10Stanley Kubrick Gets Shelley Duvall to Act Traumatized -- by Traumatizing Her
Stanley Kubrick is one of the great undisputed geniuses of cinema. If every shot, every action, and every line of dialogue in his films seems perfectly staged and delivered, that's because, well ... they damned well had to be, otherwise no one was going home.
Stanley Kubrick: Master of the self-indulgent profile pic 50 years before the creation of Facebook.
Just to be clear, we're not criticizing him for being a perfectionist. Lots of people like to make sure shit is done just right. But at some point, you go past "perfectionist" into "obsessive-compulsive." Beyond that on the spectrum, you have "insane," "a danger to himself and others" and finally a category that experts have simply named, "Stanley Kubrick."
Kubrick is the rape-eyed photographer back there. In case you couldn't fucking tell.
So, for example, in Eyes Wide Shut, there was a totally inconsequential scene where Sydney Pollack had to get up from his chair, walk and open a door. That's all. There was no dialogue. Kubrick forced the actor to perform the same scene, walking from chair to door, over and over and over and over, for two straight days.
"You will never see your family EVER AGAIN."
But when it comes to Kubrickian acting marathons, nothing beats The Shining. The shoot was originally scheduled to take 17 weeks, but the director's insane perfectionism stretched it into a full year. Why? Well, remember the classic scene where a horrified Shelley Duvall swings a bat at an insane Jack Nicholson? That moment alone took 127 takes, which, according to Wikipedia, broke the record for "most retakes of a single movie scene with spoken dialogue."
It also holds the record for "most times an actress secretly wished a director would just fucking die."
The whole shoot was one hellish year of doing the same shots over and over again. Nobody suffered that year worse than Duvall -- Kubrick's constant screams and demands made her so stressed that her hair began to fall out. She became physically ill from being yelled at too much by Kubrick, which, by the end of the shoot, qualified as a real medical condition.
Apparently, Kubrick intentionally created a hostile atmosphere toward Duvall (as seen in the Making of ... documentary) in order to get a better performance out of her. How else was he supposed to get an authentic "HELP I AM TRAPPED HERE WITH A GODDAMN PSYCHOPATH" reaction from an actress?
Jack Nicholson just wasn't creepy enough on his own.
9The Wizard of Oz Assaults Actors with Toxic Metals, Fire
Most people associate The Wizard of Oz with psychedelic color schemes, Pink Floyd conspiracies and big crowds of the happiest goddamn little people you ever saw. Rumors that one of those little guys hanged himself on-screen have been thoroughly debunked -- so really, the only reason we're including the movie on this list is that they kept almost killing people, and also setting their faces on fire.
We still say there's somebody hanging in those woods.
Filming The Wizard of Oz wasn't as fun as it looked. The Technicolor process was expensive and time-consuming, so to cut down costs, the producers pushed the actors through 16-hour days, six days a week, on brightly lit soundstages that quickly reached more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit (and that was outside the carpeted lion suit).
The mask was specifically designed so you couldn't tell how much he was suffering.
But hey, we've all worked long hours, and probably for less pay. So how bad could it have been?
For one thing, the aluminum-powder makeup used for the Tin Man almost killed the first actor cast on the role. An allergic reaction gave him breathing problems and horrible body cramps that made him wake up at night screaming in panic, but the studio heads didn't really believe anything was wrong until they saw him lying on a bed, connected to an artificial lung. So they recast the part and changed the makeup to something less dangerous -- which then infected the eye of the new actor. The Wicked Witch had it pretty rough, too: Her makeup was so heavy that, for 16 hours a day, she could eat only through a straw. That distinctive green color was actually copper -- which is unfortunate, because copper happens to be an excellent conductive metal, and that's not something you wanna have all over your face when people are shooting fire all around you.
Imagine how permanently and irrevocably different your life would have been with this Tin Man.
In an early scene, the filmmakers made fire erupt from the ground to conceal the witch's exit as she was lowered by an elevator, but then the mechanism jammed and she caught on fire.
She's burning to death underneath that orange smoke.
The copper on her face made treating her burns all the more difficult. After being rushed to the hospital, the actress insisted on a stunt double for the next scene involving pyrotechnics. Given that the stunt double was also badly burned, we're going to go ahead and say she made the right call there.