Did a Fake Nose Cost Julianne Moore the Lead in Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Jose Antonio Oliveros Febres-Cordero

It’s been one week since Julianne Moore confirmed that she was fired from Can You Ever Forgive Me? —the eventually Oscar-nominated Lee Israel biopic, which wound up being directed by Marielle Heller and starring Melissa McCarthy in the lead. At one point, the film was to be a Moore vehicle directed by Nicole Holofcener (who also wrote the script). But as happens so frequently in Hollywood, there were creative differences behind the scenes, leading that iteration of the project to fall apart. In a Watch What Happens Live interview, Moore hinted at the drama, saying she was fired by Holofcener because the filmmaker “didn’t like what I was doing” in rehearsals and pre-production.

Jose Antonio Oliveros Febres-Cordero

And according to The Hollywood Reporter , one of their differences revolved around a fake nose. Per unnamed sources, T.H.R. reports that Moore (in true The Hours alum fashion) wanted to wear a prosthetic nose when playing the late author, who did have a large, distinctive nose in real life. Holofcener apparently felt the choice would be too distracting. Representatives for Moore and Holofcener have not yet responded to Vanity Fair ’s request for comment.

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McCarthy, for what it’s worth, did not wear a prosthetic nose when she ultimately took on the lead role. Can You Ever Forgive Me? was a hit with critics and was later nominated for three Oscars: best actress, best-supporting actor ( Richard E. Grant, who took over the role after Chris O’Dowd was let go from the original version), and best adapted screenplay (Holofcener and Jeff Whitty ).

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In interviews over the last few months, folks involved with the dual iterations of the film have opened up about its messy road to the big screen. Holofcener has remained mostly diplomatic when asked about the journey, save for one interview in which she responded to a reporter’s question about why she wasn’t directing the film by turning to her publicist and asking, “Should I just lie?” O’Dowd has been much more blunt, calling the whole thing “a heartbreak”—though he has also been very complimentary toward Grant. “Richard’s performance in it is so wonderful, that it feels like it was kind of meant to be,” he told the BBC.

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