British director Lynne Ramsay has demonstrated her growing influence by beating off a clutch of directors to cast Natalie Portman in the lead role of her new Western film Jane Got a Gun.
The casting of Portman represents a coup for the Glasgow-born director of We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011). Although funding for the film is yet to be finalised, the news of Portman’s presence sparked a bidding war for sales rights at the Cannes Film Festival.
A new mother now based in Israel, Portman has chosen her roles very carefully since her Oscar-winning performance in Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan.
She is currently working on Terrence Malick’s back-to-back film project, currently titled Lawless and Knight of Cups (which also stars Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Ryan Gosling and Rooney Mara), and is also contractually obliged to shoot Thor 2, but recently turned down leading roles in the Wachowski Brother’s Jupiter Ascending and Ridley Scott’s The Counselor
Written by newcomer Brian Duffield, Jane Got a Gun appeared on the Black List of top screenplays last year before coming to the attention of Ramsey. It appears to be a feminist take of the Western genre, centering on an outlawed farmer’s wife who must reach out to an ex-lover to defend her farm against a gang of men hunting her bullet-riddled husband.
Ramsay has had a fitful career. After garnering attention for her early films Ratcatcher (1999) and Morvern Callar (2002), she dropped out of the spotlight for ten years as she worked on adapting Alice Sebald’s The Lovely Bones, only to see Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson granted directorship of the project.
Her adaption of Lionel Shriver’s We Need to Talk About Kevin re-established her as one of the most powerful voices in British cinema, and has clearly acted as a calling card in Hollywood.