The relationship between actor and director is usually a very special and nurturing one, but not always.
Sometimes the presence of a big personality doesn’t always mix with another big personality, and as well all know actors and filmmakers alike have humongous egos. While the director of a movie might want to do a few more takes or have the scene play out in a different way, an actor could believe that they should do the complete opposite. These creative differences can often lead to heated arguments and, occasionally, even result in a few punches being thrown.
The following actor and director pairings are cases where conflicts have come to a head onset, especially in the public eye. The fights can either be verbal or physical, or in most cases, both.
Here are the 12 Actors That Hated Working with Their Directors.
12. Mickey Rourke and Jon Favreau (Iron Man 2)
When a movie fails, it’s easy to point fingers without knowing the whole truth. With Iron Man 2’s many foibles, one of them in undoubtedly Mickey Rourke’s portrayal of Ivan Vanko, aka Whiplash, who was a one-dimensional and one-note villain. But who is really to blame for this unexcused blandness? It differs depending on who you ask, but if you were to inquire on Rourke himself, he would choose to call out the Marvel Production team and director Jon Favreau for the failed character.
After Iron Man 2’s somewhat critical backlash, Rourke blamed Marvel Studios for leaving a lot of what he shot for the film on the cutting room floor. The actor stated that he had actually spent time in Russian prisons to wrap his head around the character of Whiplash, and spent months trying to perfect his foreign accent. All of this he felt was undermined after the bulk of his scenes to broaden the character’s scope were left out of the final cut. While he initially blamed the team at Marvel, Rourke stated in an interview that it was the fault of director Jon Favreau for “not having any balls” to stand up for certain creative decisions.
With the two’s mixed history, you can bet that you won’t see Rourke in another Favreau Marvel production if that time ever comes.
11. Gene Hackman and Wes Anderson (The Royal Tenenbaums)
Wes Anderson is known for having an easy going demeanor and an uproarious sense of humor. He’s so likable that over the years he’s become good friends with many of the actors he’s worked alongside, including icons like Bill Murray and Owen Wilson. So who would hate this guy? Gene Hackman, that’s who.
While Mr. Hackman might frequently play a dour curmudgeon in many of his roles, his actual demeanor may not be too far off from the characters he plays. Apparently the actor tried like hell to get out of starring in Wes Anderson’s film The Royal Tenenbaums from the very beginning, when he found out his salary was would be substantially less than other movies he’s been a part in.
From day 1, Hackman set out to make Anderson’s life a living hell on the set of Tenenbaums. He constantly gave the director a stubborn and hostile attitude, even going so far as to tell Anderson at one point to “pull up his pants and act like a man.” Harsh words, Mr. Hackman.
10. Megan Fox and Michael Bay (Transformers)
As the female lead in one of the biggest action franchises of all time, you would think that your position in that franchise would be all but guaranteed. Sadly, this was not the case when Megan Fox learned the hard way that you shouldn’t badmouth your director, especially when you’re in the middle of one of the biggest budgeted movies of all time.
After filming the second entry in the Transformers franchise, Fox was quick to say some less than choice words about Mr. Bay. Not realizing you shouldn’t bite the hand that feeds you, the actress lit Bay up in a series of interviews comparing the director’s demeanor to that of Napoleon and Hitler, as well as calling him out as being “hopelessly awkward.”
Not one to just lie there and take it, Bay proved that Fox was easily replaceable in his Transformers series. He quickly wrote the actress out of the third installment, Dark of the Moon, stating that the franchise was indeed bigger than the leading lady. Today, Bay and Fox have patched things up, with Bay even giving the actress the lead in his new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise. Way to go guys.
9. Kevin Smith and Bruce Willis
Kevin Smith isn’t the type of guy who’s shy about telling somebody he doesn’t like them, and one of those somebodies is an actor by the name of Bruce Willis.
Smith and Willis first met on the set of Live Free or Die Hard, a film which had Willis reprise his action hero role of John McClain, with Smith playing a relatively small part of a computer hacker. After striking a chord with one another they decided to work together again in 2010’s Cop Out. Willis would still be starring in the buddy cop movie alongside Tracy Morgan, and Smith would be behind the scenes directing.
Unfortunately, the two didn’t get along as well as they did on the set of Die Hard. Smith dedicates almost an entire chapter to the complaints he had working alongside Willis in his memoir entitled Tough Shit. Smith described Willis on set to be bitter, hostile and the “meanest emo-bitch” he ever encountered when working on a film. The rough patch didn’t do anything to help the film, which fell flat on its face with both critics and audiences.
8. Lars von Trier and Bjork (Dancer in the Dark)
Musician Bjork stunned audiences when she made the transition to acting in 2000 with Lars von Trier’s Dancer in the Dark, a drama about a European immigrant trying to support herself and her young son. The performance was grounded and convincing, evening earning a spot on our Best Movies Starring Musical Icons list. With it’s positive reaction, you have likely guessed that Bjork and Trier suffered from their share of problems during their time onset while shooting the feature.
According to both actor and director, there was nothing but hostility during the first couple weeks of filming. The feud finally came to a head in post-production when both of them badmouthed each other in interviews. Trier claimed that Bjork once spat on the ground he was standing on and frequently criticized the way he directed. Bjork got her share of jabs in as well after filming wrapped. In an interview, she stated that Trier was difficult to work with due to his envious nature towards women. The turmoil didn’t affect the end product, and Dancer in the Dark was met with general praise and even an Oscar nod for Best Original Song. (That’s why Bjork once showed up to the Oscars in the infamous swan dress.
7. Sydney Pollack and Dustin Hoffman (Tootsie)
Both Sydney Pollack and Dustin Hoffman are masters at their craft. Pollack has directed films of high caliber such as Out of Africa and The Firm. As an actor, Hoffman’s name also carries a lot of weight, having starred in movies like Kramer vs. Kramer, The Graduate, and Rain Man. When the two came together in 1982 it seemed that the pairing would be a recipe for success, and it was. Tootsie was universally praised for its comedic formula and three-dimensional characters. Although the movie was a hit, it wasn’t all smooth during the filming process.
According to multiple sources Pollack and Hoffman rarely saw eye to eye on creative decisions, leading to one argument after another. Pollack believed that the actor viewed him as an enemy right out of the gate, and stated that Hoffman was unwilling to cooperate or collaborate on certain aspects of the film. The arguments led to compromises that ultimately enrich the movie, and today Tootsie is regarded as a classic in the vast world of comedies.
6. David Fincher and Jake Gyllenhaal (Zodiac)
When Jake Gyllenhaal filmed Jarhead in 2005 he worked alongside Sam Mendes, a director who gives his actors free reign to shape the characters how they like. Perhaps it was this sense of looseness that underprepared Gyllenhaal for working with David Fincher just 2 years later on Zodiac, which was a much more strict experience for the actor.
Collaboration should always be a healthy give and take from both actor and director, but according to Gyllenhaal this wasn’t the case. In an interview the actor aired out the problems the two had on set. Gyllenhaal claimed that Fincher would do numerous takes, and then afterwards simply delete all of the material that he felt wasn’t necessary. As an actor it is rather difficult to pour your heart and soul into a scene only to watch it get thrown in the trash right after. Fincher later apologized for being so hard on Gyllenhaal during filming, but unfortunately neither could get over the tension, and both men ended up skipping the premiere to their own movie. Talk about holding a grudge.
5. Judd Apatow and Katherine Heigl (Knocked Up)
It’s not totally uncommon for an actor to slam a movie after filming has wrapped, but generally speaking, it’s usually for poorly executed films. George Clooney can rip on Batman & Robin because it’s a universally panned film. However, when Katherine Heigl decided to criticize her film Knocked Up, it did seem a little out of left-field, considering the movie earned an impressive approval rating of 90% on Rotten Tomatoes.
In a 2009 interview with Vanity Fair, the actress told the magazine she had a problem with the way her character in Knocked Up was portrayed. She stated that her role was painted more as a stern shrew, while the men in the film were presented as more easy-going and lovable. Director Judd Apatow took the criticisms to heart, and revealed during a Howard Stern interview that he was slightly offended that he never received a call from Heigl to apologize. While the actress has stood by her words since then, it doesn’t seem to have bolstered her career in any way, as Heigl has starred in a series of duds and misses after her less than choice words about Knocked Up.
4. Shelley Duvall and Stanley Kubrick (The Shining)
All work and no play makes this particular director’s work ethic infamously inscrutable. Stanley Kubrick was notoriously known in the film community for being a perfectionist. On a technical level, each one of his films are expertly crafted, but at what cost? His carefully regimented ethos tended to clash with not all, but most of the actors on his set. Indeed, some who worked with him shared the director’s demeanor: Alex McDonald recalls working with Kubrick on A Clockwork Orange one of the best experiences of his life.
The same could not be said of Shelley Duvall, however, who was in her own opinion, constantly berated and emotionally distraught on the set of The Shining. When Kubrick set out to adapt this Stephen King novel, he did so with the upmost intention of scaring his audience like never before. He realized there is no better way to do that than to instill a sense of horror in his actors. Knowing this, the director pushed Duvall to the brink of her mental limits by making her cry, hyperventilate, and all the while carry around a small child, which was physically exhausting.
Perhaps the most drastic of Stanley’s actions was the continuous reshoots of certain scenes. The now famous confrontation between Jack Nicholson’s character and Duvall’s where he follows her up the stairs reportedly took over 120 takes to get it right. That’s enough to make any actor go bonkers, and while Duvall now says she wouldn’t trade the experience for anything, it’s one she would never want to go through again.
3. Burt Reynolds and Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights)
It’s hard to imagine that the person who despises Burt Reynold’s performance the most in Boogie Nights is none other than Burt Reynolds.
Even before production began, director Paul Thomas Anderson had to beg Reynolds to be in his movie, which the actor refused to be a part of, since it was set within the porn industry. After numerous attempts, Reynolds eventually agreed because Anderson promised that he’d be nominated for an Oscar. That mentality didn’t stop the former Smokey and the Bandit star from lashing out at Anderson on set, causing some very bad blood that still hasn’t healed after all these years.
Today, critics and audiences alike revel in Anderson’s juvenilia that is Boogie Nights, which is a sweeping character study of porn actors in the 1970s. Burt Reynolds does not share the same mentality however, who berated the director for creating a filthy and lewd production. Problems started on set when Reynolds felt discouraged that Anderson had actual porn-stars make appearances in the film. Whether Reynolds viewed it as a blow to his ego or a signal for unprofessionalism, it caused the actor to throw temper tantrums, and even a few juvenile punches at Anderson during production. After watching a final cut of the movie, the actor fired his agent and regretted making it, even though he was eventually up for an Oscar for playing famed porn director Jack Horner.
When all was said and done, it was indeed ironic that the role that he despised the most was the one that earned Reynolds his only Academy Award nomination. It just goes to show you that sometimes, an actor’s worst critic is themselves.
2. Alfred Hitchcock and Tippi Hedren (The Birds)
Alfred Hitchcock is no stranger when it comes to being fixated with some of his leading ladies. One could even say that the famed master of suspense bordered on the kind of crazy obsession the characters in his films often suffered from. While he poised this tumultuous love-hate relationship on the majority of his blonde female stars, including Grace Kelly and Kim Novak, the one that became the most destructive was that with Tippi Hedren, the star of Hitchcock’s 1963 thriller The Birds.
After picking Hedren to star, the two started out in a very nurturing kind of relationship. The actress would say that the director started out very kind, giving her advice on her acting career. The relationship soon proved more obsessive as Hedren frequently denied the director’s sexual advances toward her. The actress has stated that Hitchcock would frequently tell her dirty and vulgar jokes that were so inappropriate she couldn’t repeat them.
After being frequently denied, Hitchcock set out to make Hedren’s life on set unbearable and unpleasant. Realizing his advances were not working, the director told the actress that he would ruin her career, all the while continuing his stalking and crazed behavior. No doubt, if this circumstances happened today Hitchcock would have had to undergone a considerable sexual harassment lawsuit. Unfortunately this was a different time, and Hedren’s disturbing story is one that has only come to light in the past few years.
1. David O. Russell and George Clooney (Three Kings)
David O. Russell is the undisputed king of onset freak-outs and temper tantrums. The hot headed-director has had his run-ins with not just one, but several different actors during his extensive career. One of the most notoriously known is his run in with Lily Tomlin on the set of I Heat Huckabees when two videos went viral online showing Russell and Tomlin shouting at the top of their lungs and throwing props across the set. Even with this in mind, Russell’s most heated onset argument is between him and actor George Clooney, resulting in an altercation that almost led to a physical fight.
Clooney recounts several times that Russell would berate the crew on the set of 1999’s Three Kings, and a couple incidents came to explosive heads. At one point in the movie, Clooney’s character was to be tackled to the ground by an army extra. When the extra stated that he was a little uncomfortable shoving the actor to the ground, Russell tackled him and continued to kick him all the while rhetorically asking him if he wanted to be part of his movie. Distraught by this, Clooney went over to the director saying he shouldn’t humiliate his crew.
According to Clooney, Russell then instigated a fight with the actor, pushing his head up against the other asking to be hit in the face. Clooney says that he had to have friends on set pull him away before he made the decision to attack Russell. The actor has stated that if he didn’t have his friends diffuse the situation, things could have been a lot worse. It doesn’t get more heated than that.
Can you think of any other director/actor pairings that didn’t work out so well? Let us know in the comments!
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