6. Frank Oz and Marlon Brando – The Score
In his later years, Marlon Brando was a nightmare for directors to work with. He simply lost interest in acting, which made Frank Oz’s first dramatic feature film hell to make. Brando resented Oz’s directing style and even nicknamed Oz ‘Miss Piggy’, after The Muppets character he voiced.
Brando had no respect at all for Oz. At points, he refused to take direction from him entirely, instead preferring his co-stars, either Robert De Niro or Edwards Norton, and wouldn’t go on set if Oz was there. For two days, Oz had to step out of the room while De Niro directed Brando and watch the action on a monitor, passing instructions to De Niro through an assistant director.
Supposedly, the cause of the problem may have been how Brando and Oz saw the character. Oz said, “I never intended Marlon’s character to be so charming, he was always supposed to be more serious”. Brando, a method actor, definitely wasn’t going to give in to anyone else’s interpretation.
Later on, in an interview with Ain’t It Cool News, Oz stated that he felt the conflict was his fault, saying that he thought he had to be tough with Brando and in doing that didn’t nourish and support him. While Oz’s directing style may have had played some part in this, Brando’s reputation precedes him and it’s very likely that he also played a role in the conflict.
7. Stanley Kubrick and Shelley Duvall – The Shining
Have you ever watched The Shining and thought: “I know this is a horror movie, but Shelley Duvall, she looks a little too stressed out, doesn’t she?” Well, if you did think that, you wouldn’t be too wrong. Duvall had fallen victim to the highly meticulous Stanley Kubrick.
Kubrick was known to sometimes be hell to work with. When talking about Kubrick, legendary actor Kirk Douglas, who worked with him on Paths Of Glory and Spartacus, said “He was a bastard! But he was a talented, talented guy”. He was very specific about what he wanted from his actors, regarding them as little more than pawns in his picture. And on the set of The Shining, Kubrick was as detailed as possible.
Kubrick wanted Duvall to play the role of Wendy, but he was also one of her biggest critics and was incredibly harsh on her. Jack Nicholson also found it hard while working on The Shining but said that Kubrick was a “different director” with Duvall. He was so harsh on her, they re-shot the baseball bat scene an astounding 127 times!
The experience of reshooting was so stressful that apparently, her red eyes are actually the result of genuine crying (maybe it was his manipulative way of trying to make her look more distressed?). Duvall reportedly became physically ill, even leading to her hair falling out and, at one point, collapsing of exhaustion.
Scatman Crothers, who played the cook Dick Halloran, also hated filming with Kubrick. Kubrick reshot a close-up of Crothers’ character in his bedroom 148 times! While Kubrick is a cinematic genius, it’s hard to see what exactly he was looking for.
8. Werner Herzog and Klaus Kinski – Fitzcarraldo
Werner Herzog and Klaus Kinski were well-known for their conflicts, but this conflict could very nearly have resulted in murder. Fitzcarraldo was extremely difficult to film even without Kinski, famously involving pushing a 340-ton steamboat over a hill in the middle of the Amazon Jungle without special effects.
It was so difficult that during production, some extras actually died, there were two plane crashes, and, most famously, a Peruvian logger used a chainsaw to cut off his own foot after being by a venomous snake.
Kinski, though, wasn’t looking to make things any easier. While he was known to be difficult to work with, Herzog had cast him numerous times before in his films. But this time it was different and maybe Kinski had finally had enough of Herzog and was constantly fighting with him. That said, Herzog knew Kinski would hate the jungle and he wasn’t his first choice, originally wanting Jack Nicholson.
Kinski’s behavior was also noted to have upset many of the natives who worked as dual laborers and extras. So much so that one of the native chieftains even offered Herzog to kill him, which, funny enough, Herzog apparently declined because he still needed him for the film.
Many years later Herzog made a documentary about his relationship with Kinski called My Best Fiend. The documentary highlights how difficult Kinski really was, arguing with production manager Walter Saxer over trivial matters such as the quality of the food threatening to leave and repeatedly telling Saxer to “lick my ass”. According to Herzog, that was Kinski at his mildest.
9. Michael Bay and Megan Fox – Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen
Sometimes stars say stupid things and we forgive them. And then sometimes they say stuff that’s just not acceptable, like comparing someone you work with to a mass murdering anti-Semitic dictator who started a war that led to the deaths of over 60 million people. Hello Megan Fox! When Fox publicly insulted Michael Bay, it didn’t do her career any good. It wasn’t really apparent how much she disliked working with him until this point. What did she say exactly? Well, it went along a bit like this:
“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.”
If anything, you could say that Bay isn’t the awkward one here – it really, 100%, is Fox. It almost sounds like she realized what she said and then tries to make up for it by saying he’s awkward as if that is some kind of compliment? But all it really does is make Bay sound quite pathetic, which is kind of worse.
While Bay himself claimed he wasn’t offended by what Fox said, it was still a major dick move that was most likely unwarranted. Even Shia LaBeouf (not exactly the sanest guy in the world) shot her down for it. Steven Spielberg, acting as executive producer, took it a lot more seriously and effectively kicked her out of the franchise.
10. Sidney Pollack and Dustin Hoffman – Tootsie
Tootsie is another case of ‘artistic difference’ driving a wedge between an actor and a director. And in the case of Tootsie, it’s kind of ironic. Dustin Hoffman plays a character who is notoriously hard to work with and so he takes up cross-dressing to get an acting job. Hoffman himself was also very hard to work with, frequently arguing with director Sidney Pollack.
The root of the problem lied in how dedicated Hoffman was to his interpretation of the film, having been attached from an early stage. He never saw the film as a comedy, while quite clearly that’s exactly what Pollack was trying to make. But even before Pollack was signed on, Tootsie had gone through a number of writers with directors and producers signing on and then dropping out. It ultimately ended up with Hoffman having most of the creative control and if it wasn’t for his efforts, the film probably wouldn’t have been made.
This resulted in both the actor and director struggling to do things their own way. In directors commentary released years later, Pollack explained how as a director he can’t really make an actor do something he doesn’t want to do and a director can’t really do something he doesn’t believe in. These conflicts often ended up with the two screaming at each other in Hoffman’s trailer.
Pollack later said that he felt the arguing on set had a good effect on the film. Perhaps this is true as the film was a huge success, commercially and critically.