Atlas Shrugged Begins Filming

With new director Paul Johansson

As announced a couple of weeks ago, shooting on the long gestating film adaptation of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, began over the weekend. As not previously announced though, the director is now Paul Johansson, who replaced Stephen Polk at the eleventh hour, in mysterious circumstances.

Polk, according to Deadline, is devastated, both at his loss of the gig and at his apparent airbrushing from the production's history, even as a producer. Litigation is on the cards, which is possibly bad news for a film that has little money to start with.

Atlas Shrugged has been put together as an indie operation by exercise equipment entrepreneur John Aglialoro: he bought the rights for a million bucks in 1993. The cast, described by Deadline as "low wattage", sees Taylor Schilling (TV's Mercy) as Raynd's industrialist heroine Dagny Taggart, Grant Bowler (Ugly Betty, The Killer Elite) as metal-magnate Henry Reardon, and Johnansson himself (One Tree Hill, Santa Barbra) as John Galt, the enigmatic manipulator behind the world-threatening strike that underpins the story.

"They replaced me with a TV actor," growls Polk, "and this has TV written all over it." Previously apparently fully in-tune with the production's policy of steaming ahead on the strength of its material, forgoing any big names (Charlize Theron and Angelina Jolie were vaguely linked to the film at various points in its journey to the screen), Polk now says "there were red flags". The rest of the large cast includes Michael Lerner (A Serious Man), Nick Cassavetes (director of Alpha Dog and My Sister's Keeper), Matthew Marsden (Rambo, DOA, Coronation Street), Graham Beckel (Bachelor Party Vegas), and Ethan Cohn ("Man With Large Chin" in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland).

The first of a projected four films, Atlas Shrugged episode one is intended for a 2011 release date. It'll need a distributor first though...