Brad Pitt pulled out of his starring role in Universal Studio’s political thriller Sate of Play last Wednesday due to script concerns, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Pitt wanted to delay shooting until the writer’s strike was over so rewrites could be done, but the studio wanted to stay on schedule to avoid losing the film’s other stars—Edward Norton, Helen Mirren, Jason Bateman, and Robin Wright Penn—who have other projects coming up. Universal is courting Russell Crowe for the role, and is also considering a lawsuit against Pitt.
What the commentators said
By pulling out the film, Pitt “might have helped tip the balance of power between actors and studios” toward the employers, said David M. Halbfinger in The New York Times. It shouldn’t be hard for Universal to find a replacement. The strike has delayed “some of the biggest movies,” so several “A-list” actors are available.
If another A-lister gets offered the role, he’d be wise to follow Pitt’s example, said Brad Brevet in the blog Rope of Silicon. Pitt probably “realized there were problems with the script and wasn’t willing to shoot something" sketchy. Can you blame him? Just wait until “all these strike films hit theaters”—it “isn’t going to be a pretty picture.”
Pitt’s decision has also “left Hollywood questioning" just how much leverage it has over unhappy stars, said Michael Fleming in Variety, "in a strike climate where studios are venturing into production starts on scripts that can’t get a rewrite if they need one.” But things could get “ugly” between Pitt and Universal—“the studio has sued stars before.”
Suing Pitt would be a bad move on Universal’s part, said Devin Faraci in the blog Cinematic Happenings Under Development (CHUD). Do they really want to antagonize “a big movie star who can drop out of more of their projects in the future”?