Joel Edgerton, Natalie Portman

Joel Edgerton and Natalie Portman at the New York premiere of “Jane Got a Gun,” hosted by the Weinstein Company with The Cinema Society & Serpent’s Bite at MoMA. Photo by Clint Spaulding, Patrick McMullan.

In Jane Got a Gun, out January 29, Natalie Portman's titular character gets about three minutes of peace before she's bombarded by a series of obstacles, the first of which arrives when her husband falls off a horse riddled with bullets. Jane removes them painstakingly one by one, only to hear that a ruthless gang called the Bishop Boys is en route to to finish the job. So she rides off to enlist the help of her ex-fiancé, played by Joel Edgerton, to prepare for battle. What follows is typical of the Western genre; less typical is the way the film came together. The original director, Lynne Ramsay, best known for the Samantha Morton critical favorite Morvern Callar didn’t show up to set in 2013. Between a lawsuit and a bankrupt distributor (Relativity Media), Michael Fassbender, Jude Law, and Bradley Cooper all signed on to play Portman’s costars then dropped out, with the roles eventually going to Edgerton and Ewan McGregor. Then when filming with new director Gavin O’Connor finally wrapped, the release was delayed three times over the course of two years. Until now.

"It's really gratifying to have it come out after the sort of blood sweat and tears that we put into it,” Portman said at the long-awaited New York premiere Wednesday night. That was especially true for the film's stars, who were doubly invested: Portman was also a producer, and Edgerton worked on the screenplay. McGregor was nowhere to be found. Edgerton echoed Portman's exasperation just before the screening: "A bunch of people went through some very interesting things, had their mettle tested, and proved how hardworking and survivalist they were," he said.

Still, the mood was far from downcast as Edgerton urged everyone to forget how the sausage was made: "When you sit down at a great restaurant and you order a meal, it's best that you don't go into the kitchen and have a look at how it was cooked."