Cameron may be known for directing iconic films such as Titanic, The Terminator, and Avatar, but he's also developed quite a reputation for his demanding behavior on set. Kate Winslet famously shared her experiences on the set of Titanic, which included a long and hard filming schedule, her almost drowning, and even suffering from hypothermia from being in cold water.
2.Great on-set experience: Jordan Peele
The Get Out and Us director has gotten tons of praise from those he works with. In an interview with The Washington Post, Keke Palmer shared what it was like working with Peele on set for his latest film, Nope: "He’s just so thoughtful, and he has something to say," she said. "He empowers the other people on set. He has a clear vision, but he also trusts the people that he’s hired. ... It’s just a very cool and genuinely collaborative process."
3.Also a great on-set experience: Sofia Coppola
The daughter of director Francis Ford Coppola, Sofia has made a name for herself directing numerous films, such as Lost in Translation, Marie Antoinette, and The Bling Ring. In an interview shared by Netflix, Kirsten Dunst shared how working with Coppolla in the '90s on The Virgin Suicides "empowered" her, especially as Hollywood producers tried getting her to "fix" her teeth as a young actor.
4.Difficult on-set experience: Michael Bay
Megan Fox didn't hold back when it came to criticizing the reportedly demanding Transformers director: "He’s like Napoleon and he wants to create this insane, infamous mad-man reputation. He wants to be like Hitler on his sets, and he is," she told Wonderland Magazine.
5.Great on-set experience: Tim Burton
Working with Burton on Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, star Eva Green shared, "It is a happy set," she told Parade. "He is just a child on set, so passionate and full of ideas, full of energy…It is like a real family." Ella Purnell also added just how fun and spontaneous working with Burton was — like when he once brought water guns on set.
And Danny DeVito, who's worked with Burton in movies like Dumbo and Batman Returns shared his deep appreciation and admiration for Burton and his work: "I love Tim and I would do anything to be in a movie with him," he said. "I get emotional thinking about how much I care about him."
6.Difficult on-set experience: David Fincher
The director, known for his "perfectionist" tendencies, had tension with Jake Gyllenhaal on the set of Zodiac, including a time he made Gyllenhaal do a three-second scene over 30 times. The actor said Fincher "paints with people," adding "It's tough to be a color. And Robert Downey Jr. apparently called Fincher a "disciplinarian."
7.Great on-set experience: Chloé Zhao
Zhao revealed she only had Harry Styles in mind when it came to casting him as Eros/Starfox. And she even treated the Eternals cast to a Harry Styles concert in London after they heard about his casting. Lia McHugh, who plays Sprite, told ScreenRant, "...one day she was like, 'You wouldn't want to go to a Harry Styles concert with me, would you?' And I was like, 'Is that even a question?!' It's funny. He had a smaller, private one in London and we got special seats up in a lounge. A few of the Eternals went and it was great."
8.Difficult on-set experience: Oliver Stone
While promoting George W. Bush's biopic, W, on The View, Richard Dreyfuss, who played Dick Cheney, criticized the movie and called Stone "a fascist." Stone addressed Dreyfuss' comments and claimed that working with the actor was "the single worst experience" he's ever had. Stone also claimed Dreyfuss couldn’t remember his lines and shared, "I walked him outside, and I read him the Riot Act. I said, ‘You’re going to read these f—ing cue cards, and if you don’t read them, this scene is over.’ So, yeah, I was a fascist."
9.Great on-set experience: Steven Spielberg
In his memoir, Independent Ed, Edward Burns shared his experience working with the Academy Award-winning director on Saving Private Ryan, noting how he would allow actors to make mistakes to work out their own process instead of putting pressure on them to get it right immediately. According to Business Insider, Burns wrote, "He allowed us several takes to figure things out for ourselves." The actor mentioned that through working with Spielberg, he learned that being a director is "about knowing when to give direction."
10.Difficult on-set experience: Terrence Malick
After The New World, Christopher Plummer swore to never work with Malick again. During Newsweek’s annual Oscar roundtable in 2012, Plummer criticized Malick for his controlling ways while filmmaking, which included rewriting scripts: "I love some of his movies very much, but the problem with Terry is he needs a writer, desperately. He insists on overwriting until it sounds terribly pretentious," he said, "...and he edits his films in such a way that he cuts everyone out of them."
11.Great on-set experience: Ryan Coogler
The Black Panther director, who had a team of women in leadership roles on set, received high remarks from the crew. In an interview with the New York Times, costume designer Ruth E. Carter complimented Coogler for his collaborative attitude. "We cut past any of the normal bureaucracy of male dominance, where they may want to overtake the conversation or need to be leader of the idea," she said. "You don’t have to be overbearing to get your point to him — he’s open in that way. With that calmness and humility, the gate opens: ‘Hello, I have this to offer.’"
And prior to the Black Panther premiere in 2018, director Ava DuVernay tweeted her own praise for Coogler, sharing what it was like working near each other: "We edited our films across the hall from each other for 8 months," she wrote. "We talked in our edit bays, on walks around the lot. About our films, our dreams. Tonight, his comes true. On my way to the #BlackPanther premiere with a full heart for my fam, director extraordinaire #RyanCoogler!"
12.Difficult on-set experience: Ridley Scott
A self-described "tough nut," Scott notoriously had tensions with Harrison Ford while filming Blade Runner. Plus, the director's perfectionist ways meant long, exhausting days of filming — which included the cast and crew working more than 50 nights. "It took a few weeks to get into full vampire mode," Ford said, according to Vanity Fair.
13.Great on-set experience: Joel and Ethan Coen (aka, the Coen Brothers)
From O Brother, Where Art Thou? to Hail, Caesar! George Clooney has collaborated with the famous brothers on a few projects and had plenty of positive things to say about them. "They are great writers. They are incredibly imaginative directors, and on top of everything else, they are the most fun to work with. Any time they call, I just say — 'Tell me where to be and I’ll be there,'" he told Variety.
14.Difficult on-set experience: Stanley Kubrick
Scatman Crothers' famous "shining" speech to young Danny Torrance was miserable to film because of Kubrick. The director made Crothers do over 100 takes before he was satisfied — and apparently, the process was so debilitating that Crothers broke down into sobs between takes.
15.Great on-set experience: J.J. Abrams
In an interview with Cinemablend, Daisy Ridley shared how collaborative Abrams is as a director; he was even open to her input when it came to Rey's storyline in Star Wars:The Rise of Skywalker. "I will say the great thing about J.J. is I've felt authority like that from the get-go. ... He always listened to what I had to say, even if for the most part it's wrong," she said. "We would try things and do different lines and whatever it was so it always felt new, and like everyone was really involved in the collaborative process."
Iñárritu's The Revenant may have won multiple Oscars, but filming the movie was brutal. According to The Hollywood Reporter, cast and crew had to deal with numerous challenges such as filming in subzero temperatures and crew members being fired or quitting mid-production. One crew member called making the film "a living hell."
17.Great on-set experience: Ava DuVernay
Storm Reid gushed about her experience working with DuVernay — who's been a mentor to her — on A Wrinkle in Time while chatting with Bustle. "...we had the most amazing days together," she said. "Just being able to work with her and seeing that she has so much love and passion for what she's doing, on and off the camera."
The cast of Queen Sugar also gave endless appreciation for DuVernay in an interview with OWN — highlighting her passion behind her work and her attentiveness to the needs of cast and crew on set. Nicholas Ashe, who plays Micah West, said, "She's sensitive to the actor but sensitive to what the production assistant needs, with the DP. She's everywhere at once, and it's a magical thing to be a part of."
Did any of these on-set experiences surprise you? Which "loved" or "hated" directors would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments below.
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