We've been conditioned to expect the biggest and brightest stars of the entertainment world to have one or two screws loose. After all, you can't be Hollywood royalty for long before you start to lose touch with reality. But you rarely read any news stories about crazy directors, which is strange.
Because, generally speaking, the director is the craziest person on set, possessed with the sort of creative tunnel vision that allows them to completely disregard human life and the mental health and safety of the cast and crew for the sake of completing the film. Here are six reckless visionaries responsible for film productions that could arguably be considered crimes against humanity.
6The Director Of Dr. Moreau Gets Fired, Shows Up In An Animal Costume After Living In The Jungle For Two Months
New Line Cinema
The Island Of Dr. Moreau is a legendarily terrible film about two egotistical dickfarts who try to turn animals into people until everything explodes. The story of the making of the 1996 version of The Island Of Dr. Moreau is somehow more insane than that last sentence.
Before filming had even begun, director Richard Stanley was in danger of being thrown off the movie, because New Line Cinema didn't have faith in his ability to direct a big-budget studio film. So he enlisted the help of a warlock to perform a good-vibes blood magic ritual in order to guarantee that the movie got made. That is not a joke. Stanley got his wish -- New Line went ahead with the production, with him as director and Marlon Brando and Val Kilmer as his two stars. However, the magic turned out to be more of a curse than a blessing, sort of like a monkey's paw wish or an episode of The Twilight Zone.
New Line Cinema
We didn't say a good episode.
First of all, the movie required a ton of live animals to be shipped out to the coast of Australia, where filming was to take place. Naturally, the animals were caught in a hurricane in transit, and Stanley refused to leave the ship until all of the animals were safely removed. This is another way of saying that a terrified puma, suspended in its cage in mid-air as they tried to ferry it from one ship to another, pissed all over Stanley and the crew, thus setting the tone for the rest of the film.
Brando's arrival on set was severely delayed for personal reasons (Brando's daughter had suddenly committed suicide), and Brando had been one of Stanley's most vocal (and only) supporters. So Stanley was forced to try to film around Brando's absence, which meant trying to get all of Kilmer's scenes done. This proved to be difficult, because Kilmer, who was an actual movie star back in 1995 and not the confusing punchline he is today, was fighting the director at every turn, issuing an endless list of movie-star demands. One such demand was the construction of a treehouse, which Kilmer felt was the only natural place his character would want to stay. Stanley pointed out that there was no treehouse in the script, and that they were not about to build a treehouse just to accommodate him. Kilmer responded by making sure Stanley got fired from the film.
Stanley, however, did not go quietly. He trashed all his notes, storyboards, and production art so that whoever was brought on as his replacement would not be able to use any of his ideas. New Line had him escorted to the airport to fly him far away from the production before he caused any more damage, to which Stanley heroically responded by not getting on the plane and instead scurrying off into the Australian rainforest, where he hid for several months. (Actual quote: "I lived for two months underneath a tree with two dingo pups, figuring out what the heck to do.")
Eventually, a few members of the production still loyal to Stanley found him in his jungle retreat and took him back to set disguised as one of the film's many animal extras. You can actually see him in the finished film, shambling around in a giant dog mask mere feet from Val "I want my treehouse" Kilmer. Only a few people had any idea Stanley was there; the rest, including Kilmer, Brando, and the studio heads, thought he had simply disappeared into the ether. And so, beneath a rubber dog mask, Richard Stanley got a front row seat to watch the movie he got fired from become one of the most famous disasters in cinema history.
The mask looks like how watching the movie makes your brain feel.
5Brigitte Bardot Is Tricked Into Poisoning Herself By "The French Hitchcock"
During his directorial career, Henri-Georges Clouzot earned himself the title of "the French Hitchcock." That appears to be quite an accolade, but it's only partially because of his masterful use of suspense; he earned the other part of that nickname by being a goddamned lunatic. Like Hitchcock, what he did to his actors behind the scenes was as much a part of his reputation for terror as what occurred on-screen.
You see, Clouzot had a very loose understanding of the term "acting." He believed that the only way to elicit genuine emotions from his actors was to subject them to intense mental and physical harm and then film their reactions for money. Everybody who worked with Clouzot became a method actor, since they were always in genuine terror. For instance, in his film Les Diaboliques, one scene required the characters to eat putrid fish. So, rather than substitute in some namby-pamby fake fish (or real fish that wasn't actually rotten), Clouzot forced the actors to eat mouthfuls of raw, putrefying fish.
Note: The actress in the scene was his fucking wife.
In another film, The Wages Of Fear, Clouzot forced star Charles Vanel to be submerged up to his neck in a barrel of crude oil, which is typically a punishment reserved for the villain in a Steven Seagal movie. But, Clouzot's most famous and horrific act involved superstar Brigitte Bardot.
Not a line from the script.
Bardot was cast in Clouzot's film La Verite, and one scene required her to fall asleep and drool. Clouzot did not have enough faith in Bardot's ability to pretend to be asleep and slobber all over everything, so he did what any true champion of the craft would do -- he slipped her some sleeping pills and told her they were aspirin. Bardot passed out and drooled perfectly, preserving Clouzot's vision. The only problem was, she then immediately had to get her stomach pumped, because Clouzot had given her an overdose.
The most genuine method actor to work for Clouzot was his first wife, Vera.
Oh, it gets worse than the fish.
She suffered from a weak heart, but that didn't bother her husband. In one film, he made her perform a taxing mental breakdown 48 times (she died two years later of a heart attack). We doubt that she was acting.