11 Actors Who Refused To Stay Silent About Directors Behaving Badly On Set

    "I never feared speaking up because I knew I was right."

    Warning: This post includes descriptions of sexual harassment. 

    1. In 2009, Megan Fox criticized Michael Bay for his unprofessional behavior behind the scenes of the Transformers movie franchise.

    Michael Bay standing behind a sign that reads Michael Bay

    In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Fox said that Bay "wants to create this insane, infamous mad-man reputation. He wants to be like Hitler on his sets, and he is. So he's a nightmare to work for, but when you get him away from set and he's not in director mode, I kind of really enjoy his personality because he's so awkward, so hopelessly awkward. He has no social skills at all. It's endearing to watch him. He's so vulnerable and fragile in real life, and then on set, he's a tyrant."

    Michael Bay and Megan Fox on a premiere red carpet together

    In response to this, Bay "enlisted the crew of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen to publish an open letter" that smeared Fox's reputation while valorizing Bay as a hero who "plucked her out of total obscurity thus giving her the biggest shot of any young actresses’ life."

    Michael Bay at the premiere for one of his movies

    In the letter, the anonymous crew members called Fox "dumb-as-a-rock," "the queen of talking trailer trash and posing like a porn star," and an "unfriendly bitch." Following the release of the letter, Fox was "fired from the Transformers franchise and replaced by the model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley."

    Michael Bay at an event

    In 2020, Fox's 2009 interview with Jimmy Kimmel, during which she discussed "'danc[ing] underneath a waterfall' in a bikini" as a 15-year-old in Bay's film Bad Boys II, became a topic of online discussion. Fox responded in an Instagram post, where she clarified the details of some of the stories circulating about her experiences as a young actor, and wrote that she was "never assaulted or preyed upon in what I felt was a sexual manner" by Bay (or Transformers producer Steven Spielberg). She noted that "these specific instances were inconsequential in a long and arduous journey along which I have endured some genuinely harrowing experiences in a ruthlessly misogynistic industry."

    Megan Fox on set of a talk show

    2. In both interviews and her autobiography, Tippi, Tippi Hedren described what an absolute nightmare Alfred Hitchcock was, on set and off.

    Alfred Hitchcock sitting for a portrait

    In an interview with NPR following her book's 2016 release, Hedren said, "[Hitchcock's behavior] became such a problem for me that I demanded to get out of the contract. And he said, 'Well, you can't, you have your daughter to support and your parents are getting older.' And I said, 'They wouldn't want me in a situation in which I'm not happy.' And he said, 'Well, I'll ruin your career.' And he did. He just kept me under contract, paying me my salary. A lot of directors and producers wanted me for their film, but to get to me, they had to go through him."

    Tippi Hedren posing on a staircase

    Hedren also noted that while filming The Birds, she didn't know the production would be using real, living birds until the day she was set to film with them. Hedren said, "It was really so deviously plotted out, it was really terrifying."

    Hitchcock with birds on his arms

    And in a 2017 Variety interview, Hedren recalled the sexual harassment, assault, and threats to which she was subjected by Hitchcock. Hitchcock "lunged at Hedren and tried to kiss her" and threatened to ruin her career when she rejected him. She said, "It was absolutely awful, and as soon as the movie Marnie was over, I was out of there. That was the end of the Hitchcock relationship. I finished the movie and didn’t have any other contact."

    Hitchcock points something out to Hedren while they're in Cannes

    Hedren went on, "I never feared speaking up because I knew I was right. My parents instilled in me a good sense of morals and a knowledge of what’s important in life. Acquiescing to some powerful man’s sexual desires for a job is not going to happen to me."

    Tippi Hedren posing in a formal lounge

    3. Joss Whedon has been accused multiple times of on-set misconduct. In 2020, Ray Fisher, who starred in Justice League (2017), wrote in a tweet that Whedon's behavior during the shoot was "gross, abusive, unprofessional, and completely unacceptable."

    Joss Whedon in a suit and tue

    Before that tweet, Fisher posted a video of himself "praising Whedon" at the 2017 Comic-Con, with the caption, "I’d like to take a moment to forcefully retract every bit of this statement." His previous positivity was the product of "studio-supplied talking points," not his genuine opinion of the director.

    Ray Fisher on the red carpet

    In 2021, Fisher told the Hollywood Reporter that once Whedon took over the film when Zack Snyder stepped back, he felt that he had to "explain some of the most basic points of what would be offensive to the Black community." When Fisher tried to give feedback on the revised script, Whedon responded, "It feels like I’m taking notes right now, and I don’t like taking notes from anybody — not even Robert Downey Jr."

    The poster for Justice League

    The actor summed up his disheartening experiences working on Justice League by saying, "I don’t believe some of these people are fit for positions of leadership. ... If I can’t get accountability, at least I can make people aware of who they’re dealing with."

    Roy Fisher on the red carpet for Justice League

    4. Fisher's costar Gal Gadot had similar things to say about Whedon's inappropriate conduct during the Justice League shoot.

    Gal Gadot at a formal dinner

    In the same Hollywood Reporter profile in which Fisher discussed his experience, an anonymous source said that following a disagreement between Whedon and Gadot over the direction of her character, he "told her he’s the writer and she’s going to shut up and say the lines, and he can make her look incredibly stupid in this movie."

    The cast of the Justice League, with Wonder Woman at center

    A few months following the publication of the profile, in an interview with the Israeli outlet N12, Gadot said, "He kind of threatened my career and said if I did something, he would make my career miserable."

    The cast of the film taking a selfie on the red carpet

    And a few months after that, Gadot told Elle that Whedon's threats toward her made her "dizzy." She said, "And if he says it to me, then obviously he says it to many other people. ... I was shocked by the way that he spoke to me."

    Gadot promoting justice league at comic con

    5. Well before Justice League, Whedon created and directed Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spinoff, Angel. Charisma Carpenter, who played Cordelia Chase in both series, went public with her harrowing experience working with Whedon in 2021.

    Whedon speaking during an event

    In a statement released on Twitter in support of Ray Fisher, Carpenter wrote that Whedon mocked her for her weight during her pregnancy, asked her if she was "going to keep it," and fired her after she gave birth. Carpenter wrote that the stress of "long and physically demanding days and the emotional stress of having to defend my needs as a working pregnant woman" caused her to experience Braxton-Hicks contractions, which "are the body's way of preparing for true labor, but they do not indicate that labor has begun."

    Charisma Carpenter smiling

    Carpenter wrote that Whedon was "casually cruel" and a "vampire" who took the "promise and joy" of being a new parent away from her.

    Charisma Carpenter in Angel with a crossbow

    Following the release of Carpenter's statement, various alumni of Buffy and Angel came forward to support her and express their dismay over Whedon's treatment of her. Amber Benson, who played Tara, tweeted, "Buffy was a toxic environment and it starts at the top."

    Amber Benson in a promotional shoot for Buffy

    Sarah Michelle Gellar, who played Buffy, wrote in an Instagram post, "While I am proud to have my name associated with Buffy Summers, I don't want to be forever associated with the name Joss Whedon."

    The cast of Season 1 of Buffy

    6. Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux, the two leads of Blue Is the Warmest Color, spoke openly about director Abdellatif Kechiche's aggressive and demanding demeanor toward them following the film's premiere in 2013.

    The director in front of the poster for the movie

    In an interview with the Daily Beast, Exarchopoulos spoke about Kechiche's approach to the film's sex scenes and said, "most people don’t even dare to ask the things that he did, and they’re more respectful." Kechiche insisted that Seydoux actually repeatedly strike Exarchopoulos during a fight scene, and refused to stop filming after Exarchopoulos accidentally cut herself on a glass door. Seydoux described the shooting experience as "horrible," and both actors said they would never work with the director again.

    The two leads in Blue Is the Warmest Color

    Seydoux said, "Well, thank god we won the Palme d’Or [the most prestigious prize at the Cannes Film Festival], because it was so horrible."

    The two actors with the director and their Palme d'Or

    Exarchopoulos later told Vulture that "[Kechiche] doesn’t like fabrication. He doesn’t want to see you act — he wants to take your soul."

    Adele and Lea filming a scene

    7. In a 2017 Facebook post, Elliot Page wrote that Brett Ratner outed him as gay during the filming of X-Men: The Last Stand.

    Brett Ratner on a panel

    Page wrote, "I was a young adult who had not yet come out to myself. I knew I was gay but did not know, so to speak. I felt violated when this happened. ... He ‘outed’ me with no regard for my well-being, an act we all recognize as homophobic." Page was 18 years old at the time of the incident.

    Page at the Met Gala

    In addition, Ratner told a woman on set, "You should fuck her to make her realize she’s gay."

    Page with fellow castmembers

    Page wrote, "Ratner’s comment replayed in my mind many times over the years as I encountered homophobia and coped with feelings of reluctance and uncertainty about the industry and my future in it."

    Page in a dark outfit

    A short time before Page went public with his story, six women accused Ratner of "a range of sexual harassment and misconduct."

    Brett Ratner speaking into a microphone

    8. Shirley MacLaine and Sally Field both said that Herbert Ross, who directed them in Steel Magnolias, was cruel to them and their costars during filming.

    Herbert Ross in a headshot

    At a 2013 event, Target Presents AFI Night at the Movies, Field said that Ross "went after Julia [Roberts] with a vengeance." MacLaine recalled that Roberts would cry at her house every night after filming and ask, "I think I'm terrible. What am I doing?"

    The cast of Steel Magnolias sitting around a table

    Ross even had the nerve to tell Dolly Parton that she needed acting lessons. In her biography Dolly: My Life and Other Unfinished Business, Parton is quoted as telling him, "I'm not an actress, I'm Dolly Parton. I'm a personality who has been hired to do this movie. You're the director. It's your job to make me look like I'm acting."

    Dolly Parton in a garden party scene

    MacLaine said, "Our keenest memory was how hard it was to work with our director. We hated him, and we would go after him." She later noted that while the cast remained friends after filming wrapped, none of them went to Ross's funeral.

    The director speaking

    9. Amy Adams spoke about the truly terrible environment David O. Russell created behind the scenes of 2013's American Hustle.

    Russell on the red carpet in a suit

    In an email leaked in the 2014 Sony hack, a journalist named Jonathan Alter wrote to Sony CEO Michael Lynton, who also happened to be his brother-in-law, about the abuse Adams endured on set. Alter wrote, "His abuse and lunatic behavior are extreme even by Hollywood standards."

    Amy Adams in the movie

    Adams confirmed this in a 2016 GQ profile. She recalled that Russell made her cry, and said, "He was hard on me, that's for sure. It was a lot. I was really just devastated on set."

    Adams sitting on a couch and looking at Russell, who is crouching near her with a turntable on a table between them

    Adams said, "It's not OK with me. Life to me is more important than movies." She added that shooting the movie was a lesson in "how to separate work and home," because "I was like, I cannot bring this experience home with me to my daughter."

    Russell directing Bradley Cooper and Amy Adams during a scene

    10. Kate Winslet told the press she wouldn't be thrilled at the prospect of ever working with Titanic director James Cameron again.

    James Cameron during a panel

    In 1997, Winslet told the Los Angeles Times, "You’d have to pay me a lot of money to work with Jim again." And prior to that, she told the Times, "If anything was the slightest bit wrong, he would lose it. It was hard to concentrate when he was losing it, shouting and screaming."

    Kate Winslet about to board the Titanic

    According to the same article, Winslet claimed she developed hypothermia and almost drowned two times during filming.

    James Cameron directing the two leads during the formal dinner scene

    11. And finally: Richard Dreyfuss, who starred as former vice president Dick Cheney in the 2008 film W., did not mince words when it came to director Oliver Stone.

    Oliver Stone speaks behind a podium

    During an appearance on The View, Dreyfuss said about Stone, "Imagine working for Sean Hannity. ... You can be a fascist, even when you're on the left."

    Dreyfuss as Cheney in the situation room

    He also said he only starred in it for the money, and that it was "six-eighths of a great film."

    The cast of W. watching as Josh Brolin as George Bush speaks at a podium