One of the neat things about power is that people almost never go sane with it. Quite the opposite, in fact. And when it comes to movie directors, who have enormous and often unchecked power over their films and the people working on them, the lack of sanity can be quite striking. Below, we’ve selected several of the most hilariously unhinged instances of famed directors who went mad with power.
#6. Michael Bay Is An Astonishing Misogynist Dildo
Michael Bay is a director famous for making cartoon alien robots who can turn into sedans a multi-billion-dollar industry. He’s also, by many, many accounts, a sexist nightmare.
For example, consider Kate Beckinsale’s experience while making Pearl Harbor. During group interviews when promoting the film, Bay would unfailingly compliment his male leads, Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett. But when asked about Beckinsale, he would only remark, “Kate wasn’t so attractive that she would alienate the female audience.” This wasn’t a one-time thing, some gaffe which secretly exposed deeper sexism in Hollywood. No, he’d say this repeatedly. In front of Beckinsale. Like, to remind her or something.
So that’s rather gross.
It gets worse. Consider Megan Fox’s casting experience for the first Transformers movies, in which she showed up at Bay’s house and washed his Ferrari while he filmed it.
Annnd now you’re going to feel sad and dirty every time you watch this scene.
This wasn’t even the first time she’d been creepily filmed by Bay. When Fox was 15, she was cast as an extra on Bad Boys II for a club scene. At some point during this process, a grown-up explained to Bay that she was only 15 and couldn’t be filmed holding a drink. A little hiccup which Bay got around by having her dance around under a waterfall instead. You know. To get soaking wet. When she was in 10th grade.
There’s that feeling again.
Possibly because he was annoyed at Fox for pointing out he was an impossible monster, Bay recast her role for the ridiculously-named third film in the series, Transformers: Dark Of The Moon. For that film, he chose English model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, whose casting consisted of meeting Bay while she was doing a Victoria’s Secret photo shoot and answering a single question: “Can you walk?” Huntington-Whiteley managed to exhibit more professionalism than most of us would in the face of such smug douchery, and confirmed that, yes, she knew how to walk. But Bay wasn’t done yet. He needed to check this. So right that minute, he drove her half a mile out into the desert, said “Action!” and sped away, leaving her to walk across the desert in heels, underwear, and a floor-length cape.
#5. Ridley Scott Psychologically Tormented His Alien
Ridley Scott has made a lot of movies, but he might still be best known for one of his earliest: the sci-fi horror rom-com Alien.
“But love can hear your heart.”
To capture the horror of being trapped on spaceship with an eight-foot superpredator that bleeds acid, Scott knew he had to do everything possible to make the creature seem alien to his cast. He did this by being a jerk to the actor playing it.
Someone thankfully stopped him short of replacing the actor’s blood with acid.
Since CGI’ing the bejesus out of everything wasn’t possible yet, Scott needed an actor in a rubber suit to portray the titular villain. Seven-foot Nigerian actor Bolaij Badejo certainly looked the part (when encased in extraterrestrial rubber), but that wasn’t enough for Scott. He insisted on keeping Badejo separate from the rest of the cast and crew to make him more alien to the others. Badejo was forbidden to socialize with the other actors during breaks, always had to be in the xenomorph costume, and was even kept in a completely separate hotel from the rest of the cast and crew.
“Are you guys doing anything later? I’m up for anything.”
All of this is captured beautifully by another absurd anecdote. Because the alien costume’s tail made it impossible to sit in a chair, some of the crew constructed a swing for Badejo to sit on between takes. Which sounds nice, until you contemplate what this must have looked like. A lonely alien, forbidden to make friends with anyone, quietly rocking back and forth in a swing. If that isn’t the most tragicomic image you can think of, what happened to you?
#4. David Fincher Made Iron Man Pee In A Jar
Many moviegoers don’t care or even notice when a movie is shot on film and digital, but amongst filmmakers, this is a thorny and often contentious decision. Although the technology is always changing, traditionally, film has had better picture quality and color depth, while digital has been cheaper and allowed for more flexible shooting logistics. In some cases, excessively flexible shooting logistics.
David Fincher, director of Fight Club and Se7en, gave digital a try when he began work on Zodiac. He quickly fell in love with the cheap storage afforded by digital technology, which removed any incentive to conserve resources. Shooting lots of takes suddenly became feasible in a way it wasn’t before. And on Zodiac, he would sometimes shoot 80 takes in a row.
Then put every single one in the movie, it seems.
But shooting like this doesn’t just use up cheap hard drives. It also used up his cast and crew; shooting that many takes is exhausting. Worse was the psychological toll it took. Jake Gyllenhaal and Mark Ruffalo both complained that Fincher would pause in the middle of his shooting marathons to review the footage and say something like, “Delete the last 35 takes.” Which is demoralizing, to say the least.
“The last five hours of work were garbage, everyone. By extension, you are garbage as well.”
Using digital also meant that Fincher never had to pause to reload the cameras, which meant actors got far fewer breaks. In the documentary Side By Side, Robert Downey Jr. complains that he couldn’t stay on his feet for 14 hours straight. They barely had time for bathroom breaks, leading to Downey Jr. to pee in mason jars, which he’d then leave around the set as a form of protest. Thus did Tony Stark turn into Howard Hughes.