Classic movies are a blast to watch, but many of them weren’t so fun to make.
Some of the most famous movies of all time were grueling experiences for the cast and crew. Read on to see which of your favorite movies were a total nightmare behind-the-scenes.
Before Jaws, the notion of a summer blockbuster didn’t exist. But Steven Spielberg’s hit was not without its headaches.
Despite the film’s tremendous success, its now notorious making-of accounts are widely known. Like the Orca (the boat) sinking, and the film going with it.
Though they’d tested the mechanical shark on the tanks at Universal Studios, it hadn’t been in salt water yet. Once in the ocean at Martha’s Vineyard, it sank immediately to the bottom. Divers had to retrieve it.
Rarely did the three sharks they built operate correctly. And neither did Robert Shaw (Quint), who was often drunk to the point of incomprehension.
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Raiders of the Lost Ark introduced the world to Indiana Jones. But it’s a wonder we know that name at all.
Thanks to its unbearable heat, shooting in Tunisia proved more difficult than most had anticipated. Somehow, Steven Spielberg compressed a six-week shooting schedule into four and a half weeks.
Tunisia also launched an attack on the crew by way of sickness. Spielberg was one of the few who avoided it, primarily by eating only canned food he’d brought.
And then there were snakes. Lots of them. Some crew members were bitten. And still others were blinded by cayenne pepper, which was used in place of fake blood spray.
It may have been the biggest movie of all time (until James Cameron topped himself with 2009’s Avatar), but the set of Titanic was no fun for anyone.
The studio was furious with Cameron for going way over budget. The actors had it even worse.
Water from the tank they spent so much time in was only about sixty degrees. Some actually got hypothermia.
And Cameron was monstrous. Kate Winslet was scared to death of him and his explosive temper. Other actors were forced to urinate in the tank for fear of being fired if they took a bathroom break.
It may have changed the world of cinema, but making the first Star Wars was a mess. GeorgeLucas’s space adventure nearly killed him. Or so he thought.
Lucas checked himself into a hospital with a suspected heart attack. Turned out it was hypertension and exhaustion. Why such stress?
Very few believed in the movie, which could have ended Lucas’s career had it flopped. And it seemed it was headed for disaster when a sandstorm swept in, destroying many of the Tunisian desert sets.
What’s more, Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher all took issue with Lucas’s stilted dialogue, often challenging him on it until they got their way.
This one is the very definition of a nightmarish shoot. Director Werner Herzog shot the film in the jungles of Peru. His star, Klaus Kinski, was a terror, constantly fighting with the crew, Herzog included.
The natives were upset about Kinski as well. One local chieftain offered to murder Kinski. Herzog reluctantly declined.
One film camp was raided by the indigenous Amahuaca. In the attack, a man took an arrow to the throat and a woman required hours of emergency surgery. Herzog helped with that.
Most shocking, a Peruvian logger opted to amputate his own foot with a chainsaw after he was bitten by a venomous snake!
Shooting this film was a maddening marathon of time, money, and actor insubordination.
Over sixteen months (it was supposed to be six weeks), director Francis Ford Coppola shot two hundred hours of footage. The result was almost three years of editing.
The film went way over budget, forcing Coppola to put up millions of dollars himself. He had to mortgage his house and winery just to finish it. He threatened suicide numerous times and lost one hundred pounds.
Marlon Brando came in overweight, often drunk, had not read the script, and fought with Coppola about every line. Coppola wanted him gone even though he’d been paid $1-million in advance.
Though it was the biggest box office draw of 1963, Cleopatra was also the priciest. In fact, it actually lost money.
The studio wouldn’t allow another production delay, so writer/director Joseph L. Mankiewicz gave himself daily injections to keep going during the day while he re-wrote the script at night.
Others had it worse. Female extras went on strike demanding protection from Italian male extras. Special guards were hired, thankfully.
Cold weather early on resulted in Elizabeth Taylor contracting pneumonia. She collapsed, slipped into a coma, and was given an hour to live! An emergency tracheotomy would save her life. And the film!
“The Abyss was a lot of things. Fun to make was not one of them.” Actress Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio said that a few years after the 1989 film was released.
She was pushed hard by director James Cameron, resulting in a physical and emotional breakdown.
Ed Harris punched Cameron in the face after he came close to drowning and the director refused to cut. “Asking me how I was treated on The Abyss is like asking a soldier how he was treated in Vietnam,” Harris would later say.
Other actors suffered skin burns and discolored hair due to the heavily chlorinated water. But at least Cameron got what he wanted!
The Wizard of Oz
It was a game changer in Hollywood. But The Wizard of Oz’s impact wasn’t solely on audiences.
Buddy Ebsen, the original Tin Man, was poisoned by the aluminum powder of his makeup. He was replaced by Jack Haley. Actors playing the Winged Monkeys were injured when piano wires suspending them snapped.
No one had it worse than Judy Garland. Only sixteen at the time, she was forced on a diet of chicken soup broth, black coffee, and eighty cigarettes per day.
This was courtesy of MGM head Louis Mayer, who sent spies to make sure she adhered to it. If he believed she’d strayed, diet pills were prescribed.
National Lampoon’s Animal House
Beloved by college students and young adults everywhere, the set of 1978’s Animal House resembled the final product.
Before filming began, the seven primary actors of the Delta fraternity bonded by partying in their hotel. Bruce McGill stole a piano from the lobby and took it to his room.
One night, some actual girls invited cast members to an actual frat party. The frat didn’t like these guys hanging out here. So, naturally, a fight broke out. Actor James Widdoes had several teeth knocked out.
Production wise, they were on such a limited budget, director John Landis had no trailer and no office!
Limited yuks in The Legend of Bagger Vance make 1980’s Caddyshack the top golf comedy ever made.
When you watch the film, you can’t help but think these guys had a blast making it. Literally. But it wasn’t a hoot for everyone.
After the country club objected to its hill behind blown to bits, a new one was built. The pyrotechnic folks obliterated it. Concerned pilots believed a plane had crashed there!
Since they partied all night, the cast and crew were frequently late, holding up production for hours. When they did arrive, other cast members loathed the improvisational style of Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, and others.
It launched the careers of Harrison Ford and George Lucas and proved little movies can make big money. American Graffiti is still beloved all these years later.
Making it was an exercise in frustration, as one roadblock after another arose.
A crew member was arrested for growing marijuana the day before shooting was to being. The following night, they were unable to properly mount cameras on the cars, causing massive delays.
All the racket they caused on the San Rafael streets caused the city to strip them of their filming permit. So they moved several miles away. And then a restaurant fire nearby shut down production for another night.
Maybe something was just lost in translation here. Except they speak English in Britain, too. Director Ridley Scott (British) clashed hard with star Harrison Ford (American).
Aside from his many arguments with Scott, Ford detested the voiceover he was forced to record. He claims it was written by clowns.
Scott didn’t enjoy his time, either. He was unable to bring his own British crew and could not operate the camera himself, due to U.S. production codes. His artistic choices were subject to much scrutiny on set, leading him to distance himself and delay production for hours at a time.
What’s more, crew members were constantly being fired.
Before CGI became commonplace, creatures had to be made the old fashioned way for the movies. But how to do it was still up for debate.
For 1984’s Gremlins, the studio figured putting a spider monkey in a suit might be their best bet.
It wasn’t. The critter lost its mind in director Joe Dante’s office, tearing it apart and redecorating it with its own excrement.
So they went with puppets. And that was no easier. The puppets and their mechanics were expensive and prone to breaking down—the Gizmos, in particular. Though this was rage inducing for the crew, at least the puppets couldn’t poop.
1972’s Deliverance is a hard watch. It’s not exactly a movie you want to revisit again and again. The cast was pretty relieved when it was over, too.
This was a movie that tried to cut costs. In dangerous ways.
The film required the actors to operate canoes on rough river waters and climb rocky cliffs. Not only was the film uninsured in order to save money, but they didn’t use any stuntmen, either.
Burt Reynolds broke his coccyx and Ned Beatty nearly drowned. To top it all off, disgruntled screenwriter (and novelist) James Dickey, punched director John Boorman in the face and broke his nose!
Waterworld is one of the most famous box office bombs of all time. The mega-budget action film, starring A-lister Kevin Costner at the height of his fame, was so fraught with production problems that they overshadowed the movie. So, by the time it finally came out, people expected it to be a disaster.
Among the production’s woes was a hurricane that completely destroyed an expensive and important set, which delayed filming. Costner nearly drowned when a storm hit during a scene in which his character was tied to a ship’s mast. And he clashed so frequently with the film’s director, Kevin Reynolds, that Reynolds quit.
Mad Max: Fury Road
Mad Max: Fury Road released in 2015 to critical and commercial success. But the film, widely considered to be one of the best action movies ever made, took over a decade to make. Production originally began back in 2003, before a series of delays and setbacks hit the project.
When filming finally began in Namibia in 2012, the shoot proved to be intense and difficult. The film’s complicated stunts and action sequences took 120 days to film, not counting additional reshoots that were done a year later in 2013. It was a long, hard road to Fury Road’s May, 2015 premiere date!
World War Z
Believe it or not, to date, megastar Brad Pitt’s most successful film is the zombie action movie World War Z. The movie was a huge hit, nabbing over $500 million worldwide. So it may surprise you to learn that nobody making the movie could agree on what the movie should be about.
World War Z went through numerous script changes, some of them in the middle of filming. Those changes included an entirely new ending, which was written after filming had officially finished. Extensive reshoots were required to film the new ending, ballooning the movie’s budget to nearly $200 million. But the changes clearly paid off!
It’s not hard to imagine that the 1980 horror classic The Shining, about a man slowly going insane while cooped up alone with his family in a mountain hotel, was unpleasant to make.
Director Stanley Kubrick, a notorious perfectionist, demanded dozens of takes of virtually every line, and was especially hard on actress Shelley Duvall. She was under so much stress that her hair starting falling out.
In addition to his meticulous demands, Kubrick would rewrite the script on a daily basis. Star Jack Nicholson eventually started throwing his scripts away, because he knew Kubrick would keep rewriting new pages until the moment they filmed them.
As if that weren’t enough, the film’s main set was damaged in a fire, which further delayed the troubled production.
Originally, Alejandro Iñárritu’s gritty-but-hopeful survivalist thriller The Revenant was supposed to cost its studio $60 million. By the end of its lengthy, oft-delayed production, it ballooned up to $135 million. Where did they spend that extra cash? Um… everywhere? Yes, our answer is “everywhere.”
Because of unpredictable weather and Iñárritu’s need to shoot on real locations with natural lighting, production had to hop between 12 different locations in three countries. Crew members regularly quit. And Leonardo DiCaprio, who won an Oscar, namechecked “30 or 40 sequences” that nearly broke him as a human.
Heaven’s Gate is such a Hollywood debacle, it’s the metric we use to judge other Hollywood debacles. Case in point: When Waterworld’s choppy production was splashing up the cultural conversation, folks called it “Kevin’s Gate.” How did Michael Cimino’s grandiose western get such a bad reputation? Well…
Cimino tore down locations because they “didn’t look right”. He waited until a certain cloud rolled into frame, then pushed his actors to 50 plus takes. He tortured and killed horses, chickens, and cows. And what did he get for his troubles? A scathing critical response, and a bankrupted studio.
A group macho men travel to Mexico’s jungles to bust out an ultraviolent creature feature. What could go wrong? On Predator — quite a lot. The cast and crew all got sick and lost weight, temperatures fluctuated between extreme heat and cold, and one leading actor was completely excised.
Jean-Claude Van Damme was originally cast as the Predator. But when studio execs saw a rough cut, they hated the costume effect, and insisted on a new creature. So filmmakers basically shot a second version of the nightmarish movie — though a couple of Van Damme shots made the final cut.
A young girl gets possessed by the devil, and her mother contacts the Church to perform an exorcism. Horror is the name of the game in 1973’s The Exorcist, and to get the genuine reactions of terror he wanted, director William Friedkin literally tormented his cast.
Ellen Burstyn and Linda Blair, who play the mother and possessed daughter respectively, were yanked around the set with harnesses to simulate the demon’s paranormal rages. Both suffered back injuries, and their screams of pain in the film are real.
Friedkin would fire loud blanks, without warning, to get startled reactions from his cast. He told actor Jason Miller that the infamous pea soup would hit him in the chest, so Miller’s disgusted reaction when the “vomit” sprays directly into his face is genuine.
And Friedkin even slapped one actor, a real-life priest, across the face before having him perform an emotional scene.
Oscar-nominated director David Fincher began his film career on a little horror / sci-fi sequel called Alien 3. The sequel tossed the famous alien xenomorph into the middle of a prison planet populated by monk-like inmates.
But the experience of making the film was so miserable for Fincher that he later said, “No one hated [Alien 3] more than me; to this day, no one hates it more than me.”
First of all, filming began before there was even a completed script! And, according to the cast and crew, the script would change on a daily basis. The producers all but outright bullied Fincher, whom they believed was unqualified, before finally shutting production down after 93 days of filming.
The constant script changes, paired with Fincher’s now well-known habit of filming as many as 20 takes of every scene, had driven Alien 3 far off schedule and over-budget. It was a critical and commercial failure, and Fincher didn’t direct another movie for several years.
The Blues Brothers
The cult hit The Blues Brothers features legendary comedian John Belushi in one of the only leading roles in his tragically brief film career. Belushi’s wild, hard-partying ways caused endless delays in production.
He would frequently stay out all night, and either sleep through hours of filming the next day, or not show up at all. Belushi’s costar Dan Aykroyd found him one morning asleep on the couch inside a random house nearby.
In addition to Belushi’s whirlwind personality, the film faced budget problems thanks to the number of car stunts in the film. There are three extended car chases, staged through busy Chicago streets involving hundreds of extras.
On top of all that, the film destroyed a then-record 103 cars onscreen. All of the chaos ballooned the movie’s budget to $30 million, making it the most expensive comedy ever produced at the time.
The Emperor’s New Groove
The lighthearted animated comedy The Emperor’s New Groove was initially developed as a musical drama. Kingdom of the Sun, as it was originally titled, was going to be more in line with previous Disney animated features like The Lion King.
But after Pocahontas and The Hunchback of Notre Dame underperformed, Disney panicked and demanded the entire film be reworked.
Entire characters and plot lines were eliminated, requiring the film to essentially be re-animated from scratch. Musical artist Sting had original written several songs for the film to replicate the success Disney had enjoyed after working with Elton John on The Lion King.
But Sting’s songs no longer made sense, because they were tied into the plot of the original film, and were removed. The musical drama became a slapstick comedy with only one musical number, and was retitled The Emperor’s New Groove.
Casablanca is widely considered to be one of the best films ever made, but it definitely wasn’t an easy production. It was filmed in the middle of World War II, which presented a number of unique problems.
First, the crew couldn’t film anything outside, nor at night. Because a Japanese sub had been sighted off the coast of California, people were worried the mainland would be attacked.
The plane in the final scene is a scaled down plywood facsimile. The mechanics working on it are little people, to make it seem like a normal sized plane, since they couldn’t film a real plane at an actual airfield. Also, the production couldn’t use any standard construction materials like nylon, aluminum, or rubber, and all the costumes had to be made from cotton, because of war rationing.
The Shawshank Redemption
Hope is the central theme of 1994’s prison drama The Shawshank Redemption, but the making of the film felt like jail to much of the cast and crew. They worked 15 to 18 hour shoot days, six days a week, in a recently closed prison in Ohio that was shut down for inhumane conditions. They also used former inmates on the production crew that would tell the crew horror stories about what would go on inside the prison.
Everyone on the crew, including director Frank Darabont, called the shoot “bleak.” Actor Tim Robbins remained optimistic but acknowledged that it got pretty dark and depressing in there. And because of the long shooting days, tensions developed between the cast and director.
Morgan Freeman balked at having to do multiple takes of his scenes, saying that he’d flat-out tell Darabont “no” when he asked for them. (Although Freeman eventually did them.)
The legendary Mafia epic The Godfather was anything but a surefire hit. Francis Ford Coppola was a new director with no hits. Several members of the crew tried to sabotage the shoot by reporting to the studio that he wasn’t fit for the job. It was so tense, and Coppola was perpetually on the verge of being fired, that he once said in an interview that he can’t think about the film without getting sick.
On top of all the production woes, the real-life Mafia didn’t want the movie to get made. The production crew was tailed by actual mobsters. The Mafia shut them out of every New York filming location they possibly could, and sent threats to the producers. Luckily things eventually got smoothed out, and the crew stopped receiving threats.
South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut
The subversive TV comedy South Park was an instant hit in its first season, so a feature film was pushed into production almost immediately to capitalize on its success. But studio executives fought constantly with the show’s creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, over every aspect of the movie.
The studio wanted the movie to be PG-13, but Stone and Parker insisted on an R rating. Executives put together a trailer that was cute and zany, which Parker and Stone argued would be misleading to the show’s fans.
In addition to the constant back-and-forth, Parker and Stone and their animation team were totally exhausted. They had to work on the TV show and the movie at the same time, which meant all-nighters were a regular thing. They were still making changes to the movie less than two weeks before it was released in theaters.
Roar, about a family living in Africa with a bunch of wild cats, is one of the most notorious film shoots in movie history. Director Noel Marshall cast himself and his real-life family, including his wife Tippi Hedren and stepdaughter Melanie Griffith, to play the onscreen family. Which meant that they all had to interact with wild lions and tigers, resulting in horrific on-set injuries.
There were over 70 serious maulings of the cast and crew. Griffith had to have reconstructive surgery on her face, and nearly lost an eye. Cinematographer Jan de Bont had his scalp torn off by one of the lions. And Marshall sustained so many injuries over the film’s five year shoot that he got gangrene and blood poisoning. The infamous film never made it to American theaters, and was recently screened for the first time in 2015.
The 30 Most Filthy Rich Actors and Actresses, Ranked
Most of us, at one point or another, have longed for greater fortunes. A bigger house, a nicer car. Or, at the very least, enough to pay the bills. Hollywood is chock full of loaded stars.
Not all of them have made the bulk of their dough performing in front of the camera. And some have opted to spend their earnings on some most peculiar things.
Let’s count down the richest living actors and actresses. We bet you’ll be shocked at how much some of them are worth.
The 30 Worst Performances From Typically Great Actors
There’s nothing like discovering a new favorite actor. A talented thespian who delivers consistently excellent performances. Until… they boink up. And they all boink up.
Here are the worst performances from 30 otherwise incredible actors. You know what? Everyone makes mistakes!
Deliverance: Behind-the-Scenes of the Chilling Adventure Classic
The 1970s was a decade of groundbreaking motion pictures. That included the 1972 dark adventure classic Deliverance.
Director John Boorman’s film, based on the novel by poet James Dickey, is as brutal as it is beautiful. It made Burt Reynolds a serious movie star and featured some of the more hard-to-watch scenes ever filmed, even all these years later.
No matter your feelings on Deliverance, there’s no denying its impact or its potency. Let’s take a look behind the scenes of the Oscar-nominated classic.