Actors are a different sort of people once they get to the big leagues of Hollywood. They can make tens of millions playing pretend for a few months. That’s not a lifestyle most of us will ever understand. And it seems to go to the heads of some actors who put some questionable demands on their coworkers when it comes to making movies.
10. Salvador Dali’s Dune Payday
Dune is something of a cultural phenomenon these days. David Lynch’s 1984 movie was a cult classic and the 2021 remake managed to really capture the imagination of audiences with updated special effects and a different interpretation of the source material. But what about Alejandro Jodorowsky’s 1970s version?
Before Lynch, Jodorowsky tried to make the movie and it would have featured an amazing cast, including Mick Jagger, Orson Welles, and David Carradine. The director also snagged one unexpected star in the form of artist Salvador Dali. He was set to play the Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV. The eccentric artist agreed to take on the role with one very particular condition. He demanded he be paid $100,000 per hour so that he could be the highest paid actor of all time.
Jodorowsky either felt getting Dali was such a coup he couldn’t say no or he really wanted to spite the man for his request because he agreed to the terms. He then cut the character’s role down so severely that Dali was only needed for one hour, or $100,000. The movie never got off the ground though, so we never got to see what $100,000 buys from Salvador Dali.
9. Gary Busey’s Heaven
Gary Busey is known as one of the most eccentric actors in Hollywood. Whether as a result of some very drug-fueled early days in Hollywood which included snorting cocaine off a dog or his 1988 motorcycle accident that nearly killed him, he’s been through some stuff. And it’s that latter point that resulted in what must be one of the strangest demands an actor has ever made.
In 2003, Busey was cast in a movie called Quigley. The plot of the movie is that a greedy CEO dies in an accident and God sends him back to earth as a Pomeranian dog named Quigley. Busey played the man/dog.
Obviously the plot requires a scene in Heaven, but Busey stopped production when he was supposed to film it. He told the director he’d already been to heaven as a result of his 1988 accident and the heaven they built on set was not accurate. He made them make changes, which included getting rid of mirrors because heaven doesn’t have any. He was so committed to his vision that, according to co-star Curtis Armstrong, Busey got into a fistfight with another actor who had also had a near death experience and disagreed with Busey’s vision of heaven.
In any event, Busey wouldn’t continue filming until they made changes to the look.
8. Deer Hunter Live Round
When it comes to method acting, and we’ll touch on that later, most people tend to think of Jared Leto or Daniel Day-Lewis these days. But it’s worth remembering that the legendary Robert DeNiro falls into this category as well. For most of his roles, this included a lot of heavy research and even physical training so not to the extreme level we usually associate with modern method actors of note. But that wasn’t the case with every role and, arguably, DeNiro takes the cake for being the most method actor ever with his on set behavior during the filming of The Deer Hunter.
In what is still considered one of the most powerful scenes in cinema, DeNiro’s character is forced into a game of Russian Roulette with Christopher Walken by soldiers holding them at gunpoint. It’s about as tense as any scene you’ll ever see, and it’s made even more intense when you find out how DeNiro insisted the scene be filmed. He wanted a live round in the gun.
The gun was checked before every take to ensure that the bullet was not the next round, and it must have been a psychological thing for DeNiro. But try to imagine an actor pulling that on a set today.
7. Tony Clifton’s Contract
Comedian Andy Kaufman blurred the lines between reality and performance back in the 1970s and ’80s. He was eccentric and unpredictable and people either consider him a genius, a madman, or an idiot. Sometimes all three. But he rose to fame on the show Taxi and people loved him there, so the producers were willing to give him a lot of latitude.
Kaufman had an alter ego, a character he played on stage called Tony Clifton. Clifton was an obnoxious, overweight lounge singer character who himself wasn’t funny, but the joke was that he was so over the top that was supposed to be funny. At least to some people. As Clifton, Kaufman didn’t care who he offended or how, and it rubbed a lot of people the wrong way.
In order to get Kaufman to appear on Taxi, the producers had to agree to his contract demands. One of those was that Tony Clifton was going to appear on the show. In fact, a separate contract was made out for Tony Clifton.
Clifton was a terrible actor and showed up on set with two prostitutes. Producers told Kaufman that Clifton was being fired, and then, when they did so at a table read as per Kaufman’s demands, Clifton threw a fit and had to be removed by security. Remember, these are both the same guy.
6. Prince’s New Girl Cameo
There’s no doubt Prince is a musical icon, and the man had himself a bold, weird personality. He was notoriously outspoken and not afraid to turn down opportunities other people would have crawled through hot coals to have. So on the rare occasion when Prince did agree to do something a little off the beaten path, you have to assume everyone went out of their way to keep him happy.
When it came to acting, Prince did very little. He was in a handful of movies, most of which he directed himself, and two television appearances. His first TV spot was on the Muppets Tonight in 1997. And then, two years before he died, he appeared on the sitcom New Girl.
Prince was apparently a fan of the show and actually asked if he could be on it. So you’d think he’d be light on demands since he was making the request. But it turns out, he did have one serious demand about how the episode would go down and it involved banishing someone else.
In the episode, Prince played himself and had a party. As scripted, the Kardashians were supposed to be at the party and both Kris Jenner and Khloe Kardashian had filmed a quick cameo. So far so good? Not quite.
Turns out Prince really disliked the Kardashians. He once kicked Kim Kardashian off stage at a concert some years earlier. So his people told the New Girl producers that Kardashians would never be at one of his parties. The producers literally burned all the copies of the script that mentioned them and then cut them from the episode.
5. Ben Affleck’s Hat
Ben Affleck loves Boston. Everyone who knows Ben Affleck knows this. And that’s fine. Lots of people love the cities they come from, and their local sports teams. But Affleck’s love of Boston takes on a new dynamic that has literally interfered with his work in the past.
On the set of the movie Gone Girl, often considered one of Affleck’s best, the director David Fincher needed Affleck to do one simple thing when his character was in New York. He had to wear a New York Yankees hat. As in, the arch rivals of Affleck’s beloved Boston Red Sox.
Remember, this is just an actor playing a role. A pretend person… who isn’t real. And Affleck would not do it.
On the director commentary track, Fincher referred to Affleck as being entirely unprofessional and mentions it shut production down for four days. In the end, they compromised on a Mets hat.
4. Sean Bean Walked Middle Earth
The Lord of the Rings trilogy still stands as one of the greatest cinematic masterpieces ever made. It was a massive undertaking and while today we’re more used to expansive cinematic universes; the trilogy was a real feat when it was made. And it was colossal in scope. It took 438 days to film the entire adventure, which is a hell of an investment of time and effort from all the actors.
The time and effort put into making the movie takes on a new level when you take one actor’s needs into account. Sean Bean, famous for dying tragically in almost everything he’s ever starred in, had a very unusual requirement. Bean is terrified of flying. On paper that doesn’t sound like a big deal. There aren’t a lot of planes in Middle Earth. But there were mountains, and the cast needed to be flown by helicopter up into those mountains to film their scenes. Bean refused, and while everyone else flew, he just climbed the mountain like a boss. He was dressed in full Boromir armor and had to spend several hours catching up.
3. Mike Myers Loves Chocolate
Despite how silly most of Mike Myers’ roles have been, he’s known to be a staunch perfectionist on set. In accordance with this, though he seems like a barrel of laughs on screen, he’s a big of an ogre in a non-Shrek way behind the scenes. And that has led to him rubbing coworkers the wrong way.
While demanding certain scenes or certain jokes be played in a specific way makes sense, not everything Myers has been accused of is in service to the final picture. According to his Cat in the Hat co-star Amy Hill, Myers was a nightmare to work with. She said not only did he put no effort into getting to know anyone, he went full diva on set. Between takes, Myers had a chocolate guy. What’s a chocolate guy? A guy who stands to the side of the set with a Tupperware tub of chocolate. When Myers needed a cocoa-based boost, his chocolate guy would run to his side with the Tupperware. Presumably, he didn’t share with the rest of the cast and crew.
2. Shia LaBeouf Goes Bloody Method
We discussed Robert DeNiro’s method acting earlier and how dangerous that was, but at least it was just potential danger. Shia LaBeouf doesn’t deal in potential. His method acting is fully dangerous and absolutely unsafe.
In the movie Fury, he played a tank gunner. To make the character more real, he decided to live life the way he felt a tank gunner needed to live. That included cutting back severely on things like hygiene. Rumor has it both the director and fellow actor Brad Pitt warned him that he needed to bathe because he was offending everyone else. When he refused, he was sent to a small bed and breakfast to stay by himself. But, most dramatically, in order to achieve the effect of a truly wounded warrior, he literally took a knife and sliced his own face open.
Over the course of the film, he apparently continued to reopen the cuts to keep them looking fresh. And, of course, he also had a tooth removed for no reason to complete the look.
1. Kirk Cameron’s Morality
Kirk Cameron is not well known to the kids of today, but if you grew up in the 1980s, he was like Harry Styles or Timothee Chalamet. Only, you know, more judgemental.
Star of the hit sitcom Growing Pains, Cameron was primed to be a teen heartthrob, but he took an unexpected turn – he became a born again Christian. And that’s a great thing for anyone to do if it makes them happy, but Cameron took his newfound faith and started forcing it on others. As the star of the show and the major audience draw, he held a lot of sway over storylines and even casting, and he used that to his full advantage. The most notorious example of this was how he had his character’s girlfriend dropped from the show.
Cameron’s character was involved with Julie, played by actress Julie McCullough. The two were supposed to get married in season five of the show. But between four and five, Cameron discovered she’d posed for Playboy two years earlier. He demanded she be fired.
Instead of a wedding, season five starts with Julie dumping Cameron and then she’s gone, never to be seen again. Word is this wasn’t Cameron’s only pious crusade against the show, and he apparently called out several producers for being “pornographers.”