There were some great nuanced deliveries from the original scenes that made it into the new,” supervising sound editor Oliver Tarney told THR.
“We spoke to Tim Fraser, who was the production mixer for the reshoot, and asked him to use the same mics as Maurizio Argentieri had used in the original shoot to make it easier to swap between the material that was filmed six months ago and the new. We knew we'd have no time for ADR so the location recordings had to be of a very high standard.”
This extended into the sound effects production (aka Foley shooting), which also had to be altered for Plummer’s performance.
"The sound effects were conformed into the new scenes, … and we had time for a two-day foley shoot but that wouldn't cover what was nearly 30 minutes of new material," Tarney went on.
"It's mostly a mix of old and new, but the foley for Getty's feet and moves had to be replaced entirely as it's a very different performance."
In the end, though, it seems the team pulled it off – and they only slipped three days from their original release date in the US (where the film is now released on Christmas Day). Now that’s commitment.
All The Money in The World is released in UK cinemas on 5th January 2018