Henri-Georges Clouzot vs. Brigitte Bardot
The French sexpot Bardot certainly knew from temperamental auteurs; she worked with Godard, after all. But her interactions with Henri-Georges Clouzot were particularly strained. In La Verite, her character was to have overdosed on sleeping pills — so the director had her take some, claiming they were aspirin, got the scene, and then had her stomach pumped. For another scene, he reportedly got her drunk and slapped her until she cried hysterically. But Bardot had the last laugh: during one of their rows, he shook her by the shoulders and yelled, “I don’t need amateurs in my films — I want an actress!” She slapped the filmmaker in response and shouted, “And I need a director, not a psychopath!”
Sidney Pollack vs. Dustin Hoffman
Just about every writer who got a look at Michael Dorsey, the struggling yet uncompromising young actor played by Dustin Hoffman in Sidney Pollack’s marvelous 1982 comedy Tootsie, drew an easy parallel from the character to the actor playing him. “Dustin feels that his job as an actor with any integrity is to dig his heels in and fight as hard as he can for what he believes in,” Pollack told the New York Times while promoting the film. “I don’t have any quarrel with that. I do have a quarrel with some of his other assumptions. For whatever reason, I think Dustin feels that directors and actors are biological enemies, the way the mongoose and the cobra are enemies. He sees every picture as what he calls a ‘silent war.’ And he’s fought with most of his directors. I think if he would give a director half a chance, and not assume that the director is trying to kill him, he would see that most directors want exactly what he wants, which is the best possible picture.” The pair fought bitterly during the shoot, dueling sharply over not only his character, but the overall tone of the film and the style of its humor: “I was always accused by Dustin and other people of trying to turn the movie into a ‘gentle love story’ as opposed to an outrageous comedy. I used to deny that, but in retrospect I can see they were right. That is what I wanted to make, and that is what I made.” But many of Hoffman’s ideas made the movie what it is — particularly his suggestions to cast Bill Murray as his roommate and Pollack himself as his character’s agent. As a result, we have the rare but occasional example of a film where the feuding of an actor and director actually resulted in a stronger final product.