The Truth Behind Hollywood’s Best Film Directors
Steven Spielberg has on many occasion spoken how Kathleen Kennedy, film producer and current president of Lucasfilm, called him out on his “Unacceptable Behaviour” On The Set Of E.T. . As a producer on the film, she was shocked by his impatience and sharpness towards the crew, and took him aside to give him a right good bollocking. This moment transformed the young director, showing him the error of his ways and led him down an epic career path. However, not everyone has a Kathleen Kennedy in their lives to steer them towards the shore of redemption. Some Directors actions go un-scolded and un-punished, leading them to inappropriate behaviour, careless demands and even unlawful practices. They might be household names, but the following Hollywood film directors have some dark skeletons in their closets, and we are peeking inside. Here is The Truth Behind Hollywood’s Best Film Directors.
Tim Burton has Destructive Tantrums Like a Spoiled Child.
Tim Burton may well have been Hollywood’s poster child for some time, but his actions behind the screen seem a little more off the wall.
During the production of A Nightmare Before Christmas, Burton was busy making Batman Returns and handed the reins over to director Henry Selick. This doesn’t mean that he didn’t leave an impact, because he literally did. Burton showed up for a screening of the film mid production, and got so angry that he kicked a hole in the wall of the animation studio. This was not a one off out-burst either. The films screenwriter, Caroline Thompson, wanted to give the ending another draft, as she thought Jack Skellington and Sally’s relationship needed a bit more depth. Burton flew into a child-like destructive tantrum, screaming into her face and then set about smashing up a computer.
“Tim was there ramming [the editing machine], screaming at me. I was okay. People have their ways of dealing with stress, and that was his and that’s fine.”
It seems that the film directors inner rage shows it’s ugly head when ever there’s even the smallest amount of conflict, and no ones telling him that kicking walls and smashing computers in not a normal reaction for a fully grown man.
William Friedkin Injured Actress’ Back
The Exorcist is one of the most iconic horror movies of all time, still managing to scare the living daylights out of audiences around the world. However, behind the scenes, director William Friedkin was determined to make the film at any cost, even if that meant injury his lead star.
Ellen Burstyn, who played Chris MacNeil in the film, was shooting the scene where the rooms furniture starts to move around violently. Her possessed daughter Regan (Linda Blair) lashing out and knocks her mother on to the floor. In order to get this effect, Burstyn was attached to a wire that would pull her back. As the camera rolled, the stage hands gave the wire a good yank and sent the actress sprawling hard onto the floor. The jerk had been much harder than original planned, and told director Friedkin to ease up, as she would no doubt get hurt if they continued to pull so hard. Friedkin outright lied to the actress’ face, telling her to expect a much gentler pull, whilst telling the stage hand to “give it to her this time!”
On the next take, the wire was yanked so hard, that she was literally pulled off her feet, landing hard on her back, screaming and grabbing her injured back. Rather than calling cut, Friedkin pointed the camera down to captures the actress genuine screams of pain.
Hitchcock Ruined an Actress’ Career Because she Spurned him
To the outside world Nathalie Kay “Tippi” Hedren was an up and coming movie star that had the world at her feet, but in reality, she had become the victim of movie legend Alfred Hitchcock’s unrequited love and her world had turned into a nightmare.
Filming the climax of classic 1963 film The Birds, Hedren was promised that mechanical animals would be used for the scene. Upon arriving at the studio, she found several cages full of angry birds prepped for the scene, which were quickly released upon the poor terrified actress. The crew hurled the animals at Hedren, and even chained some too her so they could not escape. This went on for five full days, as the birds pecked and scratched at her arms and face, all whilst Hitchcock watch gleefully from behind his camera. This was not the actions of an award winning director, but of a man angry at his advances being scorned.
Hitchcock recruited Hedren after spotting her in an advert, believing that he could shape the 32-year-old’s career. Hitchcock was married at the time, but the lure of Hedren’s charm, wit and charism was too much for the director to resist and he fell madly in love with the actress. But passion soon turned to pure spite when Hedren rejected his inappropriate advances.
Hitchcock grew increasingly jealous of the star, and when shooting their next film together, Marnie (1964), he would not let the other actors socialise with her, and would isolate Hedren as much as possible. His action grew more aggressive and even used psychological abuse towards her, wanting the star to feel as uncomfortable as possible.
“He stared at me and simply said, as if it was the most natural thing in the world, that from this time on, he expected me to make myself sexually available and accessible to him—however and whenever and wherever he wanted”
Hedren was locked into a contract with Hitchcock, but the directors actions towards her was torturous and cruel and she refused to work with him after the cameras rolled on Marnie. Rather than allow her to break the contract, Hitchcock told her to her face that he would ruin her career. If he could not work with her, no one would.
And he did just that, he kept her on contract, but never made any films with her. For two years, she had no work, and by the time she was able to work independently from Hitchcock, the work had dried up for the actress, finding only bit parts and cameos. Hitchcock’s wrath was one she felt for a very long time.
Kubrick Tortured Actress on Set
No other film director has managed to push the boundaries as much as Stanley Kubrick, but whilst he may have been an amazing film director, he’s action towards one of his film stars is still shocking to this day.
Whilst shooting the film adaption of Stephen King’s The Shining, Kubrick proceeded to torture actress Shelley Duvall in order to capture the distress of the character. Whilst most Directors would rely on the skills of their actors, Kubrick wanted genuine suffering from the character Wendy Torrance.
His every action towards her was done with force and cruelty, taking every opportunity to punish Duvall for everything she did. He forbade the other cast and crew from comforting her, and told them to ignore her as much as possible, forcing Duvall into a very isolated position on set, during the most challenging role of her life.
He would cut her line without warning and demand retakes, without ever telling her what he needed. During filming of the baseball bat scene, he captured a record-breaking 127 takes, leaving Deval exhausted, hoarse and dehydrated from all the crying she was doing, half from the need of the scene, half from sheer desperation.
Shelly was left with bloody, raw wounds on her hands, from where she had been clutching the bat, and she found that her hair was coming out in clumps.
“From May until October I was really in and out of ill health because the stress of the role was so great… Stanley pushed me and prodded me further than I’ve ever been pushed before. It’s the most difficult role I’ve ever had to play.
I was there a year and a month, and there must be something to Primal Scream therapy because after the day was over and I’d cried for my 12 hours, I went home very contented. It had a very calming effect. During the day I would have been absolutely miserable.”
The pressure to perform to Kubrick’s unexplained standards, the awful working conditions and long working days worked their toll on the young actress who, felt overlooked, and defeated by the grueling filming experience.
Quentin Tarantino forced Actress into a Stunt that Went Wrong
Stunt people are around for a reason. They are there to do things that the would otherwise put actors into dangerous situations, which could injure or even kill them. It’s in everyone’s best interests to allow professional people to perform these stunts. That is unless your Quentin Tarantino.
At the end of the grueling nine month shoot for Kill Bill, the films lead star Uma Thurman, was asked to do something that made he feel very uncomfortable. She had heard that the car she was asked to drive for the scene was not in great shape, and she wanted a stunt driver to stand in for her.
“Quentin came in my trailer and didn’t like to hear no, like any director… He was furious because I’d cost them a lot of time. But I was scared. He said: ‘I promise you the car is fine. It’s a straight piece of road .’”
Not only did he force her into car, but he also added pressure on her to go faster than she wanted and failed to warn her that the road was actually not straight.
“ ‘Hit 40 miles per hour or your hair won’t blow the right way and I’ll make you do it again.’ But that was a deathbox that I was in. The seat wasn’t screwed down properly. It was a sand road and it was not a straight road.”
The accident that follows was captured on tape, showing Uma losing control of the car as she hits an unexpected turn and smashing into a palm tree, her contorted torso heaving helplessly until crew members appear in the frame to pull her out of the wreckage. What makes this entire ordeal even worse is that the scene was shot from rear of the car, showing only the back of Uma’s head. A stunt double could have easily stepped in to film the scene.
The accident put the actress in hospital and resulted in permanently neck and knee injuries. After 15 years of asking to see the footage, via lawyers and other factors, Quentin finally released the footage under pressure of the #metoo movement.
John Landis’ Recklessness Led to Three Deaths on Set.
It was set to be an epic anthology film, made by the best directorial talents of it’s time. However, The Twilight Zone Movie, helmed by producer Steven Spielberg, turned into a real life nightmare as one of the films directors tainted the project forever, in a massive controversy which claimed the lives of not only the films main star, but also that of two young children.
Director John Landis (Blues Brothers, Trading Places & American Werewolf in London) had already got off to a terrible start by violating California’s child labor laws by hiring seven-year-old Myca Dinh Le and six-year-old Renee Shin-Yi Chen without the required permits. The kids were being paid under the table to circumvent these rules and allow them to shoot long night scenes. But missing permits were just the very tiny tip of the iceberg for the director, as things were about to get much worse.
Shooting at night, and with large pyrotechnics, lead actor Vic Morrow was supposed to pick up the kids under each arm and then run as the Vietnam set was “attacked” by a low flying helicopter. The helicopter was stationed 25 feet from the ground when a mistimed mortar charge went off and hit the helicopters tail-rotor. The chopper span out of control and crashed into Morrow and the two children. Morrow and Le were decapitated by the helicopter’s main rotor blades, while Chen was crushed to death as the vehicle crashed on top of him. All three died instantaneously.
Landis and four other men working on the film, including the special-effects coordinator and the helicopter pilot, were charged with involuntary manslaughter. The prosecution claimed Landis and his crew had been reckless, whilst the defense said it was an accident. A camera operator on board the crashed helicopter, testified that Landis had simply shrugged off warnings about the stunt, saying “we may lose the helicopter.”
Following the highly emotional 10-month trial, a jury acquitted all five defendants in 1987, but resulted in Warner Bros. setting up a dedicated safety committees to establish acceptable standards for every aspect of filmmaking.
The three victims’ families filed separate lawsuits against Landis, Warner Brothers and Twilight Zone co-director and producer Steven Spielberg, all of which were settled for undisclosed amounts.
John Landis’ reckless disregard for the welfare of the two young children, his efforts to dodge child labor laws, and his carelessness in planning for a dangerous stunt, created the perfect storm of conditions that resulted in this terrible accident that could have easily been avoided.
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“Hello Horror Fans – How the mighty have FALLEN. Some of these examples of BAD directors really shows the UGLY side of Hollywood. They certainly are ROTTEN to the core. Let us know what you think in the comments below.