Dramatic Disputes Between Famous Actors and Directors
While the end result tries its best to show no signs of damage, the set of a feature film can often be a tense and stressful place to be. Oftentimes, fights — whether verbal or physical — can break out over who's interpretation of the material is "correct": the actor's or the director's. When this happens, the falling-out can be utterly tremendous. If bad enough, collaborators might not ever speak again. Here are 30 infamous arguments and disputes between actors and directors.
David O. Russell and George Clooney in Three Kings (1999)
Writer-director David O. Russell might not be as recognizable a face as he was after the one-two-three punch of Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle and Joy, but don't be mistaken: he demands to be taken seriously as a filmmaker, no matter what the cost.
David O. Russell and Lily Tomlin in I Heart Huckabees (2004)
Five years after the tense environment on the set of Three Kings, David O. Russell returned to the director's chair for the independent comedy I Heart Huckabees. Working with the most talented cast of his career — comprised of the likes of Lily Tomlin, Dustin Hoffman, Jude Law and Naomi Watts — one would think Russell wouldn't be as domineering as he'd been. Wrong.
Alfred Hitchcock and Tippi Hedren in The Birds (1963) and Marnie (1964)
Alfred Hitchcock is referred to by many as the Master of Suspense. From Rear Window to Psycho to Vertigo, the British filmmaker is responsible for many of the thriller genre's tropes that are still utilized to this day. Despite his massive influence, the director had no respect for his actors.
Stanley Kubrick and Shelley Duvall in The Shining (1980)
Even though Stanley Kubrick has been honored as the mastermind behind one of the best horror films of all time, The Shining,, it should be noted that the director was willing to do whatever it took to earn that accolade.
Stanley Kubrick and Scatman Crothers in The Shining (1980)
As it turns out, Shelley Duvall wasn't the only one to be subjected to the less-than-professional tactics of Stanley Kubrick on the set of The Shining. He broke Duvall down over the course of a single scene reshot 127 times, then turned around and did the same to Crothers... twice.
Werner Herzog And Klaus Kinski in Fitzcarraldo (1982)
A documentarian and filmmaker who occasionally reshoots his documentaries as fictional films, German writer-director Werner Herzog is a one-of-a-kind talent. Many of his earlier films feature collaborations with actor Klaus Kinski, who Herzog has referred to as his best fiend (and no, that’s not a typo).
Paul Thomas Anderson and Burt Reynolds in Boogie Nights (1997)
Despite the sheer success of Boogie Nights and the many other films by Paul Thomas Anderson's that followed, Burt Reynolds could not find anything positive to say about the writer-director in the wake of their collaboration on the film in the late '90s.
Paul Thomas Anderson and Mark Wahlberg After Boogie Nights (1997)
Like Burt Reynolds, Mark Wahlberg doesn't have anything positive to say about Paul Thomas Anderson's Boogie Nights. However, unlike the iconic actor, Wahlberg's troubles with Anderson didn't develop until long after the movie's filming.
Tony Kaye and Edward Norton in American History X (1998)
Tony Kaye has been described by Bryan Cranston as a "very complicated ... interesting fellow." For people like Edward Norton, who collaborated with director Tony Kaye when he was at his most volatile, Cranston's comments are the understatement of the century.
Michael Bay and Megan Fox After Transformers (2007) And Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)
Megan Fox was famous as a big-budget leading lady in the late 2000s and early '10s. From Transformers to Jonah Hex to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the actress was a favorite of director Michael Bay's ... except for when they got in very public arguments.
Judd Apatow and Katherine Heigl After Knocked Up (2007)
As Judd Apatow was finally starting to establish himself as a respectable filmmaker after the creation of multiple cult classic television shows, Katherine Heigl was also getting out of the TV business and into the movie game. The two came together for Knocked Up and had a good time on set, but Heigl had a change of heart after seeing the film.
Harold Ramis and Bill Murray After Groundhog Day (1993)
After seeing the two co-starring in so many classic comedies throughout the 80s and into the 90s, one would think that Harold Ramis and Bill Murray couldn't have been closer. Unfortunately, that’s incorrect. Despite being Ghostbusters, Ramis and Murray didn't talk for years after Groundhog Day.
Lars von Trier and Björk in Dancer in the Dark (2000)
A pioneer of the shooting style known as Dogme 95, Danish filmmaker Lars von Trier takes pride in his ability to make his audiences uncomfortable. As many of his former stars can attest, this ability also translates to the sets of his films. Of the bunch, Björk had the most to say.
Kevin Smith and Bruce Willis in Cop Out (2010)
Regardless of the fact that they're both titans in their own respects, Kevin Smith and Bruce Willis couldn't have been more diametrically opposed while shooting the buddy cop comedy Cop Out. It seems that the two were destined to disagree from the start.
Dan Harmon and Chevy Chase in Community (2009-2015)
Dan Harmon has a reputation for being hard to work with. From his beginnings as a writer for Sarah Silverman to his current gig as co-creator of Rick and Morty, Harmon never seems able to get along with his co-workers without some sort of fight breaking out. This personality of his actually resulted in both him and one of his leading actors being fired from Community.
Stephen Norrington and Sean Connery in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)
Sean Connery was one of the most extraordinary talents of the 20th century. From the Indiana Jones franchise to the James Bond series to countless roles in between, Connery was an actor who could instantly improve a project simply by being a part of it. Yet not even Connery could save director Stephen Norrington's most infamous film.
Ridley Scott and Harrison Ford in Blade Runner (1982)
Anyone familiar with Ridley Scott's Blade Runner is aware of the fact that there are seemingly countless alternate cuts of the film. From its theatrical release to the final cut, the science fiction neo-noir is always entertaining, even if its different versions are frequently confusing.
David Fincher and Jake Gyllenhaal in Zodiac (2007)
David Fincher is a perfectionist. He makes this clear to anyone he collaborates with in hopes of avoiding any disagreements or disputes on-set. However, a simple warning doesn't always do the trick. Directors and actors — especially perfectionists — are bound to get heated.
David Fincher and Robert Downey Jr. in Zodiac (2007)
Like Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr. wasn't always pleased with director David Fincher's idiosyncrasies while shooting Zodiac. Unlike Gyllenhaal, Downey's troubles weren't specifically with the deletion of takes but with the incredibly long and arduous shooting schedules that the director would rely on day in and day out.
Alan J. Pakula and Brad Pitt in The Devil's Own (1997)
If Alfred Hitchcock can get credit for creating the contemporary definition of the thriller, then Alan J. Pakula deserves recognition for refining what we now know as the paranoia thriller. With many of his films focused on the anxiety and suspense that comes with being watched and hunted by someone dangerous or powerful, any actor would be lucky to collaborate with him.
Jon Favreau and Mickey Rourke After Iron Man 2 (2010)
At this point in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the events of Iron Man 2 might seem like eons ago. For those who don't remember, the villain of the movie — Whiplash — was played by the 80s action movie icon Mickey Rourke. His role in the final cut wasn't what the script promised, though, which would be frustrating for anyone.
Sydney Pollack and Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie (1982)
A titan of '80s filmmaking, writer-director Sydney Pollack was a name any actor would scramble to work with if given the chance. When he took on an adaptation of Tootsie in the early 80s, Dustin Hoffman was fortunate enough to land the leading role. Things weren't always so fortunate on set, though.
Frank Oz and Marlon Brando on The Score (2001)
With a cast like The Score's, one would think that any troubles that arose on set would be laid aside in exchange for the opportunity to create a pleasant working experience for all involved. That wasn't what happened here, though—not even close. Marlon Brando is to thank.
Wes Anderson and Gene Hackman in The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
Seeing as Wes Anderson and Gene Hackman worked together on The Darjeeling Limited in 2007, six years after the release of their first collaboration, one might assume that the two had a pretty good relationship on set. Surprisingly, their time on The Royal Tenenbaums was less than perfect.
Joel Schumacher and Val Kilmer in Batman Forever (1995)
Batman's journey from page to screen hasn't always been the smoothest of transitions. There are highs — like Tim Burton's Batman or Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight—but there are also plenty of lows — one of which being Joel Schumacher's Batman Forever.
David S. Goyer and Wesley Snipes on Blade: Trinity (2004)
Wesley Snipes has just recently been able to make a comeback after years out of the spotlight, but there was once a time where he was an enormous star at the forefront of several big titles, including the Blade trilogy.
Francis Ford Coppola and Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now (1979)
Francis Ford Coppola is considered by countless critics as one of the all-time best directors in film history. Marlon Brando has been honored with the same commendation as an actor — one of the absolute greats. Bringing the two together for Apocalypse Now proved to be the wrong choice, though.
Marc Forster and Brad Pitt on World War Z (2013)
Based on the book of the same name in title only — the movie takes plenty of creative liberty and bears very little resemblance to the source material — World War Z seemed like a recipe for success at the height of the zombie craze in the early 2010s. Unfortunately, Brad Pitt and Marc Forster's quarrels kept it from being something truly spectacular.
Shane Hurlbut and Christian Bale in Terminator Salvation (2009)
While technically not the film's director, Shane Hurlbut was an essential part of Terminator Salvation as the director of photography (or the cinematographer, as they are sometimes called), Hurlbut was just as involved as any star or director. This involvement is why his spat with Christian Bale was so bad.
Otto Preminger and Faye Dunaway on Hurry Sundown (1967)
Otto Preminger is a name synonymous with mid-20th-century excellence. An Austrian filmmaker, Preminger made quite the impact on American filmmaking throughout the ‘50s and ‘60s. One of his later films, Hurry Sundown, made an impact for a different reason.