'Ordeal by Innocence' Producers Say They Received "No Pressure" From BBC When Replacing Ed Westwick
The actor was replaced on the Agatha Christie adaptation after he faced allegations of sexual assault last year and 42 minutes of the miniseries was reshot.
BBC miniseries Ordeal by Innocence hit the headlines last year when, just weeks after the Harvey Weinstein exposés were published, one of its leads, actor Ed Westwick, was accused of sexual assault. Despite the production — which also stars Bill Nighy, Anna Chancellor and Matthew Goode — already have been completed, the BBC decided to cancel its Christmas airdate of the Agatha Christie adaptation.
Best known for his role as Chuck Bass on Gossip Girl, Westwick was accused separately by three women of sexual assault. He refuted these claims, but in the past 24 hours the actor has deleted all his denials that were posted on social media.
Following in the footsteps of director Ridley Scott on All the Money in the World, co-producers Mammoth Screen and Agatha Christie Limited announced in January that they had recast Westwick’s part, which went to British actor Christian Cooke, and staged a reshoot of the necessary scenes.
Following a screening of the first episode of Ordeal by Innocence in London, James Prichard, Christie's great-grandson and chairman and CEO of Agatha Christie Limited, told reporters that around “42 minutes" of footage was reshot for the project.
When asked by The Hollywood Reporter about the speed of the decision to recast and reshoot after the accusations against Westwick were made, Prichard said it wasn't a quick decision and he faced "no pressure" from the BBC.
"When we sat down, as in ACL [Agatha Christie Limited] and Mammoth, we realized this was the thing to do sometime before Christmas and immediately things started to happen," he said. "It was amazing how supportive everyone was and how, what seemed like an impossible idea that you might be able to get a bunch of actors back however much later, is actually achievable."
Prichard also explained why the decision was made, stating that the production was “bloody brilliant” and adding, “In the end, there was a lot of work that had gone into it, a lot of people had spent a lot of time and we didn’t want to lose it. It’s as simple as that.”
Ordeal by Innocence is set to debut April 1 in the U.K. on BBC One and will be available in the U.S. on Amazon later in the year.