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Famous Actor-Director Relationships That Were Pretty Toxic

Some of the best films were produced under strenuous conditions
by FHM Staff | May 31, 2018
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Maybe Sean Connery said it best during his AFI Lifetime Achievement Award acceptance speech, “Making movies is either a utopia, or it’s like shoveling shit uphill.” Rumors about toxic working environments and spats between cast members form part of the gossip and folklore surrounding some of our favorite movies—remember that time Christian Bale supposedly berated the Director of Photography of Terminator Salvation for accidentally walking in his eyeline in the middle of an intense scene?

Locally, the latest ongoing feud between legendary director Mike de Leon and journalist/actor Atom Araullo (currently unfolding on Facebook) over their experience filming Citizen Jake further highlights just how intense the process of movie-making and movie sets can be. Outbursts, walk-outs, and curses hurled between cast members were once private affairs passed around as gossip among rumor mongers. But because we now live in the age of social media, the stage is significantly larger and feuding parties are free to air their grievances to the public. And although we do not have many documented conflicts between Directors and Actors in local showbiz, there have been lots in Hollywood.

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David O. Russell v. George Clooney

Movie: Three Kings

Russell was supposedly extremely strict with the staff during the shoot which was why Clooney wrote him a note expressing how the set was “the most havoc-ridden, anxiety-ridden, angry set that I have ever witnessed.” The tension eventually boiled over when Clooney thought Russell was too rough with an extra. The two got into an argument and Russell headbutted Clooney. Clooney retaliated by grabbing Russell by the neck.

Michael Bay v. Megan Fox

Movie: Transformers 2

Arguably the conflict that started the decline of her career, Fox gave an interview with British magazine Wonderland, where she was asked what her most and least favorite thing about working with Michael Bay was, to which she replied “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 the set, and he’s not in director mode, I kind of really enjoy his personality because he’s so awkward, so hopelessly awkward.” Although Bay said that the comments did not bother him, Fox was replaced by model Rosie Huntington for Transformers 3.

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Joel Schumacher v. Val Kilmer

Movie: Batman Forever

Apparently, Val Kilmer has quite a reputation for being difficult to work with. On the set of Batman Forever, he apparently lost his temper with one of the staff, which didn't sit well with Schumacher. He gave Kilmer a piece of his mind, which the star didn't like. Val Kilmer reportedly stopped talking to the director for two weeks, a period which Schumacher described as “blissful.” Joel Schumacher was apparently also not fond of Tommy Lee Jones’ attitude on set and described him as being threatened by Jim Carrey.

Tony Kaye v. Edward Norton

Movie: American History X

This relationship was off to a bad start when Tony Kaye supposedly wanted any actor except Edward Norton to lead the film. Overruled, they proceeded and shot the film with Norton as the main actor anyway. The producers reportedly liked the initial cut of the picture. However, the second cut was edited too short so the producers asked Edward Norton to make a third cut, to the horror of Kaye. Kaye was so determined to distance himself from the movie that he tried to have his name removed from the credits. Unfortunately for him, that too was denied.  

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David Fincher v. Jake Gyllenhaal

Movie: Zodiac

Gyllenhaal was quoted as saying “David knows what he wants, and he’s very clear what he wants, and he’s very, very, very smart. But sometimes we’d do a lot of takes, and he’d turn, and he would say, because he’d have a computer there, ‘Delete the last 10 takes.’ And as an actor, that’s very hard to hear.” Robert Downey Jr., who was Gyllenhaal’s co-star, was also rumored to have been irritated with the director but had a more creative way of protesting—he would apparently leave jars of urine around the set.

Alfred Hitchcock v. Tippi Hedren

Movie: The Birds

Hedren stated that Hitchcock assured her that the birds to be used in the scene where she would be attacked were mechanical. However, the director used live birds during the actual take. Hedren suffered injuries as some of the birds scratched her cheek and nearly gouged her eye. Also, it was reported that Hitchcock threatened to ruin Hedren’s career when she refused his sexual advances.

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Stanley Kubrick v. Shelley Duvall

Film: The Shining

Kubrick’s legendary status as a director comes with the notoriety for being a perfectionist. In the Shining, the level of emotional hysteria Duvall was expected to play was so great that she had to consciously drink more water to avoid dehydration and have enough liquids in her body to keep crying. One scene, where she had to swing a bat at Jack Nicholson, reportedly took 127 takes.     


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