In the nose … Julianne Moore in Cannes, 2017. Photograph: Giulio Origlia/Getty Images
The success of Can You Ever Forgive Me?, Marielle Heller’s tragicomedy starring Melissa McCarthy as real-life literary forger Lee Israel and Richard E Grant as her withering sidekick, Jack, has reawakened interest in details of an aborted version of the movie, which was abandoned six days before shooting was due to begin.
The collapse of this version – which would have been directed by the screenwriter of the finished film, Nicole Holofcener, with Julianne Moore and Chris O’Dowd in the leading roles – was evidently a sore point for most of those involved. Holofcener has spoken of the “terrible” and “traumatic” experience, and Moore has voiced her upset at having been fired from the project – and not having dropped out as many people previously assumed.
The “creative differences” that led to Holofcener dismissing Moore, which then led to the project’s collapse, appear to have centred on Moore’s take on the character – particularly her physicality.
Last week, sources told the Hollywood Reporter that Holofcener disapproved of Moore’s attachment to a fake nose that she wanted to wear to better resemble the real Israel, feeling it would prove “distracting”.
This was confirmed by Grant on Thursday, who also suggested it wasn’t the only prosthetic favoured by the actor. “Julianne Moore wanted to wear a fat suit and a false nose to play Lee Israel,” he said at Advertising Week Europe, “and Nicole Holofcener said, ‘You’re not going to do that.”’
Grant also said that Sam Rockwell and Helena Bonham Carter were due to feature in the original version of the film.
Can You Ever Forgive Me? earned Oscar nominations for McCarthy and Grant, and for Holofcener’s screenplay. Moore was speaking to promote Gloria Bell, the English-language remake of Sebastian Lelio’s acclaimed drama Gloria, about a divorcee who finds new love.