Werner Herzog is a documentary filmmaker with the voice of a Bavarian android on lithium. He's responsible for Grizzly Man, which is the most unintentionally hilarious tragedy ever captured on film. Herzog also recently appeared in Jack Reacher, which is the second most unintentionally hilarious tragedy ever captured on film.
More people went to see the bear movie.
But you don't need to know any of that. Because Werner Herzog's resume outside of filmmaking consists of shitgoose-insane awesomeness that would be impressive even if he were just some random nobody. Which he isn't.
#3. He Got Shot During an Interview and Just Carried On
While being interviewed by the BBC about the impending release of Grizzly Man, Werner was in the middle of delivering a sentence steeped in indecipherable Austrian mysticism when somebody shot him in the fucking stomach:
Werner barely reacts, while the interviewer and his camera crew begin to freak out a bit and look for the shooter. But Werner assures them that he doesn't need any medical attention and insists on continuing the interview. So, the interviewer logically concludes that it must have been a BB gun or something that shot Werner's crazy ass, and they drive to an indoor location to avoid further projectiles. However, when they ask Werner to let them get a shot of his injury on camera, he reluctantly lifts up his shirt to reveal an actual goddamned bullet wound (small, but a freaking bullet wound nonetheless) bleeding through his mottled Grimace underwear.
"Arnold's Terminator was loosely based on my life."
When the interviewer again urges Werner to go to the hospital, the daffy Black Forest bastard says, "It was not a significant bullet. I am not afraid."
#2. He Ate His Shoe Because He Lost a Bet
The documentary short Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe is a film that spectacularly lives up to the promise of its title (unlike certain other movies). As the previous sentence may have led you to guess, in this film, Werner Herzog eats his shoe (after delivering a bizarre missive against television in which he suggests, with stone-faced sincerity, that we as a people literally kill the cast and crew of Bonanza).
Why the hell is he doing this? Because he bet Errol Morris (another now-famous documentarian) that Morris wouldn't finish his first documentary film, which was about pet cemeteries. Morris did finish his film, so Werner was honor bound to pay up. (Or eat up. Whatever.)
However, since Werner's integrity is matched only by the howling cats in his mind, he had the shoe boiled with garlic, herbs, and stock for five hours by super chef Alice Waters. Because if you're going to eat a shoe, you might as well go all-in.
#1. He Pulled a Massive Steamboat Over a Mountain
In 1982, Werner made a film called Fitzcarraldo about a fringe-lunatic Irishman who has a 320-ton steamship pulled by hand over the mountains of Peru so he can reach a river on the other side.
Literally the entire movie is focused on this task.
In order to capture this in the most realistic way possible, Werner built a 320-ton steamship and hired a bunch of locals to pull it by hand over a Peruvian mountaintop, because special effects can eat a dick.
"Yeah, right up there. Awesome."
The production wasn't without other difficulties. One of the lumbermen on the crew was bitten by a highly venomous snake and had to make one of two split-second choices: either die in the jungle or immediately cut his own leg off with a chainsaw. This being a Werner Herzog production, the leg had to go. We assume Werner held the chainsaw, or at least tore strips from his purple underpants to use as a tourniquet.