Natalie Portman in Jane Got A Gun

Rumours and controversy are flying around the New Mexico set of the Western Jane Got A Gun following the abrupt departure of the director, Lynne Ramsay and Jude Law, who was to have played the villain.

The producers have hurriedly hired Warrior director Gavin O’Connor to replace Ramsay and are now seeking an actor to take over the Jude Law role.

Observers are saying it will be difficult for the plot of the western, which stars Natalie Portman, to be as compelling as the story that’s been unfolding in recent days on the film’s set.

Michael Fassbender dropped out of the movie just weeks before the movie was set to begin production but that was nothing compared to Lynne Ramsay abandoning the movie last Monday, on its first day of shooting, leaving hundreds of cast and crew members on a dusty plain in New Mexico with no one at the helm.

Ramsay hasn’t said why she left the production, but the website Deadline Hollywood indicated that she may be in breach of her contract by not showing up on the set.

Financier Scott Steindorff was quoted as saying, “I have millions of dollars invested, we’re ready to shoot, we have a great script, crew and cast,” adding that he’s retained Hollywood lawyer Marty Singer  to represent him in the matter.

One source close to the production told the Los Angeles Times that Ramsay terminated her involvement with the producers on the Saturday before production began because of a contract dispute.

Her agency, WME, declined to comment.

Another source with knowledge of the film’s inner workings said Ramsay returned to London because she may be dealing with some “personal issues.” The source said that at 5:30 a.m. on Monday, stars Portman and Joel Edgerton were prepped and ready to go, along with the 150-person crew and some horses. Yet they had no Ramsay.

Ramsay is a highly regarded indie director. Her debut feature, “Ratcatcher,” won much acclaim, while 2011’s We Need to Talk About Kevin headed many top ten lists of that year..

“Jane Got a Gun” represented her highest-profile project. A few sources near the project say there were signs something was amiss leading up to the start of production — she was often out of contact as the movie was being prepped.

The film, which would have been Ramsay’s fourth, stars Portman as Jane, a woman whose husband comes home riddled with bullets. Convinced the gang that wounded him will return to finish the job she turns to an ex-lover to help her defend her husband and her farm. Fassbender was set to play the ex-lover, but he dropped off the project  reportedly because of scheduling issues with his upcoming “X-Men” movie.

That departure saw Edgerton, originally due to play the villain, take on the Fassbender role while Jude Law came in to replace Edgerton as the bad guy.

Now with Law off the film, O’Connor is said to be looking at a slew of actors with an international following who also happen to look good in a hat. On that list are Jake Gyllenhaal, Tobey Maguire and Jeff Bridges.