Did a doomed donkey really kick thesp John C. Reilly off the set of Lars von Trier‘s “Manderlay”?
Papers all over the globe were buzzing late last week about Reilly’s alleged refusal to do the film when he learned that he was to appear in a scene where a live donkey would be butchered for food.
“The ethical problem of one actor makes me smile when hundreds of thousands of animals are killed every day without anybody getting excited about them,” Peter Aalbæk Jensen, managing director of Zentropa Entertainment, told Australia’s Herald Sun.
However, it now appears Reilly never stomped off the set — because he was never on it.
Von Trier wanted to work with Reilly on the first film in his American trilogy, “Dogville,” but the actor declined because of schedule conflicts.
Reilly then agreed to take a small role in “Manderlay,” but when the actor saw a revised script, his part had been trimmed even further — down to one scene, a new one that featured the slaughtering of a donkey.
Reilly decided the role wasn’t worth the trip to Sweden and told Von Trier he’d have to catch him on the next one.
Whether or not Reilly was angered by the donkey’s death, any fury would seem ill-placed.
According to Aalbæk Jensen, the donkey was to be put down anyway, and a vet was attending the execution scene.
“Everything was done according to the rules,” the producer tells Variety. “Who wants to upset American societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals?”
A tale of racism in the segregated south, “Manderlay” is the second part in Von Trier’s trilogy of films about America. Lions Gate will release the pic next year.