Actors can be sweet — and sour. From ones who treated costars badly to all-around jerks, Michael Musto names 10 of Hollywood’s biggest pains in the ass. (Variety.com photo)
Lord knows if I landed a role in a major motion picture, I’d be the sweetest thing on Earth, so everyone would light me well, not to mention hire me for the next movie!
But some other actors are a little more complicated. Actors are vigorous artists who often have to tap into their darker sides to play a role, and occasionally those feelings spill over into their real-life antics. Other times, they are simply fighting for a cause and won’t back down, determined to make things right on a TV or movie set so they won’t have something embarrassing on their resume. And other times, they’re just plain nightmares!
Whatever the cause of their frisky behavior, coworkers have complained about the experience, wishing they’d have put a lid on it. Here are the 10 most challenging actors of legend (and bear in mind that some of them have reformed, mellowed, and/or changed — though others died before getting to that advanced state).
A talented Broadway actor, Mandy quit “Chicago Hope” (then later came back) and split “Criminal Minds” as jaws dropped. He admits that during the first show, he refused to let directors even talk to him because he felt he’d already worked with the best and didn’t want to hear what these people had to say. Mandy later told The New York Times, “I behaved abominably,” and he regretted it. But that was hardly the end of his weird behavior. In 2000, Mandy appeared on Broadway in “The Wild Party.” The New York Post reported that he dove so deeply into his psychotic clown role that he ad libbed abusive bits of business and was prone to emotional outbursts. In retaliation, costar Toni Collette gave him an onstage shove and as a result, Patinkin threatened to quit and sue. (He didn’t.) Fortunately, Mandy’s not prone to bad press anymore, having dazzled on “Homeland.”
The blisteringly funny comic had a rough background and personal problems, along with serious drug issues, and he wasn’t always like butter on a movie set. Costar Gene Wilder wrote about how Pryor would make extreme demands, like insisting on being flown by helicopter onto the set every day. What’s more, Pryor would sometimes imagine racially oriented disses against him, and it’s been suggested that he did that to up his paycheck. Working with him was a nonstop rollercoaster ride, but there’s no denying his genius.
Marilyn had an awful childhood, having been pawned off into an orphanage, and she was determined to make every adult pay for this, one by one. Now that everyone wanted her, Marilyn had the power in her hands, so she came late — if at all — to movie sets and would often drive her costars crazy with her inability to get a line right, resulting in multitudes of takes that would wear out everyone within miles. But Billy Wilder said it was still worth working with her. Why? Because she was Marilyn Monroe!
The British Oscar winner was mean to young, talented Julie Andrews when they did “My Fair Lady” on Broadway. He was rotten to Anthony Newley and other costars on the set of “Dr. Dolittle.” And when he was rehearsing a play with Claudette Colbert, he nastily asked someone, “Where’s the French dwarf?” He didn’t know that Colbert was lurking right there in the room and heard every syllable. She never spoke to him again except in French. By the way, two of Harrison’s lady loves ended up killing themselves because of relationship problems. Coincidence?
The two-time Oscar winner battled with execs, directors, costume designers and everyone else, but probably for the right reasons. Warner Bros. tried to shortchange her in terms of opportunity, and as a result, she had to fight to get better pictures or to make bad pictures at least acceptable. Bette was a trailblazer with fire in her veins, but it must have been a bit hellish to work with her — especially if you were Joan Crawford.
An appealing child star ended up battling drug and booze problems, romantic crises and warring parents with agendas and became the globe’s biggest mess. By the time she did 2007’s “Georgia Rule,” costar Jane Fonda told the press that Lindsay needed to slow down and stop partying or she might have to pay the piper. It finally seems like she’s on the road to doing so, having scored with a London stage play and a few other projects. The question is will anyone trust Linz enough to give her a real comeback?
Do I even need to explain this one?
Crowe feels he’s been wrongly saddled with a bad-boy image, though you could probably line up all the people who’d disagree with that and have a helluva party. On the bright side, the aforementioned Jane Fonda recently worked with Crowe and found him “smart and thoughtful.” But director Taylor Hackford has a different take, which I’ll paraphrase: Crowe was difficult even before he was a huge star, but it’s worth it.
When his career was sizzling, Kilmer got a reputation for being so challenging to work with that director John Frankenheimer (“The Island of Dr. Moreau”) said, “There are two things I will never ever do in my whole life; I will never climb Mt. Everest and I will never work with Val Kilmer ever again.” Climbing Everest would be a lot more fun! Reportedly, Oliver Stone and Joel Schumacher agreed. But Warwick Davis, Val’s tiny costar from “Willow,” swore the guy is hard-working and professional. In any case, Val’s apparently mellowed — and he’s also battling an illness — so we wish him all the best.
In describing certain directors’ reactions to Sellers, Steve Pond wrote: “He showed up late and left early. He had strange color phobias. He could be cruel and capricious and impossible. He occasionally left broken men and shattered careers in his wake.” But boy, was he funny!
Michael Musto is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine.