Rebel Ridge director Jeremy Saulnier talks about the troubled production and replacing John Boyega

Jeremy Saulnier discusses the troubled production of his upcoming film Rebel Ridge, which lost star John Boyega along the way

I have been a fan of director Jeremy Saulnier’s work ever since his feature debut Murder Party was given a home video release back in 2007, and it has been great to watch his career progress through Blue Ruin, Green Room, Hold the Dark, and episodes of True Detective season 3. Anything he does will have my attention, so I was excited when another Saulnier film called Rebel Ridge was announced back in 2019. Unfortunately, we still haven’t seen Rebel Ridge because the Netflix production was delayed by the pandemic lockdowns, then by the departure of lead actor John Boyega a few weeks into filming, reportedly due to “family reasons.” Saulnier did eventually manage to make the movie, though, and he talked about the troubled production during a recent interview with Film Stories.

Admitting that the making of Rebel Ridge saw him “slamming right into the Hollywood I’ve tried to avoid,” Saulnier said, “We came back three years in a row to make that movie.” The first time was disrupted by the pandemic and Boyega leaving was the “issue that shut us down in year two,” but the third time was the charm. With Aaron Pierre (M. Night Shyamalan’s Old, pictured below) taking over the lead role, Rebel Ridge did make it through production on the third attempt. It wrapped in the summer of 2022, has had a positive test screening, and will be getting a sound mix soon. Saulnier said, “Whatever happened to us along the way, it allowed us to cast a young man, Aaron Pierre, who’s on the rise, who would not normally be allowed to helm a – I think the budget’s 40 million, 37 million, whatever it is.

That budget makes Rebel Ridge the biggest film Saulnier has made yet, as his previous highest budget was on Hold the Dark, made for less than $15 million. When asked if this film would have the same “sense of isolation” as his previous works, he said it’s the opposite. “It’s still a small town, but it is bureaucracy, it is the justice system, it is a militarized police force. All these things that go down. But it’s a lot of interactivity and talking and fighting. And it’s much more thrust into the mix. So maybe I had my fill of [isolation] and I wanted to go a different direction.

Plot details are being kept under wraps, but the film has been described as a “high-velocity thriller that explores systemic American injustices through bone-breaking action sequences, suspense, and dark humor.” The movie co-stars the legendary Don Johnson, who previously had high praise for the film in an interview we did with him last year.

Are you a fan of Jeremy Saulnier’s work, and are you looking forward to Rebel Ridge? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

Aaron Pierre

Source: Film Stories

About the Author

Cody is a news editor and film critic, focused on the horror arm of, and writes scripts for videos that are released through the JoBlo Originals and JoBlo Horror Originals YouTube channels. In his spare time, he's a globe-trotting digital nomad, runs a personal blog called Life Between Frames, and writes novels and screenplays.