Some of the best and brightest minds can also be some of the most eccentric. The following four brilliant Hollywood directors are no exception to that statement. While each of them have earned their fair share of critical acclaim and praise, these talented directors also have some famous quirks.
Here are just a few peculiar habits and fascinations of some the men who worked tirelessly behind the camera on a few of my favorite films.
1. Alfred Hitchcock's love of leading ladies
Even after his death in 1980, Alfred Hitchcock's works are still held in an extremely high regards. As a man who made a career on creating psychological thrillers such as Vertigo, Rear Window, Psycho, and The Birds, it's no surprise that his life and personal relationships weren't exactly "normal."
According to one of his Tippi Hedren (The Birds, Marnie), not only was she the object of his unrequited affection, he also made her time working together feel like a "mental prison." In 2012 she recounted working on The Birds where she was promised that they would use mechanical birds only to find after arrival that they were real.
When I got to the set I found out there had never been any intention to use mechanical birds because a cage had been built around the door where I was supposed to come in, and there were boxes of ravens, gulls and pigeons that bird trainers wearing gauntlets up to their shoulders hurled at me, one after the other, for a week.
While Tippi Hedren's career was essentially build off of her extraordinary work with Hitchcock, it doesn't justify his actions towards her or any of the actors who worked with him. Fantastic director, but questionable behavior.
2. Frank Capra's Mussolini obsession
In the 1930s Frank Capra was one of the most influential filmmakers in Hollywood. Today he's probably best known for the Christmas staple It's a Wonderful Life. He also directed It Happened One Night which swept the Oscars that year as the first movie to win all five top Oscars, as well as You Can't Take It With You and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.
Along with the many accolades to his credit comes a list of contradicting life choices. As just one example, he was famously against unions, but president of the Screen Directors Guild. One of the most interesting things about the director though is his alleged fascination with the fascist Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.
According to Joseph McBride's book Frank Capra: The Catastrophe of Success the director was such a fan of Mussolini's that "he had a picture of Mussolini on his bedroom wall - a big oil painting," and that "he adored him." Definitely an interesting choice of bedroom decor.
3. Quentin Tarantino's famously short temper
Quentin Tarantino is, without a doubt, one of my favorite active directors. His movies are exceptionally well made and well written, and are always worth watching. That being said, he's known for not being the nicest guy in town.
While there are numerous examples of Tarantino throwing tantrums and getting caught in controversies, one of the most famous was at the 1997 Oscars where he spit at MTV's Chris Connelly on the red carpet.
It is a vicious cycle though. Paparazzi and certain news outlets are aware of Tarantino's tendencies to go off, and sometimes provoke him to get a reaction. Personally, I'd rather see someone who is willing to speak their mind and stand up for themselves than be a obedient slave to the media, but that doesn't make all of his behavior appropriate. Honestly, spitting on people is never appropriate.
4. Richard Linklater's interesting house guest
This one is a bit strange, but Linklater still comes out sounding like a pretty stand-up guy. Richard Linklater (Boyhood, Dazed and Confused) started taking an interest in the case of Bernie Tiede while researching his character and crime for the subject for this 2012 film Bernie starring Jack Black and Matthew McConaughey.
In 1996, Tiede was mortician convicted of the murder of his 81-year-old partner Marjorie Nugent, whom he shot after years of an abusive relationship. He was sentenced to life in prison, a controversial sentence given his odd relationship with Nugent.
Seventeen years after being convicted, local attorney Jodi Cole found a psychiatrist’s report which stated Tiede was a victim of sexual abuse as a child, a fact that was overlooked during his initial trial as Tiede was too ashamed to discuss it. The prosecutor in Tiede's trial Danny Buck Davidson ultimately agreed that this fact heavily influenced his relationship and the eventual murder of Nugent. Along with Linklater and Cole, Davidson helped get Tiede's sentence reduced under certain conditions.
Those conditions include working for Cole as a paralegal, seeing a counselor regularly, and living in Linkater's garage apartment. According to Linklater in an interview with Variety, “It’s not like the guy got off or anything,” Linklater says. “Seventeen years is 17 years.” Fair enough!
No matter how you slice it, these guys are each geniuses in their own rights. But do you think their creative minds take them a bit far? Or is being a little quirky just part of the territory?