Hollywood is not exactly a warm and fuzzy place where everyone gets along like best friends. That’s why so many film sets are hotbeds for drama. But no drama is more intense than the art-infused feuds between actor and director, because ART!
Here are some of the biggest and best actor-director fights in film history.
Mo’Nique and Lee Daniels
Let’s start with the most recent. After Mo’Nique won an Oscar for her role in Precious, she says Daniels told her she was blackballed for not playing the Hollywood game. Then recently she announced that she’d been offered roles in both The Butler and Empire, but never heard anything more until she learned Oprah and Taraji P. Henson were respectively playing what she’d been led to believe were her roles. Despite the struggles, Mo’Nique says she “could work with Lee Daniels tomorrow.”
David O. Russell and Lily Tomlin
We all remember this one. O. Russell is a famously difficult director who’s battled many of his actors, including George Clooney. In fact, after they worked together on Three Kings, Clooney told Premiere magazine, “Quite honestly, if he comes near me, I’ll sock him right in the fucking mouth.” Russell then defended himself, saying “I never physically attacked him. If I ran into him, I’d say, ’Shut the fuck up, you lying-ass bitch.'”
But in terms of sheer profanity and viral sensationalism, nothing beats his battle with Tomlin on the set of I Heart Huckabees. The whole thing is madness, but to be caught on tape throwing things at one of your stars and calling her “cunt” and “whore” is some next-level stuff. Of course, his career has been completely unaffected by this and other tirades — he received Best Director nominations at the 2011, 2013, and 2014 Academy Awards for The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle, respectively.
Edward Norton and Tony Kaye
Norton is known for being “difficult,” but Kaye, his director on American History X was no picnic either. The first-time feature film director who referred to himself (long before the movie was made) as “the greatest English director since Hitchcock.” But the studio was unhappy with the film, so Norton and the film’s editor re-cut it, much to Kaye’s outrage. Their relationship, and Kaye’s with the studio, was so strained that Kaye tried to take his name off the film in favor of an “Alan Smithee” credit. When the studio refused to let him use a pseudonym, he sued for $200 million.
Megan Fox and Michael Bay
Fox famously said of Bay, “He wants to be like Hitler on his sets, and he is. So he’s a nightmare to work for but when you get him away from set, and he’s not in director mode, I kind of really enjoy his personality because he’s so awkward, so hopelessly awkward.” And that was only one piece of their weird, fractured love-hateship. She (pretty fairly) criticized the Transformers series as “not [movies] about acting” several times and complained about unsafe work conditions. Anonymous members of Bay’s crew wrote a scathing letter calling her “dumb-as-a-rock” and she was later replaced with Rosie Huntington-Whiteley for Transformers 3. But the two clearly made up enough for her to star in his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Kevin Smith and Bruce Willis
No one is more known for “putting it out on front street” as he calls it quite like Smith. The Clerks director minces no words and honestly and usually profanely shares details ranging from his first time being intimate with his wife to the weirdest Prince experience ever. So it came as no shock when he told the world exactly what a massive pain Bruce Willis was to work with on 2011’s Cop Out. In fact, when the movie wrapped, Smith toasted the wrap party by saying, “I want to thank everyone who worked on the film, except for Bruce Willis, who is a fucking dick.” (Willis was not present.) He described the experience to Marc Maron on his WTF Podcast: “It was difficult. I’ve never been involved in a situation like that where, one component is not in the box at all. It was fuckin’ soul crushing. I mean, a lot of people are gonna be like, ‘Oh, you’re just trying to blame the movie on him.’ No, but I had no fucking help from this dude whatsoever.”
Faye Dunaway and Roman Polanski
Polanski is many things (for many of us, rapist is probably the biggest). He was notoriously difficult on the set of his masterpiece, Chinatown, but Dunaway suffered most and the two battled throughout filming. As for the culminating moment of the fight, I’ll let Chinatown director of photography describe:
There was a scene where she gets in the car after seeing her daughter, and Jack is in the car waiting for her and scares the shit out of her. She kept saying to Roman, “Roman, I have to pee. I have to pee.” “No. No. You stay there. You stay there. We shoot, we shoot.” And then he said, “Roll the window down. I got to talk to you. You’re turning too far right. Don’t look at Jack, look ahead.” Then she threw a coffee-cup full of liquid in Roman’s face. He said, “You cunt, that’s piss!” And she said, “Yes, you little putz,” and rolled the window up. We were all speculating that maybe Jack peed in the cup for her. [Or maybe] she had a small bladder or something.
Alfred Hitchcock and women in general
I can’t say for certain that all geniuses are issue-laden, problematic people, but Hitchcock is definitely a mark in the #YesAllGeniuses category. He treated all his exclusively blonde leading ladies like creepy garbage, presenting most of them with unwanted advances and relentless harassment. He threw birds at Tippi Hedren, cutting her face and came on to her constantly, even stalking her, as she says.
Stanley Kubrick, Shelley Duvall, and Scatman CrothersIt may have been for the sake of art, but there’s no denying that Kubrick’s treatment of Duvall on the set of The Shining was abysmal. He made her do one scene 127 times, and her hair reportedly fell out from the stress of shooting the film. But she wasn’t alone. One of his scenes required 170 takes, leading to him breaking down in tears asking, “What do you want, Mr. Kubrick?”
Werner Herzog and Klaus Kinski
Auteur and famous crazy person, Herzog is known for being eccentrically fascinating, but his relationship with actor and collaborator Kinski takes the cake. The two fought like crazy and attacked each other constantly. When Kinski threatened to quit the disaster-ridden film Fitzcarraldo, Herzog threatened him with a shotgun. Herzog also planned to burn Kinski’s house down.
Find out who else is feuding from The Gossip Table.
[Photo Credit: Getty Images]