Hollywood may be the movie capital of the world, but it’s known to produce some truly fruit loopy people. Here are a few stories from some well known celebs…
In the movie business there’s mad, there’s very mad, and then there’s Dennis Hopper. He blazed a trail of boozed-up, drug addled chaos through Hollywood, with the crazed goings-on reaching new heights while making Easy Rider. From keeping loaded handguns within reach, to pulling a steak knife on actor Rip Torn and telling the crew he was the creator and they were his slaves, the word ’difficult’ doesn’t really cover it.
His private life was no less eventful either, with wife Michelle Phillips leaving him when he allegedly took to handcuffing her for fear she was a witch.
In spite of such behaviour, he was foolishly allowed to make ‘The Last Movie’ in Peru, which just happened to be the cocaine capital of the world. Almost inevitably the film was shit, so much so, that it was 9 years later before someone allowed Hopper to direct again.
A successful film career followed, but what sealed Pryor’s place in the mad bastard hall of fame was a deeply unpleasant incident that took place in the early eighties.
While freebasing cocaine, he somehow managed to set fire to himself, resulting in third degree burns scarring over 50% of his body. Pryor eventually recovered from the mishap, but from that day forth, it was considered bad manners to say ‘does anyone smell burning?’ in his presence.
On Fitzcarraldo, director Werner Herzog insisted that his cast and crew carry a 340-tonne ship over a mountain to bring life to the film. For The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser, he cast Bruno S. in the lead role, a man who had spent the previous 23 years of his life in a series of institutions, asylums and prisons.
On Heart of Glass, he hypnotised every member of the cast apart from the lead actor. After losing a bet to director Errol Morris, he appeared in the short film “Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe”, where he… well, guess!.
Nevertheless, Werner’s most famous bouts of bonkerdom seemed to surface whenever he worked with Klaus Kinski. The pair struggled to get along at the best of times, but on the set of Aguirre; The Wrath of God, Kinski decided to walk. Herzog immediately explained that he had a rifle and any attempt to leave would see the director putting eight bullets in his actors head before turning the gun on himself. The result? Kinski decided to go back to work.
He was one of the world’s greatest ever actors, but Marlon Brando also could have been possibly the maddest. Considered difficult from an early age, many put Brando’s eccentricity down to his obsession with his work and the Method. By the time he won a Best Actor Oscar for The Godfather, however, eyebrows were seriously being raised.
Rather than accept the award himself, Brando sent along ‘Sacheen Littlefeather’ (actually actress Maria Cruz) to speak out about the plight of native Americans, in spite of the fact that she seemed as confused about her presence there as the members of the Academy were.
Towards his later years, Brando extended his bonkers reputation by holding a series of acting classes in which he dressed as a woman and, more bizarrely, Osama Bin Laden!.
Read our article about more of Marlon Brando’s crazy moments
Francis Ford Coppola
“We were in the jungle, there was too many of us, we had access to too much money… and little by little, we went insane”. This is how Francis Ford Coppola referred to making Apocalypse Now in Peter Biskind’s Book ‘Easy Riders, Raging Bulls’, and it’s no understatement to say that the shoot was 16 months of madness for the great man.
Filming in the Philippines during the rainy season he faced typhoons, tropical disease, star Martin Sheen having a heart attack and even losing a crew member to rabies, yet Coppola pressed on with his opus. He borrowed helicopters from Ferdinand Marcos, (dictator of the Philippines who ruled under martial law and was infamous for being corrupt and especially brutal during his rein), even though Coppola he knew that the copters could be withdrawn at any minute to be used in a real war.
He also cast fellow nutters Dennis Hopper (who was permanently strung out) and Marlon Brando (who hadn’t even read the script, let alone learnt his lines) in lead roles. Nevertheless, the film was eventually completed, and Coppola’s crazy months in the jungle resulted in a brilliantly insane film about an equally insane war.
Read our article about the making of Apocalypse Now
For example, Young had an affair with her co-star James Woods on the set of The Boost, and following their break-up, she began making threatening late-night phone calls and was even said to have left a disfigured doll on his doorstep. Woods filed a lawsuit claiming harassment, and surprisingly, they never worked together again.
When Young was filming a role in Wall Street, she had a note stuck to her back by her costar Charlie Sheen. It read: “I am the biggest cunt in the world.” She had already infuriated Stone with her repeated insistence that she should have been cast as the film’s leading lady instead of Daryl Hannah, and Sheen’s dislike of her convinced Stone to take drastic measures. Stone cut out Young’s entire subplot from the script, sent her packing from the set and had her quietly dropped off at a New York bus station.
Robert Downey Jr.
Having played the drug addict Julian Wells in Less Than Zero, Robert Downey Jr. spent much of the next 15 years following that characters downward spiral. Drink, depression and serious drug dependancy saw his career flounder as he spent an increasing amount of time in prison and various rehabilitation units.
From being caught with copious amounts drugs, strippers etc, to climbing in a neighbour’s window and falling asleep in their (empty) child’s bed, thinking it was his own, Downey just couldn’t seem to behave himself.
Downey’s father introduced his son to marijuana at the age of six, which apparently led to Downey becoming a daily drinker. In 2001, while on parole, Downey was found barefoot, wandering around Culver City, California, and was arrested on suspicion of being under the influence. That incident led to him being fired from his role on the TV show “Ally McBeal” in addition to other film and stage jobs.
His wife gave him a final ultimatum in 2003, which saw Downey finally sort out his addictions and has been sober ever since. At this time, he had trouble getting film roles due to insurance companies refusing to cover him. His career didn’t pick up again until Mel Gibson personally underwrote Downey’s liability insurance so that the actor could star in 2003’s The Singing Detective. From there, Downey started working steadily, appearing in films such as Gothika, A Scanner Darkly, Zodiac and Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang. Then Marvel came a-knocking and the rest is history.
From forcing Shelly Duvall to do more than 100 takes of the same scene in The Shining, to scratching Malcolm McDowell’s cornea and then nearly drowning him on the set of A Clockwork Orange, it was all in the name of art, and art was everything to Kubrick.
He was also a deeply private, almost reclusive man, a trait that only encouraged increasingly bizarre rumours to spread about his habits.So whether or not you believe that he had a pilot’s licence even though he was terrified of flying, or that he tried to take out an insurance policy in case aliens were found during the making of 2001; A Space Odyssey, doesn’t really matter. The stories only add to the legend, and a legend is exactly what Stanley Kubrick is.
Read our article – Stanley Kubrick – The Life & Myth for more
But Lawrence hasn’t just limited this sort of behaviour to the big screen though, as he was once arrested for running into heavy traffic while shouting, screaming and, you guessed it, waving a gun about.
Another Lawerence classic was going jogging in the stiffing LA summer heat wearing several layers of clothing, only to end up in a three-day coma. He made a full recovery, suffering no brain damage, but the fact he went jogging in order to lose weight for the movie Big Momma’s House, in which he played a fat woman, makes us wonder if the doctors got the brain damage thing right?
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