Ridley Scott Reveals How Kevin Spacey Was Erased From 'All the Money in the World'

An unprecedented feat of last-minute show-must-go-on moxie allowed the director to film 400 new shots with Christopher  Plummer as J.  Paul  Getty.
Courtesy of Sony Pictures (2)
Kevin Spacey and Christopher Plummer in 'All the Money in the World'

On Monday, Nov. 6, cinematographer Dariusz Wolski was in a digital color grading suite at post house Company 3 completing All the Money in the World when he got a call canceling his scheduled Tuesday meeting with director Ridley Scott to review the final film. Two days later, with the clock ticking down to the movie's release, Scott announced in an unprecedented move that he was replacing Kevin Spacey, who had just been accused of sexual assault, with Christopher Plummer in the role of J. Paul Getty.

"It would have been a pity if the film were completely neglected because of what happened," Scott says of his decision, which kept the movie's holiday release (it moved from Dec. 22 to 25) and added $10  million, paid for by  financing partner Imperative Entertainment, to the drama's $40  million budget as he filmed nearly 400 new shots over nine  days in the U.K. and Italy.

"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."

Some scenes were redone, with Michelle Williams and Mark Wahlberg returning for the reshoots; others combined new footage with shots from the original that didn't include Plummer (like a scene during which Getty speaks to a group of journalists). "We staged them in a similar way, but we adapted a little based on the performance and the dynamic between the actors," Wolski says.

All the original locations were used, except for a scene in  Rome when Getty buys a $2  million painting. Scott leaned on visual effects only for a scene that was  originally shot in Jordan; since it was impractical to return, Plummer was filmed in front of a greenscreen and the original desert photography was added behind him once Spacey had been digitally removed.

"We were pressured with time, and the two gave very different performances, so it wasn't just a question of replacing [Spacey with Plummer]," editor Claire Simpson explains, admitting they were one week from shutting down the London editing suite when she got the call. "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."

For the hair and makeup team, Plummer, 88, posed the opposite challenge of working with the 58-year-old Spacey. Hair designer Ferdinando Merolla says that he first used a wig and makeup to make Plummer look 10 years younger for scenes set in 1962, then ditched the wig so the actor would appear with his own hair in scenes set in 1973.

Recalls supervising sound editor Oliver Tarney: "There were some great nuanced deliveries from the original scenes that made it into the new. 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.

"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," he adds. "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."

A version of this story first appeared in the Dec. 18 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

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