Filmmaking is a collaborative art form, requiring all involved to push in the same direction in order to craft something entertaining and worthwhile, or even something releasable by the set-in-stone date.
However, actors and directors, or actors and other actors, will often clash over differences– creative or otherwise. Sometimes these clashes can spur the movie on to awesome new heights, and sometimes these clashes just halt the production and make everything much harder than it needs to be.
Other times these clashes take on a life of their own and become a natural part of the conversation surrounding the movie– i.e., it’s normal to read some criticism about The Last Jedi which will invoke, as if to prove an indisputable point pertaining to its badness, Mark Hamill’s initial fundamental disagreement with the direction of Luke Skywalker.
Even catching a few seconds of a recent Two and a Half Men episode will mean thinking back on the craziness that led to Hollywood’s wild man Charlie Sheen getting the boot.
When it comes to Hollywood leading men, the size of their egos can match the depth of their talent — to either hilarious or unsettling results.
With that said, here are the 15 Leading Men Who Were Notoriously Difficult To Work With.
15. Johnny Depp (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales)
Johnny Depp infused Pirates of the Caribbean with a particular style and humour that was unique, and to great financial reward for all involved.
However, as the sequels raked in more money, Johnny Depp’s lustre faded. The action got bigger but the joke wore thin. If his performance in last year’s Dead Men Tell No Tales is any indication, Depp seemed eager to shrug off Jack Sparrow entirely.
Sources claimed that Depp was consistently hours late, holding up hundreds of the crew and extras. When he was on-set, Depp was prone to diva like behaviour and was a terror.
14. Bruce Willis (Cop Out)
Kevin Smith’s buddy-comedy Cop Out, heretofore the only movie he directed which he didn’t also write, received a brutal lashing from critics. However, this was nothing compared to his on-set clashes with big time movie star Bruce Willis.
According to a report from Collider, Smith claimed that working with Willis was “soul crushing.” Smith, never one to shy away from speaking his mind, made a toast at the wrap-up party for which Willis wasn’t present: “I want to thank everyone who worked on the film, except for Bruce Willis, who is a f**king d**k”
13. Christian Bale (Terminator Salvation)
In one of the most infamous movie set blowups of all time, Christian Bale blew his gasket when the DP on the set of Terminator Salvation interrupted his scene with Bryce Dallas Howard one too many times.
The leaked rant was legendary in part because it ran the gamut of human negativity: sarcasm, condescension, rage, self-pity, and more rage. Director McG did nothing to contain Bale’s meltdown, either because he was unwilling or unable to.
Since then, Bale has of course apologised numerous times for the rant. Everyone can relate to losing their minds at one time or another. Still, the fact that Bale could carry on like that uninterrupted for five minutes remains a slice of insight into Hollywood’s power politics.
12. William Shatner (Star Trek)
As Captain of the Starship Enterprise, Kirk was the model of heroism and sanity. Unfortunately, it seemed that the man who portrayed him was the opposite of that when the cameras weren’t rolling.
By all accounts, William Shatner was an insecure egoist. He was the star of the show, and he used his considerable clout to cut other actor’s lines. In one bizarre instance of pettiness, he stole Leonard Nimoy’s bike which he used to get around the studio.
Nichelle Nichols, who portrayed Uhura, was fed-up and ready to call it quits. However, Dr. Martin Luther King, Nichols’ self-proclaimed biggest fan, urged Nichols to remain on the show, calling her a great role model for black girls everywhere.
11. Edward Norton (The Incredible Hulk)
Edward Norton played a demanding thespian in Birdman, but there might’ve been more than a kernel of truth in his performance.
Edward Norton was the first Bruce Banner in the MCU. Though The Incredible Hulk has been largely forgotten, most fans agree that he was pretty good in it.
As we all know, Mark Ruffalo replaced Edward Norton in Marvel’s first big team-up movie The Avengers. Marvel released a statement at the time of Norton’s firing, implying that there was no love lost between the actor and the studio.
“Our decision [to not bring Edward Norton back] is definitely not based on monetary factors, but instead rooted in the need for an actor who embodies the creativity and collaborative spirit of our other talented cast members,” the company said.
10. Shia LaBeouf (Fury)
Shia LaBeouf starred in David Ayer’s ferocious and intense WWII thriller Fury. LaBeouf’s method of getting into character as a somewhat disturbed soldier was, well… disturbing.
The actor is no stranger to behaving like a kook. Deeming that the makeup for his character wasn’t “real” enough, LaBeouf cut his face with a knife, and kept the wounds open for the duration of the shoot.
Not content with that mutilation, LaBeouf went to the dentist to get a tooth extracted — for authentic war wounds.
9. Jared Leto (Suicide Squad)
Another David Ayer movie, another leading man taking things too far. Jared Leto recently played the Joker in Suicide Squad. For all of the hoopla and boldly different aesthetic (Instagram drug-lord is certainly a new look for the 70-something year old character), it turned out to be a muted big-screen return for the Clown Prince of Crime.
However, it wasn’t for Leto’s lack of trying. Leto’s method for getting in the Joker’s head was all kinds of obnoxious: sending cast mates animals (a dead pig, a live rat), beads, and used condoms, demanding that the producers on set refer to him as “Mr. J.”
8. Charlie Sheen (Two and a Half Men)
The bawdy odd-couple sitcom Two and a Half Men faced its biggest hurdle when producer Chuck Lorre was forced to fire its star Charlie Sheen, whose messy personal life was threatening to derail the entire production.
A damming letter from Warner Bros. paints a stark picture of Sheen being unable to perform the most basic requirements of his role, including competently delivering lines and collaborating with the producers.
Although he was the highest paid actor on TV at the time of his firing, Sheen demanded a pay increase of 1 million dollars.
7. Val Kilmer (Batman Forever)
Val Kilmer, with his matinee idol looks, made for a more traditional playboy Bruce Wayne and Dark Knight in Batman Forever, which was marketed as a return to a swashbuckling Batman after the ghoulish and melancholic Batman Returns. Even Batman co-creator Bob Kane sang Kilmer’s praises.
However, although Val Kilmer had solidified his reputation as a leading man to be reckoned with, director Joel Schumacher seemed unable to stand him.
The genial director, never one to cause trouble — he took sole responsibility for the Batman & Robin fiasco — called the star “childish and impossible”. He even went further, saying that Val Kilmer was the most psychologically troubled person he has ever worked with, and that the two would often go days without communicating.
6. Lawrence Tierney (Reservoir Dogs)
Known for portraying tough guys and mobsters like John Dillinger in old gangster movies, Lawrence Tierney undoubtedly brought a level of legitimacy to Quentin Tarantino’s stunning directorial debut, Reservoir Dogs.
However, Tierney was as grouchy and mean as an old man could be. Tarantino, referring to an incident in which a pissed-off Tierney balked at and cursed Tarantino’s layered dialogue, described Lawrence Tierney as a “trial by fire.”
In an argument during the first week of shooting, Michael Madsen, who played Mr. Blonde, recalled Tarantino lunging at Lawrence like “he was going to do him physical harm,” and that there was “a great effort to keep them away from each other.”
5. Marlon Brando (Apocalypse Now)
Apocalypse Now remains the magnum opus of America’s devastating war in Vietnam. The production was guided by Francis Ford Coppola, who was still hot after the one-two punch of The Godfather and The Godfather Part II. Yet Apocalypse Now was upended by chaos, up to and including Martin Sheen suffering a heart attack.
Worsening matters, legendary actor Marlon Brando, portraying Colonel Kurtz, showed up overweight and underprepared. Coppola had to rewrite much of Brando’s lines on the fly while the rest of the crew waited in hot and damp conditions.
If Brando still couldn’t be bothered to memorise the hastily written lines, Coppola would feed him his lines during shooting.
Coppola said of Brando, “He was like a kid, very irresponsible.”
4. Kevin Spacey (Baby Driver)
Hollywood movie star Kevin Spacey was allegedly a terror and a bully on the set of Edgar Wright’s action movie, Baby Driver.
Spacey’s co-star Jon Bernthal, who was only in the movie briefly compared to his other co-stars, claimed that he lost all respect for Spacey, saying that “he was a bit of a bully” and that “he really rubbed me the wrong way.”
In the interview, Bernthal was prodded as to the nature of Spacey’s bullying, whether it was intimate or more run-of-the-mill awful in nature. Bernthal left it at: “He was acting toward people, in a way that I remember at the time thinking ‘Man, if that were a women he were talking to, I would’ve said something, I would’ve done something.”
3. Gene Hackman (The Royal Tenenbaums)
Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums featured a star-studded cast, with Gene Hackman as the patriarch, Royal. The Tenenbaums had reason to regard their father with humorous derision, but in real-life Gene Hackman was prickly and angry.
Co-star Angelica Huston recalled one incident during which Hackman screamed at Wes Anderson: “Pull your pants up and act like a man.” Co-writer Noah Baumbach claimed that Hackman called Anderson a “C**t.”
Anderson had to enlist in Bill Murray to come to set on his off days to act as his protector. There was a scene where Gene Hackman had to take a stroll in the park, and Murray, wearing a cowboy hat, kept an eye on the set from a distance.
2. Wesley Snipes (Blade Trinity)
David Goyer wrote the all three Blade movies, and directed the final instalment Blade Trinity. According to comedian Patton Oswalt, who played a minor role in the film, Wesley Snipes and David Goyer did not get along.
Oswalt further details Snipes’ insanity that consumed the set, such as when he attempted to strangle David Goyer and demanded that he quit because he was “detrimental” to the movie, smoking substances in his trailer, only having close-ups, and using his stand-in for other shots.
1. Chevy Chase (Community)
Chevy Chase has had a well known reputation for being difficult decades before Community, such as when he burned through Saturday Night Live in 1976. Chase had a spat with Community creator Dan Harmon, who referred to Chase as a “befuddled old man.”
Chase consistently downplayed the show’s importance in interviews, calling a sitcom show “the lowest form of television” and expressing creative issues with Community’s writing specifically and despising the long hours.
Co-star Joel McHale expressed awe at Chase’s comedy chops but added that he’d be even funnier if “he just read the scripts.” Chase insisted to Harmon that he was displeased because he was writing him as if he “were gay.” Chase was booted off the show in its fourth season.
Can you think of any other leading men who are difficult to deal with on set? Let us know in the comment section!
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