Finding fame in Hollywood can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how it’s handled. Some actors become recluses and prefer to keep their personal lives private. Others get a bit of a God complex and let their egos take control. Often, the latter end up being nightmares to work with, jerks who think that they’re the star of the show (or movie, or play) and refusing to back down from their whims.
These are the stars we’re here to talk about.
The ones who make outrageous demands and won’t allow “lowly” cast or crew members to look them in the eye. The ones who show up to set hours late – if they arrive at all. The ones who cost studios millions of dollars and don’t play well with others. The ones who start feuds and get fired. These 20 actors were total jerks on set.
A bigger deal in the 1990s thanks to his ’95 leading role in Batman Forever, Val Kilmer has been difficult on set since he was 12 when, while filming a hamburger commercial, he quit because he couldn’t find “his character’s motivation”!
Director John Frankenheimer once said, “I will never climb Mount Everest, and I will never work with Val Kilmer again.”
With a reputation for being a bit prickly and out of touch with the rest of the world, Iron Man actor Gwyneth Paltrow apparently made it a point to avoid costar Scarlett Johansson when filming Iron Man 2. Reports from the set said the Oscar winner was “furious” at being upstaged by the younger actress.
He’s always been a handful, dating back to his erratic time on Saturday Night Live, and Chevy Chase has only gotten more caustic with age. Reports have seen him fight with Bill Murray, insult Robert Downey Jr.’s late father, and spew racist epithets while on the set of the TV show Community, earning him a reputation for being the “meanest man in show business”, according to The Telegraph.
Captain Kirk and Spock hated each other in real life! Apparently, William Shatner clashed with costar Leonard Nimoy over scripts, fan mail, and articles that favored the late actor. Shatner and Star Trek costar George Takei also butted heads – often publicly – and he once almost made actress Nichelle Nichols quite over a scripted kiss!
Getting killed off on a TV show is one way to know for sure that you’re a pain to work with. Such was the case for Michael Pitt of Boardwalk Empire, who frequently showed up to work without knowing his lines, physically fought a costar, and managed to get dropped by his own talent agency for his abhorrent behaviour.
A jerk behind the camera, James Cameron has been punched by actor Ed Harris, caused the nervous breakdown of Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, and forced his actors to relieve themselves in their wet suits because he wanted to have more takes to perfect his vision. His behaviour caused cast and crew of The Abyss to retitle the film Son of Abyss, among other names.
Lea Michele’s diva behaviour on the set of Glee – and her rivalry with costar Naya Rivera – is so well known that Rivera even addressed the issue in her memoir. According to Rivera, Michele “didn’t like sharing the spotlight” and was very “sensitive” to any criticism or notes on her performance. Rumor has it that Michele was also short-tempered with the crew.
He was poised to be the next big Hollywood heartthrob, and then Alexander Pettyfer bit the hand that fed him by clashing with costar and producer Channing Tatum on the set of Magic Mike. Reports came out of Pettyfer’s diva attitude and his refusal to pay rent at Tatum’s friend’s home. Unsurprisingly, he wasn’t asked back for the sequel and has kept a low profile since.
According to the creator of Desperate Housewives, costar Nicollette Sheridan once called Teri Hatcher “the meanest woman in the world”. The dramatic show paled in comparison to the catfights that happened behind the scenes, largely as the result of Hatcher’s entitled attitude. A show insider stated that, since Day 1, it has been Hatcher on her own against the rest.
To Mandy Patinkin’s credit, he’s the one who admitted that he “behaved abominably” while on the set of hospital drama Chicago Hope. However, Patinkin has long been difficult, walking away from Criminal Minds with zero warning and refusing to allow directors to give him any, well, direction. He’s been referred to as a “handful” and “unbelievably intense”.
You might not peg funnyman Mike Myers for being a jerk, but it’s true! Even early on in his career with 1992’s Wayne’s World, he was considered “emotionally needy” and “difficult”. Director Penelope Spheeris has a story in which Myers stormed off the set because catering didn’t have margarine for his bagel!
Although he’s calmed down in recent years, once upon a time Edward Norton was a nightmare to work with. Norton, who had played Bruce Banner before Mark Ruffalo, was ditched for The Avengers because “The Avengers demands players who thrive working as part of an ensemble”, according to production head Kevin Feige. “[Our decision] is rooted in the need for an actor who embodies the…collaborative spirit.”
Taking his method acting to the extreme, Jared Leto proved to be a bit of a jerk while filming Suicide Squad, sending USED X-rated toys and accessories to his fellow cast members and bringing a dead pig onto the set and plopping it on a table – all before the cast had formally met. Leto shrugged off his antics, saying it was what the Joker would do.
According to his Blade: Trinity costar Patton Oswalt, Wesley Snipes is “f-ing crazy”. In an interview, Oswalt described an incident in which Snipes tried to strangle director David S. Goyer, and then would only communicate with him via Post-It notes. According to a crew member, Snipes hated Ryan Reynolds as well, calling him “that cracker”.
Being called “f-ing soul-crushing” to work with is a pretty good indication that you’re a jerk – and it’s how director Kevin Smith referred to Bruce Willis. Smith wasn’t the only director who hated Willis, either, as Antoine Fuqua called him a major “pain in the [bleep]”, and Sylvester Stallone said he was “greedy and lazy”!
Another diva who got ditched from the show that made him famous is Patrick Dempsey, who got booted from Grey’s Anatomy via a sudden on-screen death, allegedly because of his behavior behind the scenes. In addition to stepping out on his wife with a crew member, Dempsey had already been suspended by creator Shonda Rimes for his attitude before being written out entirely.
Difficult to work with and apparently unhinged, Shia LaBeouf didn’t come to make friends on the set of Fury, in which he actually got in a fistfight with costar Brad Pitt, and then on the set of Prohibition-era Lawless, where he guzzled actual moonshine during filming to ‘get into character’. While he got praise from critics, his fellow cast and crew members weren’t happy with his antics.
With the distinction of getting axed from not one but two shows, there was no love lost between Shannen Doherty and her costars on Beverly Hills, 90210 and Charmed. Feuds abounded between Doherty and her female castmates in a rivalry that resembled high school and she was, without warning, written off of both shows for her attitude.
Lindsay Lohan’s rise and fall has taken on mythic proportions thanks to her self-destructive streak that saw her show up to set late (if at all), steal pieces from the set, and fail to remember her lines. A source from her appearance on Glee called her “a total nightmare”, and she cost $500k a day for her lateness to the set of Georgia Rule.
Kevin Spacey’s career has been in freefall for a while now, and for good reason. His behavior is abhorrent, including his actions on the set of House of Cards, which included harassing crew members and background cast which made the set a “toxic work environment” due to his “predatory” behavior, according to a report from CNN.