A couple of weeks back, we spotlighted a few of the most fruitful and (presumably) harmonious filmmaker/actor collaborations in moviedom. But as we all know, filmmakers can also be a prickly lot, and the recent (mostly tabloid) coverage of director Kevin Smith’s recent swipes at his Cop Out star Bruce Willis (more on that below) got us thinking about some of the less cordial actor/director relationships. We’ve assembled some of the more contentious ones for your reading pleasure after the jump.
Kevin Smith vs. Bruce Willis
Most of the stories we’ve collected here were passed on from on-set witnesses and other third parties; you don’t often hear a filmmaker taking to the stage or the page to blast a big Hollywood star. But when it comes to notorious bridge-burner Kevin Smith, all bets are off (particularly, we can probably presume, since he says he’s retiring from filmmaking anyway). Smith and Willis first met as actors in Live Free or Die Hard, where Smith played the small but important role of a computer hacker; he spoke of that experience in his Sold Out: A Threevening with Kevin Smith video, where he professes his love for fellow New Jersey native Willis, and talks about how awestruck he was to work with the man he’d grown up watching on television and in film. That story concludes with Willis proposing that they work together in the future, and lo and behold, Smith signed on to direct the Willis/Tracy Morgan buddy cop comedy Cop Out (originally titled A Couple of Dicks) in 2009. They were murmurings of friction after the shoot finished, but Smith didn’t start to talk openly about his less-than-ideal experience of directing the once and future John McClane until last year, on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast and in his Too Fat for 40 Q&A/stand-up video.
He spends a full chapter in his new memoir Tough Shit laying out his grievances: basically, that Willis was a deeply unhappy lazy-ass who “fostered an unpleasant and unproductive working environment whenever he was on set,” and who couldn’t be bothered to commit to scenes or follow direction. “Where was the happy-go-lucky charmer who made Maddie Hayes fall so madly in love?” Smith writes. “There were no staff limbo parties like there’d been at the Blue Moon Detective Agency whenever Bruce was around. The singing pitchman who made me believe that Seagram’s Wine Coolers were a manly enough spirit to chug at a high school kegger? He turned out to be the unhappiest, most bitter, and meanest emo-bitch I’ve ever met at any job I’ve held down. And mind you, I’ve worked at Domino’s Pizza.’ Willis hasn’t responded to any of Smith’s jibes, presumably because, well, he’s Bruce Willis.