Hollywood isn’t as pretty as you think. Film sets are some of the most stressful places to work in the world. Everyone is on a tight schedule, and when the phrase “time is money” is shouted out of the mouth of a neurotic director, he really means it. Even a few wasted hours means thousands of dollars down the drain when it comes to producing a major film. Film sets are the testing grounds that separate the weak-willed from the strong, and many people’s careers have been ended in these situations, simply because they couldn’t handle it.
It isn’t hard to imagine how common it must be to see people fly off the chain on film sets. It can truly make people go insane when things aren’t going their way, when they’re months behind schedule, when they’ve got the studio breathing down their neck, and when they’ve got to babysit mischievous and egotistical actors. Sometimes, the pressure is simply too much. Sometimes, (much to the delight of the public), film sets can cause people to completely break down emotionally and mentally, becoming violent, miserable, and even suicidal. This is Hollywood baby, and it ain’t for the faint of heart.
We count down some of the wildest, funniest and most shocking meltdowns by some of the biggest names in the film industry. If you’re reading this and you come to the conclusion that these people sound like they belong in a mental asylum instead of a multi-million dollar movie set, you may be right. But keep in mind that it's often those wackos and crazies that make the coolest movies. Sometimes it takes an utterly insane person to be able to handle the insane world that is Hollywood.
10 I Heart Huckabees - Lily Tomlin vs David O. Russell
Director David O. Russell had a huge falling out with actress Lily Tomlin on the set of I Heart Huckabees, causing the public to paint him as a villain and an emotionally unstable man. The two have since gotten over it, but during this was a pretty hectic moment at the time. It all started off with Lily Tomlin complaining about being given too much direction by David O. Russell. Things quickly spiralled out of control, with David O. Russell screaming that he’s poured three years of his life into this project. Lily Tomlin fired back with shouting, and then things got really violent.
David O. Russell started flipping out completely, kicking parts of the set, and throwing papers around. All the while, he was screaming at Lily Tomlin, calling her a c**t, and a b**ch. The video surfaced on the internet, much to the delight of YouTube viewers everywhere. It has become a famous depiction of crazy directors such as David O. Russell. Since the video was leaked, the director’s reputation was tarnished a little bit. Later on down the road, David O. Russell calmed down and made movies that had more success than the ill-fated I Heart Huckabees. Lily Tomlin has also said that she bears no grudges with her director, and that she actually prefers to work with someone as emotionally charged as David O. Russell.
9 Any Given Sunday - LL Cool J vs Jamie Foxx
Remember that football movie that Oliver Stone directed called Any Given Sunday? Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of it - it was an utterly forgettable film. The most interesting drama that occurred in connection to this movie actually played out when the cameras weren’t even rolling. LL Cool J and Jamie Foxx, two titanic egos, are both famous for their obnoxious and arrogant behavior on set. When you put the two of them together, well that’s just a recipe for disaster.
Jamie Foxx and LL Cool J both played rivals from different football teams. During a particularly intense scene, LL Cool J got a little too into his character. The story goes that LL Cool J punched Jamie Foxx in the face during the scene of a football game. Jamie Foxx told LL Cool J that if he was going to punch him in the face, he would have to warn him first. During this heated exchange of words, Jamie Foxx and LL Cool J reportedly had a shoving match with each other. LL Cool J eventually agreed to warn him next time, and then allegedly elbowed Jamie Foxx in the back of the head as he was walking away. No one got seriously injured, and charges were not pressed by either party.
8 Fitzcarraldo - Werner Herzog vs Klaus Hinski
Sometimes people fight on set, but rarely do these arguments ever involve people actually trying to kill each other. But that’s exactly what happened during the filming of Fitzcarraldo, a German film directed by Werner Herzog. The director and the star actor of this film, Klaus Kinski, tried multiple times to kill each other. Not only this, but the film crew was attacked on more than one occasion by Amazonian tribes-people, and the film is famous for being one of the hardest movies to make in history.
On one occasion, Klaus Hinski was sleeping in a hut between takes when Warner Herzog crept up with the necessary tools to set fire to the hut. Luckily, Klaus’ dog ran out to attack Werner before he could reach the hut. On another occasion, Klaus threatened to walk off the set, so Warner Herzog pulled a gun on him. When Klaus still refused to stay, Werner turned the gun to his own head and threatened to kill himself unless Klaus stayed. But the most famous altercation between these two was captured on tape, where they had a huge argument that goes on for minutes. It's even funnier because they're speaking in German.
7 Apocalypse Now - Martin Sheen vs Himself
Apocalypse Now was another movie filmed in the jungle, and it was as equally ridden with all kinds of mishaps and utter mayhem. The people involved with the production of this film said it wasn’t a film about Vietnam, it was Vietnam. Although Martin Sheen was particularly emotionally unstable during the filming of this iconic movie, the whole crew and everyone involved went completely insane throughout their time deep in the jungles of Vietnam.
It should be stated that Martin Sheen wasn’t even the first choice for the lead role in Apocalypse Now. He was brought in relatively last minute, and he was in a bad state right from the get go. He was suffering immensely in his private life, fighting an alcohol addiction, and was struggling to perform as an actor. During one scene, which is the opening segment of Apocalypse Now, Sheen got completely drunk, and tried to shoot the scene. He started to get more and more frustrated, and then he completely lost it. He began to cry, and thrashing around wildly as he broke a nearby mirror, which left him with bloody wounds. He then sank to the ground, sobbing uncontrollably and bleeding heavily. The director never yelled cut, and the scene is part of the movie.
6 Three Kings - George Clooney vs David O Russell
Three Kings is an amazing movie starring George Clooney about the first Gulf War. It had a star-studded cast, including Ice Cube and Mark Wahlberg. Unfortunately, it was also directed by David O. Russell, who by this time was infamous for being completely unstable, and a pain in the ass to work with. This made the film extremely hard for everyone, as David O. Russell would take out his legendary anger on everyone in sight, from cameramen to script supervisors and even extras. But when he decided to take his anger out on George Clooney, he learned that some people fight back.
It all started during the shooting of an extremely complicated scene. There were three helicopters in the air, 300 extras, and to top it all off they were three weeks behind schedule. This meant that David O. Russell was even more enraged than usual. During this scene, three extras who were dressed as army guys were supposed to tackle Clooney, Wahlberg, and Ice Cube. One of the extras was a little timid about violently tackling a big name star like Clooney. The scene had to be re-shot. This drove David O. Russell over the edge. He approached this timid extra, and threw him to the ground and started kicking him, screaming at him the whole time. An AD stepped in to stop him, and David O. Russell started swearing at him. The AD threw off his headset and said, “I quit.” David O. Russell was about to go back to kicking the crap out of this extra when George Clooney stepped in to stop him. That’s when things got really crazy. David O. Russell started headbutting Clooney and calling him a pu**y. Then he grabbed Clooney by the throat. Clooney went nuts, almost choking David O. Russell to death, and people had to pull him off O. Russell by the waist. Since that movie, George Clooney has sworn never to work with O. Russell again.
5 Blue Collar - Richard Pryor vs Harvey Keitel vs Yaphet Kotto
Actors are famous for being incredibly egotistical, and you can’t blame them. Their whole profession revolves around being the centre of attention, and mesmerizing their audiences. But what happens when you have three of these massively egotistical actors, who all want to steal the show, all working on the same movie? This was the dilemma faced by director and famed screenwriter Paul Schrader during the filming of the movie Blue Collar. Thinking on his feet - he came up with a plan: convince Richard Pryor, Harvey Keitel and Yaphet Kotto that were each the star of the show. As you might have guessed, this didn’t end well…
It didn’t help that Richard Pryor was struggling with a cocaine addiction, and that Harvey Keitel was tired of playing sidekick type characters. Almost from the very beginning of filming, clashes between the stars started to break out. As soon as the director yelled cut, fights would erupt. It got to the point where none of them wanted to talk to each other. As the story goes, Richard Pryor emerged wielding a gun at one point. Waving it at director Paul Schrader, he screamed that he refused to do more than three takes per shot. Everyone involved seemed to think that this anger was caused by Pryor snorting too much cocaine.
4 Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle - Bill Murray vs Lucy Liu
Bill Murray is widely known as one of the finest actors on the scene right now. Although he is a supremely talented performer, it seems he is not without his fair share of controversy surrounding his actions on film sets. One of the most famous examples pertains to his comments made towards Lucy Liu on the set of Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle. For those of you who wondered why the character “Bosley” was suddenly replaced by Bernie Mac, this may shed some light on the issue.
It was a simple scene - Bill Murray, playing “Bosley,” is sitting at his desk with the three “Angels” Standing before him. These actresses were Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, and of course Liu. Bill Murray, a self-proclaimed (and probably justified in saying so) acting expert, decided to let the actresses in front of him know what he thought of their acting. He pointed at Cameron Diaz and said, “You’ve got talent.” He pointed at Drew Barrymore and said “I get why you’re here.” Finally, he pointed at Lucy Liu and said, “But what in the hell are you doing here? You can’t act.” This provoked a fiery rage in the actress, who immediately became violent, punching Bill Murray in the face repeatedly, before being dragged away by the film crew. As a result of this incident, Lucy Liu refused to be a part of the film unless Bill Murray was replaced.
3 Ridiculous Six - Adam Sandler vs Native Americans
Ridiculous 6 was a movie that was fairly well received by audiences. Adam Sandler has developed a formula for comedies that ensures success both critically and financially. Because of his long history of making successful comedies, it doesn’t even matter if the films are good - people will watch them no matter what. But due to his actions and comments on the set of Ridiculous 6, Sandler might have trouble getting one group in particular to watch any of his future films.
A large group of Native Americans were working one particular day, when Adam Sandler crossed the line. The film involved numerous insults towards Native American culture. There were scenes that involved a Native American woman squatting and urinating while smoking a peace pipe. Other insults included Native American women with characters called “Beaver Breath,” and “No Bra.” It was largely due to these insults towards Native American women that 12 Native American actors walked off the set in protest. This is even more stunning when you consider that there were apparently consultants on set whose job it was to make sure that Native American culture was portrayed in a tasteful and respectful way. Sounds like these “consultants” fell asleep at the wheel.
2 Terminator: Salvation - Christian Bale vs Shane Hurlbut
Christian Bale’s rant at Shane Hurlbut on the set of Terminator: Salvation is probably one of the most famous on-set meltdowns of all time. Hell, the YouTube video of this angry tirade probably got more views that Terminator: Salvation itself. But what exactly happened to make Bale so damn angry? Was he justified in unloading on Shane Hurlbut in this way? It’s tough to really understand the amount of pressure actors must be under from an outside perspective. We only see the finished products, so we’re unaware of the fact that the workplace of the film set is just as stressful as any other working environment, if not more.
It all happened when Christian Bale was trying to do a scene. We’re all aware of the stories about these method actors who get seriously into their roles, so you can understand the frustration Christian Bale must have felt when Shane Hurlbut walked through his scene while he was right in the middle of a take. Christian Bale was furious. Things settled down, and Christian Bale tried to do the scene a second time. Then Shane walked through the set again. That’s when Bale completely lost it. He shouts at Shane Hurlbut for what seems like hours - calling him unprofessional, and vowing never to work with him again. Allegedly, Shane was just trying to “fix a light.” Maybe you should have waited five minutes until the scene was over, Shane.
1 Reservoir Dogs - Quentin Tarantino vs Lawrence Tierney
Reservoir Dogs was director Quentin Tarantino’s first big venture into film-making, and boy was it a success. He had to plead and convince actors to be a part of his film. He had to beg, borrow and steal the money he needed to make the movie. And at the end of the day, there were a lot of huge issues he had during the filming process. Still, it ended up being a real masterpiece of filmmaking. One thing that almost destroyed the movie though, was the behavior of an actor called Lawrence Tierney, who played crime boss Joe Cabot in the film.
Apparently Lawrence Tierney was a nightmare to work with. He would repeatedly come up to Quentin Tarantino and tell him he was doing things wrong, that he should be doing things this way and not that way, etc. Quentin Tarantino was already under huge pressure while making his first big film, and really didn’t need this constant criticism. It ended horribly, with the director and this crazed actor getting in a fist fight. Tarantino later fired Tierney, who not long after was arrested for firing a shotgun at his own nephew.