Due to the awesome magic of movie-making, when an audience sees a finished film, we really only get to enjoy the completed project. We don’t get to see who’s pulling levers behind the curtain. Thankfully the green screens, stunt stand-ins, and CGI effects are all woven in so fluidly that we’re simply left to be entertained.
Aside from the puppet strings, we also don’t often get a glimpse of what actual filming is like for the directors and actors who work tirelessly making these pieces of media for us to enjoy. Sometimes the cast and crew seem to behave like a family, posting for photos together, laughing and sharing inside jokes, but the situation can take a much darker turn as well.
Some actors and directors have shared famously intense moments, but there are also cases of actual feuds, sexual harassment and near fist-fights between movie actors and their directors. In many cases the conflict can directly be traced to an imbalance of power, often between a female actress and a male director, which drastically affected at least one person’s career, if not entire life. Some prime examples of these and other catastrophic, sometimes career-ending relationships are these 17 Biggest Actor/Director Beefs in History.
15. Kevin Smith And Bruce Willis
When Kevin Smith and Bruce Willis worked together to film Live Free or Die Hard, Smith was pretty stoked to work beside Willis.
Willis appreciated Smith’s enthusiasm and suggested that they work together again. When he directed the film Cop Out starring Willis alongside Tracy Morgan, Smith quickly changed his tune, saying that Willis ruined the entire atmosphere on set and was just a lazy, grumpy old guy. “He turned out to be the unhappiest, most bitter, and meanest emo-b*tch I’ve ever met at any job I’ve held down. And mind you, I’ve worked at Domino’s Pizza,” Smith wrote in his memoir.
Bruce Willis hasn’t really responded to the claims made, but Smith has not always been an easy guy to work with, either. Remember when he was, what, three years behind on a Spider-Man comic?
14. Adrian Lyne And Kim Basinger
The film 9 1/2 Weeks is widely known as one of the sexiest films in history, but it doesn’t sound so sexy when you consider that Kim Basinger was basically tortured by director Adrian Lyne while making the film.
The movie that paved the way for today’s hot thrillers and steamy, erotic dramas was also filmed by a man who not only isolated Basinger, but who spread rumors and lies about her in order to make her produce a more convincing mental breakdown. Mickey Rourke was even taught to do this to Basinger. Lyne wouldn’t even talk to her on set, opting to only communicate with Rourke.
The director then went on to tell an interviewer that the reason he just had to use this method was because Basinger was “like a child,” a phrase she understandably did not like one bit.
13. Michael Bay And Megan Fox
One of the most famous modern celebrity beefs occurred between director Michael Bay and his Transformers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles leading lady, Megan Fox. Their feud has been particularly gossip-worthy simply because it’s been all over the Internet, making it easy to share. Fox went public on Bay, calling him both Napoleon and Hitler, calling him both a “nightmare to work for” and a hopelessly awkward person personally. Ouch!
Bay seemed pretty nonplussed about the comments personally, saying that it was just part of Fox’s charm to make comments like that. Steven Spielberg, on the other hand, was not pleased, calling for Fox to be fired after her remarks. While Michael Bay insists that it was because Fox couldn’t stay off her cellphone throughout filming and stay focused, her comments probably lost her a third chance to play Mikaela Banes.
12. David O. Russell And George Clooney
Everyone wants to get along with their boss, but sometimes actors and directors just can’t see eye to eye. George Clooney heavily clashed with David O. Russell during the filming of Three Kings, sending the director a letter afterward calling the set “the most havoc-ridden, anxiety-ridden, angry set that I have ever witnessed.” Apparently Clooney was known to stick up for all of “the little guys” on set while O. Russell behaved more harshly toward them.
The film I Heart Huckabees seemed to be an ugly illustration actors and directors not getting along as well when viral videos of David O. Russell and Lily Tomlin screaming at one another surfaced. Tomlin maintains that they’d “get manic and crazy” and “flip out” on each other but it was ultimately nothing. She compared it to family more than anything else, but the videos still have people wondering about the heated moments between the director and actor.
11. Tim Story And Jessica Alba
Did you know that Jessica Alba just doesn’t cry right? According to Tim Story, the director of Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, she cries too realistically and needs to “cry prettier.” Wow. Then he said to just keep her face flat and he’d have the tears added through CGI!
The entire exchange apparently made Alba question her own acting chops. She revealed that it made her feel as if she could not bring a sense of humanity to her characters. The fact that someone like Alba, who seems so confident, could be taken down that far in a single conversation is very sobering and reminds us that actors are human, too.
That is pretty sad, but then she went on to say a few irritating things about actors, like, “Good actors never use the script unless it’s amazing writing. All the good actors I’ve worked with, they all say whatever they want to say.” She kind of goes from zero confidence to over-confident there in a few seconds.
10. Sidney Pollack And Dustin Hoffman
The 1982 comedy Tootsie is one of the most beloved films of all time, but many may not guess that a feuding actor and director stood behind the film. Sidney Pollack, who directed the movie, claimed that Dustin Hoffman believes that every director is out to kill him. The idea may work both ways, seeing as the two quarreled throughout the entire process of making Tootsie. Hoffman apparently visualized the production as more of a comedy than a love story, which was what Pollack seemed to really have in mind.
Critics are quick to point out that in this case, the beef resulted in a better movie thanks to the two strong personalities fighting their hardest to make a quality motion picture. Even so, is it worth the cost if two artists experience that much rage and turmoil to obtain the end result?
9. Judd Apatow And Katherine Heigl
Aside from Megan Fox’s beef with Michael Bay, there’s no modern Hollywood drama between an actor and director more well-known than that between Judd Apatow and Katherine Heigl. Heigl starred with Seth Rogen in Apatow’s film Knocked Up. Later, she said she regretted starring in the movie because it was sexist and difficult for her to make. The Internet went bonkers, painting her as an ungrateful harpy (even Rogen called her crazy). Since then she’s apologized for the remarks, but really, is what she said so bad?
“It paints the women as shrews, as humorless and uptight, and it paints the men as lovable, goofy, fun-loving guys… why is she being such a killjoy? Why is this how you’re portraying women? Ninety-eight percent of the time it was an amazing experience, but it was hard for me to love the movie.”
She could be describing so many movies and she even said that most of the time it was an “amazing experience,” yet she was vilified for daring to call it sexist, with people saying she “bit the hand that fed her.” Now there are all kinds of rumors about her being too difficult to work with circulating across the web.
8. William Friedkin And Ellen Burstyn
When your relationship with a director results in lasting lifelong, chronic pain, something is wrong. Ellen Burstyn learned this when she made one of the most popular films of all time, The Exorcist. During the scene where Linda Blair shoves her mother (Burstyn) to the flood, Burstyn hurt her back badly. While she wore a wire, she still hurt too much and informed the director, Willaim Friedkin, that she was in pain. Friedkin simply said, “Well, it has to look real.”
The two went back and forth over it a bit after which Friedkin finally relented and asked that she not be pulled so hard, but Burstyn says that she is pretty sure that Friedkin “canceled” the order behind her back because he just pulled harder, damaging her spine for life. Of Friedkin, she said, “He’s a brilliant director and I don’t want to knock him, however, I did injure my lower back and had to work with it ever since.”
7. Stanley Kubrick And Shelley Duvall
When a director asks for you to repeat your scene 127 times, you are bound to resent him for it. When Shelley Duvall worked with Stanley Kubrick on The Shining, that’s exactly what happened to the actress.
Kubrick was notably a difficult director to work with and Duvall was by no means the only person who clashed with him during the movie (Scatman Crothers was asked to repeat a scene 85 times) but she was the actor who professed to have so much stress during the film that her hair was falling out. As creepy as the Overlook Hotel and its atmosphere had to have been during filming, it should not have stressed the young actress out that badly.
6. Lars von Trier And Bjork
Dancer in the Dark is considered one of the best films that Lars von Trier has ever made, but according to what Bjork has to say about the film and the director himself, it was a complete nightmare in the making.
von Trier says it was simply a case of too many cooks in the kitchen, but Bjork says that he “destroys” the women that he works with during filming and later hides the evidence of that destruction. At one point she even tore up a shirt she was supposed to wear and ate it in protest! She vowed to never make a film again because of the experience.
von Trier later went on to say that working with Bjork was like working with a terrorist because she often failed to show up for work. He attributed it to what he believes is a common issue with women in general: “But the problem with her was a little bit like the problem you have with women — sometimes they do something that you don’t really understand. Something that you can’t calculate and you have no idea why they say it and why they do it.” Seems like von Trier may have something against women after all.
5. Roman Polanski And Faye Dunaway
No matter his directing talents, Roman Polanski is a convicted rapist who cannot even work in the United States lest he be arrested. He also experienced plenty of conflict with the women he worked with.
Faye Dunaway, who said that he behaved like a dictator, can attest to this. While filming Chinatown, not only did he curse at her and tell her that her salary was her motivation during a scene, but he also refused to let her off the set to urinate when she expressed an urgent need to use the toilets.
Nevertheless, Dunaway exacted her revenge immediately, tossing a coffee cup of the urine that she couldn’t hold in his face. When he yelled, “You c***, that’s piss!” at her, she replied, “Yes, you little putz.”
4. Alfred Hitchcock And Tippi Hedren
One of the worst cases of an actress faced with the brutality of a controlling and abusive director is that of Alfred Hitchcock and Tippi Hedren. Hedren was not the only woman known to have experienced abuse at the hands of Hitchcock but she is unfortunately the most well-known. Hitchcock terrorized her with real birds (after he’d told her they would be mechanical) for five days of filming The Birds.
In Hedren’s memoir, she says that Hitchcock acted jealous around other men who spoke to Hedren before he sexually assaulted her multiple times while filming the movie Marnie. When she denied his advances, he threatened to ruin her career.
3. Stephen Norrington And Sean Connery
Sean Connery is a staple of Hollywood, so when you piss him off so badly that he quits acting, you know you’ve hit a pretty strong nerve. That is what reportedly happened while Connery made the live-action adaptation of The League of Extraordinary Gentleman with director Stephen Norrington at the helm.
According to Connery, Norrington was just too wet behind the ears to make the picture, which infuriated Connery to no end. The two fought constantly, almost coming to blows, and the experience left such a bad taste in Connery’s mouth that he quit acting for good.
Connery wasn’t the only disgruntled person on the set, though. Everyone working on the film reported how tense and grueling it was and how they just couldn’t wait for it to be over. They didn’t even bother to mince words with reports who inquired about the movie. Others said that the director “doesn’t know what he wants” and called for lots of unnecessary filming.
2. Henri-Georges Clouzot And Brigitte Bardot
It’s one thing to really, really, really want to carry out your artistic vision, but it’s another to put people through hell to get it done on film.
While Brigitte Bardot was known as a sex symbol of her day, that does not mean she gave her consent to do anything her director wanted. Her character in the film La Verite (The Truth) was supposed to overdose on sleeping pills. To create an authentic scene, director Henri-Georges Clouzot gave Bardot sleeping pills and lied, saying they were aspirin. He had hoped that the pills would make her fall asleep and drool for the scene. She had her stomach pumped after the incident.
He also slapped the actress while filming. To some directors, it would seem that their actors (particularly in the case of women) are not much more than things to use in manifesting their artistic vision, rather than real people!
1. Bernardo Bertolucci And Maria Schneider
It’s one of the grossest examples of abuse of power in movie making history, and it was just recently admitted by the director himself.
Prior to filming the final scene in Last Tango in Paris, Bernando Bertolucci privately met with Marlon Brando and discussed using a stick of butter to anally rape young Maria Schneider, who was not briefed about the change of plans at all. Why? Because Bertolucci claimed he wanted it to be as realistic as possible and to capture the 19-year-old actress’s real tears on camera – which he did.
Schneider called the scene itself rape and struggled with depression that stemmed from the experience the rest of her life. Her career took a downturn following the film while both the director and Brando (who was 48 years old at the time) were met with accolades and further success. Bertolucci, who later admitted that the scene was done without her consent, said that he did not regret doing it because he wanted her to act humiliated.
Bertolucci also said that he and Brando were having breakfast and when they both looked at the butter they knew what they wanted to do in the scene. Who does that?
Whose side do you take in these feuds? Let us know in the comments!
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