film directors 18 Directors Who Are Notoriously Difficult to Work With  

Matthew Cole Weiss
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Want to be a glamorous Hollywood movie star? Well, you might think twice when you hear what working for some of these directors is like. They might punch you square in the face or threaten to kill you! Life on a film set with these film directors is no walk in the park. Though they have some of the most storied and award-winning careers in film, they got there with ruthless determination and by, well, being just plain difficult to work with.

Ever since the start of the movie business, there have been sordid tales of difficult directors who have turned making films into a nightmare for everyone involved, from cast to crew to the studio. From nailing cell phones to walls and being all kinds of tyrannical, these directors take their craft a little too seriously, and they've earned unfavorable reputations as some of the worst people to work with in the process.

Granted, some of these directors have produced the best movies to ever be made, but was it worth it? Sure, James Cameron gave the world Titanic, but did he need to be such a jerk about it? And what about Coppola, von Trier, and Michael Bay (who Megan Fox famously likened to Hitler after filming Transformers)? Does making good movies and being one of the best directors really require all this shouting and behind the scenes drama? Of course, things really get interesting when these directors butt heads with notoriously difficult actors. In those cases, the crew likely just sits back and watches the fireworks.

After hearing about some of the stunts these egomaniacs have pulled, you'll give up those dreams of being an actor or actress in no time. Read through these on-set horror stories from famous directors and let us know who you think is the most difficult in the comments section!

David O. Russell is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 18 Directors Who Are Notoriously Difficult to Work With
Photo: Francois Duhamel/Columbia Pictures

This guy is the worst of the worst, but his movies, like American Hustle and Silver Linings Playbook, are SO DARN GOOD!

Russell is notorious for treating actors like absolute crap. From George Clooney in Three Kings to Lily Tomlin in I Heart Huckabees (you've seen the video), his on-set tantrums with actors are notorious. He also allegedly freaked out on Jennifer Lawrence while filming the 2015 movie Joy.

Amy Adams revealed that he made her cry almost every day of filming American Hustle. She said, “I was really just devastated on set. I mean, not every day, but most. Jennifer [Lawrence] doesn’t take any of it on. She’s Teflon. And I am not Teflon. But I also don’t like to see other people treated badly…It’s not OK with me. Life to me is more important than movies. It really taught me how to separate work and home. Because I was like, ‘I cannot bring this experience home with me to my daughter.’”

Credits (Film): Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle, Three Kings, The Fighter, Adaptation, + more

Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States of America

Nationality: United States of America

Also Ranked

#60 on The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked

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James Cameron is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 18 Directors Who Are Notoriously Difficult to Work With
Photo: Paramount Pictures

The Titanic director apparently earned the nickname "Iron Jim" while making films like Terminator and Titanic throughout his career. He apparently despises the interruptions of cell phones so much, he ACTUALLY nails them to the wall if they go off! Kate Winslet said he had "a temper you wouldn't believe" after filming Titanic.

Cameron's ex-wife, Terminator star Linda Hamilton told reporters that life with Cameron was "terrible on every level." It's even said that on the set of his film True Lies, he threatened to fire people who dared to take bathroom breaks!

Credits (Film): Titanic, Avatar, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, The Terminator, Aliens, + more

Birthplace: Kapuskasing, Canada

Nationality: Canada

Also Ranked

#29 on The Greatest Directors in Movie History

#12 on The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked

#26 on The Most Overrated Directors of All Time

#74 on Celebrities You Would Not Want as a Stepdad

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Michael Bay is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list 18 Directors Who Are Notoriously Difficult to Work With
Photo: Daniel Sempértegui/flickr/CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0
According to Transformers star Josh Duhamel, director Michael Bay doesn't give a crap about anything but making a good film (has he ever, though?), even if it includes hurting people's feelings. Megan Fox trashed Bay to the press, comparing his on-set nightmarish behavior to both Hitler and Napoleon. Even Bruce Willis said that while filming Armageddon, Bay screamed the whole time which did not make for a "pleasant experience."

Credits (Film): Transformers, Armageddon, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Pearl Harbor, + more

Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States of America

Nationality: United States of America

Also Ranked

#1 on The Most Overrated Directors of All Time

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Francis Ford Coppola is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list 18 Directors Who Are Notoriously Difficult to Work With
Photo: C2 Montréal/flickr/CC-BY 2.0

It all stems from Apocalypse Now. Coppola is known for having one of the biggest on-set tantrums of all time during the filming of the Vietnam War epic.  Not only did he force Harvey Keitel to quit, but when his star Martin Sheen suffered a heart attack on set, Coppola told the studio it was just "heat exhaustion."  

It gets worse: he forced the prop department to use real cadavers in the film (gross), and was apparently so crazed, he was near suicidal during the shoot. 

Credits (Film): The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, Apocalypse Now, Patton, American Graffiti, + more

Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan, United States of America

Nationality: United States of America

Also Ranked

#5 on The Greatest Directors in Movie History

#3 on The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked

#11 on The Greatest Auteurs in Film History

#1 on The Greatest Directors of the 1970s

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