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David O. Russell, "collaborator"
March 22, 2007 6:53 PM   Subscribe

Filmmaker David O. Russell's history of abusive behavior is well-documented. It spawned fistfights with George Clooney on the set of Three Kings. But two recent videos from the set of I ♥ Huckabees provide a telltale glimpse of how Russell's "directorial style."
posted by ed (97 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
These videos made me ... hot ... for Lily Tomlin?

Dear Brain:

WTF.

Love, me.
posted by user92371 at 7:06 PM on March 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


Wow that was uncomfortable. I especially love in the second part of the first video where he wanders off and you still hear him cursing in the distance, then he bursts through the set door and continues his tirade.
posted by saraswati at 7:07 PM on March 22, 2007


I tried to post this a few days ago, the clips got taken down almost instantly and I got snarked until Matt came and closed the post.

WHERE'S YOUR GOD NOW, SNARKERS???
posted by nathancaswell at 7:11 PM on March 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


AWKward...
posted by gottabefunky at 7:15 PM on March 22, 2007


wow this is so interesting, seriously, I'm only 20secs into the first clip and I have ran to alert my housemates. Thanks for posting.
posted by verisimilitude at 7:17 PM on March 22, 2007


I shall have to endeavour to avoid watching David Russell films now. What a collosal asshole.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:21 PM on March 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


I don't get it. I thought, given its level of outward pretense, huckabees was a pretty decent movie. as for the comment about "well documented abusive behavior" - i mean, i imagine abusive directors are a dime a dozen (especially those frisky european ones), and i'm not going to sit here and take tomlin's side over russell. and the clooney link you supply practically states as fact that the misunderstanding was clooney's.

i suppose if i were to make a two hour movie of me driving cross country, cap it off with a twenty minute blowjob with one of my actresses, call my critics "fat pigs", and then sell my sperm on ebay for a million dollars (and then provide a discount to jewish women because "this connection to the Jewish faith would guarantee [my] offspring a better chance at good reviews and maybe even a prize at the Sundance Film Festival or an Oscar."), then throwing a stack of paper across the room is pretty much fucking normal for a director.
posted by phaedon at 7:23 PM on March 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


i dunno, watch a kieslowski documentary to see a director who respects his actors... and david o russell, while not a hack, is no fucking kieslowski.
posted by nathancaswell at 7:26 PM on March 22, 2007


Here's Lily Tomlin's response.
posted by miss lynnster at 7:28 PM on March 22, 2007


My favorite part of that article:
Tomlin mostly laughed off the incident, and the leak of the video from the set. “After poor Britney Spears, with her poor little legs open … I’m not the least bit upset about it,” she said. “That’s part of the upside and the downside of the Internet.”
posted by miss lynnster at 7:32 PM on March 22, 2007


Honestly this is what I imagine most movie sets to be like at some times. It's a tedious process performed under a lot of pressure by highly specialized and necessarily egocentric individuals who can't help but spectacularly clash from time to time. And I'd know that even if I hadn't seen "Mommie Dearest" a hundred million times.
posted by hermitosis at 7:33 PM on March 22, 2007


Holy hell that was uncomfortable to watch. It seems to me that if one acted the way either Tomlin or Russell acted in those clips ever on a movie set, one's career would be flushed down the toilet in an instant -- but I guess not. I shudder to think what some other "stars" are like in their day to day work. Yeah yeah: millions of dollars, immense stress, personal relationship to "the work" (I hesitate to refer to it Russell's movies as serious artistic work but that's another matter entirely), etc., but how can you embarrass yourself like that in front of so many co-workers and collaborators (in any field, not just in Hollywood) and still be called a professional worthy of the respect of your peers? Making a broad, unfair generalizaiton here but I suspect L.A. is a miserable place.
posted by inoculatedcities at 7:34 PM on March 22, 2007


Anyone who has ever done community theatre has like, totally been there.
posted by hermitosis at 7:35 PM on March 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


i'd prefer you think of it as a miserable place. i'll sleep better tonight, what with my windows wide open, and a gentle breeze to keep my toes cool.
posted by phaedon at 7:36 PM on March 22, 2007


From the MiamiNewTimes.com article documenting Tomlin's response to the leaked videos:

“I love David,” she said. “There was a lot of pressure in making the movie — even the way it came out you could see it was a very free-associative, crazy movie, and David was under a tremendous amount of pressure. And he’s a very free-form kind of guy anyway.”

Uh...yeah. See, this is what I hate about Hollywood. He's a "free-form kind of guy anyway"? Jesus. I tend to take people at their word because words have power. If someone talked to me like that I would probably be willing to forgive him but not likely forget.
posted by inoculatedcities at 7:37 PM on March 22, 2007


You don't last as long as she has by badmouthing directors in public.
posted by smackfu at 7:42 PM on March 22, 2007


Sure it seems harsh, especially with no context, but c'mon, Lily knew exactly what she was getting into. Huckabees was her second movie with O'Russell (Flirting with Disaster). This is just the way some people work.
posted by FreezBoy at 7:43 PM on March 22, 2007


I'm glad that Lily Tomlin can laugh about it now because watching those videos, I was seriously starting to hate her. She was so damn yelly and whiny and button pushy, that some shit was going to go down. I'm sure that the director was changing his mind like a hundred times and giving no direction at all and probably a hundred million different other things, but damn, Rainman's there and he's not freaking out so just chill.
posted by 23skidoo at 7:43 PM on March 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


I was more sympathetic towards Tomlin before I realized that she was also in Flirting With Disaster. Given that she knew the director and still chose to work with him on a second flick, she goes up a few notches on my PrimaDonnaMonitorTMBETA
posted by WolfDaddy at 7:46 PM on March 22, 2007


I love Russell's films. Unfortunate he's such an asshole.

There is much documentation about him being a total dick in Rebels on the Backlot and Sundance Kid. The only place he's come across even mildly sypathetic is Down and Dirty Pictures.
posted by dobbs at 7:47 PM on March 22, 2007


That should be Sundance Kids, plural.
posted by dobbs at 7:48 PM on March 22, 2007


Pretty much confirms everything I've heard from friends who work in the movie business: a movie set is almost always a place of incredible tension and strife, between at least two people somewhere at any given time, if not more. Everyone on set, from cast to crew, has an ego, most people are educated and experienced, and clashes happen a lot.

I saw on a making of “The Shining” documentary that Kubrick deliberately berated Shelly Duvall throughout the shoot—criticizing her acting, embarrassing her in front of everyone. But he had a plan—it was all to make her character more alone and despondant. Directors often have these tricks they play on actors, but Russell and Kubrick seem to cross the line into cruelty.
posted by zardoz at 7:50 PM on March 22, 2007


Shee-it. Any person who gloats on the Internet about this kind of video has a hundred episodes like this in their own past. Hating someone because of a leaked video of them at their worst is the most juvenile reaction possible.
posted by mediareport at 7:51 PM on March 22, 2007


Well, from my experiences in the entertainment industry, I learned that it's actually not frowned upon for egos to occasionally get out of control and for people to berate and belittle eachother once in a while. Sometimes it's just a natural chain reaction that flows down the ranks -- it's part of the creative process!

And that, my friends, is why I no longer work in the entertainment industry. Fuck that. Nobody has the right to talk to me (or anyone else) that way.

posted by miss lynnster at 7:51 PM on March 22, 2007


Huh. I thought it was pretty entertaining.

I'm glad that Lily Tomlin can laugh about it now because watching those videos, I was seriously starting to hate her. She was so damn yelly and whiny and button pushy, that some shit was going to go down.

Eh, I can see how it would be pretty irritating, to have things switching up all the time, and really the director overreacted. He certainly shouldn't have been throwing things around like a gorilla, that's why we have words.

That's really what he reminded me of in the first video, a dominant ape trying to reassert his alpha status (which is what he was, I suppose)
posted by delmoi at 7:57 PM on March 22, 2007


I cannot condemn. Who hasn't acted this way on occasion?
posted by dydecker at 8:04 PM on March 22, 2007


My younger sister and I were stuck at Blockbuster one night, returning a broken movie, and we had to pick our replacement movie right then, or we lost the credit (suck it, Blockbuster- and you wonder why business is so bad). After looking at every possible thing, we settled on "I (heart) Huckabees", and went home to watch it with the family. Everyone hated it. I don't think anyone even seriously watched it to the end. I took a lot of grief for that decision.

Anyone who has ever done community theatre has like, totally been there.
Strangely enough, this is true.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:08 PM on March 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh let's just watch My Best Fiend again and hate eachother.
posted by OrangeDrink at 8:14 PM on March 22, 2007


Funny, all this has done is made me want to watch Huckabee's again. Which I am going to do right... now.
posted by hermitosis at 8:16 PM on March 22, 2007


I saw on a making of “The Shining” documentary that Kubrick deliberately berated Shelly Duvall throughout the shoot—criticizing her acting, embarrassing her in front of everyone. But he had a plan—it was all to make her character more alone and despondant. Directors often have these tricks they play on actors, but Russell and Kubrick seem to cross the line into cruelty.

Are you sure about that? I'm pretty sure I've seen what you're talking about (the one shot by his daughter?), and I remember Shelly Duvall saying that it was Kubrick's way of making her acting better. But somehow I got the impression that Kubrick honestly disliked her. Did Kubrick come out and say that it was part of his plan?

Plus, I don't really see how this could qualify as a trick by Russell. How does an angry Lily Tomlin make the movie or her character better?
posted by the other side at 8:16 PM on March 22, 2007


If you stopped paying attention to art produced by people who are/were colossal jerks (or, to be charitable, tremendously flawed) on a personal level, you'd be missing out on an awful lot.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:17 PM on March 22, 2007 [8 favorites]


Ugh, I was in a music group once where stuff less than that happened occasionally. At least we were amateurs. I guess when you're in a glamour industry, you're willing to put up with more shit. I'm not. I don't have to put up with anything like that.

Sure, we've all lost our temper at times, but the man was much worse, in the first video. When you're in charge, you have greater responsibility.
posted by Listener at 8:24 PM on March 22, 2007


The creative process is a weird thing. I think that freaking out and getting overly emotional can really help. Its kinda hard to explain for someone who doesn't/hasn't worked this way, but for me, being on edge or having a breakdown can be the best thing to get my creative juices flowing and get me really caught up in the moment.

i think specifically in the case of this film, Russell being totally crazy on set probably contributed a great deal to the end product (love it or hate it).
posted by teishu at 8:34 PM on March 22, 2007


working on set does not, and as card cheat suggests, should not be dictated by the principles of democracy, or, even more so, noblesse oblige. the lack of context with which these videos are presented, and the extent to which they "shock" people, amazes me.

imagine that canada has laws that aim to curtail physical violence of any kind, and at the same, lots of canadians will go out on a friday and watch hockey players beat the shit out of eachother in the name of sports and entertainment.

as for people who decide that this level of abuse "is not their thing" and "they're better than that", that's fine. but don't act like you're pulling some moral high card.

not to mention the degree to which this is prevalent in the entertainment industry, today - this is peanuts.
posted by phaedon at 8:34 PM on March 22, 2007


you're willing to put up with more shit.

Tomlin didn't especially appear to be "putting up" with anything. Russell may be a dick and a mediocre director (3 Kings is particularly hacky and plumbs the depths of 90s overstylization), but at least he had the balls to go after someone big enough to potentially get him kicked off the movie, rather than just abusing the PAs.
posted by drjimmy11 at 8:34 PM on March 22, 2007


the degree to which this is prevalent in the entertainment industry

yeah, it happens. But it happens anywhere volatile people are in positions of power. Much as the flyover states would love to believe the movie biz is populated by the absolute worst people in the universe, Hollywood is preschool compared to Wall Street or politics, just to name two.
posted by drjimmy11 at 8:37 PM on March 22, 2007


Hollywood is preschool compared to Wall Street or politics, just to name two.

Ugh. I totally agree.
posted by phaedon at 8:38 PM on March 22, 2007


(and yes I'm using "flyover states" semi-ironically here, seeing as it's a term that embodies what the rest of America hates about Hollywood. Also, it's really funny.)
posted by drjimmy11 at 8:39 PM on March 22, 2007


It's funny what kind of behavior is tolerated from people in the top 0.1% income bracket.

Stuff like this would get anyone who made $100k a year or less walking papers the same day.

What is tolerated from movie stars, pop music icons, and professional athletes is amazing. Politicians are an entirely different class/phylum of creature, equally loathsome, but for different reasons.

Personally, I don't really care. I wouldn't care if he had slapped Tomlin in the face and spit in her hair. But I think it's silly to just write all this stuff off as "oh, you know how those creative types are".
posted by Ynoxas at 8:43 PM on March 22, 2007


I love the term flyover states - and the way Atlantic and Pacific Coast Americans use it so glibbly.

To be able to disregard so many people with just two simple words...
posted by Samuel Farrow at 8:48 PM on March 22, 2007


I &heart; Huckabees is a film so dear to me that seeing these clips made me sick to my stomach - literally the feeling of shattered world views you get when you find out there's a hand up Elmo's ass, and exactly whose hand it is.

Maybe Catherine was right, and it's all just cruelty, manipulation, and meaningless. Or maybe it's just the stress of making a movie, an unconventional one at that.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 8:54 PM on March 22, 2007


meaninglessness, naturellement.

On further reflection:

-Dustin Hoffman keeps it so cool he's almost the only director type in the whole scene.
-I can't help but see Tomlin and Hoffman as the existential detectives, even if they're not supposed to be "on" in this footage.
-Russell might be suffering from a mood disorder.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 8:58 PM on March 22, 2007


Ugh, I totally agree with you goodnewsfortheinsane.

I heart(ed?) I Heart Huckabees.
posted by liquorice at 9:00 PM on March 22, 2007


Card Cheat, that's true. Some diva & eccentric behavior here & there in the name of genius is one thing. Just speaking for myself, I'm just not big on non-genius people who publicly scream at others (who are doing their very best to do their jobs well) just to enlarge their own egos and feel God-like, though. And I saw my share of that firsthand.

Phrases I remember overhearing people say to others: "What are you fucking deaf or just fucking stupid?" "I'm going to fucking rip your head off of your body if you don't get me some fucking lunch." "Why the fuck do you even have a job when you are such a worthless piece of horseshit?" You know... charming banter like that.

My first graphic production job in entertainment was at a place called Graphic Orb. I honestly don't care if I name it. I keep thinking the guy who ran it back then was named Bill, and that he's gone now. Anyhow, I was really young and totally nervous about doing movie work. My first project was doing retouching on some newspaper ad for the Vanilla Ice movie "Cool As Ice" of all things. As I worked away in the dungeon (they don't like to have the lights on due to a glare on the screen), I could hear some guy SCREAMING at people daily (I think it was that Bill guy). Just NASTY things. I was terrified. I still wasn't totally used to living in the city and my skin was still a little thin. I knew what I was doing but I was really green so I was just really intimidated as it was let alone with all of the yelling. I just couldn't figure out why he had to scream at people.

Anyhow, so I watched the anger trickle down through the ranks gradually. He would yell at someone... then that person would end up yelling at someone. Then that person would yell at someone. The environment really got to me. By the second week, I was drinking two glasses of wine every night after work and had started bumming my roommate's cigarettes.

Finally by week two the insults trickled down to me. An account executive asked me to stretch some type on a poster for "Feivel Goes West" (that was back when people were going crazy with manually stretching type -- which drove me CRAZY). I wasn't about to argue with her though, so I just smiled and asked her in my best people-pleasing voice, "Okay, so do you want it extended? Or do you want it condensed? In other words, do you want this type taller? Narrower? Or stretched out horizontally?" She looked at me and said, "I don't KNOW what kind of LANGUAGE I'm supposed to use for you. How STUPID are you? I just want the fucking thing STRETCHED. Is that so difficult?"

This was one of those moments where time kind of stopped. In that second, my skin suddenly thickened a bit and I grew up a little. I felt a total change in myself. The room got really quiet and everyone else froze. The guy sitting next to me mouthed "No." and I said, "Well, English would be perfectly fine." After we finished the project, I heard her go in the other room and call me a bitch.

I quit the job ten minutes later. I had instantly realized that the situation I was in felt completely wrong and abusive. I promised myself that I would rather go back to waitressing than have a career that exists in a toxic environment. Since then, I did go back to waitressing twice. Things are good nowadays, but at least I still have a backup plan.
posted by miss lynnster at 9:05 PM on March 22, 2007 [6 favorites]


Who's O'Russell????
posted by The Deej at 9:29 PM on March 22, 2007


miss lynnster: my time is extremely valuable
posted by phaedon at 9:30 PM on March 22, 2007


There isn't any excuse for being abusive to another person. If you don't agree with this, then maybe V for Vendetta made sense to you.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:35 PM on March 22, 2007


miss lynnster: a useless but interesting tidbit of movie trivia: the cinamatographer on Cool As Ice later won an Oscar for Schindler's List.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:37 PM on March 22, 2007


BTW, I'm not saying everyone is like that.
posted by miss lynnster at 9:45 PM on March 22, 2007


The lighting was too good -- these are faked.

Seriously, the car scene reminded me of the Travolta/Stanton flipout in Primary Colors where he threw the phone out the window into the woods. Heh.

I was also struck how Hoffman urged Tomlin to use the "adrenaline" of the fight to do a take. Hoffman, of course, is so famously a Method actor that when he went without sleep for N days doing Marathon Man, supposedly Olivier told him, "My dear boy -- try acting. It's much easier!" [snopes htread]

There was also a disingenuous question Letterman once asked Quentin Tarantino, roughly, "As a director, do you like actors to do what you tell them, or do you let them bring something of themselves to the performance?" Tarantino looked baffled, then said, "I hope they bring something to the performance!" Even a director with very specific stylistic and story needs has to depend on the collaborative effort of his cast.

All of which is to sort of get behind what Tomlin says in New Times, i.e. that sometimes there are heated disagreements but it doesn't mean they hate each other. I don't think she would have worked for him twice if he was really a problem director in the larger scheme of things. Or maybe he is a bear to work with, but she also knows what he can do as a director is important to bringing out a successful performance.

</wuss>
posted by dhartung at 9:49 PM on March 22, 2007


Hell, now I'm conflicted.

I guess it's good to discover Tomlin was giving back as good as she got? I'd watched the video via Reddit a day or two ago. Didn't realize the second half was her going off the deep end.

Lovely people, all. Surely they do deserve one another.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:57 PM on March 22, 2007


Roman Polanski drugged and anally and orally raped a child and won an Oscar. This is small potatoes.
posted by Falconetti at 10:02 PM on March 22, 2007


I know I saw Huckabees, but can't remember shit all about it. Now Kieslowski's films I remember very well. Including the tv series Decalogue—a wicked take on the 10 commandments. He's brill.

Who's this Dave fella¿

True some directors goad their actors to get a certain reaction or set a tone they want to achieve on film, but...not this time ]Dave trashes the desk clip[.

On a construction site, the shittiest paid workers put up with a lot worse for peanuts. Peanuts, just to put food on the table, now that sucks. Gouge city and undercut like a maniac. Say you're an illegal... now you're working for even less. The power/control aspect is stunning. Nay, mind numbing, don't know some can drag their ass into work, really.

I worked on a tv series, where the main actor was partying her face off every night, booze cans, coke... she started to muff every line ]the script that is[ and was totally losing it. They closed the set down for 2 weeks while she detoxed. They had to keep her, she was the star, on all the posters etc. That hiatus cost a pretty penny.

All kinds of shenanigans go on, for sure. Just a long day at work though, we're talking 16 hours days. It's not like that on every set though. You can dish if you're in some 'position' of semi authority, but if you're a grunt, you'll get shit on. Soon, it's like water off a duck..doesn't affect you nor register. You can get them back though, like the time I slipped a heavy duty quick acting laxative in that cappucino being delivered. Hey, where's....oh, in the loo again¿ LOL.

Exactly, phaedon, yo, Team.

I wouldn't be surprised that there's a high percentage of Borderline Personality Disorder types. Some businesses are like magnets to them. Now stroke me.

Don't be dissin' Dorothy, damnit./ I do enjoy her sharp tongue.

Big up to Lilly. Tell him off.
Set dec, fix that light. Stat. Ha./
posted by alicesshoe at 10:20 PM on March 22, 2007


Tomlin didn't especially appear to be "putting up" with anything

No, I meant if this is common in the glamour industries.
posted by Listener at 10:37 PM on March 22, 2007


When I worked with David O. Russell he called me "the antithesis of cool." I hated him for that.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:39 PM on March 22, 2007


OT: I'm happy to see that the heart icon is working on this post. It crashed & burned when I used it last month.
posted by miss lynnster at 10:52 PM on March 22, 2007


I have two words for you wusses:

Roman. Polanski.
posted by phaedon at 10:58 PM on March 22, 2007


Yup, Russell behaves as if he has either a mood disorder or the rageaholic, bullying behavior of HPD or BPD.

Lily was amazingly composed in light of his violent acting out, including throwing things at her, and intimidating tantrum.

In spite of his ugliness I loved I <3 Huckabees.
posted by nickyskye at 11:25 PM on March 22, 2007


Roman. Polanski.

Really?
posted by Wolof at 11:34 PM on March 22, 2007


oh man, if these were the kind of outtakes i got to see on the films i've worked on. this is what i live for, and why i work in post production. seeing these moments of what it takes (even when working for a psycho (not that o'russell necessarily is one. these situations can look a lot of ways out of context) it's still amazing) to make a movie are the little bits and pieces of creative work that make all the frustaration worthwhile.

being able to say "yeah, that's a funny movie, but did you know that [director/comedian x] honestly doesn't think he's funny? no shit, he sits around the edit suite talking about how he can't trust his own sense of humor, despite being a part of no less than 3 outstanding sketch comedy shows," is a great feeling. it's like being a griot delivering the secret stories of the gods to a hungry people.

whatever, i'm drunk. enjoy the nested parentheticals, haters.
posted by shmegegge at 11:49 PM on March 22, 2007


Phrases I remember overhearing people say to others: "What are you fucking deaf or just fucking stupid?" "I'm going to fucking rip your head off of your body if you don't get me some fucking lunch." "Why the fuck do you even have a job when you are such a worthless piece of horseshit?" You know... charming banter like that.

I quit a cooking job because the chef was like that, too. Why do the "creative types" get away with that stuff? Because they're harder to replace than the rank and file working under them and they know it. That being said, the director/star dynamic is a weird one and doesn't play by many rules.

personal brush with movie nonsense: spending part of a summer working on the financing of Air Bud II: World Pup. Ugh. It at least helps to know you're working on something worthwhile.
*sarcasm meter breaks; burns*
posted by dreamsign at 12:00 AM on March 23, 2007


Well, if it makes you feel better, let me repeat it: my first entertainment project that I had anything to do with was THIS piece of crap. Yup yup.
posted by miss lynnster at 12:33 AM on March 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Listening to the first minute or so of the first video - Tomlin critisizing the stage directions she was recieving - reminded me of her scene in The Player where she plays herself on a movie set, trying to shoot a scene with Scott Glenn. In both, she seems somewhat nervous and persnickity and you get the impression that, while she's acting more out of insecurity than bitchery, her behavior might tend to irritate her co-workers after a bit. Makes you wonder how much of the scene in The Player is just Tomlin being Tomlin.

Not that anything she does or says justifies Russell's temper tantrum. Even in the second clip, where she's much crankier.

One other note: Hoffman comes across as every bit as immersed in his work as the tall tales would have us believe.
posted by Clay201 at 1:01 AM on March 23, 2007


A family member was out in the desert on the Three Kings shoot. When I heard about the 'famous' Clooney/O'Russell ho-down I, naturally, asked him about it.

Was it awesome? Was it intense? Who was the bigger asshole.

It was pathetic. Imagine two white guys who don't know how to fight, fighting. It took hours.

Like with all work environments, if you're a dick to those below you at some point they will start urinating in your coffee. Or worse.
posted by From Bklyn at 1:31 AM on March 23, 2007


Hitchcock notoriously felt that actors should be treated like cattle. They were a necessary evil for him to create his films. Same goes for David Mamet (read his book 'On Directing' to find out about his 'methods'), Mark Romanek (there's an entire section on his Director's series DVD dedicated to people who absolutely despised him that have since come around), David Fincher (a perfectionist who is never satisfied, watch the way he inspires his SFX crew on Panic Room) and then there's James Cameron who is legendary in the hatred he inspires and the nervous breakdown he caused for Ed Harris while filming Abyss. As well as Kieslowski and Kubrick mentioned above. Hell, look at Herzog and Kinski. There's a tumultous actor/director relationship if you've ever seen one.

Actors and directors have personal relationships that take ages to iron out. The past relationship between the two people here has already been documented. Personally, I felt that Tomlin was being horrendously unhelpful and antagonistic. As Russell mentions, he's spent 3 years on this project to have an actress double-guess all his decisions in front of the crew is a situation no director wants to be in. It might be warranted and his reaction was completely inappropriate, but these things do happen.

There's a story from the set of Alien of John Hurt constantly asking Ridley Scott for motivation. At the time Scott was a young, untested director (with one independent film under his belt) making a big budget science fiction film, plagued by unhelpful producers, tensions between actors (part of which is visible in the end result), special effects along with a spiralling budget and ever-closing deadlines. In the end, he ended up screaming his head off to Sigourney Weaver (the most inexperienced actor on set at the time), who ran off crying. Later he explained to her that this was because all the things he wanted to say to John Hurt, e couldn't because of the hierarchy and so he took it out on her (with Hurt in the room to make him reconsider his approach, without being directly confronted).

What I'm saying is that Hollywood (and the music industry, art, figure skating, medicine, Wallstreet, whatever high-performance, high-pressure job you can think of) is full of these stories. Sometimes they create a better end result, sometimes they don't. Thanks to video-assist (which is what I assume is what we're looking at) and the internet, we are now privy to these things that would normally be stuff of hearsay and industry legend. This is not an isolated incident by any stretch of the imagination. To judge either person permanently on this altercation alone is ridiculous.

Whether you want to be in an environment like this is another question. It's not always like this, but it does happen. The lower you are in the food-chain, the less you matter. Much like miss lynnster, I made the informed decision a few years back that I would never work at the bottom of the industry. I don't respond well to temper tantrums and big egos.
posted by slimepuppy at 5:01 AM on March 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


The lighting was too good -- these are faked.

Have you seen I ♥ huckabees? The arguments were right on the set, where the lighting would have been setup to film, you know, the movie. the clips are apperantly right off the cutting room floor.
posted by delmoi at 6:54 AM on March 23, 2007


There's a story from the set of Alien of John Hurt constantly asking Ridley Scott for motivation.

John, you've got a fucking great bug in you. It's eating and clawing its way through your chest wall, shoving organs aside and breaking your ribs. So you're in a spot of pain, and you're feeling a mite down about it all because you've realized that having whacking great bugs chew you up from the inside probably doesn't bode well for you.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:36 AM on March 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Nicely said slimepuppy.
posted by nickyskye at 7:44 AM on March 23, 2007


The real measure of this sort of behaviour is: does it produce great art? If it produces great art, anything within the law is justifiable, as well as quite a few things outside it. Look at what had to be endured during the shooting of Apocalypse Now, or The Shining. Totally worth it, with change.

The next question being: is Huckabees great art? Or even any good? My answer to that is "meh".
posted by WPW at 8:08 AM on March 23, 2007


Hey delmoi, I'm pretty sure he was making a joke reference to this post.
posted by miss lynnster at 8:15 AM on March 23, 2007


Tangentially, I always loved the joke about actors and motivation.
Actor: What's my, you know, motivation? Where am I coming from with this? What's driving me to do this?

Director: The phone's ringing. Pick it up.
posted by scrump at 8:28 AM on March 23, 2007


The next question being: is Huckabees great art? Or even any good?

It's bargain basement Hal Hartley. And I fucking hate Hal Hartley, so you can imagine how I felt about Huckabees.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 8:34 AM on March 23, 2007


Nobody hates Hal Hartley quite like I hate Hal Hartley. I actually saw a poster at the Harvard Film Archive for a panel or some shit that said "Hal Hartley - The Last Auteur" and it made me want to strangle people.

ATTENTION FUCKWITS: JEAN-LUC GODARD IS STILL ALIVE AND HAL HARTLEY STILL SUCKS.
posted by nathancaswell at 9:16 AM on March 23, 2007


dydecker writes "Who hasn't acted this way on occasion?"

Seriously? Most people act like that on occasion? I've gotten right pissed before, but never anything like the director in the first clip. Do most people really lose it like that from time to time?
posted by Bugbread at 9:22 AM on March 23, 2007


Sure, they do. It might not be acceptable in an office, but if you're working on your own projects, then stuff like this happens. Especially in the music biz (can't speak for film business.)
posted by dydecker at 9:31 AM on March 23, 2007


Maybe it's like the less replaceable you are, the more license you have to say what you really think. I'm not saying it is right, but if someone like a film director or writer or musician has invested everything into a project, then it's pretty hard to fire them.

*I just got off the phone with a writer who was yelling down the phone at me. Nowhere near as bad as this situation, but what can I do? I'm relying on him, and he's working for peanuts*
posted by dydecker at 9:40 AM on March 23, 2007


It's so funny to see this crop up on the blue. A couple of days ago at work, we were looking at the clip with David O. Russell trashing his own set. I work as a film & TV editor, and so this was at a post production house. Everyone here was slack jawed at Russell's behavior.

The funniest thing for me was that the director of the independent film being cut in the next bay over (who is kind of an asshole, and has a reputation for being a screamer himself) smiled about it, and said "Well, next time someone complains about how I act on set, I'll just have a copy of this on my laptop..."
posted by MythMaker at 10:11 AM on March 23, 2007


"Who hasn't acted this way on occasion?"

See now, this is a big pet peeve of mine actually. Pardon my derail, but I shall now vent. Bear with me. Thank you.

See, I was raised in a house of screaming so by choice I am known to be a generally easygoing person. It takes a lot to piss me off & I'll put up with stuff for a long while. I'm not particularly high maintenance. Life is short. When I'm annoyed, sometimes I'll generally try first to be overly patient & understanding & to talk things out. But if someone crosses a line, that's it. When I'm pissed, I'm pissed. It's rare but it happens. And when it does (and it's usually for a really good reason), people freak right the hell out and act like I've gone off the deep end or am being irrational simply because they aren't used to seeing it. IT DRIVES ME NUTS.

For example, seven years ago I got into a fight with a friend of 20 years. She was being rotten and my last nerve was worked (I wasn't half as angry as I should've been, actually)... and she STILL can't get over that I got upset with her even though SHE was the ones who did something wrong. Last time I saw her, I offered to give her a ride and she snipped, "I'm not going to get into your car. The last time I did, you got angry at me." As though I have some habit of randomly yelling at people who enter my car. I wanted to shake her silly.

Anyhow, here's my point... meanwhile, there are people who run around screaming like freaking banshees on a daily basis... keying people's cars... throwing things... whatever. Often for ridiculous reasons. And PEOPLE ACTUALLY PUT UP WITH THAT. There are people who don't know how to communicate and all they do is yell... and someone isn't getting into MY car because I got annoyed one time in 20 years? WTF!??!?!?!??

I know it's because my occasional annoyance is surprising, but Jesus. It's not fair. Just once I want to get crazy mad at someone without people acting like something's wrong with me. Sometimes being pissed off is very enjoyable.
posted by miss lynnster at 10:19 AM on March 23, 2007


Tangentially, I always loved the joke about actors and motivation.

The canonical example:

Actor: What's my motivation here?

Director: Your paycheck.
posted by Skot at 10:22 AM on March 23, 2007


The phone's ringing. Pick it up.

Anecdote from one of my theater professors at Northwestern years ago. He was in some play in New York. During some rehearsal the director said to him: "You know why I love Chicago actors? When you tell a New York actor to walk across the stage and pick up the phone, they're all 'what's my motivation' and 'but would my character really DO that." When you tell a Chicago actor to walk across the stage and pick up the phone, they walk across the stage and pick up the phone."
posted by dnash at 12:08 PM on March 23, 2007


Who gives a crap about shouting matches with actors on the set? The real juicy bit is that he put Christopher Nolan in headlock at a party! (page 1 of the first link)
posted by Potsy at 12:28 PM on March 23, 2007


By the way, upon reflection... I think that's why occasionally on Mefi I so thoroughly enjoy telling lame people off when they annoy me. It's a fun thing I don't get to do much in real life. :)
posted by miss lynnster at 12:29 PM on March 23, 2007


My opinion of him just skyrocketed. I love the passion. Outside of throwing an object, I see nothing wrong with his behavior (aiming an object at someone, however, is going to far).

Like the military, I think intensity and recognition of one's position can be conducive to creative work. Some people need to follow orders, and some people need to turn off their internal critic and sensor. It's not easy to throw oneself into an endeavor and maintain all sorts of socially "approved" nonsense.

Understandably, this behavior doesn't fly in most occupations, but many successfully creative people couldn't hold down a regular job anyway.
posted by Gnostic Novelist at 1:58 PM on March 23, 2007


I had absolutely no reaction to I (Heart) Huckabees either way. which means that, from where I stand, it's perfectly artistically neutral; any movie better than I (Heart) Huckabees is a good movie, and any movie worse than I (Heart) Huckabees is a bad movie.
posted by The Card Cheat at 2:41 PM on March 23, 2007


“The power/control aspect is stunning. Nay, mind numbing, don't know some can drag their ass into work, really.
I worked on a tv series, where the main actor was partying her face off every night, booze cans, coke....”

I think the folks get into dealing coke for that reason. There’s a prestige there beyond/outside the system. I mean you’re not going to yell at a coke dealer, much less your coke dealer, if you’re some creative type no matter how big you are. (Interesting that Clooney, et.al don’t screw with Ice Cube)


(Voice) Actor: What's my motivation?
Director: Laxative darling. You crave one.

....I wonder if things like this go down on porno sets?

Director: “You can take your legs down...”
Actor: “Ok for christ’s sake -let’s just take it one fucking cock at a time, instead of changing everything.. it’s very difficult to even create what you’re gonna do when there’s this constant bukkake of...”
An anal scene - Director shouting: “I’m trying to HELP you!”

M’Nah....shouting ‘fuck you’ is redundant on a porn set.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:03 PM on March 23, 2007


(i don't like this video or this director or this post or these comments one bit. makes me feel ashamed of my profession. makes me fear that people will think this is somehow "normal" in the biz. this is an aberration and a complete embarrassment.
yuck.)
posted by Dizzy at 4:07 PM on March 23, 2007


Poor Dizzy.   :˜(

Don't worry, our profession still rocks. It's just that some people suck.
posted by miss lynnster at 4:23 PM on March 23, 2007


I'll be ok, Miss L.
Just struck a nerve, I guess, because I've been on some toxic sets in the past and I cringe at the memories.
("Homicide: life on the street" and "12 Monkeys" spring immediately to mind, in case you're wondering...)
But more importantly, I worry that young(er) actors may think this is "normal", "creative" behavior and either stand for it (as they have no power) or young directors promulgate it as they think it makes for a better product ("we're just such passionate folk, so boorishness is its own reward...").
posted by Dizzy at 4:31 PM on March 23, 2007


Gnostic Novelist writes "Some people need to follow orders, and some people need to turn off their internal critic and sensor."

Provide evidence. There have been great works made by dicks, and great works made by non-dicks. The fact that non-dicks can make great works shows that it isn't that people need to turn off their decency to others, but that people are either immature enough that they can't control it, and get away with this immaturity because they're otherwise good at what they do, or they are simply using their skills as a justification to be dicks.
posted by Bugbread at 5:26 PM on March 23, 2007


Well, I have a theory about some of the ridiculous people who are successful in Hollywood, Dizzy. I used to work at the House of Blues in LA for the first year it was open and I had to deal with a lot of famous people, and I realized that some of them are just overgrown spoiled children who have no concept of boundaries or of anything that doesn't directly affect them. They make a lot of money. People laugh at their jokes whether they're funny or not. They can act like asses and there are no repercussions because people are either starstruck or see them as a mealticket. The common things most people have to concern themselves with socially, they don't.

Usually when people have flaws, they have to keep them kind of in check because other people won't put up with them. But when you are a celebrity, you don't have those checks. People reward you for EVERYTHING and if you don't get what you want when you want it, then something is wrong. You become deluded. And whatever flaws you have are very likely to mushroom larger. There's no reason for them not to. Wherever you go, you are led to believe that you are more important than everyone else so why would it matter?

Now, that's NOT all celebrities. Some people have a good head on their shoulders and they have good people around them & they're talented & nice. But the ones who are a little screwy & self obsessed... the ones who never hear the word no... in my experience THOSE people are the ones that cause problems & give Hollywood a bad name. YMMV, etcetera etcetera.
posted by miss lynnster at 5:33 PM on March 23, 2007


There have been great works made by dicks, and great works made by non-dicks

"Non-dicks" are only "non-dicks" insofar as we can tell. Even in light of Mel Gibson's "outburst" we only know it because of visual or other evidence to back to up. In decades/centuries past, the assessment of artists long dead has rested upon anecdotes and views from other people. Being a "dick" means more than throwing something or cursing someone on camera. If we are to base it on tangible evidence, we would have to conclude that most human beings are near-perfect and have never gotten angry or had a "improper" thought (the whole field of psychology be damned)

he fact that non-dicks can make great works shows that it isn't that people need to turn off their decency to others

1. We would have to establish who these "non dicks" are
2. What makes them "non dicks"?
3. What qualities do dicks show? Is it always in front of a camera/crowd?
4. What great works have they produced and so forth?

I'm sure Angelina Jolie qualifies as a " non dick" to some people because she is a humanitarian. She is also a homewrecker, but that tends to get in the way of an assessment (i.e. most humans are flawed and those that do great things tend to have heightened flaws, in spite of their supporters seeking to de-emphasize those flaws).

Roman Polanski is only condemned by some because his accuser spoke up (what if she didn't? Is he then a "non dick?"). Being nice to people in order to advance one's career is easy, in fact, one is often considered foolish when they behave badly to those that hold power/can advance a career, etc.

Art is a subjective field so we would need a quasi-objective formula to conclude which work is made by "non dicks"
posted by Gnostic Novelist at 5:43 PM on March 23, 2007


Now, that's NOT all celebrities. Some people have a good head on their shoulders and they have good people around them & they're talented & nice. But the ones who are a little screwy & self obsessed... the ones who never hear the word no... in my experience THOSE people are the ones that cause problems & give Hollywood a bad name. YMMV, etcetera etcetera

Perhaps it is a sense of entitlement. I would think that those who achieved fame a little later in life wouldn't behave like that. Of course, if they are bitter then they might be even worse than the stars in their 20s and 30s behaving like children.
posted by Gnostic Novelist at 5:45 PM on March 23, 2007


The fact that we have contemporary accounts of famous historical artists that were badly behaved and others who were well behaved would indicate that we can be fairly certain that all historical accounts of famous artists are not whitewashed.

It is simply true that some well-regarded artists have been known to be badly behaved and others known to have been well behaved. It is not necessary to be a jerk to be a successful artist. Perhaps it might be necessary for a particular artist to be a jerk to be productive. That's his/her problem, and shouldn't be the problem for the people around him/her.

This exemption of artists from norms of human behavior is sensible up until it begins to be an apology for abusive behavior toward other people. Then it's a load of crap.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:39 PM on March 23, 2007


GN: Not to harp on Kiesklowski or anything, but really, watch I'm So So if you want. You'll find a genius, not without his quirks, who weighs his words with the demeanor of one who respects, almost painfully, everyone around him.

The whole reason he switched from documentaries to narrative films is he wanted to film moments of profound intimacy - moments he felt uncomfortable intruding on with real people.
posted by nathancaswell at 8:04 PM on March 23, 2007


In my experience, dickishness knows no age.

And as far as I'm concerned, there is just no valid excuse or scenario for the constant, blatant abuse of others. Whether someone is Mensa and screaming like a banshee in the name of high art... or whether someone is an unemployed crackhead slapping his babymomma upside the head on Jerry Springer. I simply have no respect or tolerance for people who act like assholes.

I am an equal opportunity jerk hater.

posted by miss lynnster at 8:05 PM on March 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


I can't believe I'm quoting The Onion but:

"It may not be outright surliness so much as the result of his reluctance to presume authority and privileged knowledge, a trait that runs throughout his work."


So there's one.
posted by nathancaswell at 8:12 PM on March 23, 2007


Who knows what motivates this guy, but I can tell you that directors who are capable of maintaining the social contract on the set are generally more respected.
posted by nighthawks at 10:27 PM on March 29, 2007


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