20 Most Awkward Movie Sets

Faye Dunaway vs. Roman Polanski

The Movie Set: Polanski’s 1974 masterpiece Chinatown, in which Faye Dunaway gave great smoulder opposite Jack Nicholson’s busted-nose investigator.

The Awkward: It started with Dunaway attempting to understand the motivations of her character. When she asked her director for, uh, direction, he reportedly merely yelled: “Say the fucking words. Your salary is your motivation!”

Worse still, when one of the actress’ stray hairs threatened to ruin a shot, Polanski plucked the offending strand from Dunaway’s head without even considering calling in make-up.

Dunaway got her own back when, after her director refused to let her take a loo break, she threw a coffee cup full of urine in his face. Polanski’s later description of his lead actress as “a gigantic pain in the ass” seems fitting.

Kiss And Make Up? Dunaway refuses to address the stories about Chinatown’s troubled production. When one Guardian journalist dared ask her about it, she flew into a rage.

“I think you’ve brought up something that is so distasteful,” she told him. “You know very well, I am a lady and you were completely insulting.” Didn’t really help her case any, did it?

Todd Stephens – (Not Just) Another Gay Movie Director

“Something’s got to change,” rabbits director Todd Stephens. We’re on the blower discussing the state of Hollywood’s relationship with homosexuals. More specifically, the number of gay actors still cowering in the closet, scared to come clean about their orientation. “If all the gay actors in Hollywood came out at the same time, the world would have to deal with that reality. That some of their idols are gay. But I don’t see that happening any time soon.”

Something of an authority on gay film, Stephens has made a name for himself directing runaway indie hits Edge of Seventeen and both Another Gay Movie flicks. Right now, he’s here to chat about Gypsy 83, a free-spirited road trip flick starring Sara Rue (her off Popular and Less Than Perfect) and Goth cutie Kett Turton. But that’s not before he lets us know how he feels about those closet doors. “I used to be against Perez Hilton outing people, but now I’m kind of up for it. Like, fuck it. In the case of Another Gay Sequel, I had a couple of guys who were in the first one who dropped out at the very last minute because their agents staged an intervention and told them not to play more gay parts. Some of them are gay in real life but they’re not out.”

Anyway, back to Gypsy 83. Shot in 2001, it’s been a while hitting UK shores thanks to short-sighted distributors who “didn’t think it was gay enough, they didn’t know what the movie poster was”. An intimate dramedy with a soundtrack set to the rock-out refrains of Stevie Nicks, the plot follows Gypsy (Rue), who decides to break out of her small-town apathy by driving to New York with gay best friend Clive (Turton) and enter the renowned Night of a Thousand Stevies contest. “I really wanted to explore the relationship between gay men and straight women,” Stephens reveals. “That sort of amazing bond that we often have as gay people. Our diva best friends. There’s a connection, and a love, and an intimacy, but no sex. Yeah, it’s very complicated.” And trivia fans prick up those ears, apparently Chris Evans of ‘Fantastic Four’ originally auditioned for a role in the film as a gay jock. “He wanted to be in the film and I gave the part to somebody else. I could kick myself now,” laughs Stephens.

A deep thinker with a celluloid soul, Stephens is just as interested in shooting cute guys doing naughty things as he is exploring the myriad gay issues that marshal our community. With Another Gay Movie – a queer American Pie that fuses teen angst with gross-out gags – he enjoyed toying with gay stereotypes. “I tried to do a lot with the feminine character of Nico,” he says. “I really wanted to celebrate that and sexualise him. I feel like the queen never gets to get laid. It bothers me that a lot of gay people are bothered by portrayals of effeminate gay men; that’s just part of the rainbow of our community.”

Up next, the director is pulling together funds for his “dream project”, a film entitled Flamingos. “I’m sort of fascinated by gay stories that haven’t been told,” he divulges. “What it’s like to get older and deal with aging in the gay community is something that fascinates me. I envision it as a kind of gay Golden Girls.” And who would he want to star? “I’d love to get people like Morgan Freeman to play gay. People who are really established and willing to take a chance. Jack Nicholson as a queen would be hilarious.” Now that would be a coming out to remember.

The Best Films Never Made

Hacked, scrapped and ditched, they bring a whole new meaning to development hell…

The money-snatch casting of squeaky-clean Will Smith strangled Hancock’s original R-rated script. A desperately dark meditation on man and his woes – and with a title that is equal parts promise and threat – Tonight, He Comes’ sex obsessed superhero screws prostitutes, watches porn and kills cops. And, yep, he’s the hero. With its explosive ejaculatory climax and nebulous morals, queasy studio execs sent in the script butchers.

Hitch’s ballsy anti-Psycho concept for this necrophiliac serial killer romp famously set Francois Truffaut’s teeth on edge. Unlike his earlier horror dabblings, Hitchcock envisioned Kaleidoscope as a hyper-violent, sex-stuffed shindig with a New York murderer as the sympathetic protagonist. Though certain elements were later used in 1972’s Frenzy, Hitch never saw his Neville Heath-inspired murder mash make it into cineplexes.

Stung by the critical savaging of My Foolish Heart, author J D Salinger guarded the rights to his most prized work like a tot with a limited edition Transformer toy. To date, Billy Wilder, Jack Nicholson, Leonardo DiCaprio and John Cuask have all approached – and then backed slowly away from – the project, lured by its literary legend and knuckle-cracking lead Holden Caufield.

Wordsmith Whedon’s stab at rejuvenating Ripley came to a sticky end under the goo-obsessed gaze of director Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Nifty ideas (hybrid Ripley) shrivelled next to inane silliness (an exorable Alien Queen). Says Whedon himself: “It was mostly a matter of doing everything wrong. They said the lines wrong. And they cast it wrong. They did everything wrong that they could possibly do.”

Fresh from his success with The Exorcist, William Friedkin set his sights on a creepy Bermuda Triangle project. Signing a frankly startling cast of heavyweights (Marlon Brando, Steve McQueen and Charlton Heston), Friedkin found himself embroiled in completing Sorcerer, by which point Steven Spielberg had made Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Deemed too similar to Spielberg’s alien epic Triangle was puffed out.

Hilariously chronicled in documentary Lost In La Mancha, Gilliam’s failed attempt to realise The Man Who Killed Don Quixote should be in every film lecturer’s lesson plans on how not to make a movie. Plagued by bad planning, errant stars and hideous weather, Gilliam’s struggle ain’t over yet – rumour has it he plans to buy back shot footage and complete the project. And how about Johnny Depp for Best Performance Never Seen?

A formidable clash of the titans penned by Andrew ‘Ke7in’ Walker, this moody bust up between the dark knight and the man of steel fell foul of studio indecision and a proposed JJ Abrams Superman trilogy. Plot? Blaming Superman for the death of his wife, the Bat waives his retirement and sets out for revenge… and one hell of a super-smackdown. Aching for a Bale vs Routh revival.

No Irina Spalko (Blanchett). No Mutt (LaBeouf). And no ruddy gophers. The fourth Indy divided fans (and us), but Darabont’s leaked, unused script – stamped on by Lucas – has been widely pronounced a superior effort. With more emphasis on Indy and Marion’s rekindled romance, slicker action, and less artless age quips, City Of Gods retained monkeys and aliens, but also Indy’s heart.

The granddaddy of unfinished films, Marilyn Monroe’s remake of My Favourite Wife was the last of the blonde bombshell’s projects – she died during filming. Monroe made headlines not only for her firing and subsequent re-hiring (she missed 17 out of 30 days of shooting), but also for insisting that she appear naked in a pool scene, something that no other Hollywood actress had attempted before.

If ever the word ‘obsession’ could coalesce into human form, it would look like Kubrick. “Napoleon’s life has been described as an epic poem of action,” the director effused back in ‘69. Lovingly crafting a 25,000 card index detailing the days of his favourite Frenchman, Kubrick’s vision of an epic biopic included the planned use of 50,000 Yugoslavian and Romanian soldiers as extras. It never happened.

Via Total Film

We Love… The Imaginary Baseball Scene in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

“Koufax… Koufax kicks. He delivers. It’s up the middle! It’s a base hit! Davis cuts the ball off! Here comes the throw. He throws it to second! He slides! He’s in there! He’s safe!”

Before the tragedy, before the Chief speaks, before the electro therapy, and the blood, and the alcohol, before all of that, kooky 70s classic One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest delivers this cockle-warming nugget of a movie moment. As the most demented cheerleader you’ve ever seen, Jack Nicholson’s McMurphy sets the proverbial cat amongst the pigeons. Banged up with a posse of (essentially) non-crazy crazy folk, his quest to watch the World Series baseball on the hospital’s communal television cultivates a frosty enmity between himself and the remote, authoritarian Nurse Ratched. Men and their sports, eh?

McMurphy approaches the nurse’s station window, elated at his sudden voting victory to have the television turned on. “The Chief voted!” he yells, triumphant. “Now, will you please turn the television set on?” Behind the glass, the wretched Ratched slides open her window. “Mr McMurphy, the meeting was adjourned and the vote was closed,” she responds with infuriating equanimity. “When the meeting was adjourned the vote was nine to nine.”

Elected the number five greatest movie villain by the American Film Institute in 2003 (and that’s number five to the likes of Hannibal Lector and Norman Bates), Louise Fletcher’s Nurse Ratched is the perfect foil to psychiatric patient McMurphy. “Watch her preternatural calm,” notes critic Roger Ebert, “her impassive ‘fairness’, her inflexible adherence to the rules.” Composed where McMurphy is emotional, orderly where he is chaotic, Ratched does not see men when her haughty gaze falls on her patients, she sees sick children in desperate need of domination.

So, how combat such tyrannical rule? Raise hell, of course. Off storms McMurphy, slamming the bench opposite the TV to the floor before hurling himself fitfully into it. And then… a moment of clarity. One of those god-sent flashes of inspiration. That TV screen isn’t blank – look, there, the pitcher pitches, the batter bats. “Koufax is in big fucking trouble! Big trouble, baby!” bellows McMurphy in commentary. The other patients filter in to see what all the fuss is about. “A strike!” rejoices McMurphy, and suddenly the other men are caught up in it all. They listen raptly, seeing the game through him, cheering, whooping. “Koufax’s curve ball is snapping off like a fucking firecracker!” They clap and howl, spurred by the excitement of the non-game, jumping and alive. More alive than they’ve been in years, and all because of this lone, exceptional, riveting nutter.

“You ask me, is McMurphy crazy?” director Milos Forman considers in conversation with Rolling Stone magazine. “I don’t want to know this. Is he a hero? I don’t know this either. A modern hero is very ambiguous.” Ambiguous he may be, tied up in accusations of rape and hot-headedness, but there’s no denying the life he breathes into the tired monotony of constant and efficient hospital dictatorship.

And as the lines blur between his character’s horror and heroism, so do they smudge and smear between Jack Nicholson and McMurphy. Anti-establishment, anti-authority, anti-hero McMurphy is Jack, Jack is McMurphy. “If you get an impulse in a scene, no matter how wrong it seems, follow the impulse,” Jack would later say. “It might be something and if it ain’t – take two!” Such is the philosophy of McMurphy, also. Go with the flow, follow the current, buck the trend, do whatever takes your fancy.

Nurse Ratched watches with a cool detachment as McMurphy whips his supporters into a frenzy. This is what you’ll become, warns Jack, if you conform to mass control; nothing more than an empty, rule-bound shell of a human being. And you should listen to Jack – he got an Oscar for his efforts, after all.

… the fantasy food scene in Hook (1991)
An odd misfire for The Beard, this turgid episode epitomises much of what’s wrong with his saccharine miscarriage of cutesy filmmaking. “You’re doing it,” whispers one of the lost boys. “Doing what?” asks a mystified Robin Williams. “You’re using your imagination, Peter!” Squirm.