Feature: Jane Got A Gun

Jane Hammond has built a life on the rugged western plains with her husband Bill “Ham” Hammond and young daughter. When Ham stumbles home riddled with bullets after a run-in with the relentless John Bishop and his gang, she knows they will not stop until her family is dead. In desperation, Jane turns to Dan Frost, a man from her past, for help. Haunted by old memories, Jane’s past meets the present in a heart-stopping battle for survival.

The epic love story told amidst the sprawling expanse of the American west, ‘JANE GOT A GUN’ stars Academy Award-winning actress NATALIE PORTMAN (BLACK SWAN, V FOR VENDETTA), JOEL EDGERTON (THE GREAT GATSBY, WARRIOR), NOAH EMMERICH (THE TRUMAN SHOW, THE AMERICANS), RODRIGO SANTORO (300, RIO), BOYD HOLBROOK and EWAN MCGREGOR (THE IMPOSSIBLE, STAR WARS: EPISODE III).

When scriptwriter BRIAN DUFFIELD started Jane Got a Gun as a spec script in 2011, he had a very clear idea of the type of story he wanted to write. “I wanted to write about a woman whose big victory was going to be in making a stand,” says Duffield. After experimenting with different genres, Duffield decided to write a western with a woman named Jane as the main character.

As he wrote, Duffield envisioned Natalie Portman as Jane. “I liked the danger and the threat that Natalie’s size and demeanour allows the film to have,” says Duffield. So he had no hesitation in sending the finished draft to KIM BARTON and JON COHEN, creative executives at Portman’s Handsome Charlie Films. Portman’s physicality wasn’t the only aspect that made Duffield write with Portman and her production company in mind. “Natalie is also an extraordinarily talented woman.”

Portman was quick to see the story’s potential and optioned the project as her first producing venture. “I was drawn by Brian’s use of the western genre to explore Jane’s growing awareness of her own power, and ultimately using that power to protect her family.” Jane and Dan’s relationship was another factor driving Portman’s decision. Duffield recalls. “Natalie liked that Jane and Dan’s relationship was ‘wrong place, wrong time.”

The historical period Duffield references was yet another enticement guiding Portman’s decision. “The West was uncharted territory so there were many more opportunities for women to be free,” she notes. “Women could hold jobs and ranch and go to school and vote for the first time. Those rights happened for women first in the West.” Female empowerment was an essential aspect for survival. For Portman, the harshness of the environment also meant that characters – both men and women had to identify themselves as one thing or another. They had to have strong self-definition to survive.

By the end of 2011, the script was named one of Black List’s best un-produced screenplays. The distinction helped the project to gain traction and financing. Known for his ability to adapt literary works for the screen, SCOTT STEINDORFF, and his company Scott Pictures, joined Portman to produce. Steindorff describes the screenplay “as the best script I ever read;” he was also attracted by the type of movie the script aspired to be. “It’s a story of empowerment in a western setting,” Steindorff offers. “Jane is in an unbearable situation and has to defend her family. This type of story has never been told before.”

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