What are some of the famous Director switch offs in history? Indiewire takes a tour of 15 instances where they changed horses midstream.


Getting fired, quitting a job hastily, “mutually agreeing” to exit…no matter how it’s phrased, being removed from any project is never fun as almost anyone who has ever worked a day in their life can attest. The recent debacle with “Jane Got A Gun” — director Lynne Ramsay was a no show for work on the first day of filmingapparently having clashed with the producers — is an unfortunate peg with which to take a look back at filmmakers who were fired, replaced or walked off a film, but history is full of interesting tales of films gone awry thanks to the regrettable loss of a film’s director.


Studio conservatism, wild filmmakers, battling producers, actors and directors not seeing eye to eye, “creative differences,” etc. — there’s myriad reasons why a director may fall out, fall off, abandon ship or get pink slipped off a movie. It’s life, people are extremely passionate, and it happens.

Let it be said, and just to be clear, we are not suggesting Ramsay got fired or that she is at fault here. The director herself has yet to speak on the events of the past week, while the reported story seems to change daily as to what actually went down, depending on the sources. But those in the midst of the situation may be mildly comforted to learn that this isn’t the first time this has happened (nor is it the last). Here’s 15 such examples.

“Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas” (1998)
Original director: Alex Cox
Replacement: Terry Gilliam
What happened: Yes, Terry Gilliam, ironically a director with his fair share of storied problems on films thanks to his unwaveringly quirky vision usually clashing with the powers that be, did direct this adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson‘s seminal gonzo-journo roadtrip nightmare. But he actually came onboard very late in the game because Alex Cox, the filmmaker behind “Repo Man” and “Sid & Nancy,” apparently did not see eye to eye with the film’s producers and eventually was fired. It didn’t hurt that he had managed to alienate Johnny Depp and Hunter S. Thompson, who hated Cox’s screenplay and ideas about animated sequences. “Alex had some dream that he could make Thompson’s work better,” Depp said in an interview. “He was wrong. He had this idea about animation in the film.” Thompson can be seen ripping into Cox’s script (and some of the animated ideas) inWayne Ewing‘s 2003 documentary “Breakfast With Hunter” (ironically, Gilliam’s version has animation in it as well). Cox surprisingly never brought it up in many interviews afterwards though he briefly talks around it in this 2001 interview — but considering where his work went afterwards (“Repo Chick” is just a painful nadir), it’s difficult to argue that the dismissal didn’t damage his career. An draft of Cox’s version of the script can be read here. “It was a piece of crap,” Gilliam said of that script at the Cannes Film Festival in 1998. Gilliam and writer Tony Grisoni banged out a new script in 10 days.

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