Throughout the years of movie history, even before the internet sucked us into overanalysis, we’ve been captivated by snippets of stories that managed to escape sets. And like a crowd to the scene of an accident, we can’t help our curiosity, especially when things between actors get gruesome or prickly. We Need To Know. These are the stories of ego and competition, of perfectionism and criticism, of tempers and tantrums…
1. Andrew Garfield and Robert Pattinson:
Alleged disdain: The actors don’t like being put in the same category with each other; Garfield considers himself a serious actor, as compared to Pattinson, who he considers cheesy because of Twilight. The dislike is reportedly mutual.
2. John Leguizamo and Steven Seagal:
Alleged disdain: While filming Executive Decision together, Leguizamo laughed at Seagal’s line delivery. In return, Seagal elbowed him, hard enough to knock the wind out of Leguizamo. And though Seagal is easy to lampoon, Leguizamo earned the ire of a couple other fellow actors. Kurt Russell didn’t like the ad-libbing (on the same set) either—he and Leguizamo got into a shoving match. Patrick Swayze also didn’t like Leguizamo reading lines different from the To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar script; the actors got into yet another physical altercation. And finally, Leguizamo claims Sean Penn carried a scripted slap (Casualties of War) too far. So essentially, everyone wants a piece of Leguizamo.
3. William Hurt and Marlee Matlin:
Alleged offense: Matlin claimed that when the two became romantically involved while filming Children of a Lesser God, Hurt physically abused her. Only 19 at the time, Matlin was addicted to cocaine, Hurt (35) was an alcoholic, and “during the time they dated, she often had new bruises every day.” In her 2009 autobiography, Matlin stops just short of accusing Hurt of rape, saying he threw her on a bed and ripped off her clothes as she screamed protests. Hurt responded with a public apology: “My own recollection is that we both apologized and both did a great deal to heal our lives. Of course, I did and do apologize for any pain I caused. And I know we have both grown. I wish Marlee and her family nothing but good.”
4. Mickey Rourke and Kim Basinger:
Alleged disdain: The Nine 1/2 Weeks actors reportedly couldn’t stand each other; in an oft quoted interview, Basinger said kissing Rourke was like kissing an ashtray. But the supposed dislike seems more drummed up by the media and the director, than a real thing. Adrian Lyne told Basinger “rumors about how Rourke intended to make her like or dislike him so that she would carry that attitude into the scene,” and he fostered complete separation between the actors when not filming, to enhance their performances. Rourke and Basinger reunited in 2012 to film Black November.
5. Julia Roberts and Nick Nolte:
Alleged disdain: Filming I Love Trouble, Nolte and Roberts reportedly disliked each other from the outset. Roberts is said to have been put off by Nolte’s “machismo,” so she threw derision, insults and tantrums his way. Irked by her behavior, Nolte became an instigator, doing things just to agitate his co-star. Nolte’s agent referred to the nonsense as “typical spats between stars on a set.” Though Roberts’ publicist initially denied the problems, the actress later made a statement that while Nolte can be “charming and nice, he’s also completely disgusting.”
6. Shirley MacLaine and Debra Winger:
Alleged disdain: While making Terms of Endearment, the onscreen mother and daughter had no tolerance for each other. Though both actresses have reputations for being difficult, Winger is also said to have had a cocaine addiction at the time. One persistant on set rumor had Winger lifting her skirt to blow a little sacred wind MacLaine’s way. Adding to the tension, Winger and MacLaine were both Academy Award nominated as Best Actress, and when MacLaine won, she shouted, “I deserve this!” When Winger appeared on a 2008 talk show, she confirmed the bad feelings remained. Sir Anthony Hopkins seems to be on Winger’s side; he’s been quoted as saying MacLaine was “the most obnoxious actress I’ve ever worked with.”
7. Harold Ramis and Bill Murray:
Alleged offense: This feud is more a sad tale of shunning than a fight; Ramis seems genuinely sad to have lost his friend. “It’s a little heartbreaking to me. I don’t know that he’s heartbroken.” He claims that during the time of filming Groundhog Day, Murray was going through a divorce and behaving erratically (Dan Aykroyd referred to this time as “the Murricane.”). “At times, Bill was just really irrationally mean and unavailable; he was constantly late on set,” Ramis says. “What I’d want to say to him is just what we tell our children: ‘You don’t have to throw tantrums to get what you want. Just say what you want.’” After the film, Murray stopped speaking to Ramis, and when asked by an interviewer about his former friend, Murray claimed he had nothing to say.
8. Bill Murray and Lucy Liu:
Alleged offense: On the set of Charlie’s Angels, there were first reports of “creative differences.” Liu critiqued a scene in the script, Murray disagreed with her critique; this devolved into a shouting match (and production was shut down the rest of the day). But things went from bad to worse when, in the middle of shooting a scene with Liu, Drew Barrymore and Cameron Diaz, Murray said to Liu, “You can’t act.” Liu reportedly lost her mind and began throwing punches at the actor—they had to be physically separated and sent to their opposite corners. Because he refused to work with Liu again, Murray was replaced by Bernie Mac for Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle.
9. Richard Gere and Sylvester Stallone:
Alleged disdain: First, let’s get this out of the way: Rumor has it that Gere suspected Stallone of starting the infamous (and untrue) gerbil rumor. Meanwhile, the two actors clashed when Gere was cast alongside Stallone in The Lords of Flatbush, egos flared and physical fights (including one over spilled chicken grease) ensued. Stallone claims it became obvious the director had to choose one actor over the other, and Gere was replaced.
10. Klaus Kinski and Werner Herzog:
Disdain: Herzog and Kinski made several films together and became best friends, but they also had a love-hate relationship. After Kinski’s death, Herzog made a documentary about their volatile relationship, My Best Fiend - Klaus Kinski.
11. George Clooney and David O. Russell:
Alleged offense: Clooney has said that making Three Kings was the “worst experience of my life.” Disliking the way the director treated people on set, Clooney stood up for the little people (camera operator, an extra, second assistant director), telling Russell he could yell at or fire people, but not humiliate them. Russell reportedly challenged Clooney to a fist-fight, and got exactly what he asked for. Five years later Clooney was still angry; when an interviewer asked about Russell, he responded “Quite honestly, if he comes near me, I’ll sock him right in the fucking mouth.” But in 2012, the actor seemed ready to forgive—he went up to the director at a party and asked, “So, are we done?”
12. David O. Russell and Lily Tomlin:
Offenses: Of all the stories about bad behavior, nothing speaks as loudly as these recordings of the on-set tension between Lily Tomlin and David O. Russell during I Heart Huckabees. Despite the videos, Tomlin has said that she “loves” Russell. “Adults have fights and go through stuff,” Tomlin said Tuesday. “I know some people are more dignified in the world, that if you transgress against that kind of professionalism, that it’s some kind of great sin, but I don’t see it that way.”