Five Actors You Should Never Fight for Creative Control

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Ed Norton disowns The Incredible Hulk, and other tales of "artistic differences."

Ed Norton in The Hulk

News recently broke that Marvel Studios is replacing Ed Norton in the role of the Hulk for the upcoming multi-hero Avengers movie — mainly because the suits had such a headache dealing with Norton’s controlling nature while making 2008’s Incredible Hulk. In honor of Ed, we’ve rounded up Hollywood’s most notorious creative collaborators. Sure, actors in general are a fussy bunch, but these five are agitation hall of famers. 

1. Marlon Brando 

Marlon Brando in The Godfather

In his later years, Marlon Brando carried on like the larger-than-life legend he (in fairness) was, making ridiculous demands and acting like every production was leagues beneath his talent. Superman was one of many films wherein Brando refused to read the script or even learn his own lines; in one scene, he’s reading his lofty dialogue off the diaper of the infant playing his son. The actor also suggested prior to Superman‘s filming that his performance as the Man of Steel’s father should comprise merely a voice-over represented on screen by a levitating green bagel. It’s been suggested that Marlon was just bustin’ balls on this one, as he was prone to do: while making 1955’s Guys and Dolls, Brando repeatedly and deliberately flubbed his lines in one scene because it forced co-star Frank Sinatra to continuously eat cheesecake, a dish Sinatra hated. There was no such levity on the set of 1996’s The Island of Dr. Moreau, wherein the Godfather heavyweight bickered with costar Val Kilmer and fitted himself with a radio earpiece so his lines could be fed to him like orders at the drive-thru. Occasionally, Brando would interrupt filming to alert the crew to nearby robberies his radio device was picking up on local police frequencies. 

2. Val Kilmer 

Val Kilmer

Stories of Val Kilmer’s ornery attitude first appeared around the time of the aforementioned Island of Dr. Moreau. Val brought a boatload of problems to that movie, which he only agreed to do for the chance to work with Brando. Creative arguments lead to the firing of Moreau‘s original director Richard Stanley three days into filming; Kilmer is said to have influenced that decision. Stanley was replaced by veteran John Frankenheimer, who fared no better with the irritable Kilmer, later remarking, "There are two things I will never ever do in my whole life: I will never climb Mt. Everest, and I will never work with Val Kilmer ever again." Brando himself was on the director’s side, telling Kilmer he was "confusing [his] talents with the size of [his] paycheck." Directors as varied as Oliver Stone and Joel Schumacher have reported similar difficulties with Val; he apparently stopped speaking to Schumacher for two weeks during the making of Batman Forever because the director had reprimanded him over his verbal abuse of a low-ranking crew member. The actor has waged a few insane battles offscreen as well; his relationship with supermodel Cindy Crawford hit a rocky patch when he objected to the logo on a hat she once wore in public, and more recently he was forced to apologize for referring to his current home of San Miguel County, NM, as "the homicide capital of the Southwest" where "eighty percent of the people… are drunk." 

3. Mike Myers 

Mike Meyers in Wayne's World

Cliche suggests that all comedians have a moody, tyrannical monster underneath their wisecracking exteriors. One comedian who seems to fit this mold is Mike Myers, whose track record of film success is tempered by numerous stories of behind-the-scenes tantrums. Myers was apparently against including Dana Carvey’s Garth character in 1992’s Wayne’s World for fear that Carvey, a slightly bigger star, would overshadow his own turn as the title character. He also supposedly stormed off Wayne’s World‘s set because there was no margarine for his bagel. Years later, halfway into the production of the first Shrek, Myers decided the ogre should speak with a Scottish brogue. This cost DreamWorks about $5 million to correct. The pinnacle of Mike Myers-related craziness, though, has to be the 2000 Dieter script debacle. Myers backed out of making a film based on his weird German SNL character, claiming heroically that he refused to cheat moviegoers with an inferior screenplay. The problem is, he co-wrote the screenplay and had complete creative control over the project. Instead of taking the time to fix it, he walked away from Dieter and was promptly sued by Universal Pictures for $3.8 million.

4. Ed Norton 

Ed Norton in American History X

Much like the Incredible Hulk himself, Ed Norton carries on a rather normal professional life, only flaring up every once in a while when he’s rubbed the wrong way. Norton insinuated himself into the post-production of 1998’s American History X, cutting the final version of the film with editor Jerry Greenbert (much to the chagrin of director Tony Kaye, who tried to have his name removed from the credits). More controversy erupted that same year when Norton refused to take up smoking for his role in the gambling picture Rounders. When he was cast in 2008’s Incredible Hulk, a reboot many were hoping would erase memories of Ang Lee’s disastrous 2003 Hulk adaptation, Norton rewrote the film’s script and clashed with producers over the final running time. (For the record, Incredible Hulk director Louis Leterrier was on Ed’s side, also pushing for a longer and more detailed cut of the film.) Unhappy with the version of Incredible Hulk that landed in theaters, Norton refused to do much of the planned promotion, and the reboot more or less sank at the box office. When Marvel announced that a new actor (one who "thrive[s] working as part of an ensemble") would be sought to play Dr. Bruce Banner in the company’s upcoming Avengers movie, Norton released a classy statement expressing his disappointment and thanking Marvel for "the chance to be a part of the Hulk’s long and excellent history." Your move, Stan Lee! 

5. Sean Young 

Sean Young

Sean Young’s hubris has undoubtedly cost her much throughout her career. Bill Murray made sure not to work with her again after the actress openly questioned his methods on the set of 1981’s Stripes. Young and James Woods developed a serious feud during the making of 1988’s The Boost; details are scant, but Hollywood legend claims Young responded to the actor’s sexual advances by somehow using industrial adhesive to glue his penis to his leg. Sean Young has even made enemies on films that never bothered to hire her, as with her quest to score the role of Catwoman in 1992’s Batman Returns. Outfitted in a homemade Catwoman getup, Sean made several attempts to confront the filmmakers at Warner Brothers Studios during pre-production, actually managing to break up a meeting between WB head Mark Canton and Batman himself, Michael Keaton. Keaton remembered the confrontation in the July ’92 issue of Playboy: "I noticed that she had a metallic object in her hand. I flashed on it for a second and prayed to God it wasn’t a gun… it was [actually] a walkie-talkie… I asked her what she was doing with the walkie-talkie. She said… ‘I’m talking to somebody.’" Director Tim Burton, who’d been forced to drop Young from the role of Vikki Vale in the first Batman after the actress broke her leg, was allegedly smart enough to hide in the nearest bathroom during one of these incidents.