×

How Martin Scorsese Saved ‘Current War’ From Harvey Weinstein

Director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon finally gets to release his version of his long-in-the-making “The Current War.”

The film, about the competition between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse, was originally set to be distributed by the Weinstein Company after Harvey Weinstein recut it, much to Gomez-Rejon’s chagrin. To make matters worse, Weinstein premiered the movie at the Toronto Film Festival in 2017.

“It was incredibly painful,” Gomez-Rejon tells Variety. “Because you go up on stage and you’re representing the cast and crew who took this journey with you, and you know deep down in your heart that you haven’t been allowed to give your best. Or you give your best under those conditions and it’s not good enough.”

The film was almost shelved when the Weinstein Company shuttered following sexual misconduct allegations against Weinstein.

But on Monday night in New York City at AMC Lincoln Square, Gomez-Rejon premiered “The Current War: Director’s Cut.” “I wasn’t sure the film would ever come out, which was heartbreaking,” the film’s screenwriter Michael Mitnik said.

Gomez-Rejon said the film was saved with the help of his mentor Martin Scorsese. “He agreed to be [a producer] just as a safety net. God forbid that the worst would happen, he’d be there as a safety net, and if the final cut wouldn’t go to me, then he would have the final say,” Gomez-Rejon explained. “And then the worst happened. Literally, the absolutely worst happened, and he was there to save the day, and he got the final cut. And anyone who wasn’t Marty might have gone and recut the movie; [but] what he did was hand the movie to me and let me make the movie I intended to make.”

Popular on Variety

“The Current War: Director’s Cut” is 10 minutes shorter than the original and features five new scenes, an updated score and a host of narrative recalibration.

“Everything from the pacing, to the dialogue, to the story, to the way it’s supposed to feel is, in my opinion, a markedly different movie,” Mitnik added.

According to Gomez-Rejon, the most important edit has been a reworking of Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal of Edison, whose fierce fight against Westinghouse (Michael Shannon) to ensure the supremacy of DC electric power was softened in Weinstein’s cut.

“I unapologetically let Benedict’s portrayal of Edison go to the dark side, instead of trying to make him likable,” Gomez-Rejon said. “I think you have to trust an audience. And because we let him do that, his portrayal juxtaposed with the work that Michael Shannon does, builds authentic tension. Now you have a movie that’s worthy of that title.”

More Scene

  • BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 21:

    Jenna Andrews Hosts Zhavia Ward, Lennon Stella at Jed Foundation Fundraiser

    Jenna Andrews, the Canadian singer-songwriter, record producer and executive, hosted a pre-Grammy event in partnership with The Jed Foundation at Alice and Olivia in West Hollywood on Tuesday.  The non-profit Jed is dedicated to protecting emotional health and preventing suicide. The foundation has partnered with high schools and colleges in order to “strengthen mental health, [...]

  • Coldplay - Chris Martin

    Grammys 2020: The Ultimate Party Guide

    Let the music play, indeed. The Grammys are just days away and dozens of parties are happening every night this week leading up to the big day, Sunday, Jan. 26. And the partying continues with several bashes following the ceremony. (All events listed are by invitation only unless marked otherwise; this list is being updated [...]

  • Jared Harris arrives at the 26th

    No, Jared Harris is Not Playing Doctor Octopus in Marvel's 'Morbius'

    The first-ever trailer for Marvel and Sony’s next Spider-man spinoff “Morbius” left comic book fans reeling with theories. While the plight of the main character, Dr. Michael Morbius (Jared Leto) – a scientist dying of a rare blood disease who accidentally turns himself into a vampire – seemed ripped right out of the comics, the [...]

  • Charlize Theron31st Annual Producers Guild Awards,

    Charlize Theron Says Megyn Kelly's 'Bombshell' Reaction Video Was 'Really Validating'

    Charlize Theron says it was “really emotional” to watch Megyn Kelly’s half-hour response video to “Bombshell,” the Oscar-nominated feature film that depicts the sexual harassment Kelly (as played by Theron) and several other women experienced from Fox News founder Roger Ailes. The video, which Kelly posted to her YouTube Channel on Jan. 9, shows Kelly, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content