Ed Westwick's BBC Role Was Recast After The Sexual Assault Allegations Against Him
Agatha Christie who were worried about the cancellation of BBC One's most recent adaptation now have an update: Ed Westwick's role in Ordeal By Innocence has been recast. The British television network had initially announced the three-part special's cancellation, in the wake of the sexual assault accusations against Westwick from three women. (The actor has denied the claims in a pair of Instagram posts that state, in part, "I have never forced myself in any manner, on any woman.") But now, the adaptation's production team has announced a change of tack: production is back on. Bustle has reached out to Westwick's reps for comment on the recasting, but did not receive an immediate response.
Co-producers Mammoth Screen and Agatha Christie Limited announced in a Jan. 5 press release that all scenes previously filmed by Westwick will be reshot by Christian Cooke later this month. The 30-year-old British actor will take on the role of Mickey Argyll in Ordeal By Innocence (writer: Sarah Phelps), based on a 1958 Christie novel of the same name. The whole Argyll Family is at the center of the story's plot, as they grapple with the fact that the man convicted of the murder of their patriarch is actually innocent. And, even worse, that the true killer is most likely one of their own.
The rest of the Ordeal By Innocence cast, which includes Love Actually's Bill Nighy, The Crown's Matthew Goode, and Black Mirror's Alice Eve, had initially disbanded after production wrapped in September. But they will come back together on location in Scotland for the reshoots, to reform the special into something that BBC One, its producing partners, and Amazon feel comfortable releasing. There's no word as to how much the reshoots will add to the special's budget, but it appears to be a cost that producers are willing to bear, given the circumstances.
When the accusations came to light in November 2017, the BBC released a carefully-worded statement that made it clear that they took the allegations of rape from two women, and of assault from a third, very seriously:
"These are serious allegations which Ed Westwick has strenuously denied. The BBC is not making any judgement but until these matters are resolved we will not include Ordeal by Innocence in the schedules. The independent production company making White Gold has informed us that Ed Westwick has paused from filming while he deals with these allegations."
Obviously, the U.K. broadcaster is moving forward in a new direction with Ordeal By Innocence, but the future of White Gold still remains uncertain. Variety reports that filming is on hold, and Westwick is not currently involved in production, but that could easily change now that a decision has been made on Ordeal By Innocence.
For his part, Westwick has called the accusations "vile and horrific," and had pledged to cooperate with authorities "so that they can clear my name as soon as possible." But with the investigation ongoing, it has fallen to studios and networks to make their own decisions about how to proceed. It's a confusing new world that we all have to navigate, as alleged victims find their voices, and this is not the first, nor is it likely to be the last, project that has to be reimagined after assault accusations.
As new allegations threaten to cut into the bottom line for studios and networks, we should expect to see more resources expended for imaginative solutions. Even without a legal ruling, the BBC seems to have felt it was more prudent to recast and reshoot a role than to wait and see if Westwick was convicted for any crimes. This decision suggests that the voices of victims and post-scandal backlash are beginning to be weighed more heavily, and it will be interesting to see if other platforms follow suit.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit online.rainn.org.