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Infamous Film Set Fights Between Actors And Directors


These office feuds were on a whole other level.

The film industry is not the most stable place to work in, as actors and directors can end up getting into nasty squabbles.

Paramount / Via Giphy

These quarrels may stem from differing visions, unjust practices, or inflated egos, and whether or not they made or broke their films, these incidents still left a stain on their legacies. So hold onto your heads because we’re going to look at the 15 worst feuds between actors and directors.


Bruce Willis & Kevin Smith — Cop Out

Warner Bros. / Via youtube.com

Though Kevin Smith was initially a die-hard fan of Willis (pun intended there), the director’s dream of working with him turned into a nightmare once it actually came true. Smith claimed that Willis refused to even sit down for a poster shoot, saying “were it not for Tracy [Morgan], I might have killed either myself or someone else” in the making of f***ing Cop Out.” However, Smith later apologized for his “petty” comments about Willis after the actor was diagnosed with aphasia.


Edward Norton & Tony Kaye — American History X

New Line Cinema / Via youtube.com

Director Tony Kaye’s career should’ve taken off with his first feature film, American History X, but the conflict that brewed behind the scenes made him a lot of enemies, including star Edward Norton. Because the director strongly objected to New Line Cinema’s desire to change the film, the studio took away his final cut privileges and had Norton take part in editing. Kaye was so enraged by this that he punched a hole through a wall and had to get stitches.


Bill Murray & Harold Ramis — Groundhog Day

Columbia Pictures / Via youtube.com

Though these two comedy icons worked well together on films like Ghostbusters, Stripes, and Caddyshack, they both had a falling out that lasted for decades on the set of Groundhog Day. As he was going through a divorce at the time, Murray was reportedly miserable during the film’s production, frequently arriving on the set late, having multiple outbursts, and arguing with Ramis on many creative decisions. Murray and Ramis stopped speaking to each other until 2010 when they made up, just four years before the latter’s untimely death.


Gene Hackman & Wes Anderson — The Royal Tenenbaums

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures / Via youtube.com

Gene Hackman may be one of the most beloved actors in cinema history, but that doesn’t change the fact that he was a nightmare on the set of Wes Anderson’s 2001 film. Hackman reportedly insulted Anderson so much that, ironically, costar Bill Murray had to come in to help protect the director from the thespian’s wrath. Though Anderson praised Hackman for his work on the film, it’s hard to imagine the latter coming out of retirement to work with the director again.


Katherine Heigl & Judd Apatow — Knocked Up

Universal Pictures / Via youtube.com

Katherine Heigl has developed a reputation for being one of the most challenging people to work with in Hollywood, and it all began after starring in Judd Apatow’s Knocked Up. Heigl made headlines after an interview with Vanity Fair, in which she said the film was “a little sexist” and had painted women as “shrews.” Apatow was shocked by Heigl’s latter choice of words and had hoped she would at least apologize to him. Even her costar, Seth Rogan, said he felt “hurt” and “somewhat betrayed” by her comments.


Björk & Lars von Trier — Dancer in the Dark

Zentrope Entertainments / Via youtube.com

While this duo won the Palme d’Or in 2000 with their film, Dancer in the Dark, some severe behind-the-scenes drama came to light years later. Björk claims that a “Danish film director she worked with” sexually harassed her, and the evidence pointed to von Trier as the culprit. Though the director denied her allegations, he did claim they were “definitely not friends.”


Brigitte Bardot & Henri-Georges Clouzot — La Vérité

Columbia Pictures / Via youtube.com

While he may not be so well known in the States, French director Henri-Georges Clouzot has been compared to Alfred Hitchcock for creating gripping suspense thrillers and for being cruel and abusive towards his female actors. In particular, Insider wrote that, when filming a scene with Brigitte Bardot in La Vérité, the director gave her sleeping pills and said they were painkillers, as her character was supposed to pass out and drool. This led to Bardot overdosing on these pills and having to get her stomach pumped. As you can already guess, she was not happy with him.


Ray Fisher & Joss Whedon — Justice League

Warner Bros. / Via youtube.com

After Zack Snyder left the director’s chair for Justice League, Joss Whedon came in to “finish” the film, but he made the production much more difficult for the main cast. Ray Fisher, who played Cyborg in the film, claimed Whedon had engaged in “abusive” and “unprofessional” behavior that was only enabled by DC Films president Walter Hamada and producers Jon Berg and Walter Hamada. This all led to a legal investigation in the production of the film, the results of which drove Fisher to refuse to play Cyborg on The Flash.


Klaus Kinski & Werner Herzog — Aguirre, the Wrath of God

Filmverlag der Autoren / Via youtube.com

Kinski is known for being a volatile and erratic presence on the set of many films, and his relationship with Herzog has become the stuff of legend. While developing Aguirre, Kinski and Herzog argued over how the former should portray his character. The actor even shot off the tip of one extra’s finger just because he was annoyed by the cast and crew playing cards. But even after Kinski tried to leave the set, Herzog convinced him to stay after threatening to shoot him and then himself. Some say that Herzog made Kinski act at gunpoint. Talk about a hostile work environment.


George Clooney & David O’Russell — Three Kings

Warner Bros. / Via youtube.com

David O’Russell is currently one of the most difficult directors to work with in Hollywood, and this was evident on the set of The Three Kings. This certainly isn’t the only incident Russell has had over the years, as many of us remember the I Heart Huckabees incident, but this is certainly one of the worst. Russell frequently exploded with anger, yelling at crew members and extras on many occasions. Clooney repeatedly stepped in to defend his co-workers from Russell’s wrath, culminating in the director and his leading man getting into a physical fight.


Faye Dunaway & Roman Polanski — Chinatown

Paramount / Via youtube.com

Dunaway and Polanski are both notorious in Hollywood for very different reasons, but both of these egos had an explosive collision on the set of Polanski’s film, Chinatown. At one point, Polanski pulled a hair right out of Dunaway’s head because it got in the way of his ideal shot, and she was understandably not pleased by this. But that’s not the worst part. While filming one car scene, Polanski refused to let Dunaway use the bathroom, and she reportedly filled a cup with her own urine and threw it right in the director’s face.


Maria Schneider & Bernardo Bertolucci — Last Tango in Paris

United Artists / Via youtube.com

The most infamous scene from such a controversial film was when Marlon Brando’s Paul sexually assaults Maria Schneider’s Jeanne using butter as a lubricant. Though the rape scene was simulated and Schneider knew it was in the script, she was not told about the butter ahead of time, and so she was furious when she found out. She claims to have felt “humiliated” and a “little raped” while filming the scene, and so she never reconciled with the director after all these years.


Val Kilmer & Marlon Brando & Richard Stanley & John Frankenheimer — The Island of Dr. Moreau

New Line Cinema / Via youtube.com

This production suffered so many issues that there’s an entire documentary about it. In the brief period he directed this disastrous film, Richard Stanley struggled to work with Val Kilmer, who had just learned that he was being sued for divorce. But even after John Frankenheimer took over as director, Kilmer still couldn’t be contained, and his costar, Marlon Brando, proved to be just as insufferable. The Godfather actor refused to learn new lines and had reportedly clashed with Kilmer on multiple occasions, which helped make this film’s production one of the worst in the industry’s history. 


Tippi Hedren & Alfred Hitchcock — The Birds

Universal / Via youtube.com

Hedren reportedly rebuffed multiple sexual advances from Hitchcock during the making of this film, and the director threatened to ruin her career as a result. But he didn’t stop there. Hitchcock allegedly got his revenge on Hedren by replacing the fake birds in her character’s final attack scene with live ones without her knowing, and the stress of performing in this sequence put her on bed rest for a week.


Shelley Duvall & Stanley Kubrick — The Shining

Warner Bros. / Via youtube.com

Stanley Kubrick is well known for being a stone-cold perfectionist when it comes to filmmaking, which made him a challenge to worth with on practically every movie he’s directed. The most famous case of his tyrannical filmmaking is his treatment of Shelley Duvall on the set of The Shining. The director argued with her numerous times and ordered the crew not to sympathize with her. Duvall eventually became so stressed out that she started losing some of her hair and became physically ill. It’s not often that the making of a horror movie is just as frightening as the film itself, but this was the nightmare Kubrick made Shelley endure.

Do you agree with this list? Were there any actor/director conflicts that I missed? Please let me know in the comments section below.

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