Jump to end of the piece for an update that includes direct quotes from Timothy Olyphant.
Devin just phoned in with a blast from the Hitman press day, essentially confirming details from his Hitman Gets Hit story.
[UPDATED] The following statement [in pink], picked up by some news outlets, was written before the comical tone of Olyphant’s statements were apparent. As a result, we must warn that a lot of this stuff was revealing in a joking manner.]
First off, Timothy Olyphant confirmed that director Xavier Gens was fired, and that Gens did not participate in reshoots. Olyphant also said he had very little contact with producer Luc Besson, who this time out perhaps wasn’t as hands-on as his reputation suggests.
Rumors have flown about the film’s violence being cut, but Olyphant claims there was never any discussion about how much violence was too much, and that loads of violent content have not yet hit the floor. Devin’s paraphrase to me was that Olyphant stated the film would be forty-five minutes long if they cut all the violence.
Devin will be updating this story in a few hours with direct quotes; I hope something speaks to the actual reason for Gens’s sacking. Having seen Frontier(s) I know the director is able to foist off some serious violence, but I also know he’s hardly a sure hand with character and story. From any normal studio I’d just suspect the movie was a mess, but this is Fox so no rational explanation can possibly be applicable.
UPDATE! As Russ promised, I have arrived with some quotes from Timothy Olyphant about Hitman, and specifically about the sacking of Xavier Gens and the controversy over the rumored reduction of violence in the movie. Here goes.
On what was included in recent reshoots, which took place after the rumors about Gens’ firing made the rounds: We did this kick ass little action sequence in there. A couple of little touch ups and stuff. Little bits, little inserts. It’s lovely to have that luxury. Then we had an action sequence that we sort of added to.
Did Gans direct the reshoots? I saw him when I was there [doing the reshoots] but he did not direct the reshoots. I heard the talk on that, that he was fired. I kept saying I was trying to get that guy fired for months. They finally fired him? Fuck! I was saying that forever. He doesn’t speak English, didn’t anybody see that? [For the record, Olyphant is kidding about trying to get Gens fired. He showers the director with great praise in the rest of the interview, which will be running in the coming days.]
Has the violence been toned down? I’m aware of that too, that that was being talked about. I have no information that supports that at all. I’ve had conversations that they don’t have to have with me at all, but I’ve been very involved, and they’ve kept me in the loop here at the studio, and there was never a conversation that I’ve had with any of the executives here or the producers in France or Xavier that was about fear of being too violent. The only conversations we’ve had have been creative conversations about the kind of violence and where it hurts or helps the story. There’s no way it’s not a violent film. We’d have a forty five minute film – we shot a very violent film. If there’s any truth to that rumor at all, there’s always a conversation about what you’re trying to elicit from the audience. There’s a difference between the violence in James Bond films – especially the ones from the past – as opposed to the violence in a Quentin Tarantino film versus violence in a horror film or something designed to make you uncomfortable. As far as I’m concerned the conversations were about that, finding the right tone and not about this idea of toning it down or making it anything less than an R-rated film.