Given that making a movie involves collaboration between numerous people with huge egos, it doesn’t come as much of a surprise when reports surface detailing various behind-the-scenes disputes. As much as movies themselves are often magical experiences, telling stories that take us to other worlds, the process of actually crafting that magic is often anything but. The following 10 films are all prime examples of turbulent productions, with outrageous behind-the-scenes disputes that have become something of Hollywood legends themselves.
10. Hollywood Homicide (2003)
It’s been known for quite awhile that Harrison Ford can be a bit of a grump and difficult to work with. One of the most prominent examples of this behavior comes from the forgetable 2003 police drama Hollywood Homicide, which starred Harrison Ford as a suitably bitter older detective paired with a younger partner, played by Josh Hartnett. Reportedly, Ford would refer to Hartnett as a “punk”, while Hartnett would dish back by calling Ford an ‘old fart.” At least the pair were able to make nice by the time produciton was set to wrap, as Hartnett stated that they “ended up getting along near the end.”
9. Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983)
Although it’s easily the weakest film in the original Star Wars trilogy, 1983’s Return of the Jedi is still a classic of the genre. It’s a flawed film to be sure and a lot of that can be attributed to its troubled production. For one, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone familiar with the film that the majority of the cast and crew hated the ewoks, the walking teddy bears that take up way too much screen-time. George Lucas insisted on their inclusion, which led to open disdain from much of the crew. The film also had an inexperienced director in Richard Marquand, who reportedly had a poor relationship with the cast (which might have had something to do with the fact that he was the 4th choice to direct: directing legends Steven Spielberg, David Cronenberg, and David Lynch were Lucas’s first choices before Marquand came on board). No wonder Harrison Ford wanted Han Solo to be killed off in this movie.
8. Dazed and Confused (1993)
Richard Linklater’s classic stoner film plays out as a mellow ride, but there was a surprising level of animosity behind-the-scenes. Jason London, who played charismatic quarterback Randall “Pink” Floyd and Shawn Andrews, who played pot dealer Pickford, reportedly didn’t like each other, with Linklater having to break up a fight between them at one point. This led to a dramatic decrease in scenes between the two actors, which had the added bonus of giving Matthew McConaughey more screen time, as Andrews was meant to appear in the memorable football field scene.
7. Blade: Trinity (2004)
Considering how grueling it was to make, it’s not hard to see why there hasn’t been a new entry in the Blade franchise since 2004’s Blade: Trinity. According to co-stars Patton Oswalt and Ryan Reynolds, there was a major on-set breakdown in relations between writer/director David S. Goyer and star Wesley Snipes. Things got so laughably ridiculous that Snipes seemingly went crazy, refusing to leave his trailer extended periods of time and only responding to being called “Blade.” It even got to the point where he would only communicate by Post-It notes, signing each one with “From Blade.” Maybe Snipes went a little too-far in acting like an obstinate 6-year-old, but perhaps he already knew that the finished product would be awful, regardless of his participation level.
6. Blade Runner (1982)
Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner is considered by many to be one of the greatest science-fiction films ever made, but as seems to be the case with many classics in the genre, the film’s production was a tumultuous affair. For starters, Scott, a British director, came to blows with the film’s American production crew due to differences in filmmaking practices, which led to an incident dubbed “The T-Shirt War” between Scott and his disgruntled crew (both parties made t-shirts with passive aggressive phrases printed on them). In addition, star Harrison Ford didn’t get along with Scott and has generally been resentful towards the film in interviews, particularly the narration he was forced to record for the theatrical cut, which he has referred to as being written by “clowns.”
5. Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)
Considering how essential his character Spock was to Star Trek, it’s incredible to think that Leonard Nimoy almost didn’t appear in the first feature film in the franchise, 1979’s Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Nimoy was reluctant to reprise his iconic character due to his dislike of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, who he felt had mistreated him while they worked together on the original TV series. He was also in the middle of a lawsuit with franchise producer Paramount over royalty and merchandising issues. Luckily for Trekkies everywhere, Nimoy was eventually convinced to join the project (thanks in large part to a hefty settlement) and the rest is history.
4. Casino Royale (1967)
The first Casino Royale, which was a comedic spoof of the popular James Bond films, starred legendary actors Peter Sellers as Bond impersonator Evelyn Tremble and Orson Welles as villain Le Chiffre. Although Sellers initially recommended Welles for the role, the two actors came to despise one another over the course of filming. The turning point came when Princess Margaret visited the set to allegedly see Sellers, but wound up walking past him to say hello to Welles instead. This upset Sellers to the point where he refused to do any more scenes with Welles and was later fired before he could finish his work on the film. While most of the onus for this feud was on Sellers, Welles reportedly despised another Casino Royale co-star, Woody Allen, because of the actor’s “arrogance.”
Steven Spielberg’s breakthrough hit and one of the earliest summer blockbusters was a notoriously difficult film to make, with everything from unfinished screenplays to malfunctioning mechanical sharks, but one of the biggest production problems had nothing to do with technical issues. Robert Shaw and Richard Dreyfuss, two of the film’s lead actors, came to blows on-set during production. Reportedly, Shaw would frequently berate the much younger Dreyfuss for being “fat and sloppy”, while Dreyfuss would goad Shaw while the latter was drunk — which, according to Dreyfuss, was often. As bad as this quarrel was, Spielberg actually credits it for helping the actors’ on-screen performances, as their characters were also antagonistic towards one another.
2. Three Kings
Although he is an academy award winning director who has made numerous Oscar-nominated films, David O. Russell doesn’t sound like a very fun person to work with. In the 1999 action-comedy Three Kings, Russell came to literal blows with star George Clooney after Clooney criticized Russel for mistreating an extra on-set. Of the incident, Clooney later said that while he respected Russell and his work, he would never work with him again.
1. I Heart Huckabees
David O. Russell strikes again. In 2007, videos surfaced online that showed intense verbal arguments between Russell and actress Lily Tomlin on the set of the quirky 2004 comedy I Heart Huckabees, with Russell calling Tomlin several obscene names whilst angrily knocking over equipment (Russell’s tantrum is on par with Christian Bale’s infamous meltdown on the set of Terminator Salvation). Tomlin, for her part, was a consummate professional about the incident, brushing it off as just adults having a fight.