The most epic movie set meltdowns

Which Hollywood A-Listers totally lost it during a film shoot?

We’re sure many pampered movie stars throw the occasional strop while at work. Perhaps a minion didn’t cool the ice to the right temperature, or picked the wrong shade of lilac for their trailer. 

Occasionally though, Hollywood types suffer more complete meltdowns. The pressure of being paid millions to play act all day can get too much for the delicate little lambs.

Only this week, we first heard that Ian McKellen sobbed on the ‘Hobbit’ set because he hates filming behind a green screen. Then it emerged Wesley Snipes (allegedly) strangled the director of ‘Blade: Trinity’ when their relationship broke down on set... over a t-shirt.

Yes, movie stars and directors lose it surprisingly often, and the results are sometimes funny, but usually pretty dark.

(Please note: several of the clips we've linked to are NSFW)

Martin Sheen during ‘Apocalypse Now’

Ever wonder where Charlie Sheen gets it from? Filming the opening drunk scenes on the infamously troubled ‘Apocalypse Now’ set, daddy Martin took method acting a little too far, got hammered and punched his own reflection in the mirror, before sobbing uncontrollably… it was his birthday after all. 

The director filmed it all and used it in the film. Later on in the shoot, Sheen had a heart attack.
This is the end... Sheen sobs for real on 'Apocalypse Now' set (Credit: United Artists)



Lucy Liu during ‘Charlie’s Angels’


Most people know better than to mess with Lucy Liu. Bill Murray didn’t (or just didn’t care).

The legendarily sardonic comic stopped midway during a scene for ‘Charlie’s Angels’, then pointed at Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu in turn: “I get why you’re here. And you’ve got talent. But [to Liu] what in the hell are you doing here? You can’t act.” Liu snapped and attacked Murray with punches until the crew could break it up.
Happy families... Liu snapped after Murray insult (Credit: Columbia)


David O. Russell during ‘I Heart Huckabees’


David Russell is a man truly unafraid of confrontation. Tensions between the no-nonsense director and actress Lily Tomlin were high during the filming of ‘I Heart Huckabees’, however it wasn’t until three years later that two leaked videos showed just how unprofessional he can be.

While setting up a shot, Tomlin asks for some clearer directions. Russell loses it, begins a minute-long four-letter tirade and attacks a desk. It was captured on film, and clearly shows frightened crew hastily leave the room.

Maverick Russell has previous for this sort of thing; during ‘Three Kings’, he abused a technician so badly George Clooney did the decent thing and beat him up.
Anger issues... Russell not the most relaxed man on a movie set (Credit: Rex)


Wesley Snipes during ‘Blade: Trinity’


Ever wonder why Wesley Snipes barely says a word in the fruitless final installment of the Blade trilogy? Well, co-star Oswalt Patton might have the answer. In an interview with The AV Club, he said Snipes turned up on-set and saw a black extra wearing a shirt that read “Garbage” then snapped at director David Goyer, shouting: “There's only one other black guy in the movie, and you make him wear a shirt that says 'Garbage'? You racist motherf**ker!” He then tried to strangle Goyer.

As it turns out it was the extra’s own shirt that he’d chosen to wear. Snipes apparently spent the rest of the shoot only communicating through post-it notes signed “From Blade”, and a stand-in was used for anything other than close-ups.
Mute... Snipes wouldn't talk to Goyer after strangling him (Credit: Rex)
Faye Dunaway during ‘Chinatown’


What does it take to make Fay Dunaway throw her own urine at someone? Roman Polanski. Whilst filming a scene inside a car for ‘Chinatown’, the actress-diva hybrid wanted a toilet break. Polanski refused and Dunaway went nuts. She filled up a cup and sent it flying towards the director.
Toilet break-down... Polanski and best pal Dunaway (Credit: Oldhollywood.tumblr)


Ian McKellen during ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’


The classically trained thesp was reduced to tears whilst filming Peter Jackson’s upcoming hobbit adapt. Nothing to do with his collogues though, more a lack of them.

Frustrated by Jackson’s use of green screen
to solve the height difference between Mckellen’s Gandalf and his dwarf co-stars, the actor began to cry. “This is not why I became an actor,” he sobbed, unaware his mic was still on and he could be heard by the whole studio.
Lonely... McKellen with glorious Gandalf beard (Credit: Warner Bros)


Klaus Kinski during ‘Fitzcarraldo’


The love-hate relationship between German auteur Werner Herzog and his actor-of-choice Klaus Kinski is the stuff of movie geek legends. The pair’s heated, often violent confrontations include Kinski reportedly pulling a gun on the director on the set of ‘Aguirre, the Wrath of God’.

However this video, taken during filming for ‘Fitzcarraldo’, shows Kinski lose it with his director in furious fashion. Just check out his eyes.
BFFs... Herzog and Kinski (right) calmly discuss character motivation (Credit: Historyofourworld)


Rip Torn during ‘Maidstone’


Rip Torn is another loose cannon, so it wasn’t wise perhaps for Norman Mailer to ask him to film an improvised fight scene for his self-indulgent 1970 flick ‘Maidstone’.

For some reason Torn attacked him with a hammer (a furious Mailer shouted “you crazy fool!”) and pair began fighting for real. At one point Mailer tears at Torn’s ear with his teeth. The ensuing scuffle made it into the film, despite the pair using each other's real names. You don’t mess about with Rip Torn.
Hammer time... Torn and Mailer have real-life fight (Credit: Criterion)


Christian Bale during ‘Terminator: Salvation’


Perhaps the most notorious on-set meltdown ever. When director of photography Shane Hurlbut walked on set during a scene, Bale went bat-s**t crazy (if you’ll excuse the pun), unleashing a monumental outburst.

A recording made by one of the crew went viral almost immediately, inspiring countless remixes and a ‘Family Guy’ parody.
The greatest... Bale is the master of the on-set meltdown (Credit: Rex)