The 10 craziest Hollywood directors of all time

  • The 10 craziest Hollywood directors to work with

Being a film director is not easy - transfering your vision for a film from a script and getting hundreds of cast and crew members to go along with your vision to make a coherent and exciting film.

Some directors take the dedication to their art a bit too far, resulting in arguements with actors, crew and studio executives.

Here are the directors who have gone a bit too far with the crazy, and should be warned if you're taking up a job on their film set.

10. David Fincher

Notable films: Fight Club, Seven, The Social Network

Renowned as a perfectionist, some of the scenes on his 2007 thriller Zodiac required up for 70 takes.

Robert Downey Jr. remarked: “I think I’m a perfect person to work for him, because I understand gulags”.

Meanwhile, Zodiac co-star Jake Gyllenhaal revealed that, as the film was shot digitally, Fincher would hover his finger over his laptop's 'delete' button, threatening to erase the last ten takes that Gyllenhaal had performed.

Fincher later revealed that his threats to delete hours of work were just a game - he just wanted to see how long it would take the actor to cry tears of frustration.

Which is a bit uncool.


9. James Cameron

Notable films:  Titanic, The Terminator, Avatar

'Iron Jim' is renowned for being very controlling in every aspect of his films.

This included telling then-wife Linda Hamilton, who dubbed him a “controlling jerk”, to go on a year-long diet and train with a former Mossad agent to portray Sarah Connor in Terminator 2.

Meanwhile, on the set of The Abyss, Ed Harris was driven to tears from the stresses of working with Bay and almost drowning during filming.

Harris' Abyss co-star Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio was denied toilet breaks and Bay told her to relieve herself in her wetsuit instead.

Unsurprisingly Mastrantonio suffered a breakdown while working on The Abyss.

Still though, it was quite a good film.


8. Terrence Malick

Notable films:  The Thin Red Line, The Tree of Life, Badlands

Terrence Malick is well-known for significantly reducing, or even completely cutting out his stars screen time - Adrien Brody turned up to the permiere ofThe Thin Red Line thinking he was the lead character, only to discover his role had almost been completely cut.

The actors that have had their roles completely chopped from Malik films include Mickey Rourke and Bill Pullman in The Thin Red Line and Rachel Weisz, Michael Sheen and Jessica Chastain from To the Wonder.

On top of that, his high standards have resulted in crew members walking off set and many missed deadlines and films running late as he edits and releases films when he likes.


7. Francis Ford Coppola

Notable films:  The Godfather trilogy, Apocalypse Now, Bram Stoker's Dracula

The trials and tribulations of making Apocalypse Now are no secret; Coppola sent leading man Harvey Keitel home after a week of shooting because he lacked the role's 'gravitas' and had Martin Sheen flown in to replace him.

Coppola, who was going a bit mad during filming, threw away the script and had the actors make up the scenes on the fly.

Then in the heat of the Philippines set and as a result of his heavy-drinking habit, Sheen suffered a heart attack and was hospitalised.

Coppola ensured filming continued with a body double filling in and told studio bosses back in Hollywood: "Even if he dies, he's not dead until I say so."

Finally, after three years of filming and editing, Apocalypse Now was released $15 million over budget.


6. Lars von Trier

Notable films:  Melancholia, Dancer in the Dark, Dogville

The Danish director, whose films are full of graphic and disturbing images, clashed with Icelandic singer Björk on the set of Dancer in the Dark, with the pair taking long walks just to have a shouting match.

Björk then vowed never to act again and sent Nicole Kidman a letter encouraging her not to work with von Trier as he would “eat her soul.”

Another actor to fall afoul of von Trier was Paul Bettany who worked with the director on Dogville.

The British actor explained:

"I found it a peculiarly unsatisfying experience because he has no interest in you being any part of the cerebral process with him. You're absolutely his puppet."


5. Werner Herzog

Notable films: Grizzly Man, Rescue Dawn, Encounters at the End of the World

Part of the New German Cinema movement, Herzog may not have had a string of blockbusters, but he is regarded as one of the most amazing (and crazy) directors around.

Herzog seems to take delight in choosing the most precarious and life-threatening places to shoot, including taking a crew to shoot a documentary in an active volcano that was just about to erupt.

As well as that, in PoW drama Rescue Dawn, Christian Bale was dragged behind buffalo and submerged in torture devices, while on Fitzcarraldo, extras had to carry a 320 ton steamship up a mountain and a single broken cable could have killed them all at any time.

Still though, the take of a steamship being hauled up a mountain must have looked amazing.


4. Michael Bay

Notable films: Armageddon, Bad Boys, The Transformers series

It was first brought to the public's attention that Michael Bay isn't the easiest director to work under when Megan Fox revealed in a magazine interview: 

"He's like Napoleon and he wants to create this insane, infamous mad-man reputation. He wants to be like Hitler on his sets, and he is."

Bay dropped Megan Fox from the Transformers series, labelling the issue a minor speed bump.

The Transformers arguments continued, as Bay and Shia Labeouf almost came to blows on the set of the third film before having to be broken up by Jon Voight.

As well as that, Hugo Weaving, who voiced Megatron in the Transformers series, dubbed his work "meaningless" with Bay making a thinly-veiled response, ranting about actors "whining" when they're paid huge sums of money.

So if you're invited to film with Bay on a Transformers set, avoid it or fear the wrath (and explosions) of Michael Bay.


3. David O. Russell

Notable films: Silver Linings Playbook, The Fighter, American Hustle

Working on Oscar-winners Silver Linings Playbook and The Fighter, David O. Russell manages to bring crazy to wherever he goes.

His treatment of his crew on Three Kings angered the mild-mannered George Clooney, that the star almost smacked Russell.

Then when Jude Law turned down I Heart Huckabees to work on Christopher Nolan's Insomnia, at a Hollywood party, Russell put Nolan in a headlock and refused to let go until Nolan would let Jude Law work on Huckabees instead.

Jude Law was probably regretting that, when Russell went flippin' mad at Huckabees co-star Lily Tomlin, which was recorded and all of his swearing and prop-throwing antics were uploaded online for posterity.


2. Alfred Hitchcock

Notable films: Psycho, The 39 Steps, Rear Window

One of the greatest directors ever to sit in one of those cool folding chairs with their name on the back, Hitchcock's suspenseful films have become the stuff of legends.

But with his power and reputation, came a sexual predator who tried to bed all of the strong blondes that were the centre of most of his films.

Hitchcock tried to bed the likes of Joan Fontaine, Kim Novak, Janet Leigh, Grace Kelly and Tippi Hedren - who he plucked from obscurity to star in The Birds.

Hedren refused to join Hitchcock on the casting couch and the director spent the rest of the filming sexually harassing her both physically and verbally

Before she had even met the portly director, Hitchcock tied her into a contract that would prevent her from working with any other directors for years, despite Hitchcock not casting her in any roles after her first two in The Birds and Marnie.

In the climactic scene for The Birds, Hitchcock promised the scene would last a day, and then tied real flapping and biting crows and ravens to her with elastic as the filming actually went on for five miserable days.


1. Stanley Kubrick

Notable films:  The Shining, A Clockwork Orange, 2001: A Space Odyssey

The legendary director is often heralded as one of the greatest filmmakers ever, but to achieve such cinematic masterpieces took an attention-to-detail bordering on the psychopathic.

In Eyes Wide Shut, the late Sydney Pollack recounts an anecdote where he was forced to film the same short scene for weeks and hundreds of takes. 

Eventually an exasperated Pollack asked what more he could do, Kubrick replied: “Well, I didn’t think it was going to take this long, Sydney, but don’t you want to get it right?”

Kubrick holds the record for 'most retakes of a single movie scene with spoken dialogue' during The Shining.

On the Shining set, Kubrick treated leading lady Shelly Duvall awfully and encouraged the rest of the crew to emphasise her sense of isolation.

Kubrick's non-stop nit-picking with every move Duvall made, including make her repeat a scene 128 times resulted in her losing some of her hair and becoming violently ill during filming.


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