In what’s becoming something of an alarming trend, yet another feature film is replacing its lead actor due to the performer in question turning out to be a not-so-great person. Ridley Scott very publicly replaced Kevin Spacey in his drama All the Money in the World last year by reshooting Spacey’s scenes in a matter of weeks with Christopher Plummer, managing to hit the film’s targeted Christmas release date. Now director George Tillman Jr.’s (Faster) YA adaptation The Hate U Give is going through a similar ordeal.
The Fox 2000 film announced in February that it would be removing actor Kian Lawley from the film after videos surfaced in which the YouTube “star” uttered several racial slurs. This was all the more discouraging because author Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give is explicitly inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and revolves around a young woman (Amandla Stenberg) who serves as the only witness to a police officer murdering her best friend, spurring an increasingly political situation.
Lawley played the boyfriend of Stenberg’s character, a privileged white kid who grows to understand how race impacts their relationship. So you can see how this is troubling.
Deadline reports that Riverdale star K.J. Apa has been selected to replace Lawley, and reshoots are now underway in Atlanta. The reshoots will be extensive, as this character has many scenes not only with Stenberg’s character but also in large crowds. While this work will be intense, it’s not as under-the-gun as All the Money in the World was as Fox 2000 hasn’t yet announced a release date for The Hate U Give. Still, the movie wrapped in November so it’s not exactly ideal to go back and essentially redo major portions of the film months later.
This is certainly Apa’s most high-profile role outside of the CW smash-hit Riverdale, in which he plays Archie. After shooting The Hate U Give, Apa will move directly into filming the feature The Last Summer, a drama about high school friends spending a final summer together before college. Then he’ll move right back into production on Riverdale Season 3, so this hiatus won’t exactly be time off for Apa, but it’ll be interesting to see how he does outside the realm of the teen soap.
As for The Hate U Give, the film’s been highly anticipated ever since it was announced, as Thomas’ novel received positive reviews. The decision to replace Lawley was no doubt an easy one, and I applaud Fox 2000 for spending the money to do this right.