As far as industries go, they don’t come much weirder than the movie industry. This shouldn’t surprise us, after all it operates by chucking obscene amounts of money at the world’s most creative, visionary people, and Adam Sandler. Sometimes though, we hear stories which, even by Hollywood’s standards, are just plain weird.
Recently I was trawling through the deepest, darkest corners of the internet and – somewhere between reading up on cosmological theories of universe expansion and watching videos of men getting kicked in the nuts – I came across the headline ‘Di Caprio raped by bear on Revenant set’. Now, even for Hollywood’s standards, that’s a bit much, and luckily the article was nothing more than unfounded, sensationalised click-bait, but it did serve to remind me of just how odd a movie set can be. Here are 5 things which have happened on sets which illustrate that fact.
5: Christian Bale hates hard workers.
In this now infamous incident during filming for Terminator: Salvation, Bale is recorded screaming the F-word thirty nine times at a helpless Director of Photography who had the cheek to check one of the lights during a scene, or in other words: to do what he’s getting paid for. As Bale threatens to smash the fucking (one) lights, get him fucking (two) fired, walk off the fucking (three) set, and thirty six more fucking things, the poor victim can do nothing but apologise and presumably wonder where he’s going to take his newly soiled pants to get dry cleaned.
4: Wesley Snipes: Vampire hunter by night, people avoider by day.
Blade: Trinity was not a good film. If ever an actor appeared to be cashing in on previous work, then it was Wesley Snipes (feel free to insert your own cashing in/tax evasion joke here, I’m above such crassness). Snipes’ behaviour on the set was nothing short of bizarre. He made his body double do the majority of the actual acting, only leaving his trailer to film his close-ups, he communicated only through post-it notes around the set which he had signed with ‘Blade’, and he reportedly even tried to strangle Director, David Goyer. Snipes has since stayed quiet over the whole episode, but that is understandable as he has been pretty busy on other exciting projects, namely being in prison for tax fraud (turns out I’m not above such crassness after all).
3: The wrong French Connection
During casting for his classic crime thriller: The French Connection, Director William Friedkin knew exactly who he wanted to play the film’s main antagonist: a Spanish actor he had seen in a Luis Buñuel film but whose name he had forgotten. However, he left the work of actually finding the actor to his casting director. Fast forward a few weeks and Friedkin was due to meet his choice: a Spanish actor who had starred in a Luis Buñuel film and whose name he now knew was Francisco Rabal. The only problem was that the casting director hadn’t hired Francisco Rabal, he had hired Fernando Rey: another Spanish actor from another Luis Buñuel film. By the time they did realise the mistake Rabal was unavailable and time was running out to recast, so they went ahead with Rey anyway. Luckily he turned out to be a perfect fit for the part and the film went on to become a commercial and critical success, much to the relief of the casting director.
2: The Exorcist was scarier to make than it is to watch
Not content with being involved once on this list with The French Connection, William Friedkin features again here with the now infamous ill-fated Exorcist shoot. Here are just a few mishaps which happened on set: cast member Ellen Burstyn received a permanent spine injury during a scene where she gets jerked across the room, a fire destroyed the set one weekend during filming, with the only room spared any damage being the bedroom where the exorcism itself was shot, and various people connected with the film even died during production. The film’s subject matter only fuelled the (metaphorical) fire when it came to the strange events.
1: Brandon Lee’s death
During shooting for cult hit The Crow, Brandon Lee: the lead actor and son of martial arts legend/undercover Hong Kong police officer (… right?) was filming a gun fight scene. However, earlier in the movie the same gun had been used with real bullets. For whatever reason, one of these bullets was still in the gun during the pivotal scene, and when shot, it hit Lee in the abdomen, ultimately killing him. Since then, the film has become something of a phenomenon, giving rise to endless conspiracy theories, special edition DVD releases, and Halloween costumes for hapless men trying to look sexy. Had it not had such tragic consequences though, then the chances are that The Crow wouldn’t have had this impact, and this at least means that Lee’s death – although tragic – ensured neither he, nor his work would be forgotten.