5 Movie Shoots That Fell Into Death Threats And Madness
It's no secret that creative types can be temperamental, especially when you put a bunch of them together in the same room -- you wouldn't believe how many Cracked staff meetings descend into full-on mosh pits because we can't decide which word is funnier, "dick" or "dong." Add giant egos and easy access to drugs to the mix and now you know why movie sets are so chaotic.
In fact, those "creative disagreements" can sometimes be more insane and action-packed than the actual movies. Here are five backstage stories that prove movie sets should start keeping tranquilizer darts on hand:
Michael Bay Was Attacked By Two Guys With An Air-Conditioning Unit On The Set Of Transformers 4
There is a long, long, long list of reasons to criticize Michael Bay, but with all due respect to those of you wearing a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles onesie right now, no entry on that list justifies swinging a large metal appliance at his head. Which is unfortunate, because that's the situation he found himself in while filming Transformers 4 (the one with Mark Wahlberg) in Hong Kong. And no, the machine didn't turn out to be a little robot trying to stop Bay from committing cinematic crimes against his people -- a human threw it.
The problems began when a Paramount employee went around offering businesses $100 for the inconvenience of having their workplace turned into the scene of a robot fight. Two brothers running an appliance store felt this was insufficient and demanded $13,000 instead. When their counter-offer was rejected, they called some local toughs and started making a ruckus using bricks, metal carts, and loud music.
"You think senseless noise and destruction bother me? Do you even know who I am?"
When Bay told the brothers he wasn't paying shit, they returned an hour later with one of them wielding a "long air-conditioner unit," Bay wrote, because Hong Kong is apparently always on the verge of breaking out into a wacky martial arts fight. We'll let him describe the next part, because he makes it sound like it's a scene from his movies and he's the Shia LaBeouf character:
There's even pointless product placement.
Bay sustained unspecified facial injuries but managed to wrestle the air-conditioner away from the man and prevented "what could have been a serious incident," according to a statement from Paramount that was surprisingly restrained in that it wasn't accompanied by a sick guitar solo. The men were then taken into custody, and the filming of Transformers 4 was able to continue without a hitch. Hurray.
Their sentence was having to watch Transformers 4.
Steven Seagal Reportedly Can't Stop Kicking People In The Balls
Among many things! When John Leguizamo was working with Seagal on Executive Decision, they started with a rehearsal, as very few movies are filmed on the first take. According to Leguizamo, Seagal introduced himself by saying, "I'm in command -- what I say is law." Leguizamo obviously thought he was joking and started laughing, which prompted Seagal to elbow him in the solar plexus and knock him into a brick wall. It's that kind of no-nonsense dedication to his craft that earned Seagal's performance a, uh, Razzie nomination.
"Everyone respects me. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go shoot
one of the most undignified movie deaths ever."
Leguizamo has also said, "I'm not the only person he's hit without warning," adding that Seagal threatened to punch him for telling this story (which is an improvement, because at least he's giving people a warning now).
It would be easy to dismiss Leguizamo as a comedian exaggerating an anecdote, but so many people have surreal Steven Seagal stories that we're considering launching a sister site to catalog them all. Before actor/stunt coordinator/true badass Stephen Quadros worked with him on Exit Wounds, Quadros had already heard rumors that Seagal liked to bully stuntmen and put them through idiotic physical tests. In particular, he had heard that Seagal liked to kick them in the junk to see if they were wearing cups, which is a tactic we assume the multi-millionaire movie star learned on a middle school playground.
"I'd punch your nuts with my hand but, you know, no homo."
Quadros has noted that that he knows "guys has hurt to the point of having to have surgery" -- so when it came time to meet Mr. Nutcracker himself for Exit Wounds, Quadros was understandably concerned about the safety of his genetic legacy. What followed was a Monty Python-esque situation in which Quadros subtly tried to stand a little sideways as they talked, only for Seagal to move and place himself in perfect groin-kicking position every time. Eventually, Quadros made like a tree with an excuse to leave, only for Seagal to later come up and grab his wrist. When Quadros got out of the hold, Seagal pointed at him, said, "You're good," and strolled off, because Seagal apparently thinks that life is an action movie and he's the tough, eccentric police chief. Incidentally:
But to be fair, we can't blame this behavior on Seagal being an out-of-touch Hollywood asshole, because even before he was famous, he managed to break Sean Connery's wrist while training in aikido. Anyway, please send all punching threats through our feedback form, thanks.
Roy Scheider Assaulted (Then Got Drunk With) The Director Of Jaws 2
It's hard to imagine anyone experiencing an emotion on the set of Jaws 2 beyond "impatiently waiting to be paid" -- but at least one person did. Apparently, Roy Scheider, who was only in the sequel out of contractual obligation, saw his participation as an affront from both the studio and God and, in lieu of the ability to punch either in the face, decided to take it out on the director.
Who presumably hated Scheider for replacing all his dialogue with "You're gonna need a bigger boat."
Scheider was once again playing Police Chief Brody, which will be ironic a paragraph from now. He simply didn't get along with director Jeannot "Not Steven Spielberg" Szwarc, and he did not hesitate to let him know. He criticized Szwarc for wasting time, for obsessing over technical details, for not listening to his stars, and, worst of all, for being a glorified TV director. Which is a little unfair, because Szwarc directed The Rockford Files, and we'd love to see Rockford solve the case of a robot shark eating a bunch of people.
Anyway, producer David Brown, having grown sick of his director and his star sniping at each other, arranged a meeting/intervention so the two could hash out their differences. At this meeting, Szwarc told Scheider, "You have quite an ego," to which Scheider, a former boxer, responded by throwing Szwarc into a wall and kind of proving his point. So either the intervention didn't go well because all Hollywood meetings in the '70s had a two-cocaine-snort minimum or Scheider was a bit crazy. Or both, probably.
"Would a person with a huge ego throw this giant hissy fit?! Oh, wait, I see your point." *punch*
The two brawled, Brown took his attempted intervention to the physical level, and legendary film editor Verna Fields, who happened to be visiting that day, yelled at Brown and Szwarc to not ruin the star's face (his nuts weren't on camera so they were fair play, presumably). Eventually Fields got them to stop by sitting on them. At this point, it's important that you know what Verna Fields looked like:
That Oscar was Scheider's, but Hollywood law dictates that
you get to keep the awards of everyone you best in combat.
Once Fields had tamed the men, Brown pulled out a bottle of Scotch and got the combatants drunk enough to finally settle their differences. It's a good thing that Scheider didn't have access to an oxygen tank and a gun. But, as it stood, the men were able to put aside their mutual hatred long enough to roll up their sleeves and create a thoroughly mediocre sequel that no one's cared about for decades.
The Expert's Star Threatened To Kill His Director (For The Sake Of The Children)
You've probably never heard of Jeff Speakman or The Expert, but when you learn what went on behind the scenes you're going to want to sign the petition we're sending Netflix that requests they add it to their roster. It's basically Death Wish but in the '90s and with a budget made up of whatever loose change they could dig up by rummaging through their couch cushions. The sister of whatever Speakman's badass character is called gets murdered by a remorseless criminal, and when the judicial system fails him, he takes justice into his own hands. With extreme prejudice. Because this time, it's personal. Etc.
Alternate title: Ernest Wonders WTF He's Doing In This Movie.
According to director William Lustig, Speakman came to him during the filming of the climax and said he couldn't do the scene because it was too violent and wouldn't be setting a good "example for the children of America" (absolutely none of whom watched the movie). This was after most of the film had been shot and, you know, Speakman had learned about the project and agreed to do it -- it's not like he was under the impression that The Expert was about an expert chef who had to learn to become an expert at loving his family. Also, this is what Speakman's IMDb page looks like:
One of his most recent credits is called Hot Boyz, and we've never been more afraid to click on something.
So Lustig tricked Speakman into filming the shots he needed by letting him do what he felt would inspire the youth of America, only to later manipulate the bejesus out of the footage during editing. However, word got out and Speakman, a trained martial artist, stormed into the editing booth and threatened to kill Lustig with his "karate bullshit" -- all of which is making us wonder if Speakman was the product of an only partially successful attempt to clone Steven Seagal. Understandably not wanting any karate bullshit in his future, Lustig called it quits on the basically already finished film and had his name removed.
"Director" Rick Avery worked on Hot Boyz too ... as a stuntman.
But, shockingly, threatening to murder someone because you think their movie is too violent is not an effective strategy, and Lustig's cut of the climax remained. Double standards with violence were apparently just standard procedure for Speakman -- at another point during filming, Speakman had a tiny toady following him around with "a bag of weapons." To be fair, he did set an example for the Children of America, albeit only the ones that grew up to gawk at the low points of pop culture on the internet (say hi, kids!).
Russell Crowe Terrorized His Holocaust Survivor Producer While Filming Gladiator
At the risk of getting all political, Cracked's official stance on murdering holocaust survivors is, "Hey, don't do that. Go murder someone else." But, according to a book on the history of DreamWorks, the otherwise famously calm Russell Crowe threatened to do exactly that. Now, before we go any further, we should note that Crowe has denied this story. We ... think?
Twitter is so easy to use, even someone currently having an aneurysm can do it.
Anyway, Branko Lustig (no apparent relation to William Lustig; it's just a surname that attracts trouble) was one of the producers on Gladiator, and he and Crowe had a disagreement over what Crowe's assistants were being paid. The fact that Crowe thought his assistants deserved more money and that he personally stepped up to bat for them is admirable. The fact that he allegedly phoned Lustig at 3 in the morning and said, "You motherfucker. I will kill you with my bare hands," is somewhat less admirable, albeit probably not the worst thing Lustig had heard in his life, so there's that.
Lustig then supposedly called up Steven "Yes, Steven Spielberg" Spielberg, who was probably just trying to enjoy his monthly hour of sleep, and asked to leave the production, presumably while mentioning something about being too old and too much of a genocide survivor for this shit. This call didn't go according to plan, and Lustig had to settle for staying on and winning an Oscar for his work.
At least there's one more blunt object he can use to defend himself in his house.
There's no word on whether Crowe's assistants got their raise, but it's possible that the line "I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next" was actually an off-the-cuff threat from Crowe that everyone just decided to roll with.
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