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Interview: Screenwriter David Scarpa talks ‘All the Money in the World’ reshoots

Late fall and early winter is generally a busy time in the movie business. Studios not only prepare to release big films for holiday season moviegoers, but debut awards season contenders that will hopefully go on to vie for a bevy of accolades, including Oscar gold. But for the true-life drama “All the Money in the World” — which chronicled the harrowing kidnapping of the grandson of legendary oil tycoon J. Paul Getty — making the film’s Christmas Day release date was truly a gift.

For screenwriter David Scarpa, being involved in “All the Money in the World” was certainly the most interesting project he was involved in, and not just because of the film’s compelling subject matter. No, it’s more about how as a filmmaker you can think your movie is good to go for its release — that is, until the whole world comes crashing down upon it.

“There are many numbers of crazy stories that happen in the course of a movie’s production, but this is certainly the most crazy public thing that I can think of and that I’ve been a part of. People always have their crazy stories, but this was pretty tumultuous,” Scarpa said in a recent phone conversation from Los Angeles. “What’s really weird is how smooth it worked out. Usually when there are problems with a production, it’s usually a crazy set, with some kind of a disaster or weird setback or weird revolution in the middle of the shoot or something. But in this case, everything happened when everybody thought they were in the clear, and we were about three weeks from our release, and that’s when it all went down.”

The tumultuous event Scarpa is referring to is the sexual misconduct scandal that rocked Hollywood regarding actor Kevin Spacey, who originally played the pivotal role of the elder Getty in “All the Money in the World.” Realizing how Spacey’s involvement would greatly hamper the completed film’s box office and awards prospects, director Ridley Scott decided in an unprecedented move to cut his performance from “All the Money in the World” and recast veteran Oscar-winning actor Christopher Plummer in the Getty role.

Michelle Williams and Mark Wahlberg in 'All the Money in the World' (photo Sony Pictures)

But given the fact that the Spacey scandal broke in late October, time was definitely not on the production’s side. Amazingly, all the pieces came together. Scott reshot the film’s Getty scenes with Plummer and stars Michelle Williams and Mark Wahlberg in a nine-day stretch in late November, and a cut of the film was assembled in time for an 11th hour screening for Golden Globes members in early December. The hard work paid off, as Plummer, Williams and Scott all earned Globe nominations, effectively boosting the film’s prospects for forthcoming nominations for the 90th annual Academy Awards.

For Scarpa, the experience proved to him that if something as tumultuous is going to happen to a production, a director like Scott is the person you’re going to want at the helm.

“Ridley has a team that he consistently works with, when he came back and said, ‘I can do this and do it pretty quickly,’ I’m sure he picked up the phone and called his right-hand man and producer, Mark Huffman, and asked, ‘Can we pull this off?’ Mark said, ‘Yes,’ and after that, it was really there was no question that they were going to be able to do it. For me, once they said they were got the actors back and they were going to do it, I was pretty confident that that they were going to get it done.”

As the film’s screenwriter, Scarpa was naturally involved in the reshoots. Nothing was changed from his original script, and he sent to Plummer only the dialogue that was shot with Spacey and in the film.

“We were warned by our editor, Claire Simpson, that the scenes we were shooting for the movie were going to have to conform to the Kevin Spacey movie in order to make our release date,” said Scarpa, who adapted his screenplay from John Pearson’s 1995 book “Painfully Rich: The Outrageous Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Heirs of J. Paul Getty.”

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However, the screenwriter sent quite a bit more to the veteran “Beginners” Oscar winner — and Plummer naturally proved that he’s anything but a beginner when it comes to acting.

“Initially they asked me to send what is called ‘continuity,’ which is only the dialogue that made it into the cut of the Spacey version of the movie, but instead I sent all of the scenes, which included everything including the stuff that was cut into the Spacey version. Plummer actually went off and memorized all of them and used that,” Scarpa said. “As a result, there’s actually a lot more Getty material in the Plummer version than there is the Spacey version. Parts of individual scenes that got cut are now back in the movie because Plummer’s so good at them.”

“All the Money in the World” is currently playing in theaters nationwide. Scarpa’s next project will be an updated version of the classic film, “Cleopatra.”

Tim Lammers reviews movies weekly for The KQ92 Morning Show,” “KARE 11 News at 11” (NBC), “The Tom Barnard Podcast” and “The BS Show” with Bob Sansevere.

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Reviews: ‘Return of Xander Cage,’ ‘The Founder,’ ‘Patriots Day,’ ‘Live by Night’

Click the audio player below for Tim Lammers’ reviews of “xXx: The Return of Xander Cage” and “The Founder” on “The KQ Morning Show” with Tom Barnard.

Click the video player below for Tim Lammers’ reviews of “xXx: The Return of Xander Cage” and “The Founder” on “KARE 11 News at 11” with Adrienne Broadus.

Click the audio player below for Tim Lammers’ reviews of “Patriots Day” and “Live by Night” on “The KQ Morning Show” with Tom Barnard.

Movie reviews: ‘Deepwater Horizon’ compels, ‘Miss Peregrine’ soars

Summit Entertainment

“Deepwater Horizon” (R) Kurt Russell, Mark Wahlberg, John Malkovich and Kate Hudson excel in the compelling true-life tale “Deepwater Horizon,” which recounts the harrowing Deepwater Horizon oil drilling rig disaster in April 2010. Most news accounts focused on the fixed camera on the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico as BP’s crippled oil well spewed millions of gallons of oil into the gulf. Not chronicled so much was the oil rig disaster itself, which claimed 11 of the 120 crew members on board as the rig caught on fire, exploded and crumbled.

Directed by Peter Berg, “Deepwater Horizon ” is a must-see in IMAX, as the immersive sound and big, big picture literally takes you inside the disaster. As the rivets pop on the oil rig and shrapnel flies, the sound design of the film of  the flying debris will have you ducking for cover. It’s an incredible cinematic achievement.

20th Century Fox

“Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” (PG-13) Tim Burton is back with a fantastical look at the oddities of life with “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children,” a highly entertaining family adventure that works on all levels. Chronicling the plight of a group of children with “Peculiar” abilities and the creatures who want to eliminate them, the movie is not only full of heart,  it  manages the tricky balance of being funny, quirky, creepy and thrilling all at the same time.

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Some fans of  Ransom Riggs’ 2011 best-selling novel of the same name may bristle at some of the changes Burton makes with some characters, but as a cinematic experience, “Miss Peregrine” soars. Eva Green is engaging as always as the titular Miss Peregrine, while Asa Butterfield and Ella Purnell are terrific leading the ensemble cast of “Peculiar Children.” Samuel L. Jackson is wonderfully creepy as Mr. Barron, a shape-shifting creature who needs to nourish himself on the eyeballs of Peculiars to regain his original human form.  All told, “Miss Peregrine” is Burton at this very best.

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Interview: Linda Cardellini talks ‘Daddy’s Home’ on Blu-ray, DVD

Paramount Pictures

By Tim Lammers

There’s no such thing as a sure thing in the movie business. But there’s no question that acclaimed actress Linda Cardellini took a certain amount of comfort from joining the cast of “Daddy’s Home,” given her co-stars, Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg, had clearly established some comedic chemistry on their hit comedy “The Other Guys.”

“The chemistry worked so well,” Cardellini told me in a recent phone conversation from Los Angeles. “Even hearing the pitch of what the movie was about, I immediately imagined how funny it would be and how perfect the both of them would be for their roles. I knew being in the middle of that would be so much fun.”

New on Blu-ray and DVD (Paramount Home Media Distribution) on Tuesday, “Daddy’s Home” tells the story of Brad Whitaker (Ferrell), a well-intentioned stepfather who goes to extreme lengths to become a father figure to his wife Sara’s (Cardellini) two young children. And while Brad has made minor strides, all his efforts to go hell in a handbasket fast when the kids’ super-cool biological father, Dusty Mayron (Wahlberg), comes back into their lives — creating an intense game of one-upmanship between the two to vie for the children’s love and respect.

Cardellini said she loved how the script and director Sean Anders took her character seriously and made her the voice of reason in the story, instead of giving her a stereotypical role to work with.

“I got to be the sane one, instead of a woman who was an hysterical, airheaded person,” Cardellini said. “Sara is the one holding the family together. She’s at the center of it, trying to keep everybody grounded while all this craziness is going on around her.”

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Cardellini said giving her character that sense of realism was important because, while “Daddy’s Home” is a comedy, it’s still a story that families everywhere live for real every day. There’s no question that the film was a hit in theaters because it’s a tale that’s relatable to its audiences, because if you’re not like Brad, Sara and Dusty already, you know people like them.

“The movie has a lot of heart,” Cardellini said. “What happens in the movie happens for real, with families changing and love changing. For my character, she wants to love somebody and have children with him, and as it turns out, he’s not the right person for her and she finds somebody else who’s better for her. She loves him as well, but then the question is, ‘How do you put all those pieces together and make them work best for the children?'”

Cardellini, 40, said it’s just happenstance that she’s been in the middle of so many family-oriented projects lately. She supplied the voice of Wendy Corduroy in the hit Disney XD animated series “Gravity Falls,” which recently wrapped up, and also made a surprise appearance as Laura Barton, the wife of Marvel superhero Hawkeye, (Jeremy Renner) in “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” Even her acclaimed Netflix series, “Bloodline,” which enters its second season at the end of May, has a family angle to it, albeit far from the comedic tone of “Daddy’s Home.”

Cardellini said no matter the subject matter, she’s happy to continue to have the opportunities to work with talented people.

“What I love about being an actress is that you can move from project to project and do different things, and that’s always what’s appealed to me about the work,” Cardellini said. “It’s fun to work on a drama like ‘Bloodline,’ and then on my hiatus I get to work on a broad comedy like ‘Daddy’s Home.’ As an actress, that’s one of my goals. Plus, I get to work with incredibly talented people. That’s what I look for, the chance to surround myself with people that can inspire me. For the finite number of my days here, I want to do what I love and be around people I enjoy and admire, and I’ve been fortunate to do that.”

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