Natalie Portman has exited the HBO film Days of Abandonment, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The film was adapted from the novel of the same name by Elena Ferrante. Portman joined the project back in April and she was also set to oversee it as an executive producer. No further details were provided as to her exit, or the overall cancellation by HBO. Representatives for HBO had this to say:
“Due to unforeseen personal reasons, Natalie Portman has stepped down from HBO Films’ Days of Abandonment prior to the start of filming. Unfortunately, the production will not move forward. We are very sorry we won’t be able to bring this beautiful story to the screen with our talented writer-director and cast. We send our sincere thanks to our cast, producers, and crew for all their passion and hard work.”
It would appear that Portman‘s involvement was a major factor in HBO‘s greenlight, which is a bit disappointing given the subject matter the film was set to tackle. Following the novel, Portman‘s character of Tess would have challenged the norms of womanhood and motherhood, due to abandonment by her husband. This exit would throw Tess’s world into chaos and explore the crisis from her perspective. The novel was also adapted for an Italian film in 2006, directed by Roberto Faenza.
Rafe Spall and Mary Louise-Parker were set to co-star in Days of Abandonment, which was going to be directed by Maggie Betts (The Carrier, Novitiate). Spall would have portrayed the husband of Portman‘s character, while Louise-Parker was on board as a woman who causes Tess to question her own life and psyche. Portman‘s production company MountainA, which she oversees with producing partner Sophia Mas, was shepherding the project with HBO Films and Maven Screen Media.
The timing is a bit curious, especially following Portman‘s first-look deal with Apple TV+ which was set back in March. This partnership will bring forth one of the actress’ rare journeys into television, as she will be starring in a limited series Lady in the Lake. Lupita Nyong’o is set to co-star in that project, which is adapted from Laura Lippman‘s novel of the same name. Portman‘s latest screen credits include archive footage from Avengers: Endgame and the title role in 2019’s Lucy in the Sky. She is set to re-team with Marvel next year in Thor: Love and Thunder, where she will be portraying Mighty Thor.
It’s certainly a shame that HBO canceled the entire project, as Betts and Portman would have made an interesting pairing, especially given the important subject matter. The novel is beloved by those who have read it, as it is Ferrante‘s most popular novel to have been adapted into English. Given its prominence, hopefully this project can be revived at another studio.