Acting opposite each other as an onscreen couple can be tricky, especially if the chemistry isn’t quite right. However, we’re uber-impressed with the ability of big-screen couples to suck up their differences for the duration of a take. After all, you can imagine what it feels like to go to work after a big fight with the other half. Just imagine going off to work and having millions of dollars and a score of highly-strung creative types relying on you to perform to your best ability.
Trouble-in-paradise memes centering on film “couples” tend to circulate after any big production release but sometimes only emerge a few years later. For example, Kenny Baker, who played R2-D2 in the Star Wars trilogy, wasn’t greatly enamored by his on-set partner Anthony Daniels (C-3P0), who had turned his back on Baker at their initial meeting. And let’s not forget the great Shirley MacLaine who, after voicing disapproval at “Terms of Endearment” co-star Debra Winger’s off-screen lifestyle, received a broadside fart from the 28-year-old American.
Some real-life couples such as Andrew Garfield ‘n’ Emma Stone, Blake Lively ‘n’ Ryan Reynolds, and Goldie Hawn ‘n’ Kurt Russell have admittedly had it easy on-set; the natural chemistry between them has shone through without much effort. However, in Hollywood, nothing is ever what it seems, and many others have been in the unenviable position of no longer being able to stand the sight of their co-worker.
Here are 15 acting pairs who played a madly-in-love couple on-screen but, in reality, despised each other.
15. Bill Murray and Lucy Liu
It’s no secret that during filming for the 2000 remake of “Charlie’s Angels,” Bill Murray (Groundhog Day, Ghostbusters, Tootsie) left co-star Lucy Liu lost for words after allegedly questioning outright her acting ability and suitability for the role of Alex Munday. According to US Magazine, Liu “started throwing punches at the actor and they had to be physically pulled apart,” although Murray later denies it was as dramatic as that.
The magazine goes on to highlight Murray’s notoriety as an outspoken critic of poor acting, whether he’s standing on stage with them or not. We’re not sure that this is true, but oddly enough, the majority of Murray’s roles have been “bitter, misanthropic cynics who suffer humiliation and failure.” That said, Dazed Digital remarks of the recent upturn in his career, “For well over a decade now, Murray’s been enjoying a late-career renaissance that’s seen him transformed into something of a hipster icon.” Perhaps he’s started being nice?
14. Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger
Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger got together when they played lovers in the film “The Marrying Man” back in 1990; they got married but filed for divorce in 2001 citing irreconcilable differences. American tabloids of the time write of a marriage “marred by shouting matches, temper tantrums, and vicious name-calling incidents,” while the Mail Online called it “One of Hollywood’s stormiest marriages.”
Basinger, just last year, likened her marriage to Baldwin as “Sleeping With the Enemy” as she recalled the inevitable custody battle for their only child, Ireland, that ensued following their split. In 2002, the couple finally reached a mutual understanding but only after millions of dollars in litigation, name calling, and considerable mental anguish on both sides. We predict there won’t be any films in the near future starring these two.
13. Nick Nolte and Julia Roberts
The 1994 romantic comedy “I Love Trouble” stars Nick Nolte and Julia Roberts as reporters reluctantly joining forces to uncover a train derailment that leads to the discovery of a scientific conspiracy. The film wasn’t exactly panned by critics, but it didn’t go down too well either. According to the Los Angeles Times, the film contained aspects which “are not especially entrancing despite the star power. Instead of synergy, what ‘Trouble’ achieves is more like disappointment squared.”
Not reported on at the time was the tenseness on-set between the two, which, it has been suggested, leaked through to their performance. According to Nolte’s own biography, ten years after the film’s release, Roberts called Nolte “a disgusting human being” and the “worst actor she has ever worked with.” He retorted that she was simply “not a nice person.” The LA Times goes on to say of Roberts, unsurprisingly, “[She] finds herself thoughtlessly misused. An actress with an unbeatable smile looking sombre and glum.”
12. Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey
Perhaps the only film that makes women yearn for a man who can dance like Johnny Castle, Dirty Dancing was a massive box office smash, and as of 2009, it has earned over $214 million worldwide. Written by Eleanor Bergstein (also “Let it Be Me,” 1995), the screenplay follows the story of Frances “Baby” Houseman (Jennifer Grey), a young woman who, while spending the summer at a Catskills resort with her family, falls in love with the camp’s dance instructor, Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze).
The chemistry between Castle and Baby is undeniable on-screen and yet is surprising when you consider that off-set, the summer romance was not exactly in full bloom. Admittedly, Swayze and Grey became good friends following the success of the show, but Swayze writes of her in his memoir, “She’d slip into silly moods… we did have a few moments of friction.”
11. Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn
It might be said that Seth Gordon’s “Four Christmases” (2008) failure was the unfortunate victim of zero on-screen chemistry that leaked through performances. Critics panned the film at its release with film site Rotten Tomatoes remarking, “Despite a strong cast, this sour holiday comedy suffers from a hackneyed script.” The Hollywood Reporter called the film “one of the most joyless Christmas movies ever.”
Might this have had anything to do with the extreme tension between the two main stars, Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn, who could not have been less alike if they’d tried? Not only did they endure professional differences in the way they both approached their acting, but so too were there general chasms of difference in demeanor and attitude. “Vince rolls onto set in the morning,” according to a NY Daily News source, “looking like he just came in from a night out. While Reese will arrive early looking camera-ready.” It was never going to be a match made in heaven, and Vaughn later backed out of promoting the film.
10. Anthony Hopkins and Shirley MacLaine
Lacklustre 1980 American dramedy “A Change of Seasons” directed by Richard Lang starred two of the greatest actors of all time, Anthony Hopkins and Shirley MacLaine. Segal and Ransohoff’s narrative is concerned primarily with the broken marriage of self-centered professor Adam and his wife, Karen, both of whom get involved in extra-marital hanky-panky. The film was nominated for three Razzie awards in 1981 (not something to be proud of).
While it was natural for some tension to exist between the two in the screenplay, little did audiences know there was more than a sprinkle of tension between them in real life. Considered by The Guardian in 2008 to be one of the “greatest living actors”, Hopkins was not exactly glowing with praise about his fellow actor. “She was the most obnoxious actress I have ever worked with,” he supposedly said of co-star MacLaine.
9. Marlon Brando and Rita Moreno
Rita Moreno co-starred with Marlon Brando in Hubert Cornfield’s 1968 film “The Night of the Following Day,” but the pair had already endured a troubled relationship. Having met him on the set of 1954 film “Désirée” at the age of 22, Moreno recalls in her memoir, “Just meeting him [Brando] that first day sent my body temperature skyrocketing as though I had been dropped into a very hot bath, and I went into a full-body blush. It was the sort of rush that inspires poetry and songs.”
Their 8-year relationship was marred by Brando’s uncontrollable sexual urges, constant affairs, temper, and controlling obsessions. As Moreno writes, “He broke my heart and came close to crushing my very spirit with his physical infidelities and, worse, with his emotional betrayals.”
8. William Baldwin and Sharon Stone
Quoted in 2000 as saying Sharon Stone is “the greatest American sex symbol since Marilyn Monroe,” screenwriter Joe Eszterhas wanted to write her a seething erotic thriller that could be tasted by audiences worldwide. To an extent, his plan came to fruition with the 1993 screenplay “Sliver” although its critical reception was anything but warm, and it quickly ran out of steam at the box office.
One of the criticisms of its failure to wow audiences, according to Rotten Tomatoes, was that “the actors were not on form.” The head of the nail could not have been better hit since according to Eszterhas, Stone’s dislike for her on-screen lover, William Baldwin, was so intense, she “bit his tongue during a screen kiss and would use mouthwash after kissing him.” Similarly, Stone herself was disliked by cast and crew alike. With all that going on, we can imagine those long days filming must have felt like they were crawling by.
7. Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz
Back in the 1950s, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz combined for the hit comedy show “I Love Lucy,” America’s most watched show at the time and winner of five Emmy Awards. The show centered on comedic castaway Lucy Ricardo (Lucille Ball) and her exasperated husband singer Ricky Ricardo (Desi Arnaz); the couple frequently found themselves in awkward situations but maintained a solid relationship. In 2012, it was voted “Best TV Show of All Time” in a survey conducted by ABC News and People Magazine.
However, filing for divorce in 1960, Ball claimed married life with Arnaz was “a nightmare” and “nothing at all as it appeared on I Love Lucy”. Apparently, the relational pressure caused by the intense production schedule of the show created huge issues for them both. What’s more, Arnaz was prone to fits of temper and aggression; he quotes of his failed marriage, “Lucy and I would love furiously and fight furiously.”
6. Aishwarya Rai and Abhishek Bachchan
Born in 1973, Indian actress and model Aishwarya Rai has gathered the reputation of being one of the most popular and influential celebrities in Indian film. Rai has received numerous awards and accolades, including the Padma Shri in 2009, which is the fourth-highest Indian civilian award for her contributions to the arts. In 2012, she was awarded the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, a national order of France, and in 2007, CBS coined her “The most beautiful woman in the world.”
Even someone as celebrated as Rai finds things difficult from time to time. According to a recent report by Hindi news agency Amar Ujala, Rai and her husband Abhishek Bachchan are often “fighting with each other,” and in 2011, Bollywood Backstage reported that the pair, while at a party, got into an argument and were “heard shouting at each other at the top of their voice.”
5. Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton
Famous for being the most famous couple in history, barring Romeo and Juliet, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor met on the opulent stage of the 1963 blockbuster Cleopatra. Playing Mark Antony and Cleopatra respectively, it was said of their first meeting that a “bond was forged between them” and that Taylor saw in Burton “power, strength, intellect, but also vulnerability.” Cleopatra later won four Academy Awards and was nominated for five more, including Best Picture.
Following on from this success, the pair went on to act together again and individually, yet all the while, their obsession for each other grew — sometimes destructively, but always buoyed by the knowledge, according to Taylor, that they “loved each other too much.” The pair were famously married and divorced twice and their celebrated passionate love affair was the talk of the world. The Vatican even dubbed the relationship an “erotic vagrancy.” Owned!
4. Shannen Doherty and Jason Lee
During the filming of Kevin Smith’s 1994 cult comedy “Mallrats,” Jason Lee (The Ballad of Jack and Rose, Behaving Badly), who plays opposite Shannen Doherty (Beverly Hills 90210) was not exactly enamored by his on-screen lover. Despite Lee having not acted in anything else and being a relative newbie compared to Doherty, he still voiced some grave concerns about the latter’s attitude on set.
Lee claims to have found Doherty rude, spoilt, and “remarkably unpleasant to work with,” according to the Mail Online. What’s more, he isn’t the first person to think it. Stemming from her time on hit show Beverly Hills, 90210, Doherty, according to Entertainment Daily, had “fallen out with the majority of her co-stars,” including Jennie Garth and Tori Spelling. Jason Priestley, who played her virtuous brother, Brandon Walsh, and one or two other cast members have since described Shannen as “difficult.” An understatement, we feel.
3. Ranbir Kapoor and Katrina Kaif
Last month, Times of India reported on the recent split between stars of Indian film Ranbir Kapoor and Katrina Kaif. The two have acted opposite each other in three Hindi films: “Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani” (2009), “Raajneeti” (2010), and “Bombay Talkies” (2013). Having been together since 2010, they split earlier this year with Kapoor citing the relationship as being, “punctured by lot of things. By baseless rumours, and reports and perceptions and point of views.”
While some reports highlight evidence of reconciliation, other sources remark that the pair has “been giving the other a cold shoulder,” including refusing to talk together on set. However, they are at least still acting together and have set out only recently to promote their new musical romantic drama “Jagga Jasoos” (written and directed by Anurag Basu). According to Times of India, the stars “have allegedly been asked to keep their personal differences aside and promote their film together,” which is sometimes easier said than done.
2. Marilyn Monroe and Tony Curtis
Billy Wilder’s hit comedy “Some Like it Hot” (1959) opened to positive reviews and is still thought of as one of the greatest film comedies of all time. It reappears, again and again, in listings of top comedy performances and writing and shows no sign of waning. Peter Bradshaw, writing for The Guardian in 2014, calls it “effortlessly fluent, joyous and buoyant: a high-concept comedy that stays as high as a kite, while other comedies flag.”
By the time it came to filming together, two of the top names – Marilyn Monroe and Tony Curtis – had apparently already been in love and fallen out of it ten years previously. Having both found fame and marriage since, the chemistry was still there with Curtis recalling, Monroe would “squeeze my hand and say, ‘Remember your promise [about marriage]?'” But things took a turn for the worse after their brief re-acquaintance on set brought unwanted negative publicity. From that moment, Monroe became intolerable as far as Curtis was concerned. “Her mind was all over the place,” he later recalls in his memoir, “The Making of Some Like It Hot.”
According to a report in The Daily Telegraph last year, Angelina Jolie filed for a divorce from Brad Pitt “for the health of the family.” Married since only 2014, it’s widely thought that the two met on the set of the Doug Liman-directed action comedy “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” back in 2005, as Pitt was going through divorce proceedings with Jennifer Aniston. Pitt and Jolie again starred opposite each other in the 2015 romantic drama “By the Sea.”
Earlier this year, The Mirror reported that 41-year-old Jolie cited “irreconcilable differences” and was “extremely upset” with the way Pitt had been parenting the kids. The paper went on to speculate about disagreements in parenting styles, the strains of working together, and Pitt’s love of adventure and wanderlust. Some US newspapers have gone as far as to suggest that a third party was involved, speculating that Brad’s friendship with his “Allied” co-star, Marion Cotillard, might have put a strain on things. At the very least, it probably didn’t help.