A curious sequence of events occurred yesterday regarding Bruce Willis and his work in Woody Allen’s next film. The actor was one of the first to sign on to Allen’s 2016 project, for which we have no title or logline (as is tradition with every new Woody Allen movie), but which—as evidenced by set photos—takes place around the 1950s. Yesterday afternoon, set photos surfaced over at CS showing Willis filming in costume alongside co-stars Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart, and it was kind of neat seeing these three actors in period garb working on a Woody Allen movie.
But then, just a few hours later, a report surfaced on Deadline that Willis was being forced to drop out of Allen’s film due to “scheduling issues” with his work on the stage play Misery. This, well, didn’t make sense. Willis was already filming scenes for the movie, so how could a “scheduling conflict” arise in the middle of production that would force him to back out? Most likely, it can’t. What’s more likely here is that Willis was either fired or simply left the film (The Wrap reporter Jeff Sneider suggests it’s the former), and the Deadline report was an attempt to save face.
It’s unclear why Willis left so abruptly, whether it was a clash with Allen himself or someone else on set, but Allen’s reps confirmed to Deadline that Willis is no longer part of the film and his role is being recast. This isn’t a unique occurrence for Allen, however. He famously recast Michael Keaton in The Purple Rose of Cairo after a week of filming when the two agreed he wasn’t right for the part, and the filmmaker recast and reshot the entirety of September after becoming unhappy with the film in the editing room. So while recasting Willis’ role in the midst of filming isn’t exactly something Allen and Co. will enjoy doing, the director at least has experience in this arena.
If Willis’ departure is a result of a clash with Allen, it’s a curious development. The actor has earned a reputation for being somewhat difficult to work with, but for auteur-driven films like Moonrise Kingdom and Looper, Willis appears to have gotten along just fine with Wes Anderson and Rian Johnson. Whatever led to Willis leaving Allen’s film, it’s unfortunate we won’t get to see the two work together after all.