These actors who walked off set all had their reasons - some are just better than others. Film and TV production are high-stakes, high-tension experiences. The days are long, and sometimes emotions get the best of an actor.
Find out which actor left because a director threatened him with a loaded gun. Which actor held up production for four days because his scene partner picked him up and threw him 3 feet? Which actress almost walked away from one of the biggest movie franchises in Hollywood history because she didn’t like the direction of the script?
Some of these actors just threatened to quit, while others stormed off the set filled with rage. Which scenes that made actors mad were totally justified? Which ones were perhaps diva-driven?
- Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures
Sir Ian McKellen is a Shakespearean actor with classical training. He has won seven Laurence Olivier Awards and a Tony Award. The stage star also made a successful transition to big-budget Hollywood film productions.
Gandalf from Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies has become one of the actor's most recognizable and endearing roles. However, the experience of filming the two trilogies was vastly different.
Jackson opted to use practical effects (makeup, costumes, props, etc.) where feasible on The Lord of the Rings. However, the director decided to go the digital-effects route while making The Hobbit. McKellen revealed during an interview with Time Out that he disliked acting in front of a green screen:
I was miserable. It may be my impression, but I don’t remember a green screen on The Lord of the Rings. If Gandalf was on top of a mountain, I’d be there on the mountain. The technology was being invented while we were making the film. [In The Lord of the Rings] I wasn’t involved in any of that, I was away acting on a mountain. I tend not to remember the bad times, but I don’t think there were any. I think I enjoyed every single moment of making those films.
McKellen became so dejected and frustrated during The Hobbit that he broke down. "I cried, actually. I cried. Unfortunately, the microphone was on, and the whole studio heard."
The fact he was working alone in front of a green screen almost caused the actor to leave the movie set for good. "It was so distressing and off-putting and difficult that I thought 'I don't want to make this film if this is what I'm going to have to do.'"
Jackson eventually calmed down the veteran actor. McKellen may have remained miserable during production, but the professional eventually learned how to adjust and cope.
- Photo: Warner Bros.
Adapted from a popular Anne Rice novel and starring Tom Cruise, the biggest movie star in the world, Interview with the Vampire looked like it would be a home run for young up-and-coming actor Brad Pitt. However, the experience of making the 1994 gothic drama turned out to be a "miserable" one for the Thelma & Louise star.
Pitt played Louisiana vampire Louis de Pointe du Lac in Rice's first go as a screenwriter. When he read the script weeks before production was set to begin, he realized the screenplay lacked the three-dimensional quality Rice's novel of the same name brought to Louis. The actor explained:
In the book, you have this guy asking, "Who am I?" Which was probably applicable to me at that time: "Am I good? Am I of the angels? Am I bad? Am I of the devil?" In the book, it is a guy going on this search of discovery. And in the meantime, he has this Lestat character that he's entranced by and abhors... In the movie, they took the sensational aspects of Lestat and made that the pulse of the film, and those things are very enjoyable and very good, but for me, there was just nothing to do - you just sit and watch.
The script turned out to be just one problem with the movie. In fact, the actor became so unhappy working on Interview with the Vampire, he called David Geffen to get out of the project.
"I am miserable. Six months in the f*cking dark. Contact lenses, makeup, I'm playing the b*tch role..." Pitt said. "One day, it broke me... I called David Geffen, who was a producer... I said, 'David, I can't do this anymore. I can't do it. How much will it take to get me out?' And he goes, very calmly, 'Forty million dollars.'"
"And I go, 'Okay, thank you.' It actually took the anxiety off of me. I was like, 'I've got to man up and ride this through, and that's what I'm going to do,'" added Pitt.
- Photo: HBO
Royal Shakespeare Company alum Diana Rigg earned a reputation over her seven decades of work as an intense and intimidating presence both on- and off-screen. Her commanding nature is what drew Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and Dan Weiss to hire the English dame for the role of the powerful Queen Tyrell.
"We had tea with her," Benioff said. "Dames don't audition for you; you audition for them. We loved her, she was funny, she was bawdy, she was everything we wanted for that character."
The former British Avenger and Bond girl (the only Bond girl to marry 007) was already well into her 70s when she landed the role as the political power player in 2013. When she was ready to shoot, she expected everyone else to be ready, as well.
During a scene in Season 6 of the HBO series, Dame Rigg was especially eager to start filming. Her scene partner Jessica Henwick (Nymeria Sand) explains:
She walked onto the set, and she went, "I’m ready now!" A cameraman came over and went, "Well, okay, but we haven’t finished setting up." She interrupted him and said, "Roll the cameras!" And she just started doing her lines. She did two takes, and then the guy came over and was like, "Great, now we’re going to do a close-up." And she just stood up and she went, "I’m done!" Now, she can’t walk fast. She has to be helped. So basically, we just sat there and watched as Diana Rigg effectively did her own version of storming off the set, but it was at 0.1 miles per hour. She cracked me up. I loved her.
Rigg earned four Emmy nominations over her six seasons of work on Game of Thrones. She was just as beloved and respected as she was feared by her peers.
- Photo: MGM/UA Entertainment Company
Hulk-like Swedish bodybuilder Dolph Lundgren took on the role of Soviet boxer Ivan Drago in 1985's Cold War-era Rocky IV. Lundgren reportedly hit Stallone so hard during the filming of their epic boxing match that the actor (who was almost 40 years old at the time) needed to recover in the intensive care unit at a hospital for eight days.
The Swede's punches caused Stallone's heart to swell, which made breathing difficult. The film shut down production for two full weeks while Stallone recovered from his life-threatening injuries. The actor-director was looking for realism, and he certainly got it.
Lundgren didn't pull any punches in his other match, either.
Carl Weathers's Apollo Creed comes out of retirement to face Drago in Rocky IV. Their bout, which was supposed to be an exhibition match, ends in the second round after Drago delivers what turns out to be a fatal blow to the former heavyweight champion.
According to Stallone, Weathers did not appreciate Lundgren's "aggressiveness." Stallone revealed during a 2006 interview, "I saw Dolph Lundgren pick up Carl [Weathers] and heave him three feet into the corner when I was directing the scene between them; rather than retaliate, Carl got out of the ring and said something ferocious like, 'I'm calling my agent... I quit!'"
Weathers stormed off the set. His absence caused a four-day halt in production.