All the Money in the World: Ridley Scott’s Stylish Thriller

The new cut of Ridley Scott’s All the Money in the World, in which Oscar winner Christopher Plummer replaced very quickly disgraced actor Kevin Spacey, will be released by Sony on Christmas Day–as initially planned, despite sex scandals and time pressures.

Kidnapping Event

Ridley Scott: My age group is very familiar with this event.  It gave kidnapping a certain passion to extract money at times, so that was already booming that idea.  I knew about it, but I didn’t develop this, and this was developed by a friend who became my partner, Dan Friedkin, who developed the material.  And I always work ahead, right now I am already planning the next movie for example, cause something is written that I already have on the road.  So I don’t work with many subjects, because when you get to my point, I have pretty well planned out exactly what I want to do.  So I usually have three things on the go, and one is not 40, and they won’t really come to fruition cause getting this on paper is everything.  And Dan sent me this script, and frankly, I had never planned to do something like this and I was blown away by the material, and the event wasn’t strange to me, but I liked the way they went into the characterization of all parties and particularly Gail and Getty, and also got a little bit inside of John Paul Getty and of course Gail Getty’s husband.  So watching the evolution and disintegration of a family from inside out, cause there’s something about, when you have that much money, when you are that wealthy in a way, which we put in the script because I thought that was as great point, in a sense, the first generation who makes it, is driven.  The second generation inherits it and can frequently face a void with nothing to do.  And of course it can lead to idle hands?  Idle hands with that much money are the devil’s blah blah blah.  So it can evolve.  Not in every case, but I was fascinated by that.

Old Poster, featuring star Kevin Spacey before the sex scandals

Casting Kevin Spacey in the First Place

RS: No regrets. Kevin Spacey did a fantastic job.  And also on top of that, he did an incredible, the best makeup I have ever seen.  There’s a man, my makeup guy Connor, did this marvelous job on Kevin, making him look like this character, both at 50 and at 75.  And there was no regrets about casting that until I finished the film and I got this information which would affect us. Now the reason I went with Kevin first, is because Kevin was, this is a tricky subject, it’s not crashing spaceships and shooting people and murdering people and stuff like that.  This is a film which has a great degree of intelligence, in essence a character study.  When you are making a movie, you have to have the wherewithal of actually putting what I call “bums in seats,” that’s my job.  My job is to make people go to the cinema and therefore, you go with whatever help you can get.  And I came down on reading it and immediately see-sawed between is it Chris Plummer or is it Kevin Spacey?  At that particular point, Kevin Spacey is inordinately well known for his role in five seasons of “House of Cards” right?  And so he became a valuable asset.

Decision to Replace the Disgraced Kevin Spacey?

RS: I was stunned when I saw, when this came out, and I didn’t take long to think about it, because what I was waiting for, frankly was for Mr. Spacey to call me up on the phone and say whatever he wants to say, so I would have expected that.  But I got nothing, not even from his representatives, which in a way left me free to just move forward dude.  I can’t let this happen.  And I can’t let the habits of a particular person spoil the great work of lots of people in this film.  And so I decided to move ahead, to move on.  And that happened, I haven’t got a date, maybe five weeks ago, a month ago, and I just said I am going to move.  And then of course once I moved I then passed that by my partners, I passed that by Sony, and I passed that by Dan Friedkin of course first, and he said how practical is that?  And I said, well it’s tricky, because we first of all, we have got to get the availability of the person and I have certainly got to next without question, because I knew Mr. Plummer was always on the list, there were only two people on my list, there was him and there was Kevin.  So I immediately leapt back to that first thought, found out that he was available, and then I have to find out who else is available and do all these scenes we are going to have to pick up with Michelle, Mark Wahlberg and the young Charlie.  And then can I have the locations?  So I had to find this out with my team and we are really efficient and I knew this in about two days.  From that moment on, I said I am going to do it, and we acted immediately.

Inforiming Other Cast Members

They didn’t need a phone call.  When I said you know what this is about, they said absolutely, and I said will you and they said absolutely.  And for how much? They said free.  Everyone came back for nothing.  That indicates how strong the feeling was.  There was no persuasion.




Angry about Reshooting

RS: No, nothing changed in terms of the material, the material was great material.  Of course I was annoyed, that I had to do this again, but then I was also afraid that it would affect all the great work in the film.  So I knew I had to do it. And once I let annoyance get in my way, I switch it off and get on with it.  So I say I have got to do this, so now I am going down the road through it, reshooting it and keeping the release of this film still in place, and that was priority to me.


Casting Christopher Plummer

RS: I think he was thrilled. I met him in New York at the Four Seasons Hotel and I flew straight in from LA to meet him in New York and he had driven in from the country, I met him once before with Russell Crowe shortly after “The Insider,” where he had played Mike Wallace. So he wasn’t completely a stranger to me.  It was a good meeting, he said “about bloody time.”


Worried about Film’s Fate?

RS: Of course.  I think we are going through a phase, an evolution that has taken too long to come to this point.  Without question, it would have damaged the playability of the film and the offense nature of what had happened, I never witnessed anything like this during the film or otherwise, but I don’t look for that.  I never have done.  To say I don’t care sounds callous, but I don’t look for it, I just get on with what I have to do. The dangerous thing is yes, I was worried about that, but by doing that in a way, it wipes the slate and we start again, with the same cast, but with a different person.  And I think it was the right thing to do because you can’t let somebody else’s bad behavior affect everyone else.  That’s where I come from.

Kevin Spacey featured prominently in the film’s campaign–before being disgraced over sex scandals

Plummer as New Mr. Getty

RS: The new Mr. Getty is better even more than the first Mr. Getty in terms of Mr. Spacey.  This gentleman displays more dimension and more heart.  There’s something about Christopher–he’s got a charm, a smile and a twinkle.  And when you are taking these three elements and he is coming with the words that he comes out with, it makes him hawkish. So in a funny kind of way it adds dimension to the character.


Stressful Reshoot?

RS: Nothing stressed me.  I am already into the next movie. I am so experienced that somebody would say, oh the roof is falling, and I would say okay, well let’s fix the roof and move over.  You have to.  You are making films, films are about the unforeseen happening and when you get a very experienced filmmaker like I am, you see a problem coming up in a hair and you have got to deal with it immediately before it gets near you.

Being 80?

RS: The energy comes from my mother. She brought us up and she brought up three kids in the world and one is Tony Scott, who was extraordinary, then me, and then my elder brother who was a ship’s captain, who sailed the South China seas for 20 years.


Scandal’s Impact

RS: I think we have to get on with what we do, whoever we are, and move ahead.  We are in the business of entertainment, and whatever that is, whether it’s drama or comedy.  That is what we do for a living.  So we have to move past these things and hope that we actually learn by them.  Some people learn by them and some people won’t.  But that’s the way life is.


Personal Relationship to Money:

RS: My parents were normal, not quite working class people, who didn’t have a lot of money, but what they gave me was encouragement to do anything I wanted to do.  And that kind of support is everything.  So whatever I decided to do, they would listen and they would take great interest and they would support me.  That was my legacy from my parents.  They let me loose in London when I came down here with only a wristwatch.  And from that moment, they were always very passionate and interested about what I was doing, and whatever I would decide to do, they would just support me.  But they didn’t have the kind of money to support me. I found a way.