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Difficult actors

post #1 of 417
Thread Starter 

I've been thinking about Edward Norton for the past few days and his reputation as a very talented, but incredibly difficult actor.  I know Fincher clashed with him a bit (or maybe more than a bit) on Fight Club.  There is the infamous American History X incident where he took the film away from Tony Kaye I believe?  He told F Gary Gray to go fuck himself every day he shooting The Italian Job because apparently the studio forced him to do it, as he owed them a movie or something.  But is that Gray's fault?  And then Marvel dumped him from any Hulk sequels (including Avengers).  Norton seems to be like Bruce Willis in which he tries to shadow direct movies.  There's a quote from him:

 

Quote:

"I'm incapable of engaging as an actor on something without engaging as a dramatist. And when you work with great people, they not only accept it, they welcome it. But when you work with insecure people, it's a problem."

 

Now you could read this a number of ways.  Does Norton believe a director to be insecure for simply wanting the film his way?  Which is the job of a director in the first place?  Norton seems to be a package deal...you get him, you get his eagerness to try and rewrite the script, dictate some directorial and editorial choices.  I wonder why Norton doesn't write and direct his own films more, since he seems so interesting in it.

 

I know he turned down Saving Private Ryan...did he want to rewrite the script and Spielberg told him to go fuck himself?  I wouldn't doubt it.

 

Anyway, any other stories of difficult actors?

post #2 of 417

Wes Anderson must be the most Zen director out there now.  MOONRISE has not only Norton AND Willis but Bill Murray who also used to have a pretty difficult rep.  

post #3 of 417
Thread Starter 

I thought Wes and Murray got along well?  They already did two movies together.  If he was difficult I doubt he'd bring him back.  Now Willis and Norton on the same set?...  Yikes.  But I suppose it depends on the level of respect they have for the director.

post #4 of 417

This is probably why Norton hasn't been in much lately aside from an admittedly funny cameo in a recent film (title redacted to preserve surprise).

 

Willis, who you also mention, is apparently a major pain in the balls if you believe Kevin Smith, though that might have more to do with Willis realizing he'd committed to a piece-of-shit script directed by a fellow Jersey boy he'd enjoyed hanging out with on Live Free or Die Hard but didn't respect as a director. Willis has recently said nice things about Wes Anderson and Rian Johnson, so it could be that he does respect real directors with something valid to say. Sometimes a big-dog movie star needs to be shown that the director is the alpha dog, deserves to be the alpha dog, and knows what he or she is doing. Sometimes that's what they desperately want, to be directed by someone who seems not only artistic but competent. Stars like that can be thought of along the same line as bullies: If you stand up to them, it may or may not work but at least they won't have contempt for you as a pushover.

 

According to Josh Brolin, who's worked with him three times and studied him closely enough to play his younger counterpart, Tommy Lee Jones is a terror on the set. Brolin laughs about it, because he's used to TLJ's particular brand of cowboy grouchiness, but Jones is apparently as prickly while working as he most always is in interviews (and, man, does he come off like a dick in interviews).

post #5 of 417

Difficult as Edward Norton likely is, the films that he supposedly meddled with are often much better than they probably would've been otherwise. The Incredible Hulk is great (or at least much better than it has any right being), American History X is great, Fight Club & 25th Hour are classics, The Score is pretty good, The Illusionist and The Painted Veil are pretty great.

 

The guy's had a helluva run. If his meddling has made any of these films better, then more power to him.


Edited by Art Decade - 5/22/12 at 10:49am
post #6 of 417

IIRC, just about everything that works about Incredible Hulk--Banner's time in South America, and all the methods he uses to keep tabs on his anger through that movie--are based on his draft, and Zak Penn, apparently, is the one who was hired to scale back the minutiae of his script to set up the Abomination fight more.

post #7 of 417
Quote:
Originally Posted by Justin Clark View Post

IIRC, just about everything that works about Incredible Hulk--Banner's time in South America, and all the methods he uses to keep tabs on his anger through that movie--are based on his draft, and Zak Penn, apparently, is the one who was hired to scale back the minutiae of his script to set up the Abomination fight more.

 

Exactly. It was THOSE moments that endeared Banner & his plight to me and continues to fuel my affection for the film as a whole.

post #8 of 417
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ambler View Post

He told F Gary Gray to go fuck himself every day he shooting The Italian Job because apparently the studio forced him to do it, as he owed them a movie or something.  But is that Gray's fault?  

 

Yes, because Gray had the option of not using him.

post #9 of 417

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ambler View Post

I thought Wes and Murray got along well?  They already did two movies together.  

 

They've worked together on all of Wes' films except his first Bottle Rocket. 6 movies. Clearly they get along.

 

 

 

Quote:
On film sets Murray's dedication to an inner code of ethics--and his demand that others follow it--has earned him a reputation for being difficult. (During the making of Charlie's Angels, he and Lucy Liu engaged in a feud over creative differences, reportedly causing production to shut down for a day.) For someone who has built his life around the idea of team play and who continually mocks all pretense to self-importance, difficult is a word that cuts deep. "If it keeps obnoxious people away, that's fine," he says defensively. "It makes me think of that line--you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. People say this to you with a straight face, and I always say, 'Who. Wants. Flies?'" A moment passes, and Murray changes his tone. "Oh, difficult. You know, difficult. Well, I have this avenging-angel side, and it is not always a good thing."

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1013228,00.html#ixzz1vckBeBop

 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Martin Blank View Post

According to Josh Brolin, who's worked with him three times and studied him closely enough to play his younger counterpart, Tommy Lee Jones is a terror on the set. Brolin laughs about it, because he's used to TLJ's particular brand of cowboy grouchiness, but Jones is apparently as prickly while working as he most always is in interviews (and, man, does he come off like a dick in interviews).

 
I remember when Batman Forever was being released, Tommy Lee Jones was very jealous of Jim Carrey stealing the movie and called him a few names on set.
post #10 of 417

Val Kilmer was jealous of Carrey as well and Schumacher hated Jones and Kilmer both. Lovely set to be on, I'm sure. 

 

Some of John Landis' recollections about Eddie Murphy are hysterical, especially how almost everyone on Coming to America basically hated him. Really, even in interviews with people from Beverly Hills Cop, you can tell that Murphy was a pretty distant guy. 

 

Seeing Coppola and Oldman interact on the special features section of Bram Stoker's Dracula is very interesting. Frankly, you see Coppola acting like more of an asshole towards Oldman than the other way around. The way he repeatedly blows off Oldman when the actor is politely asking for a mark to help him get through a scene is pretty callous, and the building frustration in Oldman's voice and body language before he storms off is really apparent.

post #11 of 417

The mention of Kilmer brings up an interesting contrast. Norton is "difficult", but his difficulty, for the most part, stems from his passion for the work. Kilmer seems just plain wackadoo. I guess that's why people still want to cast Norton in films and Kilmer is performing his one-man show about Mark Twain in a graveyard.

post #12 of 417

Yeah, Val Kilmer was notorious for being a difficult actor in the 90's. Then again he got along great with Michael Mann and Ron Howard.

 

 

Quote:

"There are two things I will never do in my life. I will never climb Mount Everest, and I will never work with Val Kilmer again. There isn't enough money in the world . . . I don't like Val Kilmer, I don't like his work ethic, and I don't ever want to be associated with him again . . . Will Rogers never met Val Kilmer."---John Frankenheimer

 

 

 

 

Quote:

"Val is the most psychologically troubled human being I've ever worked with. The tools I used to work with him--tools of communication, of patience and understanding--were the tools I use on my five-year-old godson. Val is not just high-strung. I think he needs help. I say this to you only because I have said it to him." --Joel Schumacher

 

Some more from Bill Murray

 

 

 

Quote:

Murray, who grew up in a blue-collar family, suggests that his outbursts are generally spurred by a still fiery sense of class resentment and empathy for the underdog. On the set of his new film for Jarmusch, Murray got into a fracas with the location manager when he arrived at a rented house for a scene with child actors and discovered that there was no heat. When he started a fire in the fireplace, the location manager told him to stop. "'Who are you?'" Murray says, whispering, as he recalls the story, in the same intimidating hush he used at the time. "She said, 'I'm locations.' I said, 'Well, if locations had done their job and made sure it was warm enough for these people, we wouldn't be lighting a fire in the fireplace.'" But at the wrap party, Murray approached the woman again. "I said, 'You know, we had our moment, and I don't apologize for that for a second.'" But she had excelled at other aspects of her job, and Murray told her so. "I wanted to let her know I could see it both ways."

 

"He's not malicious," says Harold Ramis, who directed Murray in Caddyshack and Groundhog Day. "He's just a ronin or a samurai in his commitment to no existing authority. I don't know what the standard is he's upholding, but when someone is acting outside of it, he will do whatever he feels is necessary to bring them into line." Ramis continues, "But it's also very hard being the kind of star he is. Few scripts are perfect, and every movie Bill's been in, he's put on his shoulders and made infinitely better. That's an incredible burden on his creativity and leadership, but he's so suspicious and his standards are so high that he allows very few people to help carry the weight."

Ramis counts himself among the excluded. Despite also working as co-stars in Stripes and both Ghostbusters movies, the two haven't spoken in 12 years. Ramis claims he no longer recalls what precipitated the silence, and Murray says only, "We had a falling out." Nevertheless, Ramis requests, "If you could please attach the words 'he said affectionately' to every quote of mine, I'd really appreciate it because I had and have great affection for Bill. It goes unexpressed and unconsummated at this point, but I'd love to do something with him again."

 

post #13 of 417

I think Kilmer was generally pretty good when he's working with a take-no-shit guy like Michael Mann, but Hollywood isn't filled with Michael Manns, and it appears most of those non-Michael Manns off.

post #14 of 417

An interesting article on Kilmer from 2004:

 

 

 

Quote:

At the end of Kilmer's last scene in [Island of Dr. Moreau], [John Frankenheimer] is reported to have said, 'Cut! Now get that bastard off my set!'

And this is nothing new: Kilmer walked off the set of his first job because he could not get into his character's motivation.

The job was a television advertisement for hamburgers. Kilmer was 12. He told the director he couldn't pretend to like the hamburgers he was advertising.

post #15 of 417
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ambler View Post

I know he turned down Saving Private Ryan...did he want to rewrite the script and Spielberg told him to go fuck himself?  I wouldn't doubt it.

 

 

IIRC, Norton's mother was in the process of succumbing to cancer while both Private Ryan and the Thin Red Line (he turned that one down, too) were being shot; if you remember, there was about a  year and a half gap between his projects in 97/98.

post #16 of 417
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mangy View Post

An interesting article on Kilmer from 2004:

 

At the end of Kilmer's last scene in [Island of Dr. Moreau], [John Frankenheimer] is reported to have said, 'Cut! Now get that bastard off my set!'

And this is nothing new: Kilmer walked off the set of his first job because he could not get into his character's motivation.

The job was a television advertisement for hamburgers. Kilmer was 12. He told the director he couldn't pretend to like the hamburgers he was advertising.

 

 

val-kilmer-fat.jpg

He certainly learned to.

post #17 of 417
I came in here to mention Tommy Lee Jones. Best story i heard? People liked him on the set of COBB because he was nicer in character than in real life.
post #18 of 417

It's not a surprise, really. Some guys are good at what they do, but they treat moviemaking as a happy fun time of sorts. And others are deadly serious because they know it's a job, one that pays the bills. And then there are people who are just bad at what they do.

 

On the flipside, I hear this is one of the reasons Nicolas Cage still gets tons of offers. He's eccentric and weird, but he comes to every set prepared and professional, on time and ready to help the other actors. But somehow, he's also able to have a good time.

 

I've heard infamous stories about Tom Cruise and his Scientology tents. I understand he's also super professional and well-prepared, but if I were a filmmaker, I would not want such a stupid distraction anywhere near my set.

post #19 of 417

I remember Spielberg being asked about that during War of the Worlds. He didn't even know they were for Scientology, thats how inobtrusive they were.

post #20 of 417
Quote:
Originally Posted by Judas Booth View Post

I came in here to mention Tommy Lee Jones. Best story i heard? People liked him on the set of COBB because he was nicer in character than in real life.

 

That's amazing! 

 

Just watching the interviews that Tommy Lee Jones is doing for MIB3 are so awkwardly hilarious how much he hates interviewers. 

 

This one is probably one of the better ones. 

 

post #21 of 417

No idea if this is true or not. But story I always heard was the Murray/Ramis fallout dealt with Groundhog Day. Murray wanted it to be a drama and Ramis (rightfully) thought otherwise.

post #22 of 417

Alex Pettyfer.

 

I remember hearing stories about him being difficult on the set of I Am Number Four.

 

In the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly there's a photo spread and interview with the cast of Magic Mike:  Tatum, Matt Bomer, McConaughey and Joe Manganiello. Apparently he's only mentioned once -- in the preface of the article, and none of the actor's mention him.

post #23 of 417

Yeah, I thought that was really weird in that EW article. He's the LEAD, and he's completely ignored in that article.

post #24 of 417

Guy's got a tattoo above his crotch that says "Thank you." I'm sure he's a real charmer.

post #25 of 417

Who?

post #26 of 417

Harold Ramis.

post #27 of 417

Sorry, meant Pettyfer.

Also, Harold Ramis.

post #28 of 417

As Kilmer has been mentioned, I thought I'd bring up this little story. I used to live near to where they filmed part of The Saint and an old friend of mine worked on the movie behind the scenes. He told me that nobody was allowed to look at Kilmer when he wasn't filming, and that it was written into all of their contracts that they were to avert their eyes in his presence.

post #29 of 417
Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Shaver View Post

Alex Pettyfer.

 

I remember hearing stories about him being difficult on the set of I Am Number Four.

 

At least with Val Kilmer he had Top Gun, Tombstone, Heat and Batman Forever to be an asshole. What the fuck does Pettyfer have where a studio gives a shit about any of his "demands".

post #30 of 417

Ever since seeing pictures of Bale laughing and joking on the set of TDKR and hearing about his uncharacteristically chipper mood in interviews and so on, I immediately jumped to single conclusion...

 

Best-Supporting-Actor-Christian-Bale.jpg

post #31 of 417

Yeah whoever reps Bale deserves a big raise for that turn-around.

post #32 of 417
Quote:
Originally Posted by FilmNerdJamie View Post

Yeah whoever reps Bale deserves a big raise for that turn-around.

 

Are there any bad Bale on-set stories before Terminator: Salvation?  Because I don't remember any.  It just could be the McG ran a slipshod set.  

post #33 of 417

I know there was some stuff floating around the gossip rags about Bale getting into actual fistfights with his mother and sister. Don't know how much credence I put onto those, but there you are.

 

Those Terminator set blow ups I always felt got made a bigger deal out of them than it deserved to. He lost his shit, and perhaps it was due to a multitude of factors that were building over the entire production until the proverbial straw broke the camels' back. I've never held that incident against him, because I've seen really good people really lose their temper on a set in way worse ways for way sillier reasons.

post #34 of 417

Mostly just snippets and snickerings from his arthouse / UK days like on Metroland and such, where he was known to be prone to hissy-fits and whatnot. Also, though nothing specific has come to light that I know of, the crew of Public Enemies didn't much care for him, nor did Johnny Depp.

 

 


Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Clark View Post

I know there was some stuff floating around the gossip rags about Bale getting into actual fistfights with his mother and sister. Don't know how much credence I put onto those, but there you are.

 

 

I don't think he laid his hands on anyone, verbal assault is categorized as assault in England. Bale lost it on the TS set, but McG just stood there and let him go at it, even after Bale essentially gave him the opportunity jump in and stop it ("I didn't see it!").

post #35 of 417
Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Clark View Post

I know there was some stuff floating around the gossip rags about Bale getting into actual fistfights with his mother and sister. Don't know how much credence I put onto those, but there you are.

This was a yelling match, and his mother and sister were mostly the instigators. Regardless, just family members jawing at each other.

 

Bale seems like one of those 9-5 guys who won't suffer fools. Working with McG seems tremendously out-of-character.

post #36 of 417
Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Clark View Post

I know there was some stuff floating around the gossip rags about Bale getting into actual fistfights with his mother and sister. Don't know how much credence I put onto those, but there you are.

 

Those Terminator set blow ups I always felt got made a bigger deal out of them than it deserved to. He lost his shit, and perhaps it was due to a multitude of factors that were building over the entire production until the proverbial straw broke the camels' back. I've never held that incident against him, because I've seen really good people really lose their temper on a set in way worse ways for way sillier reasons.

 

Yeah the infamous Terminator blowout happened like...days after his arrest in London, of which was a result of his step-mother and sister claiming he assaulted them and it turned out they were trying to scam money from him. Dude's nerves were shot and this set him off.

 

Audio of it leaked way, waaaaay after (When incident was a distant memory) and people chose to forget the circumstances of where he was coming from. Clearly someone wanted to fuck Bale over putting it out then. Not excusing his for harassing the poor guy. But we've all seen friends, family, etc. set off by something minute (Read: stupid) when its really all about something else bothering them.

post #37 of 417

Wrong Gender. But was Linda Fiorentino that difficult an actress to work with? I assume that was why she got blacklisted.

post #38 of 417
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gabe T View Post

On the flipside, I hear this is one of the reasons Nicolas Cage still gets tons of offers. He's eccentric and weird, but he comes to every set prepared and professional, on time and ready to help the other actors. But somehow, he's also able to have a good time.

 

This is what I like about the guy, and why I'll see him in almost anything. I've never seen him just walk through a role (of course, I haven't seen Season of the Witch); he just seems so psyched to get to play, and that sense of play is what I respond to. And his sometimes bordering-on-weird preparation (dressed up as some voodoo god on the set of Ghost Rider 2, or whatever he did, I don't feel like looking it up, you know what I mean) feels to me like a geeky kid prepping a REALLY FUCKIN' AWESOME DUNGEON for a D&D game.

 

Yeah, I'll go with that: Nicolas Cage wants to give you REALLY FUCKIN' AWESOME DUNGEONS, DOOOOD. Of course, he all too often tries to do that within shitty movies.

post #39 of 417

MIB 3 thread reminded me:

Linda Fiorentino

 

What's the story there? Anybody know? I feel like there was a reputation following her around while she was in her prime but never heard specifics.

 

EDIT: whoops - looks like a few of us got the same reminder.

 

Yeah, it wasn't the Smith thing that got me thinking - more that she disappeared from MiB2 after being announced and that acted as the initial tip-off that something was a bit off. It's weird seeing her in stuff like After Hours. She was around for a long time before Last Seduction "launched" her.


Edited by Nardo - 5/22/12 at 4:05pm
post #40 of 417
Quote:
Originally Posted by felix View Post

Wrong Gender. But was Linda Fiorentino that difficult an actress to work with? I assume that was why she got blacklisted.

 

I typed "Linda Fiorentino" into Google and the autocomplete offered "difficult."

 

I'm not even kidding. Try it.

 

She was awesome, though. Last Seduction makes up for a whole lot of gaffers she didn't talk to on the set or whatever.

 

Her rep probably started with Kevin Smith (him again), who reportedly didn't warm to her on Dogma.

post #41 of 417
Quote:
Originally Posted by Martin Blank View Post

 

This is what I like about the guy, and why I'll see him in almost anything. I've never seen him just walk through a role (of course, I haven't seen Season of the Witch); he just seems so psyched to get to play, and that sense of play is what I respond to. And his sometimes bordering-on-weird preparation (dressed up as some voodoo god on the set of Ghost Rider 2, or whatever he did, I don't feel like looking it up, you know what I mean) feels to me like a geeky kid prepping a REALLY FUCKIN' AWESOME DUNGEON for a D&D game.

 

Yeah, I'll go with that: Nicolas Cage wants to give you REALLY FUCKIN' AWESOME DUNGEONS, DOOOOD. Of course, he all too often tries to do that within shitty movies.

I dunno, he's really walked through more than a few films. Professionally, but still. Season of the Witch is a good example - sometimes he just seems tired.

 

Not that I blame him. In his dullest movies, the Nicolas Cage backstory takes over. He owed million in back taxes, a preposterous amount. The IRS told him he could make up the difference if he sold all his dinosaur skulls, castles, and related excess. Instead, he looked at the potential of spending years making five movies at a time and said, 

kickass-pm-4.jpg

 

"Ahm gonna outrun the IRS."

post #42 of 417

Kevin Smith: The biggest pain in the arse I ever worked with... Linda Fiorentino. When we were making Dogma, the cast was working in a favoured nations type of affair where everyone was getting paid the same - scale, which is the minimum wage for the movie business. 

And we were all trapped out in Pittsburgh shooting this movie, which is the middle of nowhere, so whenever people had a few days off they would ask if they could go to New York, or back to Los Angeles, or elsewhere. I always said "sure", because why would I want to make anybody sit in Pittsburgh if they've got something else to do? 

 

Linda, on the other hand, had to work every day on the movie because she was in every scene, so she really never got to leave and she got irritated when cast members would go elsewhere. She got really angry about that and asked me to do something about it. And I said, "What am I supposed to do? I mean, they want to go away and they're not working, so that's fine." And one day she stopped talking to me for a whole day, because she was so irritated by the fact that other people got to leave the set. That was kind of weird. The weirdest experience I had making a movie.

 

 

post #43 of 417
Quote:
Originally Posted by Martin Blank View Post

 

This is what I like about the guy, and why I'll see him in almost anything. I've never seen him just walk through a role (of course, I haven't seen Season of the Witch); he just seems so psyched to get to play, and that sense of play is what I respond to. And his sometimes bordering-on-weird preparation (dressed up as some voodoo god on the set of Ghost Rider 2, or whatever he did, I don't feel like looking it up, you know what I mean) feels to me like a geeky kid prepping a REALLY FUCKIN' AWESOME DUNGEON for a D&D game.

 

Yeah, I'll go with that: Nicolas Cage wants to give you REALLY FUCKIN' AWESOME DUNGEONS, DOOOOD. Of course, he all too often tries to do that within shitty movies.

 

Then you'll get a blast when he does this.

 

350x510px-LL-359f9d51_marblepostersm.jpeg

post #44 of 417

Fiorentino is a straight case of being unpleasant to work with. Can't remember specifics, but that movie she did with Paul Newman got bad press surrounding her being difficult to work with. And, hell, if you can't get along with Paul Newman? Outta here.

post #45 of 417
Quote:
Originally Posted by User_32 View Post

 

That's amazing! 

 

Just watching the interviews that Tommy Lee Jones is doing for MIB3 are so awkwardly hilarious how much he hates interviewers. 

 

This one is probably one of the better ones. 

 

 

Haha.  That dude used to be a local DJ in Sacramento, and would host anti-drug assemblies at my high school.  Being booed and heckled every year by belligerent teenagers while he tried desperately to maintain a positive attitude was probably good training for interviewing Tommy Lee Jones.

post #46 of 417

Doesn't this thread begin and end with these two words: Chevy Chase.

post #47 of 417
Quote:
Originally Posted by FilmNerdJamie View Post

Doesn't this thread begin and end with these two words: Klaus Kinski.

 

Fixed.

post #48 of 417

*Tips fedora*

post #49 of 417
Quote:

I typed "Linda Fiorentino" into Google and the autocomplete offered "difficult."

 

I'm not even kidding. Try it.

Ha, I came here to post the very same thing.

 

Looking at her IMDB, she did a couple of movies the year after Dogma, then nothing until 2009, and nothing since.

post #50 of 417

Kinski wasn't really a difficult actor.  He was more like a talented psycho.

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