Gene Hackman Was an Asshole on The Royal Tenenbaums Set
The Royal Tenenbaums was the film that cemented symmetry-obsessed director Wes Anderson's career after first getting the attention of independent film critics and liberal arts students with Rushmore. Anderson had a very clear vision for it from the get-go: from the moment that vintage typewriter type bar clapped against paper, the grumpy patriarch character of Royal Tenenbaum was written specifically to be played by Gene Hackman. That was a bold decision, considering Hackman really, really didn't want to be in the movie.
"Every moment of this is pure agony."
When Anderson started courting Hackman for the role, he sent the actor some preliminary artwork to help convey the tone of the film, which Hackman never returned, possibly because he tossed it straight into the trash. A portion of his shit-boiling rage was stirred by the fact that he resents being offered roles that were written with him in mind, which he told Anderson in a face-to-face meeting before Anderson had even started writing The Royal Tenenbaums. The other reason was money -- The Royal Tenenbaums didn't have much of a budget, and Hackman's character is in nearly every scene, which means he'd essentially have to work every single day of filming for a much smaller salary than he was used to.
The scene where he bet on a dogfight wasn't actually in the script.
Hackman eventually let his agent talk him into accepting the role, but not before making a solemn vow to be the biggest son of a bitch he could during filming. Making sure everyone working on The Royal Tenenbaums knew he'd literally rather be beaten to death with coat hangers than be in their fucking movie was just below "turn in a good performance" on his list of priorities. According to the cast and crew, Hackman became increasingly intolerable as filming went on, venomously snapping at people for the slightest transgression and generally making Anderson's life miserable. He treated Anderson like his no-good, hipster nephew, telling him to "pull up his trousers" and straight up calling him a cunt in front of the crew.