10 Worst Directors To Work With

Willi Schneider/REX

Throughout the history of making movies, there have been some really tough shot-callers. Some of the greatest “geniuses” from the world of cinema were legendary for more than just their movies–they were egomaniacal jerks. The following lists features several directors who are still living, and regularly making movies, as well as a few masters who have passed on… and then there’s one who is still living, but will likely never direct again. Here you have it: 10 of the toughest directors to work with.

10. David Fincher

We can safely place David Fincher at #10. He runs hot and cold on the difficulty scale, and tends to preserve relationships with individuals after they have worked together — which is more than we can say for some of the people on this list. That stated, those who have been working with Fincher in the digital age are more privy to his idiosyncratic routine, and perfectionism on set. This is due to relatively unlimited space for capturing footage. Back in the day, Fincher was shooting on film. Now, he’s one of the many directors who have gone to digital technology, and because of it, he’s become known to be excessive in shooting footage. This is especially true when working with actors. While working on Zodiac, he notoriously made the actors do take after take after take in order to find his perfect moments.

Masatoshi Okauchi / Rex Features

9. David O. Russell

How many people have tussled with David O. Russell? David is notorious for mixing it up with his actors. Most recently, he and Jennifer Lawrence had a verbal scrap, both tossing sharp, word-darts at the other. They blew it off when asked about it by the press, but this wasn’t David’s first trip to the circus. A quick peek at any Internet video sharing entity, and you can find David O. and legendary comedienne and actress, Lily Tomlin, get it on. If they had knives, they probably would have thrown them at one another. It’s tough to watch. And that still doesn’t scratch the surface of his war with George Clooney from the set of Three Kings. George, allegedly upset over the treatment of extras in the desert setting, let David know about it, and the two got into a physical altercation.

Erik Pendzich/Rex

8. Terrence Malick

Terrence Malick, affectionately known as Terry by those who have worked with him, is a delightful individual from a personal standpoint. It’s his ideology and philosophies on filmmaking that put him at odds with many colleagues. If you agree to act in one of his films, you may be completely cut from the final product. Terrence doesn’t make films for commercial success; he makes films to push the medium of visual storytelling. He’s more interested in silence than he is in capturing actors playing roles. Still, there’s no denying his indelible mark, and resonant influence on filmmaking. He has left sour tastes in the mouths of several along the way, including composer James Horner, who did the score for Malick’s, The New World. Horner suggested he’d never felt so “let down” by a director, after Terrence cut his score to pieces.

Source: www.indiewire.com

7. Michael Bay

Michael Bay is rumored to be an egomaniac, a control freak, careless with his actors and quite insecure and emotionally unstable while on set. Sounds like a winning combination. To fairly state it again: he is rumored. Unfortunately, we all remember Michael walking off stage while promoting Samsung at CES in a painfully awkward exchange, and that seems to be who he is. No, there’s no arguing how he changed the Hollywood action game. He made it look so slick, and so flawless that his name is used as reference when talking shot composition. “What if we did… kind of a classic, Michael Bay swing around to reveal x, y and z…” The guy has earned his place in cinema history, both good and bad. The icing on the difficulty cake? The whole Megan Fox thing: he’s chauvinistic, but she’s the problem? Hmmm.


6. Michael Cimino

Ever heard of Michael Cimino? If you’re a film buff, you certainly have. If you don’t know the name, you’ll know his greatest industry triumph and his greatest industry terror. Cimino was the story writer and director on The Deer Hunter. And… he was also the director who bankrupted United Artists with his over budget flop, Heaven’s Gate. He had quite a reputation — one that was forgiven early. The Deer Hunter was a critical box office and Oscar success. It won big with everyone, and winning changes everything. Unfortunately, there were several red flags flying on The Deer Hunter, and those filmmaking demons gnashed their teeth on Heaven’s Gate. Cimino went way over budget, and way off schedule with the film. He never dialed it in to what it should have been. He continued to work through the 1980s, but eventually people stopped hiring him.

Denis Guignebourg/ABACAPRESS.COM

5. Oliver Stone

“I Survived Oliver Stone,” Blake Lively joked with David Letterman about buying all the crew members t-shirts with the aforementioned phrase after their work together on Savages. Oliver Stone is a very intense guy. In his youth, he was known to be a little too intense, too domineering, too much of a d*ck on set. Now, it seems that he’s calmed somewhat… but his reputation still precedes him. He will get “into” his actors space and let them know exactly what is expected of them. And if performances aren’t up to his expectation and vision, he’ll figuratively saddle up, and ride their performance with a tight rein. According to Oliver himself, he used to be quite crazy in the process, but he has dialed it back significantly in his later years — he’s able to let it out through the work. Whatever you say, Oli.


4. Werner Herzog

Werner Herzog is another “ride ’em to perfection,” type, who has been known to put people in harm’s way in order to get the shots and performances he desires. Werner has been doing it a long time, and fair enough, he came from a different generation, and different school of filmmaking. The German filmmaker still remains incredibly attractive as a colleague, because he is so good at what he does. He shoots in locations, as opposed to faking them in studios, and this is his more incredible lure to Hollywood’s biggest, and brightest movie stars. That said, he will get what he wants from his cast and crew. If that means doing something 100 times to get it right, then it’ll be done 100 times to get it right. If anything strays from story to highlight aesthetic, he’ll kill it. He’s the god on set.

Picture Perfect/REX

3. Stanley Kubrick

Stanley Kubrick was a true genius. One of those high IQ guys who imagined scientific discoveries before they were ever put to the test by the scientific process. Stanley Kubrick was always, seemingly, ahead of his time. When thinking about some of this greatest work: A Clockwork Orange; 2001: A Space Odyssey; Dr. Strangelove… people weren’t quite ready for these films. Regarding his on-set behavior, Stanley enjoyed his actors, and they enjoyed him for the most part, but he was obsessed with seeing something precisely the way he’d envisioned it. This would equate to multiple takes and excruciating criticism on certain occasions. Kubrick still owns the record for the most takes — 148 — on a single scene set-up while shooting The Shining. And there were other scenes that required dozens of takes, only to use the first one in the final cut.

Courtesy Everett Collection

2. Lars Von Trier

It’s no surprise that Lars Von Trier is competing for the top spot on this list. Lars is notorious for saying and doing outrageous things, and suffering from bouts of depression that have pretty much inspired his filmmaking. (Perhaps if he’d make something happy just for giggles…?) An example of Lars’ difficult nature: when he cast Bjork to play the lead role in Dancer in The Dark, she received personal correspondence from Nicole Kidman, warning Bjork of working with Lars. Bjork went ahead with the job and during the process, she and Lars would take long walks so they could just yell at one another over differences of opinion. After the experience, Bjork swore that she’d never act again. Anyone who can make someone quit acting? That’s impressive… and not in a good way.

Willi Schneider/REX

1. Alfred Hitchcock

Alfred Hitchcock was something else behind the camera. A true visionary. And regarding all of the men who worked for him, they suggested he was quite pleasant, and fun to work for. This, even after he stated that all actors should be treated like cattle. He proved that he meant this statement by completely abusing actress Tippi Hedren, then railroading her career. Big Al was obsessed with Tippi, and he treated her like a kid in elementary school. He was mean to her, inappropriate in his sexual advances and would treat her worse when she refused. When he realized their professional relationship had run its course, he kept her under contract for five years, but didn’t offer her another film and wouldn’t loan her out to other studios. So, she sat and did nothing. To this day, Hedren praises the director his cinematic prowess, but nothing beyond it.


James Sheldon