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Wag the Director

"Two takes? No, no no no. I don't... do two takes. Amateurs like you do two takes. Print it, I'll be in my three-story trailer."
Calculon, Futurama

Actors are in a constant state of communication with directors (and, sometimes, writers) as to what they think or feel their character should do, and in what direction their development ought to go. Thus in a very fundamental sense actors are always meddling for the benefit of the story.

That is not this trope.

This trope is when actors, likely those whose salary accounts for a significant portion of the budget, impose their ideas on the director. Maybe they want more screen time, a major rewrite of the plot, or some other concession that would get any smaller actor fired, like refusing any and all direction on their acting and filling their performances with Ham and Cheese or being overly serious.

The result may not harm the film overall (or it may well be so extensive it becomes a vehicle for them to showboat in) but it is usually noticeable to viewers and may cause laughter, groans, or head scratching. It's most typically parodied by the famous Diva line "Shoot my good side please!"

And yes, there are occasions when this trope actually improves the production. However, this trope differs from the typical creative (and collaborative) process by involving a self-centered actor overruling the director.

Note that this situation is actually an improvement on how things worked for a while in Hollywood. After the final collapse of the studio star system in the late 60's, if an actor didn't like how the director was doing their job, it was completely possible for the star to get the director fired, then take over director's job themselves for the remainder of the shoot. This practice was officially stopped in 1976, after Clint Eastwood had Philip Kaufman fired from The Outlaw Josey Wales and took over the film himself — the Director's Guild subsequently made a rule which stated that whenever a film's director was fired, the replacement was not allowed to have been associated with the production in any way whatsoever. This theoretically safeguards directors from overly egotistical actors, although there are, of course, ways around it.

The trope name is a play on "wag the dog", meaning that rather than the dog wagging the tail, it's the tail that wags the dog. Or in this case, rather than the director directing the actor, it's the actor who directs the director. Also note that when it comes down to it, the producer is (often unfortunately) the one with more power in Hollywood; actors just have a more direct connection, hence this trope.

Compare Executive Meddling, Protection from Editors. Contrast Prima Donna Director.
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In-universe examples

  • Parodied with a Sprint theatre ad (part of the "Please Turn Off Your Cellphones" adverts) where a chimpanzee actor and his agents argue with a negotiating agency for a bigger slice of the film (eventually culminating in him controlling the soundtrack, which consists of slapping a keyboard).

    Anime & Manga 
  • Niizuma Eiji, superstar manga artist and friendly rival to the main characters of Bakuman。, agrees to work for Shonen Jump early on the in the series, with one condition: they must let him cancel any one series of his choosing. Amazingly, the editors agree. He winds up using it to cancel his own popular long-running series Crow, so it could end on a high note.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • This is the entire plot of the Japanese film Welcome Back, Mr. McDonald. The lead actress of the radio drama requests that her character be made American. This leads to the other actors wanting their roles changed, then they want plot changes, and pretty soon, the radio drama is nothing like what was originally written. It doesn't help that both the director and the drama's writer are complete pushovers.
  • Prima-donna actor Mike Shiner undermines Riggan Thompson's directorial vision at every opportunity in Birdman. For extra meta points, Shiner is played by Edward Norton, who has an infamous reputation for engaging in this trope (see below).
  • This is how Neville Sinclair, the self-important actor played by Timothy Dalton, treats the director of his "Laughing Bandit" movie in The Rocketeer: the scene where Sinclair's ordering him to ban an actress from the lot (because her boyfriend had showed up and ruined a take) makes it clear this is just the director's latest round of being shouted at.
  • In State and Main the lead actress was hired specifically to play a part that requires nudity and a sex scene (its implied she normally gets hired for her looks, not her talent) but becomes a Christian before the shoot and demands the scene be removed. The director fights it for much of the movie but the writer eventually finds a way to make it work somehow rewriting the character as a nun.
  • This is the whole second act of Living in Oblivion: the big-shot actor causes all manner of chaos when he keeps trying to change the scene, sometimes out of creative differences from the director and sometimes out of spite due to estrangement with his co-star.
  • In The Real Blonde, a soap opera actor refuses to re-sign his contract unless the producers kill off his co-star's character because she humiliated him for his failure to perform.
  • In Om Shanti Om bratty star Om Kapoor, after belatedly realizing that his role in the movie he is currently filming is an over the top Oscar Bait Inspirationally Disadvantaged man, decides that the scene that he is supposed to film that day is boring and basically forces the director to hastily make a Item Number (with Om being the Item) set to disco music, and shoehorn it into the plot under the guise of a "mental lanscape" reflecting what his character is supposed to feel. To Om's credit, the scene the music number is replacing really is that boring, but still.

    Live Action TV 
  • Happens on Slings and Arrows quite a bit, particularly whenever Geoffrey ends up with some hugely famous and award-winning stage actor on hand to play a leading role (e.g. Henry Breedlove, an Expy of Kenneth Branagh, defying all of his direction as the title character in Macbeth).
  • In an episode of Las Vegas, Jean-Claude Van Damme (appearing As Himself in a cameo) is shooting an action movie in Las Vegas. He demands to do a motorcycle stunt where the character drives off the casino's roof himself and goes around the director's back to do so. Van Damme's agent tells him that he was right when he said who would really be in charge. Van Damme subsequently dies in the rigged stunt.
  • In Monty Python's Flying Circus, the film of 'Scott of the Antartic' is changed to 'Scott of the Sahara' purely to satisfy lead actor Kirk Vilb's desire to fight a lion.
  • Parodied in Key & Peele, where it's shown that the increasingly bizarre Urkel-centric plotlines of Family Matters are due to Jaleel White being a psychic who killed anyone working on the show that displeased him.

    Web Animation 

    Western Animation 
  • Parodied in Metalocalypse when the director of Blood Ocean is contractually forbidden to actually direct (or even approach) the band members.
  • The Pinky and the Brain short "Yes, Always." In addition to Brain doing an as-verbatim-as-possible-on-a-family-show recreation of the Orson Welles example cited under Real life advertising, Brain starts by kicking the entire production staff out, and ultimately gets fed up and storms off. (He returns when he sees a whole horde of mice waiting to replace him.)
  • The plot of an early episode of The Flintstones leads up to Fred and Wilma becoming the main characters of a live sitcom after they and the Rubbles wind up in Hollyrock. Fred lets fame get to his head and, on the night of the premiere, he's handing script rewrites to the director, telling the crew to hold the spot-light over him at all times, and generally acting like a prima-donna toward everyone involved with the show. The director decides that he doesn't want to deal with Fred for the entire run of the show and gives Fred a good dose of stage fright by telling him just how many people are watching Fred.

Real-life examples

  • As mentioned in Film below, Orson Welles's infamous breakdown (the recording of which is informally titled "Frozen Peas" or "Yes, Always") while recording what he considers to be poorly written narration for a series of Findus TV advertisements. Listen to it here.

    Anime & Manga 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Kirk Douglas got rid of the first director for Spartacus and brought in (then-)little-known Stanley Kubrick. Though directing the film made Kubrick famous, he later claimed that almost everything was really controlled by Kirk Douglas. It might have helped that, in addition to the lead, Douglas was also the producer. It's worth noting that the two of them were very good friends; Kubrick did it as a favor to Douglas.
  • Crispin Glover tried to do this in Back to the Future, but didn't have enough enough sway to get away with it. His "unreasonable demands" for the sequels may have been creative control, but this cannot be proven. Just as likely would be a paycheck equal to Michael J. Fox's, despite being a tertiary character.
    • Yet another story actually gives some reason for Glover's demand. Apparently, Universal was only willing to pay Glover $50,000 for his role (which for a big-budgeted studio tentpole is very low). Glover asked for a raise to a more manageable figure but was fired immediately. But the story doesn't end there. Universal would later use footage of Glover from the first film without his consent, and use heavy prosthetic makeup on another actor to make him appear to be Crispin for new footage, which led Glover to sue Universal for residuals on using said footage. The lawsuit was successful, which led the Screen Actors Guild to create a new rule on such cases, nicknamed the "Crispin Glover Rule".
    • For the record Glover has stated that he didn't return for the sequels because he thought George McFly becoming rich and famous in the revised timeline and bullying his former bully sent the wrong message. Had he been successful in getting the ending of the first movie changed, it would have been a straightforward example of this trope.
  • Meryl Streep once said in an interview that a director had no place telling actors how to act, they simply "rented" their performance.
  • Christian Bale was offered the part of Marcus in Terminator Salvation, but wanted John Connor. This expanded the role, and kind of threw things off-balance. Of course, the most infamous case involving Bale was the rant he delivered at the DP during the making of Salvation. In the leaked audiotape, Bale chews out the director of photography for changing the lighting levels while he was in the midst of performing a scene, and subsequently tells director Joseph "McG" McGinty that he will not have it happen again.
  • Clint Eastwood changed so many things around when filming The Outlaw Josey Wales that he eventually fired the director and replaced him with himself. The Director's Guild of America now has an "Eastwood rule" preventing this sort of thing. Make what you will of the fact that Eastwood has since made a name for himself as a director of some repute.
  • In Every Which Way But Loose, Clint was often in dispute with the director, James Fargo. The first assistant sarcastically commented that this was because Fargo "had the notion that he was directing the movie." Note that Eastwood and Fargo had been long-time collaborators, with Fargo having handled second unit duties on films that Eastwood had directed, and working smoothly with him during Fargo's directorial bow on The Enforcer. On that occasion they worked well together since it had been agreed that Eastwood was really in charge, but Fargo expected more control on Every Which Way. Their friendship survived the film's production, but afterwards they agreed that it'd probably be best for the sake of their sanity if they didn't work on the same film again.
  • The DVD Commentary on Battlefield Earth makes it clear that John Travolta, not the director, was in the driver's seat. Considering his status as driving force behind the project and probable writer of the script though, perhaps the wonder is that he wasn't actually the director.
  • In a positive example of this trope, The Addams Family's original ending was to have Gordon remain an impostor, but be accepted as Uncle Fester anyway because he fit in so well with the rest of the Addams clan. Pretty much the entire cast (save, ironically, for Christopher Lloyd himself) objected to the idea.
  • Edward Norton has gained a reputation for this:
    • He was accused of this during the post-production of American History X. Director Tony Kaye alleged that Norton had the film re-edited so he had more screen time. Kaye disowned the project, tried (in vain) to have his name taken off the film, and sued New Line for nearly $300 million. However, Kaye's edits had already been rejected by the studio twice before a new editor was brought in with Norton to deliver their own version. The finished product was well received and Norton earned an Oscar nomination, so he apparently won the argument.
    • The Incredible Hulk: Norton is a fan of the Hulk, and did a rewrite that brought the film closer in line to the comics. The film was better received than the first film. However, Norton's repuation as being difficult to work with was allegedly one of the reasons he was not asked to reprise his role for The Avengers. Though the more commonly known and accepted one was simply a conflicting work schedule - couple that with how well his replacement was received, and Norton's chances of reprising the role are slim-to-none.
    • Norton even engaged in this trope during the production of Birdman, in which he plays a brilliant but intense method actor who tries to wrestle control from the director of the play he was cast in. Supposedly he didn't even see the irony of the situation until it was explicitly pointed out to him.
  • Halle Berry became notorious for this
    • It started with X-Men. During filming, she refused to wear white contacts that covered her eyes (like in the comics) and wanted more lines/scenes. By shooting time for X2: X-Men United, she had more clout, and used it to give herself a bigger part (and more money) in the movie, and lo, here comes her conversations with Nightcrawler and strange use of powers against the missiles. And, again, she demanded even more for X-Men: The Last Stand, with rumors flying that she wouldn't even cameo in the film without a huge paycheck.
    • This led to the Catwoman movie being greenlit. Also, her demands in Die Another Day that, among others, she be featured in front of Pierce Brosnan, freaking JAMES BOND, on the movie poster. All of this backfired after Catwoman crashed and burned; her final paycheck in X-Men: The Last Stand (after she begged for her part back) was said to be a lot smaller than demanded.
  • Orson Welles did this a lot. No matter how small or insignificant his role was (and what his motives were for taking the part), he always rewrote his lines, and in some cases even insisted on directing his own scenes. This is perhaps most infamous in the raw footage of him trying to record a radio commercial for frozen peas. He proclaims that the writing is too awful to even read aloud.
  • Marlon Brando became perhaps the most legendary example of the trope after his 1972 work in The Godfather and Last Tango in Paris,
    • He refused to memorize lines for anyone, insisting that they be held off-camera on cue cards or, when technology allowed, to be fed via radio into an earpiece. For Last Tango in Paris, he asked Benardo Bertolucci if he could write his lines on co-star Maria Schneider's ass. Bertolucci refused to let him do it.
    • He showed up for the filming of Apocalypse Now drunk and fat, though Coppola had been specified a wiry, muscular character. He hadn't read the book upon which it was based, instead insisting that Coppola read it to him on the set. He demanded changes to the script, only allowed himself to be filmed in shadows, and ultimately improvised most of his own rambling lines. All this after receiving his $1 million advance.
    • While filming The Missouri Breaks, he threw out all his character's dialogue and improvised instead. He also "re-imagined" his experienced gunfighter character as a flamboyant half-Indian with a cheerful Irish accent and a feathered earring.
    • On the set of The Score, he constantly called director Frank Oz "Miss Piggy". Pretty soon Oz refused to speak to Brando, and co-star Robert de Niro had to step in and direct all of the scenes with Brando. Like Apocalypse Now and various other examples of this trope, it might have improved the film.
    • In the 1996 adaptation of The Island of Doctor Moreau Brando shot a scene while wearing a champagne bucket as a hat. Everyone was too afraid to tell him to take it off. He also arrived to the set with Nelson de la Rosa, a minor dwarf celebrity from the Dominican Republic he'd recently befriended, and demanded he also receive a part, forcing them to include de la Rosa as Moreau's assistant Majai.
      • Which is what is rumored to have inspired the scene where Val Kilmer wears one and does a not-at-all Affectionate Parody of Brando after his character has gone insane. It was a Take That by the rest of the cast and crew.note 
  • According to Joss Whedon, Kevin Costner "fired" the director of Waterworld halfway through. Costner demanded the movie to be shot in the ocean rather than in a water tank on land... which led to the construction of an expensive water tank set in the ocean. Since there were no bathrooms on the set people had to be ferried regularly to land so they could poop. Throw in the fact that between takes Costner was living in a mansion with swimming pool and a cook for his personal use with all expenses covered by the producers and you'll understand that the rest of the crew was a bit upset. And last but not least, Costner demanded the VFX crew to hide his receding hairline digitally (not a cheap feat in 1995). The result? The most expensive film ever produced until the release of Titanic (1997).
  • Sam Worthington caused a massive number of script changes to the 2010 version of Clash of the Titans. The old script stayed relatively true to mythology and its modern interpretations, as well as having more gods, more consistent characters, and a less schizophrenic plot. Worthington wanted a movie that could appeal to his nephew, making it more action-driven, and he was running off the high from Avatar, allowing him to overturn much of what director Louis Leterrier wanted. It's uncertain if the original cut will ever be made truly available.
  • The release of the Tombstone Director's Cut on Blu-Ray has re-ignited claims that Kurt Russell was the actual Director. Kevin Jarre, the initial Director, was fired because he refused to cut the screenplay. Following that, George P. Cosmatos was brought in to finish the film. However, following Cosmatos' death in 2005, Russell claimed that Cosmatos was simply following Russell's orders. He'd been recommended by Sylvester Stallone after doing the same for him on Rambo: First Blood Part II. This was all essentially a dodge around the DGA and the Eastwood Rule, which prevents actors from taking over for a fired director.
  • Kirk Cameron's director-wagging, which began during the taping of Growing Pains (see below), did not end with the show.
    • In Left Behind: Tribulation Force, there's a scene which has Buck Williams (Kirk's character) and Rayford Steele confronting a friend of the latter who didn't want to hear what the Antichrist planned to do. Cameron (who by that point had just teamed up with Ray Comfort's "The Way of the Master" ministry) manages to combine this with a Big Lipped Alligator Moment when he suddenly throws in this random string of questions related to the 10 Commandments lifted almost word for word from a "The Way of the Master" video he appeared in.
    • During the filming of Fireproof, Cameron's wife Chelsea Noble had to be costumed to serve as Erin Bethea's kissing double, because Cameron refused to even pretend to kiss any woman other than his wife.
  • In Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Johnny Depp infamously decided to act like he was drunk the entire movie instead of trying to act like a more traditional pirate badass like the directors wanted. He became the Breakout Character of the franchise.
    • Note that the character's creators were reported to be pleased with Depp's take as it actually fit their idea of him as a trickster much better than a straightforward action hero.
  • Robert Pattinson did this in Twilight, having said he purposefully attempted to portray Edward as a creepy, obsessed nutjob and... giving fans exactly what they wanted, it seems. Pattinson absolutely hates everything about the franchise, explicitly stating in interviews that he thinks that the books are stupid and so are the most rabid fans. He only auditioned for the movie so he could have a chance to hit on Kristen Stewart, which is actually pretty appropriate for the character he played.
  • A pretty dark example of director wagging took place on the set of Blade: Trinity if writer Chris Parry is to be believed. Wesley Snipes didn't like the Director (David Goyer, who wrote the first two movies in the Blade Trilogy and co-wrote Batman Begins), and decided to do the least amount of work imaginable in response. He was only on set when a shot required him to face the camera directly (his stunt double had to fill in the rest of the time) and seemed to go out of his way to be a dick to everyone involved when he could be bothered to show up. This is part of what led to Ryan Reynolds' Throw It In "He doesn't like me, does he?" Patton Oswalt elaborated even further on this in an interview with the A.V. Club, revealing that not only did Snipes accuse Goyer of being a racist multiple times with little to no provocation, but eventually stopped speaking to him entirely, communicating only in Post-It notes. (And because he was such an intense Method actor, he signed each one "Blade".)
  • Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country:
    • There were a few lines that Nichelle Nichols refused to say, given their racist nature (said about Klingons in the movie, but they could easily have applied to African Americans). Some were cut, others were given to other characters. She also disagreed with the scene about needing to race through books to find the translation for Klingon, stating that as the Communications Officer she should be able to speak Klingon. She was overruled.
    • William Shatner tried it when it came to the line "Let [the Klingons] die!" Every take, he immediately recoiled as if in horror at what he'd just said. Director Nicholas Meyer promised Shatner they wouldn't cut the recoil. Guess what got cut.
    • During the final battle, Captain Sulu and the Excelsior was supposed to arrive dramatically and use its charting gaseous anomalies equipment to jury-rig a heat-seeking photon torpedo. Shatner, however, insisted that the Enterprise should save itself. In consequence, the Excelsior arrives just in time to be shot at, and the gaseous-anomalies equipment is magically onboard the Enterprise instead.
  • Shatner was quite reluctant to do the "getting old" theme in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. He was eventually talked into it, but did get his wish that they not include a line which mentioned how old Kirk was.
  • Even when the actors direct the movies, they're not immune to this trope. Shatner's original draft for Star Trek V: The Final Frontier involved Spock and McCoy betraying Kirk alongside the rest of the Enterprise. Naturally, Leonard Nimoy and De Forest Kelley refused to go along with this, as it would be out-of-character for them, especially given the events of the previous three films.
  • Steve McQueen only accepted to be in The Great Escape on the condition that motorcycle stunts were added in just for him. The studio complied for the most part, but did not allow him to perform the iconic jump over the fences. A stunt double rode the bike during that shot for insurance reasons and because the studio did not want their big star to land in the hospital.
  • The film Hook has a Big Lipped Alligator Moment where Tinkerbell (Julia Roberts) inexplicably grows to normal size and has a semi-romantic scene with Peter Pan (Robin Williams). Reportedly, this scene happened because Roberts demanded at least one scene in which she acted alongside Williams rather than a greenscreen. This, among other such tantrums and fits of diva behavior, inspired the crew to nickname Roberts "Tinkerhell". Steven Spielberg went on the record to say he'd never work with her again; to her credit, she owned up to her behavior later on, stating she wasn't right after her failed marriage with Lyle Lovett.
  • Alan Rickman only agreed to play the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves on the condition that he could play the character however he wanted. He played him as a Laughably Evil Large Ham in an otherwise straight-faced Robin Hood adaptation. He's often considered the best thing in the film.
  • Bruce Willis apparently did a lot of this during Live Free or Die Hard (at least), greatly frustrating the director and some of the other actors. On the other hand, according to Kevin Smith (who told the story in one of his "Evening" shows) it's probably for the better: the studio apparently wanted a lot more low-brow humor, goofiness, and other un-Die-Hard things, and weren't afraid to make the story suffer for it, which Willis refused to allow. When they tried to tell him he couldn't make the changes he wanted, he abruptly finished the argument by asking, "So who's your second choice to play John McClane?"
    • Of course, many other times Bruce Willis did this and its impact on the film wasn't so positive. During Cop Out he explicitly ignored Kevin Smith's instructions/direction and generally behaved like a dick, to the point that Smith (who previously idolised Willis) said he would never work with him again and would never work with anybody he'd idolised in his youth either.
    • Brian De Palma noted how difficult Willis was to work with on The Bonfire of the Vanities, to the point that it hurt the movie. It didn't help that he was horribly miscast in the first place.
    • Roger Director, a writer and producer on Moonlighting, wrote a Roman-a-clef about Willis, which pissed him off as the novel depicted him as a 'neurotic, petulant actor'.
    • Willis wanted an inordinate sum of money for about four days' work on The Expendables 3. This coupled with the fact that, as previously mentioned, Willis is very difficult to work with, led to Sylvester Stallone firing him outright and replacing him with the infinitely nicer and more preferable Harrison Ford.
    • Willis himself is poking fun at his behaviour in What Just Happened, where - playing as himself, mind you - he shows exactly the same level of stubbornness and insubordination as described above. Only this time, with comedic relief inserted at the end of hic arc.
    • Interestingly, Willis' usual dub voice actor in Spain, Ramón Langa (and a popular actor in the country in his own right) also threatened to walk out if the Spanish version of Live Free or Die Hard did not include profanity (the English version was neutered in post-production to get a PG-13 rating).
  • Ralph Bakshi, known for his animated films aimed at adult audiences, got this with Kim Basinger during the production of Cool World. She convinced producer Frank Mancuso Jr. to change the script to make it more kid-friendly. Mancuso was already having the script rewritten to remove all of the horror elements because he was bored with the genre, so this went from being an R-rated horror film to an R-rated comedy to a PG-13 comedy.
  • One of several problems associated with Highlander II: The Quickening can be chalked up to Christopher Lambert refusing to participate in the film unless Sean Connery's character (who died in the first film) was resurrected, as the two actors had become very good friends whilst making the original.
  • Robert Mitchum admitted that he took a subtle approach to this trope:
    Control is marvelous. You get a white chair with your name on it in lieu of salary. I don't want control like that. There is a very simple way to get control any time: Just forget your lines. When the cost of the scene is up to $40,000, they come over and say, "What's the problem?" "Oh, I have this idee fixe that it could be better." Believe me, they listen. I think it's a much simpler system than having control.
  • Matthew Goode, who played Veidt in the Watchmen movie, was unhappy with the character's backstory as presented in the comic, and came up with his own - that Veidt gave up his family fortune because his parents were Nazi war profiteers. It's barely touched on in the movie, though.
  • It's been rumored that the reason that The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest wasn't quite as good as the two previous Millennium Trilogy adaptations was that the director was basically letting Noomi Rapace call the shots when it came to her character - a character that she'd grown to resent so much that she's joked about spending the last day of filming vomiting every last trace of Lizbeth Salander out of her.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Growing Pains suffered badly from this after Kirk Cameron became a born-again Christian. Cameron began demanding final say over any and all scripts, demanded his on-camera love-interest/co-star Julie McCullough be fired simply for appearing in Playboy, and threw tantrums whenever anything remotely sexual (be it something harmlessly non-verbal as his character having the keys to his girlfriend's apartment, which Kirk believed would imply that the two were fucking, or even a fake-out scene where Kirk is shown in bed with another woman, as part of a play he was doing). In 1991, the executive producers had finally had enough of Cameron, and quit the show, which was quietly cancelled a year later.
  • In later seasons of Charmed:
    • Rose McGowan was fed up of Paige being written as someone who Really Gets Around. After one episode where there was just one scene of her on the couch with an extra, she went to the writers and said "Paige isn't a ho" - resulting in Paige getting romance arcs in the next three seasons.
    • All three actresses hated the increasingly Stripperiffic outfits they had to get dressed up in whenever one of them was transformed into a Cute Monster Girl. Before the final season, they went to producers and complained. Part of the reason for Billie's introduction was for a young female to provide Fanservice.
    • A proposed storyline for Season 5 was a romance between Paige and Cole. Both their actors found the idea disgusting and refused to go through with it.
    • Earlier on, Shannen Doherty tried to do this. Tensions between her and Alyssa Milano were at an all-time high by the end of the third season. Doherty eventually went "either she goes or I do" - and she was fired while the show was on hiatus. She still owned the rights to her image, so they could not use any archive footage or pictures of her again during the show's run.
  • Neal McDonough is an extremely strict Catholic and, as such, refuses to do any sex scenes on any show he appears in, citing his religious beliefs as reason. A more positive example of this would be his demand that his character on Desperate Housewives be given a redemptive ending (sparing the life of Susan and Mike's kid at the last minute) and ending up in a catatonic state in a mental institute, surrounded by imaginary versions of his dead family. Though this ending did piss off some people behind the scenes (series creator Mark Cherry), as previous attempts by cast members to control their character's storylines were shot down by Cherry.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Toward the end of his tenure as the Fourth Doctor, Tom Baker was becoming pretty insufferable, demanding a minimum of retakes and, because of his volatile romantic relationship with Lalla Ward (who played Romana on the show), occasionally refusing to be so much as in the same room as her. This meant that they did not rehearse scenes with each other and barely even looked at each other on camera. In his final season, Baker met his match with a new production team, led by John Nathan-Turner, who began instituting the now-infamous Limited Wardrobe and other creative edicts, and he eventually left the show.
    • A milder version happened much later when, Matt Smith, unhappy with how the The Eleventh Doctor would dress (word is he was to have a more swashbuckling look, à la Jack Sparrow), successfully lobbied to have the character's look changed to a more professorial appearance, with the inclusion of the bowtie.
    • Another positive example in Big Finish Doctor Who. Paul McGann pushed for a new look for his Doctor, based on World War I-era navy clothes, as well as a World War I storyline. This happened in "Dark Eyes".
    • In defiance of writer Robert Shearman's wishes, Christopher Eccleston raged against the the lone Dalek in the episode "Dalek" instead of mocking it flippantly. After seeing how well it worked, though, Shearman was pleased.
    • Yet another, which was more a request than a demand, during the second series of the new show, Billie Piper requested an episode where she got the opportunity to be funny. Hence the episode "New Earth".
    • Jon Pertwee's run had a mild (and positive) example, in that he was a fan of action movies, which reflected in his Doctor becoming more of a hands-on action oriented figure than his predecessors. He also was fond of gadgets and incorporated them into the show, notably the Whomobile, which Pertwee personally owned. His final arc, "Planet of the Spiders" featured an extended chase scene involving the Whomobile, his old car Bessie and a gyrocopter, possibly as a farewell gift to Pertwee.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
    • Nana Visitor, who played Kira Nerys, was horrified when the writers began to overtly Ship Tease her character with Dukat, and protested to the producers that there was no way that the character would ever develop romantic feelings for somebody who had personally overseen the brutal occupation and near-genocide of her culture. (In her own words: "I remember Ira [Steven Behr, the showrunner] and I on opposite ends of that ops table yelling at each other".) As a result the plotline was abandoned. Most of the fandom thinks that this was on balance a good thing. The episode "Wrongs Darker than Death or Night" was the result of Visitor's campaigning - with the producers teasing Visitor that "no, you aren't having a relationship with Dukat, but your mother was his regular comfort woman". Visitor had the last laugh, though - the script originally called for Kira to forgive her mother for what she had done, but Visitor insisted that Kira would not be so sympathetic that soon after finding out ("maybe she could be sympathetic about the subject in 20 years"), and she got her wish.
    • On the other hand, Visitor knew when to pick her battles: she and Rene Auberjonois both opposed the Kira/Odo romance, believing the two characters were better off as friends, but neither of them ultimately stood in the way of them getting together.
    • In the Grand Finale, Sisko was originally going to leave forever, but Avery Brooks argued that a black man leaving his pregnant wife would be full of Unfortunate Implications. In this case, the creators agreed and the ending was changed. It's also been reported that Sisko's reluctance to share the rest of the crew's enthusiasm for the Vic Fontaine holoprogram, because of the racism of real 1950s Las Vegas, was a reflection of Brooks' own opinions.
  • Another Trek example: in the first ''Star Trek'', the famous kiss between Uhura and Kirk was originally supposed to have another male lead, but Shatner insisted that "if anyone is going to kiss Nichelle, it's going to be Captain Kirk!" Shatner's prima donna antics in general behind the scenes would lead to pretty much the whole cast (excepting Leonard Nimoy and De Forrest Kelley, who were Shatner's dear friends throughout) hating him for many years. Nichols' famously went off on Shatner during a later interview that he was conducting with her, starting her rant with "Okay, here's the reasons why I despise you."
  • According to some reports, the romantic relationship in ER between Dr. Benton (played by the African-American Eriq La Salle) and Dr. Corday (played by the white Alex Kingston) ended because La Salle thought that it had Unfortunate Implications suggesting that successful middle-class black people were "above" dating other black people.
  • Happened twice on What's Happening!!, eventually leading to the show's cancellation.
    • During the second season, co-star Fred Berry demanded a higher salary and better studio accommodations for the actors, a dispute that eventually led to a full-fledged walkout by Berry and star Ernest Thomas during the second season episode "If I'm Elected".
    • In the third season, Berry and Thomas again threatened to strike in demand for another raise. This time, the executive producers opted to cancel the series rather than to give in.

  • During the filming of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" music video, director Samuel Bayernote  was basically acting like a dictatorial jerk towards the extras (as well as demanding numerous takes, which Kurt was never fond of doing in general) and managed to piss off Kurt Cobain in particular. Kurt edited the final cut of the music video, taking out several elements of the video, and giving himself an up close facial shot at the end. The video's memorably chaotic crowd scenes are a direct result of the extras, sick of sitting through an entire day's worth of takes, moshing more aggressively than they otherwise would have.
  • According to the oral history I Want My MTV, director John Landis was shocked by Michael Jackson's crotch-grabbing "panther dance" when shooting the epilogue of the "Black or White" video. He warned Jackson that he had a kid-heavy fanbase (unlike Madonna or Prince) and that he was courting trouble with his moves, but Jackson said he was "expressing [him]self" and was able to overrule Landis's objections. When the video premiered on a four-network simulcast in the U.S. — Fox aired it immediately after an episode of The Simpsons — the resultant furor over the epilogue (both over the dance moves and its seemingly random violence) resulted in it being immediately cut from subsequent airings, though it was later re-edited to justify the violence and even shown uncut in later years.
  • The music video for the Beastie Boys' "No Sleep 'Til Brooklyn" was originally supposed to feature Kerry King (who performed the guitar solo) getting knocked offstage by a gorilla. King's response was "If thereís gonna be anyone knocking anyone offstage, itíll be me knocking the gorilla", which is what subsequently happened.

  • Occurred during the development of Stern Pinball's Shrek, whose release was delayed due to the time needed for Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, and the other actors to give final approval for their in-game replacement voices.
  • According to artist Doug Watson, during the development of Demolition Man, his backglass artwork proposals were repeatedly rejected by Wesley Snipes, who wanted to ensure his career wasn't jeopardized by having him look like a crazed character. Linda Deal did the final backglass design.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • This happens in Professional Wrestling. When a wrestler (or a group of wrestlers) become very successful, they would gain influence over their bookings. Examples include Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair (less and less as time went on though), The Kliq (especially Shawn Michaels, Kevin Nash, and Triple H), and Kurt Angle.
    • Creative and management don't even have a problem with this a lot of the time because it makes the promotion look good when their top stars are...starring. The real problem emerges when otherwise talented stars lower on the card are getting shuffled around and overlooked because of it. Especially since those lower-card stars can end up with their credibility damaged in the eyes of fans, which is a very bad thing if a top star suddenly needs to be replaced without warning (such as a legitimate injury that puts him on the shelf for months).

  • By 1950, it was clear that the Commissioner of Baseball, who was supposed to be an authoritarian figure over players and team owners alike, was little more than a figurehead and the owners were clearly allowed to do whatever they wanted, in particular New York Yankees owners Del Webb and Dan Topping. Examples:
    • Webb orchestrated the dismissal of commissioner Happy Chandler after discovering Chandler was looking to ban him from the game for associating with gamblers, then led the committee that named Chandler's successor, Ford Frick, who would do very little to reign in Webb/Topping and the other owners' actions in his term.
    • When Connie Mack's family announced their Athletics club was for sale in 1954, the buyers came down to a group promising to keep the club in Philadelphia - and Arnold Johnson, a former business partner of Webb's who owned Yankee Stadium's lease and the ballpark in Kansas City that housed one of the Yankee's minor league clubs. The owners rejected the Philadelphia group's bid and approved Johnson's who proceeded to move the club to KC and give Webb's construction company the contract to expand the KC stadium, while the Yankees moved the minor league team to Denver with no complaint. The Yankees and Athletics proceeded to work so many player deals between each other, which mostly benefited the Yankees, that the Athletics would be frequently referred to as a Yankees farm club.
    • After the Dodgers and Giants left the New York area, the struggles to bring the National League back to the area for the next few years, despite the commissioner openly saying New York was open to the National League and park commissioner Robert Moses wanting a team for his proposed Flushing Meadows stadium, was considered largely due to Webb and Topping's insistence that New York was now exclusively their territory and they had some mythical right to veto any other club coming to the area.
    • When baseball finally relented to expansion in 1960 to end the threat of the Continental League's formation, the original deal was to give New York a new NL club - the Mets - and the other three expansion teams to cities that didn't have major league teams. However, one of the new American League clubs went to Los Angeles despite them already having the Dodgers. This was because Topping raised such a snit that, since the Mets were "invading" the Yankees territory, the American League deserved a Los Angeles club, while Webb wanted his construction company to be able to build a ballpark in LA (he had been denied the contract to build the Dodgers' stadium).

    Video Games 
  • While recording lines for the game Star Trek: Judgment Rites, William Shatner's Canadian pronunciation of the word "sabotage" - "sabba-taj" - riled the director, who suggested he pronounce it as "say-bo-targe". Shatner refused, saying, "I don't say 'sabotage.' You say 'sabotage.' I say 'sabotaaage.'" He quickly followed up with, "Please don't tell me how to do it. It sickens me." The recording got passed around and the lines became a meme of the early internet. (Sometimes the quote is misattributed to a recording for an episode of Star Trek: The Animated Series, from twenty years earlier, in which Shatner also pronounces "sabotage" distinctively, as he does even in the original series itself).

    Western Animation 
  • From 2002 onwards, Casey Kasem refused to voice Shaggy unless Shaggy was portrayed as a vegetarian like Kasem himself note . However, now that Kasem is gone, Shaggy seems to have returned to eating meat.
  • Similar to the above, Paul and Linda McCartney appeared as guest stars in The Simpsons under the condition that Lisa would convert to vegetarianism, and stay that way for the entire series. This remains one of the few permanent changes in a show that delights in Status Quo Is God.
    • Also, Richard Gere would only guest star in "She of Little Faith" if Lisa permanently converted to Buddhism, and said "Free Tibet".
    • Heavyweight boxing champion Joe Frazier appeared as himself in the episode "Brother, Can You Spare Two Dimes?". Originally, Frazier was to be knocked out by Barney Gumble. However, Frazier's son objected to this, citing that Frazier was a world champion who wouldn't be knocked out in such a manner. Instead, Frazier beat up Gumble, and stuffed him in to a garbage can.
    • Jose Canseco appeared as one of the ringers Mr. Burns hires for the nuclear plant's softball team in "Homer at the Bat". He disliked the character model they came up with for him, and both he and his wife at the time objected to the original reason he misses the final game (waking up late in bed with Edna Krabappel), and Canseco basically intimidated the showrunners into changing his character's appearance and part in the show.

Alternative Title(s): Actor Meddling