Seeking a career that involves lights, camera and action requires an ego. Let’s be honest here, the whole spiel an actor might give about ‘not being in it for the fame’ is a rare truth—that’s completely part (if not the largest part) of being an actor in the first place. Fame, publicity and overall popularity lead to more roles.
That being said, an actor can be famous for the wrong reasons too. Either they get pigeon-holed into being cast as a certain role and don’t get any other characters to play—think Zooey Deschanel, will she ever not be the ‘girl next door’? Or Seth Rogan, the ‘funny guy’. Don’t get me wrong, there’s no point fixing something that isn’t broken, but sometimes, actors can be famous for something that is a little broken. I’m talking about enormous egos in case that wasn’t clear already. Here are some elite Hollywood actors who are notorious for being a nightmare on set but are famous enough to get away with it…
A truly good American actor who has received numerous prestigious awards and nominations, including a Golden Globe, Edward Norton is a real pain in the ass for production teams. He is known for wanting to be in creative control over his projects, and when filming The Incredible Hulk, which was directed by Louis Leterrier, Norton literally rewrote the script shortly before production by adding dialogue and character motivations. According to SlashFilm, Leterrier discussed how Norton and Marvel didn’t get along. The actor ended up leaving the role after the movie was made, and the Hulk character was recast because of it.
Another ‘girl next door’ type, actress Katherine Heigl has the rotten reputation of being one of the most difficult actresses to work with. It all started in 2008 when she criticised Judd Apatow’s Knocked Up (a movie she starred in) as being “a little sexist.” Fair enough, I guess, but she did take the role. Then similarly, she claimed that the writing in Grey’s Anatomy wasn’t good enough for her to be considered for an Emmy. Okay then, ungrateful much?
Bruce Willis is widely known for playing action heroes and the occasional drama scene, but the drama is mostly off-camera in his case. Director Kevin Smith stated that working with him on Cop Out was “soul-crushing.” At the wrap party, Smith said, “I want to thank everyone who worked on the film, except for Bruce Willis, who is a f*cking dick.” This isn’t the only time someone has criticised Willis’ behaviour either, there have been a multitude of complaints and TheExpendables 3 film took back their offer for him to play the part after he demanded a higher fee.
A somewhat unsurprising appearance on this list, the actress/singer/socialite Lindsay Lohan is known to be extremely difficult to work with because of her party girl habits leading her to be on the more erratic side of ‘on time’. Her The Canyons co-star James Deen referred to the actress as a “child lashing out.”
I have to admit, hearing about Jennifer Lopez being a diva off-screen slightly breaks my Maid in Manhattan fanatic heart. Truth be told though, the actress has a long list of demands that absolutely must be met if she’s going to appear in a film, at an event or even at a hotel. She reportedly requested she have a helicopter on standby, a custom-fitted speed boat and diamond-encrusted headphones to “drown out the sound of the boat’s motor,” as well as an entire floor of a hotel.
She is known to throw fits if she doesn’t get her way, for example, she allegedly lost it at hotel staff because they didn’t have her favourite grapefruit and lime blossom candles by Jo Malone (which cost around $500 each, by the way). Also, staff aren’t allowed to speak to her directly and she’s said to speak in the third person via her assistance. Tsk Tsk.
This is a little different to the diva drama actors listed above, but Oscar winner Daniel Day-Lewis takes his method acting very, very seriously indeed. For My Left Foot, he refused to leave his wheelchair while playing his paralysed character, forcing crew members to carry him around on set. While filming There Will Be Blood, the actor threw bowling balls at co-star Paul Dano for one scene, and this was after Kel O’Neill, who had originally been cast as Dano’s character, left the production because of Day-Lewis being too intense while in character. He even calls his co-stars by their character names off-set. You can read more about some of the others method actors who’ve gone too far here.
Another sad bit of gossip that I wish I’d never known, but our American sweetheart actress Julia Roberts just isn’t always that sweet after all. She takes enormous paychecks home for even the smallest roles, and the crew on Hook gave her the nickname “Tinkerbell” just for being difficult and demanding. To be fair, she was 23 years old at the time and her fiancé had just cheated on her with an exotic dancer.
I haven’t seen her around in a while, have you? Maybe there’s a reason for that, as Sharon Stone is known to throw the odd tantrum if she doesn’t get her way on set. She was said to have caused some extra drama on the set of A Golden Boy because she repeatedly left filming to use the production’s credit card on personal shopping trips. But that wasn’t the first time Stone was acting up either, when working with co-star William Baldwin—who she had beef with anyway—on the movie Sliver, the actress bit Baldwin’s tongue during a love scene so hard that he couldn’t speak for a week!
William Baldwin may have had his patience tested before though because his brother Alec is a little bit of a loose cannon on set and in general. In 2012, he was fired from MSNBC after he used homophobic slurs while yelling at a photographer. Then, while working on 30 Rock, he showed up late to work and yelled both at the cast and crew just because he decided to, Oh, he also made ridiculous complaints about things like the air being too dry. Again, ridiculous.
Julia Roberts’ ex-fiancé—yep, the one that cheated on her—has more reasons to be disliked other than that. Kiefer Sutherland has caused discomfort all over the place, when filming 24 his co-star Freddie Prinze Jr. said that he “hated every moment of it. Kiefer was the most unprofessional dude in the world. That’s not me talking trash, I’d say it to his face, everybody that’s worked with him has said that. And I just wanted to quit the business after that.”
Similar to Daniel Day-Lewis, the actor Jared Leto is apparently insufferable for all to work with due to his method acting off-set as well as on-set. According to MIC, Jared Leto was so committed to playing Michael Morbius in Morbius that when he had to go to the bathroom, he would use crutches and slowly limp off to relieve himself. But this was taking so long that a deal was made for someone to wheel him off in a wheelchair. Oh, and he also has a long history of paedophilia and predatory behaviour as well as a cult. Gross.
Apparently, the Desperate Housewives actress is desperate for attention too—not the good kind of attention—because she was reportedly anything but nice to her castmates and crew. They apparently disliked her so much that when the show wrapped for the last time, the stars got parting gifts for the crew and left her name off the cards…
The actor Russell Crowe has admitted that he has an attitude problem in the past. His temper and backstage demeanour have earned him a bitter reputation to say the least. According to Fandomwire, Crowe “would regularly shout at his script-writers, abusing them in phone calls while discussing the story.” And while filming Gladiator, he allegedly “threatened a seasoned producer and said that he would kill him with his bare hands because he is annoying the hell out of him.”
Alright, Shia LaBeouf was more than likely to make this list eventually, wasn’t he? His eccentricity begs for drama. The brilliant actor has a reputation for being a bit weird—he apparently refused to bathe while filming Fury and pulled his own tooth out. On the set of Lawless, he regularly drank large amounts of moonshine to appear bloated and puffy as his character demanded him to look. Co-star Mia Wasikowska actually went as far as to call her attorney due to the intensity of his method acting, and said she was ready to walk away from the movie.
Megan Fox is as hard to work with professionally as anyone who drinks their lover’s blood for fun would be imagined to be. She has a reputation for being disrespectful to the people she works with—after all, she was fired from Transformers after she referred to the director as “Hitler” in an interview.
Method acting is a term used to define a range of training and rehearsal techniques that seek to encourage sincere and expressive performances through identifying with, understanding, and experiencing a character’s inner motivation and emotions. The concept was first drafted by Russian theatre practitioner Konstantin Stanislavski in the early 1900s, who famously said, “Remember; there are no small parts, only small actors.” Though he did not use the term “method acting,” he encouraged actors to create naturalistic performances, which gave a noticeable contrast to the traditionally more theatrical and heightened style of that era.
A method actor is often consumed by their role—they meticulously research their character to gain insight into what it feels like to be them and why they make the decisions they do throughout the course of the play, series or film concerned. Long story short, it leads method actors to empathise with their characters’ emotions—whatever they may be.
Over time, it seems that the idea that an actor must authentically experience and feel the lived reality of the character they are playing has shifted into the only thing that US Hollywood actors deem to be ‘good acting’. Don’t get me wrong, it has given us a century of brilliant performers, acolytes of the so-called Method: Marlon Brando, Dustin Hoffman, Ellen Burstyn, Jane Fonda, Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel, Faye Dunaway, Jack Nicholson, Hilary Swank, Leonardo DiCaprio, Heath Ledger and more.
But some of the modern actors who are known to swear by the practice have oftentimes taken things too far. To show you exactly what “too far” means here, we compiled a top five of the craziest things actors did in the name of method acting.
When you think of method acting, chances are the first person that comes to mind is Jared Leto and how reportedly insufferable he’s been on countless movie sets over the years—his long history of paedophilia and predatory behaviour is also widely known, yet not many seem to be actually going after the actor for it. But that’s a story for another time.
More recently, Leto’s been making waves for his over-the-top behaviour while filming his latest movie, Morbius—which, it should be said, has received awful reviews since its release. In an interview with Uproxx, the Marvel movie’s director Daniel Espinosa was asked, “Someone told me that Jared Leto was so committed to playing Michael Morbius that even when he had to go to the bathroom, he would use his crutches and slowly limp to get to the bathroom. But it was taking so long between for pee breaks, that a deal was made with him to get him a wheelchair so someone could wheel him there quicker and he agreed to that. Is this true?”
Espinosa answered with a yes, to which he added that Leto felt he needed to mimic and fully embody his character, who lived with chronic pain as a result of a specific blood condition. “I think that what Jared thinks, what Jared believes, is that somehow the pain of those movements, even when he was playing normal Michael Morbius, he needed, because he’s been having this pain his whole life,” the director explained. “Even though, as he’s alive and strong, it has to be a difference. Hey, man, it’s people’s processes,” he concluded.
Yep, some overworked, underpaid below-the-line worker (maybe multiple) was given the task of pushing a multi-millionaire feigning a limp to urinate. And we don’t even know if Leto was assisted beyond being transported to the loo. His reputation as a nightmare to work with is not new either—we all remember when he sent dead animals to his co-stars on the set of Suicide Squad.
We have to admit, Daniel Day-Lewis’ acting was pretty impressive when he played the role of Bill the Butcher in Gangs of New York. But still, when the man decided he would rather freeze to death than wear a coat that couldn’t possibly exist in the 19th century, he just might have gone too far. The actor was so stubbornly and stupidly adamant not to wear a warmer coat between takes that he caught pneumonia.
“And I will admit that I went mad, totally mad… He [Bill the Butcher] was a bit of a punk, a marvellous character and a joy to be—but not so good for my physical or mental health,” Day-Lewis admitted himself when speaking to The Independent.
Prior to this little number, while preparing for In the Name of the Father, the actor lost 50 pounds (22.5 kilos) and spent two days in solitary confinement without food and water to get a feel of what some inmates go through. For Lincoln, he insisted everyone call him “Mr President.” Seriously?
For his role as the late American business magnate in the universally panned movie Jobs, Ashton Kutcher decided he’d try Jobs’ infamous fruitarian diet, which is made up of fruit, nuts, seeds and grains—nothing more.
Inevitably, Kutcher had to be rushed to the hospital and was diagnosed with pancreatitis. No one can tell us that the actor would have never been able to play Jobs without all those celery juices…
Usually, actors are given the option not to eat a live animal for a specific scene—and more often than not, most people go for that option. But you always get some strange exceptions to the rule. Nicolas Cage famously ate a live cockroach while filming Vampire’s Kiss. Actually, he ate two because they had to film the scene twice—and it’s even be said that he wanted to munch on a live bat instead of a cockroach.
But that’s nothing compared to Korean actor Choi Min-sik, who you might remember from I Saw The Devil, Lucy, and the movie where he ate a very much alive squid, Oldboy. It only gets worse when you know that they shot that scene four times, meaning that the actor had to eat four freaking octopuses. Oh, and it’s important to note that Min-sik is both a Buddhist and a vegetarian.
Christian Bale’s portrayal of emaciated insomniac Trevor Reznik in the 2005 thriller The Machinist led him to lose four stone (25 kilos) in only four months using an extremely calorie-sparse diet to ditch the weight from his previous role in American Psycho.
As reported by Men’s Health, “Across the four months of pre-production, Bale subsided on a diet of black coffee, one apple and a tin of tuna per day.” Speaking to Esquire, Harley Street health expert Daniel O’Shaughnessy explained that “this is less than 200 calories per day, so it’s not healthy at all. An extreme diet like this will play havoc with your metabolism and cause a lot of stress on the body.” You don’t say!