10 Actors Who Hated Their Directors

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Summary

  • Sometimes actors grow to absolutely hate their directors, leading to on-set drama that can taint the finished film.
  • Feuds between actors and directors can either end relationships or blossom into tense working relationships with several collaborations.
  • For example, Michael Bay’s chaotic directing style led to a falling out with Megan Fox, but they later resolved their issues and worked together again.

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Despite the best intentions, sometimes actors grow to absolutely hate their directors. One of the many jobs directors have on film sets is guiding the actors to deliver their best performance. Ideally, the relationship between actors and directors should be one built on trust and respect, as the actor is giving themselves over to the director and their vision. However, this is too often not the case. Whether it be hurt egos, demanding directors, or even drama that takes place after cameras stopped rolling, actors can grow to resent their directors.

Sometimes this hatred can show up on screen, as the on-set drama has tainted the finished film, while other times both the actor and director deliver some of their finest work under unpleasant circumstances. Some of these feuds end relationships, causing the two to never re-team, but others can blossom into a tense working relationship, leading to several more collaborations. Here are ten examples of actors who hated their directors.

Related: 10 Behind The Scenes Feuds That Ruined Movies

10 Bruce Willis hated Kevin Smith

Kevin Smith and Bruce Willis during Cop Out.

Having previously worked with Bruce Willis on Live Free or Die Hard, Kevin Smith was excited to work with his childhood icon again. However, Smith claimed in a Cinemablend interview that Willis did not enjoy being directed by a fanboy, and would tell the director “snap out of it, you’re a grown-up”. Willis would often be difficult on set as he was unimpressed with Smith’s lack of technical knowledge when it came to the camera. Willis refused to do any press for Cop Out, but Smith would spend the next several years recounting stories of their onset feud, including in his book Kevin Smith’s Secret Stash: The Definitive Visual History.

9 Burt Reynolds hated Paul Thomas Anderson

Burt Reynolds directing Mark Wahlberg in Boogie Nights.

Boogie Nights is one of the best and most iconic movies of the 90s. Both Paul Thomas Anderson and Burt Reynolds got Oscar nominations for the film, and it is remembered as some of their best work. However, Reynolds famously did not get along with the young director. In a GQ interview Reynolds said that “Personality-wise, we didn’t fit“. He found Anderson to be too hot-headed and full of himself, considering that the director was only 26 at the time. This resentment did not hurt the film, however, and in a 2017 interview, Anderson claimed that it helped the more intense scenes feel genuine (via The Ringer).

8 George Clooney hated David O’Russell

Ice Cube, Mark Wahlberg, and George Clooney in Three Kings.

David O’Russell is a notoriously difficult director, with a controlling attitude and a quick fuse. This has caused multiple movie stars to resent the filmmaker, including Lily Tomlin and Amy Adams. However, the most intense of O’Russell’s feuds was with George Clooney on the set of Three Kings. Clooney was not happy with the way O’Russell ran the set, and would often get into altercations with him. There was reportedly even a fistfight between the two, and years after the film wrapped Clooney said of the director “Quite honestly, if he comes near me, I’ll sock him right in the f—g mouth“.

7 Megan Fox hated Michael Bay

Megan Fox as Mikaela on the phone in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

When Transformers: Dark of the Moon was released in 2011, one notable character absence was Mikaela Banes. This was because Megan Fox was not invited back for the third Transformers due to her falling out with Michael Bay. Bay is known for running his sets in a chaotic way, and Fox told Wonderland that Bay “wants to be like Hitler on his sets, and he is. So he’s a nightmare to work for“. These comments caught Bay off guard, leading him to replace Fox in Transformers 3. However, Fox and Bay resolved this falling out, and she would go on to star in other movies he produced.

6 Adrien Brody hated Terrence Malick

Screencap of Adrien Brody in The Thin Red Line. Brody's character is crouching fearfully in a river alongside U.S. marines.

Terrence Malick spent the last 20 years out of the spotlight before releasing his war epic, The Thin Red Line, in 1998. Adrien Brody managed to land the role of Corporal Geoffrey Fife, the main character in the novel the film was based on. Brody shot the entire film believing he was the star, but several roles in The Thin Red Line were changed, and the focus switched from Brody to Jim Caviezel. Malick is an unstructured filmmaker, often finding the story while shooting or editing. Brody was not aware of this change until he was at the premiere of the film and has resented Malick ever since.

5 Harrison Ford hated Ridley Scott

Harrison Ford and Ridley Scott during Blade Runner.

Blade Runner was not an easy film to shoot. The production was constantly going over schedule, and Ridley Scott is a notoriously challenging director. This alone caused some friction between him and Harrison Ford, but the more interesting drama came after the film’s release. Scott felt that the story would work better if Ford’s character Deckard was replicant, and worked this plot in while reediting Blade Runner. Ford was adamantly against this idea and has argued about it with Scott for decades. Denis Villeneuve, the director of Blade Runner 2049, said in a Cinemablend interview that the two “are still arguing about that. If you put them in the same room, they don’t agree. And they start to talk very loud when they do“.

4 Ray Fisher hated Joss Whedon

Ray Fisher as Cyborg in Justice League with Joss Whedon.

Technically, Ray Fisher has never starred in a movie credited to Joss Whedon. However, when Zack Snyder had to step away from Justice League, Whedon was hired to handle the extensive reshoots. Fisher went on to make some surprising accusations against Whedon for his behavior on set. Not only was the film reshaped so that Cyborg was no longer the focus, but Whedon was allegedly actively abusive and rude toward the movie’s original actors. These allegations led to Warner Brothers launching an investigation into the production of Justice League. Fisher’s costars, including Ben Affleck, have provided further details on the tortious production.

3 Ewan McGregor hated Danny Boyle

Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) drinking out of a bottle in Trainspotting.

Early in both of their carers, Ewan McGregor and Danny Boyle worked together extensively, including on films like Trainspotting. When Boyle was prepping his fourth film, The Beach, he had planned for McGregor to be the lead, but 20th Century Fox offered Boyle a larger budget if he cast Leonardo DiCaprio instead. Boyle took the deal, causing a rift in his friendship with McGregor. In an interview with Graham Norton McGregor said “it was about our friendship, and I felt I was in Danny’s first three movies … and then I wasn’t in his fourth, and it made me a bit rudderless. I didn’t quite get it“. Luckily the two eventually made up and worked together again for T2: Trainspotting.

2 Edward Norton hated Tony Kaye

Edward Norton in American History X.

While Edward Norton is a celebrated actor, he is often overly controlling of his projects and gets in directors’ way. This is especially true of American History X where he practically replaced Tony Kaye as director. Norton was frequently giving notes and script changes to Kaye in order to make the movie fit his vision. When the two would disagree, the studio would back Norton as he was the star of the film. This enraged Kaye, as he felt his movie was being taken away from him. He even asked for his name to be removed from the finished film.

1 Klaus Kinski hated Werner Herzog

Klaus Kinski and Werner Herzog in My Best Fiend.

Perhaps the most infamous feud in film history is between Klaus Kinski and Werner Herzog. The two men worked on several films including Nosferatu, Aguirre, and Fitzcarraldo. While they could be described as close friends, they were both very eccentric and would often get into nasty fights on set. The sets for Aguirre and Fitzcarraldo were some of the most unpleasant in film history, and Herzog would often threaten Kinski with violence. The strange rivalry between the two led to some of the most interesting films of the 20th century, including a documentary called My Best Fiend.

Sources: Cinemablend, GQ, Wonderland, The Ringer, Graham Norton