Natalie Portman on 'Jane Got a Gun' Off-Camera Woes: "It Gives You the Feeling That You Can Do Anything"

Joel Edgerton Natalie Portman Jane Got a Gun Premiere - H 2016
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Joel Edgerton Natalie Portman Jane Got a Gun Premiere - H 2016

At the New York premiere for the Weinstein Company release, the actress-producer and her co-star/screenwriter Joel Edgerton talked candidly about the challenges they faced making the Western.

The Natalie Portman-starring Western Jane Got a Gun, which hits theaters Friday, had a number of well-documented issues on its way to the big screen.

Director Lynne Ramsay left the project right before filming began, with Gavin O'Connor quickly stepping in to helm the movie, on which Portman is also a producer. There were also a series of cast changes as Michael Fassbender, Jude Law and Bradley Cooper all joined and exited the project, with Joel Edgerton and Ewan McGregor ultimately starring alongside Portman. Meanwhile, Edgerton, who also co-wrote the script, changed roles as part of the talent shuffling. The movie, originally set to be distributed by Relativity and The Weinstein Company, then faced release delays, with TWC ultimately taking over the release after Relativity filed for bankruptcy.

But Wednesday night, Portman and Edgerton made the scene at a glitzy red-carpet premiere for Jane Got a Gun at New York's Museum of Modern Art, where the stars spoke candidly about the movie's obstacle-filled production.

"It was very challenging," Portman told The Hollywood Reporter of what it was like dealing with various off-camera issues on the film she was both starring in and producing. "Like all challenging experiences, you come out tougher in the end, you come out learning a lot in the end. It was a new obstacle not even every day but every hour. It was just one of those movies, and miraculously it turned out as something I'm proud of, so it's gratifying that we at least have that."

When asked specifically what she learned, Portman said she was inspired to take on new challenges.

"First of all, it kind of gives you the feeling that you can do anything. When you're like, 'OK, I could make it through something that was really challenging every day,' I could try even more things that I might not have thought I could handle," she told THR. "I think it also changed the way I communicate, and my ability to voice my opinion that maybe I had shied away from before."

Edgerton, who told THR "this movie more than anything I've ever worked on had difficult times," also seemed proud that the Jane Got a Gun team overcame those struggles.

Another cast member, Sam Quinn, indicated that the production issues were particularly disconcerting to him.

"It was terrifying," he said. "The scripts kept being revised, so I didn't know what was going to happen with my part necessarily. A few parts had been cut. I was sort of just waiting for my agent to tell me whether I'm still in the movie until I got on set."

As co-writer, Edgerton had to tweak the tone of the screenplay after O'Connor joined the film, indicating that Ramsay was taking the film in a dramatically different direction.

"It was about tailoring the vision, or the tonal vision, of the story that existed to suit the new director," Edgerton said of the script work after O'Connor joined the project. "There was already a great script. There was a director who was already attached who had started moving that script into a tonally different arena, and I'm talking about a PG script that was being morphed into an R-rated drama — the difference between tongue-in-cheek to scalping. And somewhere in between was the movie that Gavin, the new director, needed to make. The trouble was, when he arrived he had, like, a hybrid of two very different tones. So my job, given that I'd dragged Gavin into the process, was to help him bring those two tones together."