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Ridley Scott Will Direct Getty Kidnapping Drama Next

By Brian Gallagher — March 13th, 2017

With his highly-anticipated Prometheus sequel Alien: Covenant hitting theaters this May, filmmaker Ridley Scott is moving forward on his next film, which will start shooting around the same time Alien: Covenant hits theaters. The filmmaker is finalizing plans to direct All the Money in the World, based on the true story of the kidnapping of John Paul Getty III, with Natalie Portman being eyed to play his mother Gail Harris. Angelina Jolie had reportedly met for the role, but couldn't sign on due to scheduling conflicts, with the director now trying to secure Natalie Portman for the role.

Deadline reports that Ridley Scott is also seeking another A-list star to play the older John Paul Getty Sr., who at the time of the kidnapping in 1973, was believed to be one of the richest men in the world with his oil fortune as the founder of the Getty Oil Company. The film will be financed by Imperative Entertainment, with the company's Dan Friedkin and Bradley Thomas producing alongside Ridley Scott, Mark Huffam and Kevin Walsh of Scott Free. Quentin Curtis and Chris Clark will also produce. David Scarpa (The Last Castle, The Day The Earth Stood Still) wrote the screenplay, which landed on the Black List in 2015.

The story will be set in Italy, where John Paul Getty III had lived with his parents while his father, John Paul Getty Jr., lead the Italian division of the family oil business. John Paul Getty III was raised in boarding schools and frequently attended nighclubs and left-wing demonstrations as a teen, before he was kidnapped in June 1973 at the age of 16. The kidnappers demanded a ransom of $17 million be paid, with John Paul Getty Sr. asking his grandfather to pay the ransom, which he refused to do. In November 1973, the kidnappers sent a lock of John Paul Getty III's hair and a human ear, threatening to keep mutilating him unless the reduced ransom of $3.2 million was paid.

Gail Harris had already divorced John Paul Getty Sr. for nearly a decade when the kidnapping took place, having refused John Paul Getty Sr.'s offer for millions of dollars, so she could raise her children on her own. When she came to him to ask him to pay the ransom money, he refused, both because of his notoriously thrifty ways, and because he believed that if he paid the ransom, it would encourage copycat kidnappings of all 14 of his grandchildren. Gail Harris and John Paul Getty Jr. eventually convinced the oil magnate to pay the kidnappers $2.2 million, which was the highest amount he could claim as a tax deduction, while borrowing his son an additional $700,000, which was to be repaid with interest, and the $2.9 million set John Paul Getty III free.

John Paul Getty III spent his six months in captivity chained to a stake, and he underwent an operation in 1977 to rebuild the ear that had been cut off. He had substance abuse problems after the kidnapping, and in 1981, after imbibing a mixture of valium, methadone and alcohol, he suffered liver failure and a stroke, while also making him a quadriplegic, which he never fully recovered from. He passed away in 2011 at the age of 54, survived by his son, actor Balthazar Getty. Natalie Portman is coming off her Oscar-nominated performance for playing another real-life character, Jackie Kennedy in the biopic Jackie. With filming set to begin in a few months, we should have more casting updates on All the Money in the World in the very near future.

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