“I knew that that was going to set [not only] me back, but also women directors back.”
Without a director, there is no movie — and some flicks have come pretty close to being shut down when its director walked away in the middle of filming. Somewhere in the course of making their movie, things took a turn for these filmmakers, whether it was creative differences among their coworkers or other on-set conflicts. Regardless of what went down, these projects were all suddenly left with no one sitting in the director’s chair.
Despite the drama, these films were all thankfully able to move forward but that hasn’t stopped the former directors from spilling the details of what really happened on set.
From Ben Affleck to Patty Jenkins, here’s what went down with these directors…
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1. Justin Lin
Justin Lin may have directed five flicks in the “Fast and Furious” franchise but just days into production of the upcoming installment “Fast X,” Justin announced that he was stepping down as director. While he didn’t specify just why he was leaving, it was reported that he was experiencing creative differences on set. Although he will no longer be serving as director, Justin shared that he would remain a producer.
“With the support of Universal, I have made the difficult decision to step back as director of FAST X, while remaining with the project as a producer. Over 10 years and five films, we have been able to shoot the best actors, the best stunts, and the best damn car chase. On a personal note, as the child of Asian immigrants, I am proud of helping to build the most diverse franchise in movie history. I will forever be grateful to the amazing cast, crew and studio for their support, and for welcoming me into the FAST family,” Justin said in a statement.
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2nd. Ben Affleck – “The Batman”
Ben Affleck took on the role of Batman in several DC films and when it came time for a standalone Batman movie, it was his time to shine. Not only did Ben sign on to star in the flick, but he was also set to co-write and direct. Unfortunately, he later decided to step away from his directorial role in order to focus on acting.
“There are certain characters who hold a special place in the hearts of millions. Performing this role demands focus, passion and the very best performance I can give. It has become clear that I cannot do both jobs to the level they require. Together with the studio, I have decided to find a partner in a director who will collaborate with me on this massive film. I am still in this, and we are making it, but we are currently looking for a director. I remain extremely committed to this project, and look forward to bringing this to life for fans around the world,” Ben said in a statement.
Just a year later, I walked away from the movie entirely.
3. Edgar Wright – “Ant-Man”
Back in 2015, Edgar Wright was set to direct “Ant-Man” but a year after he was announced to be at the helm of the film, he decided to step down. While it was rumored that creative differences were the driving force behind his decision, he later explained that Marvel wanted to write the movie without him and he had anticipated being more involved.
“The most diplomatic answer is I wanted to make a Marvel movie but I don’t think they really wanted to make an Edgar Wright movie. I was the writer-director on it and then they wanted to do a draft without me, and having written all my other movies, that’s a tough thing to move forward. Suddenly becoming a director for hire on it, you’re sort of less emotionally invested and you start to wonder why you’re there, really,” Edgar said on Variety’s “Playback” podcast.
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4. Tim Miller – “Deadpool 2”
Tim Miller may have directed the massively successful first installment of ‘Deadpool” but he decided not to return for the sequel. While working on the follow-up, he reportedly clashed with Ryan Reynolds about the direction of the movie. He also disagreed with casting decisions, which started when he wanted to include an expanded role for Morena Baccarin’s character Vanessa.
“It became clear that Ryan wanted to be in control of the franchise. You can work that way as a director, quite successfully, but I can’t,” he said in an interview on KCRW.
5. Patty Jenkins – “Thor: The Dark World”
Before Patty Jenkins made her mark on the superhero world with “Wonder Woman,” she was set to direct “Thor: The Dark World.” Just a few months into the project, Patty decided to walk away, citing creative differences. She later opened up about the movie, saying that even though it was a “heartbreaking” decision to make, she believed that if she had followed through, it would have reflected badly on female directors.
“It was painful and sad because I really loved those guys and I loved the idea of us making a ‘Thor’ together, but it’s one of those things. You have to make sure that the movie you want to make is fully the right movie for that studio too. It was heartbreaking, but I also knew that it was good. I knew that it was good because I didn’t think I could make a great movie out of their script…As heartbreaking as it was, I was also like, ‘Oh my god, I can’t do something I don’t believe in, in that big of a scale.’ I knew that that was going to set [not only] me back, but also women directors back,” Patty told indiewire.
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6. Danny Boyle – “No Time To Die”
Danny Boyle signed on for “No Time To Die” long before the 25th Bond flick even had a title but he didn’t stick around very long. The director revealed later that he turned down the opportunity when it became clear that the studio didn’t like the direction he was going with his longtime writing partner John Hodge.
“What John [Hodge] and I were doing, I thought, was really good. It wasn’t finished, but it could have been really good. We were working very, very well, but they didn’t want to go down that route with us. So we decided to part company….I got a very nice message from [new director Cary Fukunaga] and I gave him my best wishes…It is just a great shame,” Danny told Empire magazine.
7. Chris Miller & Phil Lord – “Solo: A Star Wars Story”
Chris Miller and Phil Lord were almost 75% finished filming “Solo: A Star Wars Story” when they walked away from the film. Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy explained Despite being talented filmmakers, the duo had very “different creative visions” from the studio.
“Unfortunately, our vision and process weren’t aligned with our partners on this project. We normally aren’t fans of the phrase ‘creative differences’, but for once this cliché is true. We are really proud of the amazing and world- class work of our cast and crew,” the directing duo said in a statement.
Ultimately, much of what Chris and Phil had filmed remained in the movie and they were credited as executive producers.
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8. Rick Famuyiwa – “The Flash”
“The Flash” has gone through numerous director changes since being announced, one of those being Rick Famuyiwa. After Seth Grahame-Smith left the movie, Rick stepped in to fill his shoes, but he didn’t end up lasting long. Rick explained that he, unfortunately, couldn’t come together creatively with Warner Bros and DC and decided he needed to part ways.
“When I was approached by Warner Bros and DC about the possibility of directing ‘The Flash,’ I was excited about the opportunity to enter this amazing world of characters that I loved growing up, and still do to this day. I was also excited to work with Ezra Miller, who is a phenomenal young actor. I pitched a version of the film in line with my voice, humor and heart. While it’s disappointing that we couldn’t come together creatively on the project, I remain grateful for the opportunity,” Rick said in a statement.
9. David O’Russell – “Accidental Love”
“Accidental Love” was years in the making but halfway through filming, David O’Russell knew he had to step away. Amid the creation of the movie, unions pulled support and one of the film’s financiers, Ronald Tutor, had to pay millions to reshoot the movie and have it edited.
“This has been a painful process for me. The multiple production delays and stoppages, which were caused by [exec producer] David Bergstein and preceded Ron Tutor’s direct involvement with me, have now spanned two years, and the circumstances under which the movie would now be completed are much different on several fundamental levels than when we embarked several years ago. I, unfortunately, am no longer involved in the project and cannot call it ‘my’ film. I wish Ron Tutor well,” David said in a statement.
By the time it was completed, David didn’t even want his name attached and the directorial credit was listed under a fake name.