Everybody has an off-day every once in a while. Aggressions accumulate, frustrations grow, and the (boiling) point of no return is ever-present. Before long, people explode. The pressure becomes unbearable, and as the saying goes: “better out than in.” Eventually, though, apologies wipe the slate clean and all is forgiven. Life goes on.
Unless you’re a celebrity.
When you’re a celebrity, you’re in the spotlight, and the spotlight doesn’t discriminate against good or bad days. When celebrities are at their best, the public knows. So, when they’re caught on camera screaming at someone for pissing them off… the public still knows. That appears to be the trade-off for fame, accepting the sour with the sweet. However, in some cases, these off-days take things to an exaggerated level. In some cases, celebrities take their frustrations one step too far. Between screaming matches, power trips, and allegedly drug-riddled rants, they go so far as to permanently mar the reputation they spent years trying to build.
Whether or not these actions deserve to be forgiven is up to the public (and whoever it was they happened to be screaming at in their given situation).
Keep reading to check out 15 On-Set Breakdowns That Will Give You Severe Secondhand Embarrassment.
15. Christian Bale – Terminator Salvation
When Christian Bale landed the role as John Connor in Terminator Salvation, it was inspired casting. This Academy Award-winning actor has more than proven his ability to elevate the characters he has played beyond traditional expectations.
He starved himself in order to perfect his portrayal in The Machinist, he put on an enormous amount of weight in record time for Batman Begins, and he truly disappeared into the mind of a junkie in The Fighter. Sadly, though, in Terminator, the only genuine transformation came in the form of managing to go from cool-and-collected actor to over-the-top aggressor.
After the film’s Director of Photography Shane Hurlburt got in the way of Bale’s eyeline, Bale flipped. He lost himself in a tirade that went so far as to threaten Hurlburt with his job. Bale eventually apologized for the incident, insisting that he doesn’t want anyone to think that he believes he is “better than anybody else.” But still, poor choices tend to leave scars.
14. George Clooney And David O. Russell – Three Kings
Three Kings was all about war, but the real battle was happening on set during its production. Specifically between actor George Clooney and writer/director David O. Russell.
According to Clooney, production on Three Kings was a mess. In fact, he felt so strongly about this that he wrote the director a letter during production, which stated that the overall work experience was “the most havoc-ridden, anxiety-ridden, angry set that I have ever witnessed.”
As non-aggressive as this might have seemed, this letter ultimately evolved from words to fists when the actor and director ended up duking it out. Clooney had finally had enough of Russell’s alleged excessive aggression with his crew, the two shared some nasty words before physically attacking each other.
13. Jamie Foxx and LL Cool J – Any Given Sunday
There is testosterone to spare in Oliver Stone’s Any Given Sunday, and that’s kind of the point. Unfortunately, that pent-up masculine energy ultimately pushed co-stars Jamie Foxx and LL Cool J to the brink of frustration — and nearly knocking each other’s heads off.
Even though it was in character to be aggressive with each other, the two actors took things a bit too far. Foxx decided it would be a good idea to punch LL in the face, and LL didn’t take too kindly to that. He pulled Foxx’s football helmet off of his head and knocked him out.
12. Lily Tomlin – I Heart Huckabees
As beloved as David O. Russell may be by critics and studios, he doesn’t have the greatest personal reputation. Nor does his 2004 existential comedy I Heart Huckabees. In fact, there is proof of this in the on-set altercations between himself and actor Lily Tomlin – it was all caught on camera.
In the recording, the enmity between the two of them is palpable. In one scene set in an office, Russell storms on set and the two spar together in a shouting match that appears to temporarily shut down production. The talent and crew awkwardly move off set as the director and actor go at each other’s throats. In another scenario, Tomlin is performing inside of a car, and again, she and Russell go at it.
11. Martin Sheen – Apocalypse Now
Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now is a two and a half hour lesson in mental fatigue. So, with that being said, it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise for individuals involved with production to experience some mental fatigue themselves. And that is exactly what happened with one of its stars, Martin Sheen.
The production on this film is famous for being difficult, and Sheen may as well be its official mascot. The actor had been suffering with issues with alcohol, so the emotional trauma of this shoot definitely did not pair well with him. According to The Independent, he told friends, “I don’t think I’m going to live through this.”
10. William Shatner – Star Trek Voiceover
William Shatner is the epitome of “cool,” right? Just going off his confidence in 1960s-approved stunts in the original Star Trek TV series, the man carries with him a special kind of self-assurance. Unfortunately, though, nothing lasts. During an audio recording for an advertisement, Shatner finally reached the peak of his threshold for frustration and snapped—still in a very Shatner-esque way, oddly enough.
After delivering his line, he is directed to bring some more excitement into his intro—w hich Shatner can only respond to with laughter. After his second reading isn’t quite what the producers are looking for either, he proceeds to ask the producer to read the line for him in the tone that he would prefer.
9. Lawrence Tierney – Reservoir Dogs
When Quentin Tarantino directed Reservoir Dogs, he created a film that would set the course for all of the successes in his career. Unfortunately, during that time, he had to deal with veteran actor Lawrence Tierney. As Tarantino himself puts it during an interview, production did not move particularly smoothly when Tierney was on set. According to Tarantino: “He didn’t like my dialogue, he had a hard time remembering it.”
In behind the scenes footage, Tierney is noticeably having issues with the dialogue, and Tarantino explains that it got to be so frustrating that Tierney would just walk away mid-sentence while talking with someone, never indicating that he was finished with a conversation.
During “the last twenty minutes of the last day of shooting of the first week,” the two men had clearly had enough of each other, leading to a minor physical altercation (as well as Tierney’s firing—which didn’t last long after they settled their differences).
8. Gene Hackman – The Royal Tenenbaums
Gene Hackman wasn’t just putting in a solid and convincing performance as Royal Tenenbaum in Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums. He was allegedly not do different from the ornery character he was portraying on screen.
The fact that Hackman was already reluctant to take the part should have hinted at potential difficulty. To start things off on the wrong foot, Hackman was initially frustrated for two reasons: having a role written with him in mind and not earning as much money as he was used to on account of the small budget. According to the film’s cast and crew, Hackman was mean, rude, and generally unpleasant to be around.
In fact, things would get so heated whenever Hackman was on set (which accounted for most of the production) that co-star Bill Murray, who couldn’t be intimidated by Hackman if he tried, would hang out on set to cool the tension.
7. Orson Welles – Frozen Peas Commercial
Orson Welles is considered to be one of the greatest filmmakers of all time, so you can probably see why the man was more than a little frustrated during the production of a frozen peas commercial for which he was the spokesperson.
While it might seem simple enough reading some throwaway copy for frozen peas, Welles took it upon himself to dissect the “script” during the recording, seeing as he didn’t really believe in its structure and story.
He tries to maintain his composure while apologizing for calling the script “idiotic,” but he can’t seem to help himself from growing increasingly frustrated with the whole scenario. Finally, by the end of the recording, he calls the crew “pests” before walking away.
6. Richard Pryor – Blue Collar
By the time Richard Pryor was filming Blue Collar, he was in the throes of drug addiction. Even though the movie went on to be a critical success, behind-the-scenes drama hardly hinted at a positive filming experience.
While there was tension to spare, Pryor was especially irritated with his co-star, Harvey Keitel. A few weeks into filming, crew members had to pry the men off each other after trying to beat each other up. On another occasion, Pryor felt as though he was being upstaged by his other co-star, Yaphet Kotto, so he did the unreasonable thing and broke a chair over his head.
However, when it came to Pryor’s relationship with director Paul Schrader, the tension escalated to life-threatening circumstances. After butting heads with Schrader, Pryor ended up pointing a gun at him. All because he didn’t want to keep shooting a particular scene.
5. Klaus Kinski – Fitzcarraldo
While filming Fitzcarraldo, director Werner Herzog had some trouble with his main star, Klaus Kinski. In fact, things got so heated on set that, aside from making the best film that he could, Herzog wanted Kinski dead.
The way Herzog puts things in his documentary, My Good Fiend (about his love/hate relationship with Kinski), “We had a great love, a great bond, but both of us planned to murder each other.” In fact, during filming, Herzog went so far as to set Kinski’s home on fire while he slept.
That said, though, their quarrels are their quarrels, and what stood out during filming beyond the feud was Kinski’s meltdown while filming on location. Famously difficult— not just work with, but to live with (even his own daughter sued him/didn’t attend the screening)— Kinski halted production with a meltdown, all because he wasn’t happy.
4. Bette Davis And Joan Crawford – What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?
The feud between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford was so captivating that Ryan Murphy created a miniseries based on the events and aptly titled it Feud. That said, no matter how entertaining the show itself might be, the real events were no better than byproducts of a madhouse.
When you put two people together who are hardly shy about their hatred towards each other, you’re just asking for trouble. They pulled cruel pranks on each other during the filming of What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? (one of which resulted in a minor injury, another a pulled back muscle) and even went so far as to engage in a full-on scuffle. And just to feed your imagination, the scuffle included a face, a shoe, and stitches.
3. Marilyn Monroe – Some Like It Hot
In Some Like it Hot, Marilyn Monroe is cool as ever. Which is testament to her acting, seeing as she was reportedly nothing like her character while working on set. According to the cast and crew, Monroe was the bane of the entire production.
According to director Billy Wilder, Monroe would constantly sabotage production by either forgetting her lines (even simple, single-sentence ones), crying herself off set, or disparaging Wilder’s ability to direct. In some cases, the cast and crew would be forced to wait for hours until she finally showed up.
2. Elvis Presley – “Strung Out” Rant
It’s no secret that Elvis Presley eventually went from the King of Rock ‘n Roll to a sickly drug addict. Despite his promising career, things took a turn for the worse for the revered singer, and before long, he was a shadow of his former self.
Cue the eventual meltdown.
During one of his performances, “the King” took a break from his singing to open up about a certain frustration he was dealing with: the media insisting that he was using drugs. During a show on September 2, 1974 (three years prior to his death), Presley told his audience that he doesn’t “pay attention to rumors” before insisting that anyone and all reports of his drug-use was pure fabrication. He told the audience that when he was sick, the media claimed that he was “strung out,” two words that he goes on to repeat over and over again, which eventually (and ironically) makes him seem strung out…
1. Bill O’Reilly – “Do It Live” Meltdown
After settling on five separate sexual assault violations, accumulating to the sum of $13 million, Fox News eventually came to the conclusion that firing Bill O’Reilly was probably the best move to make. However, despite his loyalists defending him, even more dirt came to light following his departure from his position as host of The O’Reilly Factor when footage of him having a meltdown on set spread like wildfire.
During the meltdown, O’Reilly is noticeably perturbed after what appears to be miscommunication with the producers. He has some issues with the teleprompter, and instead of having a quick, mature discussion about the issue, he loses himself in a frustrated tantrum before yelling about how he can’t read the prompter correctly. He proceeds to shout things like, “We’ll do it live,” We’ll do it live—f**k it,” and “F**kin’ things sucks” before storming off set.
Can you think of any on-set meltdowns that are even worse than these? Let us know in the comments!
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