ByIndie Film Academy™, writer at

Working on a film set can be extremely stressful. After weeks of shooting, it's normal for there to be tension on the set. Especially when both the director and actors have giant egos.

In some cases, this stress has turned in to all out war between actor and director. So here we go with the top 15 fights between a director and their actors.


David O. Russell vs. Lily Tomlin

Although they've made up since, one of the most famous cases of an actor loosing their patience with a director happened on the set of I Heart Huckabees. On audio tracks that somehow found their way out to the public, Tomlin clearly has lost her patience with the director's inability to articulate what he wants. In all fairness, having been on many film sets, this sort of interaction is pretty common, but it's rare that such an embarrassing moment is exposed to the public.


Klaus Kinski vs. Werner Herzog

Actor Klaus Kinski and director Werner Herzog were actually great friends through most of the 70's. Herzog would refer to Kinski as his muse and cast him in five of his films. Kinski, who died of a heart attack in 1989, was well known for being a bit nutty both on and off the set. Attempting to film Fitzcarraldo, a movie where they actually lifted a giant boat up and over a hill, the two reached their breaking point and, as you can see from this behind the scenes documentary, things were a bit tense on set.


Edward Norton vs. Tony Kaye

During the filming of American History X, rumors started to come out that Norton and Kaye were having "creative differences." When Kaye turned in his version of the film, the studio wasn't happy. So they asked Norton to step in and help edit. As you can probably guess, Kaye flew into a rage and started to publicly denounce the film. He even asked to have his director credit taken off, but the studio refused. Kaye then sued the production for $200 million.


Megan Fox vs. Michael Bay

“He wants to be like Hitler on his sets, and he is. So he’s a nightmare to work for but when you get him away from set, and he’s not in director mode, I kind of really enjoy his personality because he’s so awkward, so hopelessly awkward.”

-Megan Fox about Michael Bay

And so began the very strange tale of antipathy between Fox and Bay. Later, Fox was replaced for Transformers 3, but later it appears they patched things up. Fox appeared in the Bay produced Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Well, at least we think that wasn't intended as revenge.


Roman Polanski vs. Faye Dunaway

"Say the f*cking words. Your salary is your motivation."

-Roman Polanski to Faye Dunaway on the set of Chinatown

Roman Polanski is widely regarded as one of the greatest directors of all time. But, like most directors, he has his own way of directing actors. When Dunaway felt like she wasn't getting what she needed, Polanski would often get frustrated and angry. Polanski liked to provoke his actors to get a better performance. It got so bad that at one point, when Dunaway said she needed to use the restroom and wasn't allowed to leave, she threw a cup full of urine at Polanski.


Stanley Kubrick vs. Shelly Duvall

If you have ever seen the behind the scenes footage of The Shining, you no doubt remember the traumatizing footage of Stanley Kubrick yelling at poor Shelly Duvall as she attempted to maintain her frantic state of mind. Many say that Kubrick was simply trying to keep Duvall in the right mindset for the scenes, but, as Duvall reveals, the process was very difficult. Of course, for those of us who are giant fans of The Shining, the suffering was well worth it.


Jake Gyllenhaal vs. David Fincher

"We'd do a lot of takes, and he'd turn, and he would say, because he had a computer there, 'Delete the last 10 takes, as an actor, that's very hard to hear."

-Jake Gyllenhaal about shooting Zodiac

David Fincher is well known for taking an insane amount of takes. You can call it perfectionism, but Jake Gyllenhaal started to loose his patience for taking up to 90 takes of the same shot. Although they made it through the shoot without any fights, neither went to the film's premiere.


Ewan McGregor vs. Danny Boyle

The success of Danny Boyle's early films Open Grave and Trainspotting owed a lot of their success on the discovery of actor Ewan McGregor. During the filming of both movies, both actors developed a great friendship and it was expected to continue with their next collaboration, a film called The Beach. Well, as you probably know, Boyle decided last minute not to use McGregor and instead turned to Leonardo DiCaprio, fresh off of the success of Titanic.


Marlon Brando vs. Frank Oz

"I bet you wish I was a puppet so you could ... make me do what you want."

-Marlon Brando to Frank Oz

Marlon Brando thought it would be funny to refer to director Frank Oz “Fozzy” and “Miss Piggy” during the movie. As most of you know, Frank Oz was the voice of the two Muppets, as well as Yoda and Grover. Things got so bad on set, Oz eventually had to direct via radio while Robert DeNiro stepped in to direct Brando's scenes.


Katherine Heigl vs. Judd Apatow

"It's a little sexist. It paints the women as shrews, as humorless and uptight, and it paints the men as lovable, goofy, fun-loving guys."

-Katherin Heigl about "Knocked Up"

You would think Catherine Heigl would be a little more appreciative of being cast in her break-out role. The former Grey's Anatomy star made it clear that she wasn't happy about being in a goofy guy comedy. Apatow, always a class act, ignored Heigl in the press but most likely won't be hiring her again. In fact, Heigl has made a career out of talking smack about the shows she's working on.


Richard Stanley vs. Val Kilmer

One of my favorite behind the scenes stories happened during the filming of the terrible Island of Dr. Moreau. The amazing story has been well captured in the documentary Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley's Island of Dr. Moreau, however one of the highlights is the first few days of shooting. Val Kilmer, fresh off of Batman, arrived on set with next to no desire to be in the film. As Stanley attempted to direct him, Kilmer simply disagree and refuse to do the scene. Stanley eventually went mad on the set and was replaced by Hollywood veteran John Frankenheimer. Stanley, however, would sometimes put on a dog mask and appear as an extra in the background of the film.


Bruce Willis vs. Kevin Smith

"(Willis) turned out to be the unhappiest, most bitter and meanest emo-[expletive] I ever met at any job I've held. And mind you, I worked at Domino's."

-Kevin Smith about working on "Cop Out"

Kevin Smith has never shied away from telling his fans how he really feels. His initial excitement of working with Bruce Willis was soon dampened by the actor's apparent contempt for the entire production. Smith would go on to say, "It was difficult. I’ve never been involved in a situation like that where one component is not in the box at all. It was soul crushing," he revealed. "I had no help from this dude whatsoever."


Rip Torn vs. Normal Mailer

This is a doozy! While filming of Maidstone in 1970, actor Rip Torn got so mad at Norman Mailer and the direction he was taking the film, he attacked him in the middle of filming. Of course, this makes for a wonderful trip down filmmaking history as the entire altercation was captured in the following video clip. Enjoy!


George Clooney vs. David O. Russell

Yes, Mr. Nice Guy himself has even gone at it with his director. David O. Russell is back on the list with this famous battle from the 1999 hit Three Kings. Nobody knows exactly what happened between the two actors, but apparently Russell was being mean to the crew and some actors and Clooney came to their defense. In the end, a few punches were thrown and Clooney vowed never to work with O. Russell again.


Tippi Hedren vs. Alfred Hitchcock

“He kept me under contract – $600 a week. I didn’t make any movies. I was, as you’d say back then, 'hot' and later found out how many directors and producers wanted me. It was very frustrating."

As much as I want to maintain my sweet image of Alfred Hitchcock as a sweet old uncle, it's pretty clear he also liked the ladies. He was known for becoming obsessed with his leading ladies and often hitting on them. He became so obsessed with actress Tippy Hedren, when she said she didn't want to do more films with him he would often threaten her and say he would ruin her career.


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