Total Nerd The Weirdest, Worst Things Directors Have Ever Forced Actresses To Do  

Inigo Gonzalez
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Film is an amazing medium because of all the emotional journeys characters go through in such a short period of time. To achieve this, directors often have to rely on interesting and sometimes extreme measures to get amazing performances from the actors and actresses.

Unfortunately, that means that there are truly awful things directors have done to actresses to perfect their film. It’s no secret that there are a ton of bad things directors make actresses do. There are all sorts of actress horror stories out there, from being verbally harassed to getting physically injured to being completely traumatized. It’s actually quite disturbing to see so many acclaimed directors torturing actresses just so they can get that perfect shot for their film.

Here’s a few of the worst things directors have done to women, all in the name of art.


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Shelley Duvall is one of Hollywood's sweetest women, so it comes as a pretty big shock to learn Stanley Kubrick emotionally tortured her to film The Shining. It's more than just how he talked to her, or gave her direction - it's things like keeping her isolated on set, and shooting exhausting take-after-takes for hours, days, or sometimes even weeks. Duvall notes in her book The Complete Kubrick just how exhausting working with Kubrick was.

"From May until October I was really in and out of ill health because the stress of the role was so great. Stanley pushed me and prodded me further than I’ve ever been pushed before. It’s the most difficult role I’ve ever had to play."

Even her costar Jack Nicholson was aghast at how Kubrick treated Duvall. He noted that he was a great director towards everyone except her. 

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David O. Russell is a notorious Hollywood director known to be highly abusive towards his actors and actresses. He famously got into a fist fight with George Clooney when they worked on Three Kings, so it's not much of a surprise to hear that Russell was also relentless in his abusive behavior on American Hustle, especially towards Amy Adams. She said Russell's behavior on set was so extremely demanding that she often cried at the end of each shoot day.

In an email exposed during the 2014 Sony hack, journalist Jonathan Alter wrote to Sony CEO Michael Lynton, chronicaling Russell's open abuse of Adams: "His abuse and lunatic behavior are extreme even by Hollywood standards," Alter claimed.

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Louis B. Mayer isn't exactly a director, but he's basically Hollywood royalty all the same. In fact, he's one of the M's that make MGM Studios: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. And perhaps similar to Harvey Weinstein, Mayer was one of the most powerful Hollywood producers (and predators) at the time.

The Wizard of Oz is the film that propelled Judy Garland - who was 16 at the time - to stardom. In the 1930s, there really weren't any laws or rules in regards to child actors and actresses, and she would be given adrenaline pills to keep her alert when the cameras were rolling. When they stopped, Mayer would give her sleeping pills so she could rest. He also gave her diet pills to control her weight. In other words, as a teenager, Garland was turned into an addict in order to make blockbuster movies for MGM. Garland struggled with substance abuse and addiction for her entire adult life. 

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Alfred Hitchock, the master of suspense, loved to make films featuring a dark side; perhaps it's because Hitchcock himself had a dark side. Remember that stunning scene in The Birds where Tippi Hedren's character, Melanie Daniels, goes into the attic and she gets attacked by dozens of birds? She really does get bruised and bloody in that scene, thanks to the very real birds attacking, scratching, and pecking at her. The scene took an agonizing week to shoot in its entirety. Worst of all, Hitchcock didn't put live birds in the scene just for the sake of realism - he was being incredibly petty and retaliating against her for refusing his unwanted sexual advances.

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