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Armie Hammer is in ‘Death on the Nile.’ But in other films, embattled actors didn’t make the final cut.

Armie Hammer is in ‘Death on the Nile.’ But in other films, embattled actors didn’t make the final cut…  In early 2021, Armie Hammer’s acting career seemed to be effectively over — or at least on pause.
Armie Hammer is in 'Death on the Nile.' But in other films, embattled actors didn't make the final cut.
Armie Hammer is in ‘Death on the Nile.’ But in other films, embattled actors didn’t make the final cut.—

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He had just been accused of sexual assault and emotional abuse. His attorney denied the allegation. In the months that followed, Hammer lost his industry representation and exited several projects: the Jennifer Lopez comedy “Shotgun Wedding,” the Paramount+ series “The Offer,” the Broadway play “The Minutes.”

But on Friday, Hammer will appear on movie screens across the country as a part of the ensemble cast of “Death on the Nile,” Kenneth Branagh’s adaptation of an Agatha Christie mystery. The film, which has received generally positive reviews, was shot in 2019 and originally set for a December 2020 release, before the allegations became public.

Walt Disney Studios, which is distributing “Death on the Nile” through the 20th Century Studios label, did not respond to emails requesting comment on the decision to preserve Hammer’s role as Simon Doyle, the husband of a wealthy socialite played by Gal Gadot.

The Hollywood Reporter has said Disney considered several options, including arranging reshoots with a different actor or using digital technology to alter the finished film, but ultimately decided those moves would have been too logistically difficult.

The studio’s decision to proceed as planned was not a foregone conclusion. In recent years, actors accused of sexual misconduct or other alleged wrongdoing were removed from high-profile productions, recast before shooting got underway or digitally erased at the 25th hour — sometimes at great expense.

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Here’s a look at some of the most prominent cases that illustrate this emerging trend.

 

Kevin Spacey in ‘All the Money in the World’

 

In early November 2017, Sony Pictures was gearing up to debut an Oscar-courting film: Ridley Scott’s “All the Money in the World,” a drama about the kidnapping of 16-year-old John Paul Getty III. The finished film featured Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey as the billionaire J. Paul Getty.

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But when Spacey was accused of sexual misconduct in the early days of the #MeToo movement, Scott made a virtually unprecedented decision. He quickly reshot Spacey’s scenes, replacing him with the Oscar-winning screen veteran Christopher Plummer — all before the movie’s late December release date.

“It sends a message to predators — you can’t get away with this anymore,” Michelle Williams, one of the stars of the film, told Entertainment Weekly before the film’s debut. “Something will be done.”

Plummer, 87 years old during those eight days of reshoots, went on to earn an Academy Award nomination for his supporting turn as the oil tycoon. He died last February at 91.

Spacey, who has denied wrongdoing but apologized to accuser Anthony Rapp, largely left Hollywood, although he is said to have a role in the upcoming Italian crime film “The Man Who Drew God.” In recent years, he has uploaded short videos to his YouTube channel on Christmas Eve. (Spacey did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent to the email address listed on his personal website.)

 

Johnny Depp in the ‘Fantastic Beasts’ franchise

 

“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” (2016), the first entry in the “Harry Potter” prequel franchise, ended with a surprise cameo: Johnny Depp as the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald.

Depp reprised the part in the 2018 sequel “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” — an appearance that drew criticism from some fans because the actor stood accused of domestic abuse against his ex-wife, the actor Amber Heard. He has denied the allegations.

In November 2020, Depp — who had just failed in a libel case against The Sun tabloid over a 2018 article that called him a “wife beater” — announced that Warner Bros. Pictures, the studio behind the franchise, requested his resignation.

“I wish to let you know that I have been asked to resign by Warner Bros. from my role as Grindelwald in ‘Fantastic Beasts’ and I have respected and agreed to that request,” Depp said in a letter posted on his Instagram account.

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The studio tapped Mads Mikkelsen (NBC’s “Hannibal”) to step in for Depp on “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore.” The movie is set for release in April, and at least two more chapters in the prequel series are on the way.

Depp, for his part, appeared in a handful of films after the release of the second “Fantastic Beasts,” including “The Professor,” “City of Lies” and “Waiting for the Barbarians.” (Depp’s publicist did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)

 

Chris D’Elia in Netflix’s ‘Army of the Dead’

 

In the summer of 2020, the comedian Chris D’Elia was accused of sexual misconduct with underage girls. (The Los Angeles Times reported on some of those allegations in detail.) D’Elia released a statement to TMZ claiming he had “never knowingly pursued any underage women at any point.”

In response, Netflix removed D’Elia from “Army of the Dead,” a “zombie heist” thriller directed by Zack Snyder and produced by Deborah Snyder, the filmmaker’s wife. D’Elia’s scenes were digitally excised and replaced with new footage featuring the comedian Tig Notaro, shot using green screen and computer-generated imaging.

“Army of the Dead” dropped on Netflix last May. The same month, the Snyders spoke to Vanity Fair about the reshoots, saying that Netflix spent “a few million” dollars on the painstaking process.

“I will say, Netflix did the right thing,” Deborah Snyder told the magazine. “They put their money where their mouth is.”

Notaro appeared in the final cut as the grizzled helicopter pilot Marianne Peters. She later revealed she had not even met several of her co-stars. “I’ve never met Dave Bautista in my life,” Notaro told Stephen Colbert. “I’ve never met the man.”

 

Ed Westwick in the BBC drama ‘Ordeal by Innocence’

 

In the summer of 2017, “Gossip Girl” alum Ed Westwick was cast in the three-part BBC One thriller “Ordeal by Innocence,” an adaptation of an Agatha Christie crime novel. Westwick shot his scenes that September.

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Two months later, three women accused the actor of sexually assaulting them in 2014. He denied the allegations. In a post on social media that November, he said in part: “I have never forced myself in any manner, on any woman. I certainly have never committed rape.”

The BBC pulled “Ordeal by Innocence” from the programming calendar, saying “these are serious allegations which Ed Westwick has strenuously denied. The BBC is not making any judgment but until these matters are resolved we will not include ‘Ordeal by Innocence’ in the schedules.”

But then, in January 2018, the production companies backing the series announced that Westwick’s scenes would be reshot with the actor Christian Cooke. The producers redid 35 scenes in 12 days, according to BBC News. (Two representatives for Westwick did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment.)

“Hundreds and hundreds of people’s work would have just gone,” Sandra Goldbacher, the director, told the Radio Times. She added that she “felt encouraged by Ridley Scott having done it” on “All the Money in the World.”

“It was like a sort of talisman for us all,” she said. “He’s done it, so we can do it.”

Westwick went on to appear in “Me You Madness,” a comedic thriller directed by and starring Louise Linton, the wife of former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

 

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