27 Responses

  1. Morrison
    Morrison at |

    Great list, and I can't argue about your list, but surely an honourable mention should go to David O Russell.

    Repeated problems on his films, including getting into a fight with George Clooney on the Three Kings set.

    Also, if you're talking about crazy directors… Quentin Tarantino? He's crazy as a loon.

    … but in a good way.

    1. Nathanael Hood
      Nathanael Hood at |

      When I designed this list, I wanted to focus on directors who had real problems, like those who were legitimately crazy or insane (i.e. Howard Hughes). But I hadn't heard about David O'Russell's escapades. Anyway, I could only include ten on the list and I already had an honorable mention. But thanks for the suggestion! I'll keep him in mind if I ever do a sequel list.

      1. Morrison
        Morrison at |

        From what I've heard, almost every auteur has an idiosyncrasy or two and I could not argue with any of your choices, and as you say, the above directors do seem to have serious problems with anger, power or even social norms.

        I think the reason that DORussell stuck in my mind is because I remember being shocked that George Clooney, one of the reputed 'good guys' of Hollywood, would be drawn into a fist fight by his director.

        Anyway, here's a link to a NY Times article detailing some of Russell's questionable exploits.
        Again, great list. Keep them coming.

  2. frank
    frank at |

    Shame you missed Alejandro Jodorowsky I was looking forward to seeing his name on the list…

    1. byron
      byron at |


  3. Soendoro Soetanto
    Soendoro Soetanto at |

    Thank you for the great list.

    Soendoro Soetanto

  4. Dude
    Dude at |

    Drinking brandy while reading your list amplified the effect of the alcohol a multiple times.. Hats off! One of the best list I've ever read.

    1. Nathanael Hood
      Nathanael Hood at |

      You flatter me, good sir. Hope my other lists can live up to this praise!

  5. Keith Watabayashi
    Keith Watabayashi at |

    I like this list, well done. I don't know if Kubrick deserves mention alongside the rest of these guys. Have you seen "A life in pictures"? It paints (what feels like) a much more honest portrayal of Kubrick and his supposed "craziness". He definitely had an obsessive personality and control issues when it came to his films, but that seems to be as far as it went.

  6. Trixie
    Trixie at |

    Catching up on my TopTenz posts in my reader — saw the headline for this post, and all I could think was Herzog so better be on that list! Good to see him as #1. Nice list. 🙂

  7. Sam Doych
    Sam Doych at |

    Haha I love the pictures you got for Kubrick and Herzog.

  8. MMJ
    MMJ at |

    Sigh. “Casted” is not a word. The past tense of “cast” is “cast.”

    Other than that, great article. Long live Herzog.

  9. PierPuccini
    PierPuccini at |

    What about Pasolini, Polanski and Donald Cammell??

  10. John B.
    John B. at |

    How could you forget Takashi Miike?!

  11. Anthony
    Anthony at |

    Kids was directed and co-wrote by Larry Clark. The same director of Bully and Wassup Rockers. Kids was actually Larry Clarks’ directorial debut, not Harmoney Korine.

  12. Mr. Xploit
    Mr. Xploit at |

    Nice list! Herzog, Korine and Lynch are personal favorites of mine. You never know what to expect from them but you can bet it’ll probably be new and amazing.

  13. JohnT
    JohnT at |

    Check out the Youtube video of Herzog *being shot* during an interview in Los Angeles. His comment – “It’s an insignificant bullet” – has to go down as one of the great understatements of the decade.

  14. Peter Boucher
    Peter Boucher at |

    How about David Cronenburg !!!!

  15. Chris Omar Scoggins
    Chris Omar Scoggins at |

    pretty solid list, and yeah there’s no way herzog can be on a list like this unless he takes the number 1 spot every time. awesome dude, awesome films, and out of all of the guys on the list he’d definitely the most slyly crazy director, which is what makes him the best. dude is like my idol

    while i agree there are a few names missing (although i expect that it happens with every top 10 list), i can’t say i agree with all those mentioned in the comments. david o russell might be insane in real life and on set but i wouldn’t say it has any impact on his movies at all, which are all pretty average imo.

    but yeah great list man. keep up the good work

  16. Terry Bigham
    Terry Bigham at |

    The guys on this list are totally sane compared to probably the world’s nuttiest director: Ed Wood, Jr. I mean, a guy who has cross-dressed most of his life (even wearing woman’s undies in WW2 battles!) and even made and played lead in a movie about a transvestite (Glen or Glenda?)…and lensed some of the worst flicks ever (Plan 9 From Outer Space has gained cult immortality)!

  17. skywatcher
    skywatcher at |

    I enjoyed this greatly. It must have been difficult to choose at times. The profession seems to attract the overbearing goofball.

    If there’s ever a second list, I’ll be interested to see it Hitchcock makes it. While he doesn’t seem to have had the problems these guys had, his cavalier dismissal of actors as “Cattle” and his horrible treatment of Tippi Hedren should earn him a place. You might also want to look at Friedkin, director of “The Exorcist.”

  18. Chris Omar Scoggins
    Chris Omar Scoggins at |

    oh yeah hitchcock is a good one, dude had some pretty questionable/insane methods of getting the most out of his actors

    and terry, ed wood doesn’t really belong on this list. cross dressing doesn’t really compare to the craziness of something like hauling a 320 ton boat over a hill. also the fact that he made terrible movies doesn’t really make him crazy; more of an idiot who isn’t really aware of himself

  19. Michael McDonnell
    Michael McDonnell at |

    Why haven’t they got James Cameron on the list, he’s last director you would be very nervous to be around when you really want to get off the Titanic as possible.

    Or Paul Verhoeven who’s obessed with sex and violence and you wouldn’t want to do a nude scene with him behind camera.

  20. Ma
    Ma at |

    Perfect list, i don’t think Lynch it’s a pretty normal dude in real life… haha, i would jim jarmusch in this list also.

  21. Marc
    Marc at |

    What an ill-informed piece!
    “[Lars von Trier] only uses digital cameras, making some projects difficult to shoot.” Um, no. As anyone with the least bit of knowledge about film production will be able to tell you, using digital cameras makes things possible that otherwise wouldn’t have been.
    Lars von Trier is not a devout Catholic. As he relayed in his last two Cannes press conferences, the Danish filmmaker is an atheist.
    “[John Waters’] films frequently have full frontal nudity, unsimulated sex acts, and realistic-looking violence.” How very crazy!!
    “[David Lynch] doesn’t allow cooking to take place in his home because he can’t stand the smell.”
    That is so 1997! Check out the video “David Lynch cooks Quinoa” and see for yourself that Lynch has come to love home cooking.
    Tip: Next time, don’t use fifteen-year-old trade magazines as your main sources.

  22. Sty
    Sty at |

    Great list! I came here while looking for information on James Cameron. I was watching a documentary on the making of Aliens and her really comes across as a true A-hole. Just read his Wiki bio. He must have the biggest ego in hollywood at the moment. From the success of Titanic, Aliens, Terminator and Avatar, I’m not sure who wouldn’t have an inflated ego.

    Some things that stand out are his totalitarian attitude while on the set, and his, well, cruelty towards cast and crew. He supposedly made Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio ran off the set crying – on the set of The Abyss. Apparently, while in their wetsuits during a scene, some of the actors, including Mastrantonio, had to pee – Cameron refused to let them leave the set and told them to go in their wetsuits! Also, he apparently accusingly told Schwarzenegger and JL Curtis that leaving the set to use the facilities was a “sackable offense” – on the set of True Lies…

    He seemed like a real dick during that documentary and a horror to work for. Well, I guess he has his vision and won’t let anything get in the way of it. His movies are some of the best out there. But, just maybe he should be on this list. I dunno.

  23. Charles Campbell
    Charles Campbell at |

    There are many directors from the silent or early sound era who could made this list. Also, did the U.S. Army have video cameras in 1944 and was not John Ford in the Navy?


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