Last week this column looked at actors who didn’t get along on the set. But what about actors and directors? That’s like asking lions and lambs to lie down together. Somebody’s going to get eaten.
Here’s my top ten list of actors who have clashed with their directors. But, truth is, this could fill volumes if you told all the stories about conflicts on the sets of movies.
10.) Marlon Brando vs. Frank Oz, “The Score” (2001) — Marlon Brando didn’t respect Frank Oz as a director, and would only take direction from his fellow actors, Edward Norton and Robert De Niro. To make it worse, Brando refused to be shot from the shoulders down in any of his scenes — to the point he would appear on set fully nude to prevent the cameras from shooting anything below his neck.
9. )Werner Herzog vs. Klaus Kinski, “Fitzcarraldo” (1982) — This film is considered one of the most dangerous productions in film history. Partly because Herzog and the film’s star literally wanted to kill each other. Kinski was so abusive that one of the Peruvian native chiefs even offered to kill Kinski for him. After Kinski’s death, Herzog said, “Klaus was one of the greatest actors of the century, but he was also a monster and a great pestilence.”
8.) Ed Harris vs. James Cameron, “The Abyss” (1989) — The movie involved a lot of risky underwater action. Ed Harris nearly drowned. Enraged that Cameron kept filming while he was drowning, Harris punched Cameron in the face. Harris has said, “The Abyss was a lot of things. Fun to make was not one of them.”
7.) Lily Tomlin vs. David O. Russell, “I Heart Huckabees” (2004) — Footage has been leaked of Russell getting into intense swearing matches with Tomlin, with Dustin Hoffman lingering in the background to stay out of the fray. The director and the comedian have since made up publicly, but nobody believed their sincerity.
6.) Sean Penn vs. Oliver Stone, “U-Turn” (1997) — Stone and Penn are both known to be hot tempered. Their biggest clash occurred when Stone brought one of his friend’s kids to the set. This threw off Penn’s method of acting so much that he and Stone nearly came to blows. Penn has said that talking with Stone was like “talking to a pig.”
5.) George Clooney vs. David O. Russell, “Three Kings” (1999) — Like we said, Russell has a reputation for being difficult. When he screamed at a young extra and threw the kid to the ground, Clooney stepped in and blows were exchanged. The crew broke up the scuffle when the two men started choking each other.
4.) Val Kilmer vs. Joel Schumacher, “Batman Forever” (1995) — Reportedly, Kilmer would abuse crew members, once even putting out a cigarette on a cameraman’s face. One day, Schumacher had had enough. Luckily, the crew separated the two men before punches were thrown. Schumacher once corrected an interviewer saying, “I didn’t say Val was difficult to work … I said he was psychotic.”
3. ) Sean Connery vs. Stephen Norrington, “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” (2003) — After working with Norrington on this movie, Connery quit acting for good. It’s said they argued over virtually every scene in the film. Connery blamed the clash on the director’s lack of experience. In turn, Norrington blamed Connery’s stubbornness.
2. ) Robert Downey Jr. vs. David Fincher, “Zodiac” (2007) — Known to be intense, Fincher made his actors and crew work long hours, sometimes filming up to 70 takes per scene! Robert Downey Jr. protested by urinating into mason jars and leaving them around the set as a smelly reminder that Fincher was depriving the cast and crew of pee breaks.
1.) Henry Fonda vs. John Ford, “Mister Roberts” (1955) — Legendary director John Ford had a reputation for being a hard case. Star Henry Fonda had some notes about the script he wanted to share with the director. After listening patiently to all of Fonda’s comments, Ford abruptly punched him directly in the face. Oww-ee! Thanks for sharing!
See what I mean? Filmmakers and their stars are totally incompatible.