15 Most Difficult Directors to Work with Ever

POSTED BY , UPDATED ON October 14th, 2019

15 Most Difficult Directors to Work with Ever

If you ever had a terrible boss then dozens of Hollywood actors can feel the dilemma you have been through. Acting in a movie is not confined to just reading from a script. It is an emotional rollercoaster with an overdrive button waiting to be pushed if the film-maker has the habit of pushing the cast on the brink of exhaustion. Here are the 15 most difficult directors to work with ever:


15. Oliver Stone

Oliver Stone

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Two-time Academy Award winner Sean Penn’s experience of working under Oliver Stone for the 1997 crime thriller U-Turn was less than pleasant. The actor recalled that talking to the film-maker was like “talking to a pig.” Penn is not the only Academy Award-winning actor that Stone rubbed the wrong way. He had flat-out asked Jamie Foxx,

“you’re just not good at all, are you?”

Stone’s antics forced James Woods to temporarily quit from the movie Salvador. Completing an Oliver Stone movie is a far cry from being an easy task and actress Blake Lively can assure that. After the production of Savages, she bought the entire crew t-shirts with ‘I Survived Oliver Stone’ written on them.


14. David Fincher

David Fincher

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Even David Fincher admits that he is difficult to work with. The director does not allow his crew bathroom breaks and that forced Robert Downey Jr to place mason jars filled with his urine on the sets of Zodiac.

During the shoot of the same movie, Fincher mentally exhausted Jake Gyllenhaal by constant retakes of his scenes and then deleting them in front of him. The actor resorted to crying after seeing hours of his hard work being deleted.


13. Riddley Scott

Riddley Scott

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As the director behind Blade Runner, Gladiator, Alien and The Martian, Ridley Scott has cemented his legacy as one of the greatest film-makers of his generation but that does not necessarily mean that actors are eager to work with him.

During the filming of sci-fi masterpiece Blade Runner, the director brawled with leading star Harrison Ford over creative differences. Scott went one-on-one with Russell Crowe as well during the shooting of Robin Hood.


12. Terrence Malick

Terrence Malick

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Even if you work in a Terrence Malick movie, there are chances that the director will shock you with the final product. The director often significantly shortens screen-time during the editing phase with Christopher Plummer, Adrien Brody, and Sean Penn being his victims.

It gets worse as Malick spends no second thoughts when it comes to deleting the entire scenes of actors from his movies. Rachel Weisz, Jessica Chastain, Barry Pepper, Amanda Peet, and Michael Sheen were supposed to appear in To The Wonder but all of their scenes were left on the editing room floor.


11. Werner Herzog

Werner Herzog

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Notorious for perilous production, Werner Herzog once filmed scenes on erupting volcanoes and made his production team manually haul a large ship weighing 320 tons over a hill. Perhaps the biggest victim of his stressful shooting is Christian Bale. During the shooting of Rescue Dawn, the actor was dragged behind a buffalo, underwent torture devices and even ate live maggots.

One might assume that his best friend Klaus Kinski Herzog is spared from Herzog’s mad antics but that is not the case. During the production of Aguirre, Wrath of God, the director threatened to shoot Kinski if he left the set.


10. Roman Polański

Roman Polański

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Being the leading actress in the 1974 mystery flick Chinatown was not a walk in the park for Faye Dunaway. When she asked for motivation, director Roman Polański aggressively answered,

“Say the f—ing words, your salary is your motivation.”

Dunaway also had her strands of hair plucked by the director when he thought they would distract the audience from the scene.

The pinnacle of their behind-the-scenes drama was when Polański refused Dunaway a bathroom break and she furiously threw a cup of her own urine on the director. Co-star Jack Nicholson has wittingly remarked,

“Roman’s an irritating person whether he’s making a movie or not making a movie.”


9. William Friedkin

William Friedkin

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To say that William Friedkin made the set of The Exorcist a freakshow would be an understatement. The director fired real guns behind the actors for scared emotions and even slapped William O’Malley to get a reaction from him for an intense scene.

For the movie’s frozen room scene, the director chilled it in real-life and forced actress Linda Blair – who was only wearing a nightgown – to stay in it during the entire shoot. The director was not too kind to Ellen Burstyn as well.

To shoot the scene in which she was abruptly thrown back by demonic forces, Friedkin made her plunge by means of a rope harness. The actress received an Academy Award nomination but at the expense of a permanent spinal injury.


8. David O. Russell

David O Russell

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Notorious for yelling at extras, production crew and actors, David O. Russell has often been deemed as one of the most verbally abusive directors in Hollywood. The director once put Christopher Nolan in a headlock in order to release Jude Law out of his contract so Russell could star him in I Heart Huckabees.

Speaking of headlocks, Russell engaged in a physical altercation with none other than George Clooney on the set of Three Kings. The director had been yelling at a crew member and Clooney stepped forward to lighten up the situation. Chaos ensued and the two brawled on the set.