IMDb Polls

Poll: Frightening Filmmakers

Some directors bring with them not only extraordinary talent, but also cruelty towards the people they work with.

Which director would you have been most afraid to collaborate with?

Discuss here

Make Your Choice

  1. Vote!

    Fritz Lang

    He turned out to be an extreme strict director who demanded everything from his actors. Several repetitions of different scenes happened often. Fritz Lang soon "relished" the reputation of a tyrant.

    Henry Fonda was horrified when he learned he had to work with Lang on "The Return of Frank James", having known the director from a previous collaboration. He described Lang as a master puppet player, but without any feeling or respect for his actors, and as someone who could be very brutal.

  2. Vote!

    John Ford

    [Ford] was notorious for being extremely tough on his actors, frequently mocking, yelling and bullying them; he was also infamous for his sometimes sadistic practical jokes.

    Henry Brandon once referred to Ford as "the only man who could make John Wayne cry".

    Ford usually gave his actors little explicit direction, although on occasion he would casually walk through a scene himself, and actors were expected to note every subtle action or mannerism; if they did not, Ford would make them repeat the scene until they got it right, and he would often berate and belittle those who failed to achieve his desired performance.

  3. Vote!

    Alfred Hitchcock

    Hitchcock became known for his alleged observation, "Actors are cattle".

    He was infamous with cast and crews for his practical jokes. [...] Usually, he found out about somebody's phobias, such as mice or spiders, and in turn sent them a box full of them.

    When filming the final attack scene in "The Brids", lead actress Tippi Hedren was assured that the crew would use mechanical birds. Instead, Hedren endured five solid days of prop men, protected by thick leather gloves, flinging dozens of live gulls, ravens and crows at her (their beaks clamped shut with elastic bands). In a state of exhaustion, when one of the birds gouged her cheek and narrowly missed her eye, Hedren sat down on the set and began crying.

  4. Vote!

    Akira Kurosawa

    For all his films, but particularly for his jidaigeki, Kurosawa insisted on absolute authenticity of sets, costumes and props. Numerous instances of his fanatical devotion to detail have been recorded [...]

    For Throne of Blood, in the scene where Washizu (Mifune) is attacked with arrows by his own men, the director had archers shoot real arrows, hollowed out and running along wires, toward Toshiro Mifune from a distance of about ten feet, with the actor carefully following chalk marks on the ground to avoid being hit. (Some of the arrows missed him by an inch; the actor, who admitted that he was not merely acting terrified in the film, suffered nightmares afterward).

  5. Vote!

    Sam Peckinpah

    Peckinpah's combative personality, marked by years of alcohol and drug abuse, affected his professional legacy. Many of his films were noted for behind-the-scenes battles with producers and crew members, damaging his reputation and career during his lifetime.

    Peckinpah's intake of alcohol had increased dramatically while making "The Getaway", and he became fond of saying, "I can't direct when I'm sober." He began to have violent mood swings and explosions of rage [...].

  6. Vote!

    Stanley Kubrick

    Kubrick was notorious for demanding multiple takes during filming to perfect his art, and his relentless approach was often extremely demanding for his actors.

    On The Shining: Shelley Duvall received "no sympathy at all" from anyone on the set. This was apparently Stanley Kubrick's tactic in making her feel utterly hopeless. This is most evident in the documentary when he tells Vivian, "Don't sympathize with Shelley." Kubrick then goes on to tell Duvall, "It doesn't help you.".

  7. Vote!

    William Friedkin

    Often goes to extreme lengths to get the desired realism in his scenes. Infamous examples include the illegal car chase from "The French Connection" (which employed a stunt driver racing amidst unsuspecting drivers and pedestrians), and his effective tactics to get certain reactions from his actors in "The Exorcist" (discharging firearms close to the actors' ears, slapping them in the face, violently yanking them with ropes, etc.).

    Friedkin went to some extraordinary lengths, [...] manipulating the actors, to get the genuine reactions he wanted. Yanked violently around in harnesses, both Blair and Burstyn suffered back injuries and their painful screams went right into the film.

  8. Vote!

    Michael Cimino

    Cimino has been described by colleagues and critics as vain, self-indulgent, egotistical, megalomaniacal and an enfant terrible.

    Producer Michael Deely on The Deer Hunter: "Cimino was selfish. ... Selfishness, in itself, is not necessarily a flaw in a director, unless it swells into ruthless self-indulgence combined with a total disregard for the terms in which the production has been set."

    On Heaven's Gate: Tom Noonan called this film one of the worst experiences of his life. He claims Michael Cimino abused the actors and the crew, and at one point, held a loaded gun to Noonan's head during a dispute.

  9. Vote!

    Oliver Stone

    On Salvador: James Woods and James Belushi frequently clashed during filming. Their competitive rivalry was secretly encouraged by Oliver Stone.

    James Woods, who had starred in Stone's film Salvador, was offered a part in Platoon. He turned it down, later saying he "couldn't face going into another jungle with [Stone]".

  10. Vote!

    James Cameron

    On The Abyss: During the rigorous and problematic shoot, the cast and crew began calling the film by various derogatory names such as "Son Of Abyss", "The Abuse" and "Life's Abyss And Then You Dive". Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio reportedly suffered a physical and emotional breakdown because she was pushed so hard on the set, and Ed Harris had to pull over his car at one time while driving home, because he burst into spontaneous crying.

    Ed Harris punched James Cameron in the face after he kept filming while he was nearly drowning.

    James Cameron infamously threatened to fire anyone who would dare get out of the tank for a bathroom break while shooting the lifeboat scenes, leading to more than a few actors (including Kate Winslet) relieving themselves in the water.

  11. Vote!

    Lars von Trier

    Paul Bettany, who only took the part of Tom Edison after being convinced by friend Stellan Skarsgård, later called the making of [Dogville] "hideous" and "a peculiarly unsatisfying experience because Lars von Trier has no interest in you being any part of the cerebral process with him. You're absolutely his puppet."

    Lars von Trier has said that each morning before filming (Dancer in the Dark), Björk would say "Mr. von Trier, I despise you," and spit at him.

  12. Vote!

    David O. Russell

    On Three Kings: Clooney noted that "there's an element of David that was in way over his head... he was vulnerable and selfish, and it would manifest itself in a lot of yelling." When Russell's frustration would lead to outbursts, Clooney would take it upon himself to defend crew members and extras, leading to increased tensions.

    On American Hustle: David O. Russell was reportedly so harsh in his treatment to the actors and actresses that Amy Adams cried nearly every day on set.

  13. Vote!

    David Fincher

    On Zodiac: Some of the cast was not happy with Fincher's exacting ways and perfectionism. Some scenes required upwards of 70 takes. Gyllenhaal was frustrated by the director's methods and commented in an interview, "You get a take, 5 takes, 10 takes. Some places, 90 takes. But there is a stopping point. There's a point at which you go, 'That's what we have to work with.' But we would reshoot things. So there came a point where I would say, well, what do I do? Where's the risk?"

    Downey said, "I just decided, aside from several times I wanted to garrote him, that I was going to give him what he wanted. I think I'm a perfect person to work for him, because I understand gulags".

  14. Vote!

    David Ayer

    On Fury: "Jon Bernthal claimed that the methods insisted upon by David Ayer to push the actors to their limits, including requiring that they engage in fistfights and be verbally abusive, required that the cast agree to confidentiality on certain things [...]"

    On Suicide Squad: "David would ask questions where you would reveal your biggest vulnerabilities and the stuff that you are ashamed of. He stored it all in his database, so at the right moment he would completely betray you." (Joel Kinnaman in Cinema Blend)

    (suggested by tylerlkeller)

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