Prima Donna Director

"Say the fucking words. Your salary is your motivation."
Roman Polanski, when asked about a character's "motivation" in Chinatown

He laughs and cries. He jokes and rages. He begs, he cajoles, he screams, he threatens suicide. He eats so much of the background that it has to be replaced between takes, and he'll eat your face too if you try to correct him.

He's also not on stage.

The worst nightmare an actor, especially in the world of fiction, can face is a director of this type. He's hammier than BRIAN BLESSED and has an extremely exacting interpretation of his own artistic vision. He believes himself to be lord of the studio and no one dares to correct him, including those higher up the executive ladder (i.e. his bosses). Often times he can act better (or at least more dramatically) than all of his actors put together, and he expects each and every one of his staff to be up to his standards. He will take sole credit for the production and will shamelessly steal other people's brilliant ideas and pass them off as his own.

One wonders why he hasn't been fired yet, if they are so temperamental. But sometimes, it's because his methods work. He actually can make his vision real, with an amazing high quality standard, setting him somewhere near the Bunny-Ears Lawyer and Insufferable Genius category. If this guy has a redeeming feature, that's it. In Real Life, there are a multitude of reasons why people may be difficult to be around, and especially when it comes to a creative endeavor some just don't play well with others. And often it may be that they have a good relationship with the producers or crew but fight with the actors, or any combination thereof. Thus explaining why they keep their job.

The Prima Donna is what happens when this person is in front of the camera instead. Contrast Wag the Director. Can very easily become the film-making equivalent of the Mad Artist. He can often be found making Le Film Artistique — or, at the very least, he'll claim that he'll be trying to make this to get away with throwing petulant tantrums a six-year-old would be called out over.

The Record Producer from Hell is often the musical equivalent.


Examples

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    Anime 
  • Kimba the White Lion has a nature documentary director who puts a captive orangutan in his documentary of African wildlife and he yells at his workers to go with it despite their cries of Misplaced Wildlife (he defended his claim that there are orangutans in Africa because the captive one he's filming is in Africa); he even went as far as to make his workers start a large fire in the jungle just to film a stampede.
  • Haruhi Suzumiya: Haruhi herself, when she has the SOS Brigade make a film.
  • Takezou Nogame, the author of The Third Aerial Girls' Squad in Shirobako, ordered a rewrite for the script of the anime adaptation of his manga because he didn't like it... except this is a lie told by Chazawa, the incompetent liaison between the anime studio and the publisher, to save his own ass since he hasn't been doing his job. When the script's writer gets fed up with Chazawa and forces a meeting with Nogame, he's actually very reasonable, even changing his original Downer Ending as a compromise with the anime studio.

    Films — Animation 
  • The director in Bolt, who was dramatic enough that he could have starred in his own series. He even dared to do a Take That in the production immediately after a Network rep complained, and in her face, no less.

    Films — Live Action 
  • The director from Singin' in the Rain is pretty much that in most of his scenes — though to be honest, how else can you react when faced with a real Prima Donna?
  • Peter O'Toole's character The Stunt Man. And he sometimes went around in a helicopter-chair, which made him more unsettling.
  • The late Dom De Luise as Buddy Bizarre in Blazing Saddles. (Though, given that a massive Western brawl had just burst through the wall into his musical number, he's hardly overreacting.)
  • Marty Wolff in Big Fat Liar is a case of Prima Donna Producer. The actual director of the Movie within a Movie, Dusty Wong, is actually fairly reasonable and is one of Wolff's many chew toys.
  • Willem Dafoe as Carson Clay in Mr. Bean's Holiday.
  • Tom Cruise's character in Tropic Thunder is a spot-on example, except that Les Grossman is a producer instead of a director. Damien Cockburn also has shades of this ("The chopper is God and I am Jesus Christ His Son") but it isn't clear of whether it's an inherent trait or if it's the result of the pressure of having his feature film debut be a major blockbuster with a bunch of prima donna actors.
  • Played for Drama in Black Swan. In his "visceral and real" production of Swan Lake, Thomas is insistent on casting a Swan Queen who can perform both the innocent and sweet White Swan and the cruel, erotic Black Swan with all of her heart - and if that means sexual harassment of the lead ballerina, including pushing her into a breakdown and total insanity, so be it.
  • Luke (who is seemingly based on real-life example Nick Palumbo) from Bleading Lady/Star Vehicle.
  • Seanna Birmingham from The Remake, for another producer example.
  • Liam Neeson as egotistical horror film director Peter Swan in The Dead Pool.
  • Steven, when he begins to go insane, in Skeleton Crew.
    "Fucking cut! Cut! Cut! Fucking cut! You bunch of incompetent fucks! What the fuck is wrong with you? Huh? Do any of you have any fucking vision? Do you know how to make a fucking motion picture? Mike! Darius! Where did you leave your skills? L.A.? Bruce, you're a fucking professional actor! You're acting like a wet pile of shit! Sort it out! Fuck! This script I wrote last night, this is the new fucking film! This is what I'm gonna be remembered for! This is the fucking masterpiece! Wrap your heads around that, the lot of you! And will you fucking Finnish film school fucks from whatever fucking unpronounceable town you came from go back there and learn your fucking skills!? Fuck! Fucking fucks!"
  • At the end of Free Enterprise, Mark becomes one of these, while filming, well, the film you're currently watching. When he yells at an assistant to go find William Shatner, who's supposed to be playing himself, his wife complains that he's a jerk.
  • Return to Cabin by the Lake: The movie-within-a-movie Cabin by the Lake's director Mike Helton is a complete tool and sleaze who sleeps with his female leads in exchange for future job ofers, constantly hurls abuse at his co-workers, demands to micromanage every aspect of the production, and falsely claims to be an expert on the (not actually) deceased serial killer the film is about. After Stanley gets rid of him, no one except the two female starts really question his disappearance.
  • Meet the Feebles: Sebastian, the director of the Feebles variety show. He yells at all the cast, dismisses their assorted problems (up to and including death) as mere annoyances, assigns the new kid to the knife throwing act for questioning his choreography; and, against the producer's explicit orders, uses the last-minute cancellation of several acts as an excuse to go on stage himself and do a song-and-dance number about sodomy.

    Literature 
  • In Bride of the Rat God, Miklos Hraldy obsesses about symbolism, and complains about the studio cutting his earlier six-hour epic of human drama down to a length audiences will actually consider watching.
  • The Tim Dorsey novel The Big Bamboo is centered around the production of a movie being made by a third-rate studio, who hired a once-great director who had gone senile. Included in the film at the director's insistence are recreations of the parting of the Red Sea and the destruction of the Death Star, despite the fact that the movie is about a oil scam in Alabama. American viewers rightly rejected it as awful, but artsy film critics in Europe thought it was brilliant, and successfully got the director a posthumous Oscar.

    Live Action TV 

     Video Games 
  • The unnamed Director of the "Meet the Team" series of short films is one of these, apparently laboring under the delusion that he is creating a scathing docudrama of epic proportions, rather than the series of propaganda films the Administrator has hired him for. Unbeknownst to both him and his subjects, The Administrator is actually using the Director to gather intel on the RED team to blackmail them into playing by her rules. Neither the Team nor Miss Pauling are willing to put up with him for very long...
  • Andy Zhen, the director of Gangstas in Space in Saints Row: The Third. While he's a complete kiss-ass to the Boss, he is quick to belittle and insult Jenny, the female lead. This includes never bothering to remember her name, blaming her for anything (even things that he'll praise the Boss for), calling her a bad actress (even though she's far more talented than the Boss is) and just generally insulting her. Unfortunately for him, this leads to Jenny taking her revenge in the final scene and killing him with a spaceship. Not to mention that his attitude towards extras is to use live ammunition, obviously resulting in their deaths.

     Web Original 
  • Alex Kralie acted like one of these when directing his student film Marble Hornets, but you'd be pretty high-strung too if you were being stalked by a - ohGodwhatisthat?
  • The Director Lady from the IR-Relevant Astronomy edutainment videos made about the Spitzer Space Telescope is like this. She does not take kindly to having factual errors pointed out in her script, even when it contains EXTENSIVE Artistic License Astronomy and Artistic License Physics in what are supposed to be educational materials. The high (or low) point came when she saw an actor getting killed on-set and then haunting her as an opportunity to include a real ghost in her video.

    Webcomics 
  • Litchfield from Instant Classic is a textbook one of these, although he often straddles the line between prima donna and pure madness. Like the time he shot himself. Or the time he burned his own studio down while he was in it. In fact, since most of the main characters are filmmakers, they all slip into this trope at some point.

    Western Animation 
  • Mr. Director, the Jerry Lewis Expy from a few Animaniacs shorts. See Real Life.
  • Llewellyn Sinclair (Jon Lovitz), in the The Simpsons' episode "A Streetcar Named Marge". He actually winds up on stage when he takes over Otto's role right before the performance, having realized Otto wasn't good enough.
  • James Finson in the Code Lyoko episode "End of Take".
  • The Transformers: The director from "Hoist Goes Hollywood." He adds the Autobots to his film on a whim, even changing the entire script to accomodate them.


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/PrimadonnaDirector