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Wag the Director

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"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.


As a general rule, there are three cases of "positive" Director Wagging: (1) A case of Throw It In!, where the additions work, (2) The actor in question is acting as an Assistant Director, or the Director is acting as the AD, or (3) The actor filling a void where the director should be (as sometimes happens when a director is incompetent or fired). Cases 2 and 3 benefit heavily from an actor who knows how to make a film, which is a rarer skill among actors than you might think (acting rewards specialization and subjectivity, directing and producing reward generalism and objectivity).

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 and Troubled Production. 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).

    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 is notorious for engaging in this trope in real life (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 conservative 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.
  • Nicola Anders is this to Viktor Taransky in S1m0ne, causing him to prefer a simulated actress with no thinking power of her own.
  • In Tootsie, Michael Dorsey has become notorious throughout the entertainment industry for bringing this attitude to every project he ever works on, to the point where by the opening of the film, his own agent has to tell him that no one will hire him as an actor because of it. It gets easier once he assumes the persona of Dorothy Michaels and is able to find more subtle ways to get his ideas across:
    Michael Dorsey: He told me what he wanted. I didn't say anything. I did it my way. He bawled me out. I apologized. That was that. [beat] I think Dorothy's smarter than I am.

    Live Action TV 
  • Happens on Slings & 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) is shooting an action movie in Las Vegas. He demands to perform a dangerous stunt himself where his character drives a motorcycle off the roof of the casino 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 because the stunt was rigged for failure.
  • 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.
  • Doctor Who: In "The Mysterious Planet", the Doctor insists on being shot from his best side. Subverted, in that he's saying this to a security camera, so this one more case of the sixth Doctor's Deadpan Snark.

    Web Animation 
  • The Homestar Runner short "The Next Epi-Snowed!" parodies this phenomenon. Crack Stuntman, the voice actor for Gunhaver from the Cheat Commandos Show Within a Show, disrupts recording by making a series of increasingly ridiculous demands. In the end though...
    Reynold: "It's too bad Gunhaver's on a secret mission to the moon for an undisclosed period of time, and that when he gets back his voice might have changed."

    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.
  • The quote at the top of the page comes from Calculon in Futurama. After Bender is cast to play a part in "All My Circuits", his horrible acting forces the director to rewrite his role so he's in a coma. Calculon does his lines for the scenes, emphasizing how his nephew is now in a permanent coma. Bender refused to take this, so he gets up, introduces himself and starts dancing around. When the director says they'll have to reshoot the scene, Calculon tells him off.

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.

    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 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.
  • The disability fake out / somersault scene in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory was Gene Wilder's idea, and he only agreed to take the title role on the condition that it was used. Director Mel Stuart had been so eager to give Gene the part that he didn't make him audition in the first place. He also had total control of his costume, from the dimensions to the colors to the number of pockets.
  • 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.
    • His character in Charlie's Angels was supposed to have dialogue, but he elected to play him as a mute.
  • Jeanne Moreau did it in François Truffaut's The Bride Wore Black enough for him to never work with her again.
  • 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.
    • Of course Christian Bale would later go on to apologize for the rant sometime later of his own violition. And most Cast and Crew reaction when asked about it was "You don't change the lighting during a scene".
  • Clint Eastwood:
    • 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.
    • Further Travolta example: While filming Saturday Night Fever, to quote IMDB:
      • "When John Travolta first saw the rushes, he was greatly upset that his solo dance was cut in close-up. He called Robert Stigwood and vocalized his concerns. It didn't seem right he explained, that he had worked so hard to get in shape and learn a complex dance just to see the sequence cut down in the editing room. It was important to Travolta for audiences to see his work and to know without a doubt that he was doing his own dancing. Stigwood agreed and told Travolta to go back and sit with the editors and personally supervise a new cut of the solo sequence."
        Since the dance scenes were so vital to the success of SNF, this probably counts as a "positive" example.
  • 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 objected to the idea. Anjelica Huston as "passionately against" it and Raúl Juliá was "outraged" and in the end, the cast chose ten-year-old Christina Ricci to convince Barry Sonnenfeld to change the ending. Ironically, the only one who didn't care either way was Christopher Lloyd, who played Fester.
  • 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 reputation 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 frequently rewrote his lines. 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:
    • On Mutiny on the Bounty, he constantly undermined the authority of director Lewis Milestone, and got the crew to obey his every whim. Brando had so much clout by this point that he got MGM to green-light virtually every outrageous idea he had. At one point, he pulled people off the film crew to decorate and design a friend's wedding in Tahiti. Another time he had airplanes filled with cases of champagne, turkeys and hams flown to Tahiti for parties. He also threatened to quit the film if the Bounty ship was burnt and demanded repeated re-writes to meet his ever-changing vision of the film..
    • He refused to memorize lines for anyone, insisting that they be held off-camera on cue cardsnote  or, when technology allowed, to be fed via radio into an earpiece. For Last Tango in Paris, he asked Bernardo Bertolucci if he could write his lines on co-star Maria Schneider's ass. Bertolucci refused to let him do it. In fairness, Brando was said to be severely dyslexic and had a hard enough time reading his lines, much less memorizing them, though accounts differ as to whether or not he used it as a convenient excuse to cover up for his drink and drug use.
    • 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 Francis Ford 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 (his then-friend Kevin Reynolds, who helmed Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves) 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).
  • 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 because that was how he saw the character in reading the book. Pattinson has been frank about his bafflement with the franchise, explicitly stating in interviews that he finds the books disturbingly personal private fantasies and Edward a repressed, self-hating ball of issues who really shouldn't be a romantic hero. He mostly 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?" and the expansion of Reynolds's part to fill screentime, a lot of it improv. 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. Ironically, Reboot Uhura would be established as speaking fluent Klingon.
    • 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.
      • Meyer was a director who in general was not willing to take Shatner's crap: Shatner also tried it in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan when he kept doing a sing-song delivery of the line "here it comes" (in the crucial scene where Kirk was tricking Khan into thinking he was sending information on Genesis rather than an override code to drop Reliant's shields). Meyer, who knew that Kirk was smarter than blatantly telegraphing to a highly-intelligent enemy that he was tricking him, kept demanding take after take. Finally, Shatner, fed up, gave a muted and petulant-sounding delivery of the line, hoping that Meyer would take the hint, finally cut it out and move on. Guess which take ended up in the movie?
    • 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 DeForest 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 agreed 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.
    • On The Getaway, McQueen had Jerry Goldsmith's score replaced with Quincy Jones. Under his contract with First Artists, McQueen had final cut on the film and when Sam Peckinpah found out, he was upset. Richard Bright said that McQueen chose takes that "made him look good" and Peckinpah felt that the actor played it safe: "He chose all these Playboy shots of himself. He's playing it safe with these pretty-boy shots."
    • The gratuitous fight scene in The Cincinnati Kid was added at the insistence of McQueen.
  • 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 from her relationship problems off-set.
  • 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 the otherwise straight-faced Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. He's often considered the best thing in the film.
  • Part of the reason Iron Man 3 was changed from an adaptation of the Devil in a Bottle story (about alcoholism) which director Shane Black wanted was because Robert Downey Jr., quite understandably, didn't want to get in the headspace that could potentially make him fall back into his own alcoholism that he had long worked to overcome.
  • Bruce Willis:
    • 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 had a role in the movie, and 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.
    • Willis and Michael Kamen took over production on The Last Boy Scout and made changes to Shane Black's script and made Tony Scott film many scenes that he didn't like under threat of being fired from production.
    • Roger Director, a writer and producer on Moonlighting, wrote a Roman à 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; he was initially offered $3 million for his services, and according to Sylvester Stallone, Willis arbitrarily asked for $4 million. 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 pokes 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 his 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, hoping to show it to cancer-stricken children. Unfortunately, the movie was written as a hard R-rated thriller in which a half-toon, Half-Human Hybrid went on a psychotic killing spree. 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.
    • It probably didn't help that Lambert was forced by his contract to make the sequel; he felt the first movie was a self-contained story that sequels would only spoil. He did guest-star in the pilot of the Highlander: The Series though.
  • Robert Mitchum admitted that he took a subtle approach to this trope:
    Control is marvellous. 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 The 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.
  • In an example of an actor's demands affecting multiple films, Clark Gable had George Cukor fired from Gone with the Wind and replaced with Victor Fleming, who had to be dragged off The Wizard of Oz with a quarter of its scenes left to be shot. The rest of those were handled by King Vidor instead.
    • Vivien Leigh wasn't happy with Fleming's brusque style after the careful nurturing she had enjoyed with Cukor. When she asked him for direction in one scene, he told her "Ham it up". On another occasion when she asked for his constructive advice, he told her to "take the script and stick it up her royal British ass". After Cukor's departure, Leigh had to fight hard to keep the movie's Scarlett true to her view. Fleming's interpretation of her was that she was an out-and-out bitch as in the novel and that he had no desire to create any sympathy or insight for her.
  • According to Joss Whedon, Donald Sutherland was under the impression that he was the star of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and rewrote all of his dialogue, often making the scenes incomprehensible in Whedon's opinion. Whedon praised Sutherland's abilities as an actor, but called his behavior "rude" and Sutherland himself "a dick."
    • Sutherland was also responsible for him and Kristy Swanson playing the Slayer and her Watcher during the medieval flashback scene, which implies that the Slayer and Watcher are constantly reincarnated. In the novelization, there are several flashbacks to previous Slayers, (who are also more ethnically diverse), and a mention of what would grow into the Watcher's Society in the show.
  • Harrison Ford constantly argued with Ridley Scott during Blade Runner over whether or not Deckard was a Replicant. He also refused to wear a fedora, having just got off a film where he wore one. He went so far as cutting his hair short so he wouldn't have to wear it.
    • Ironically, he refused to cut his long hair to a 1950s style for American Graffiti. As a compromise, he wore a cowboy hat.
  • Michael Douglas refused to either go full frontal or be bisexual for Basic Instinct.
    • His character in The Ghost and the Darkness was originally going to be a small and enigmatic character simply known as "Red Beard", but after he took over as producer the role was given to him and received more importance. He even went and had the movie completely re-cut in post production removing 45 minutes of scenes in order for him to have more screen time. This also explains story parts that go nowhere and plot holes that the movie has. Like for example, a part where the story jumps from having only few people killed by lions only for characters in next scenes mentioning how the number of people dead is much bigger.
  • Warren Beatty often did this:
    • On Bonnie and Clyde, he and Arthur Penn quarrelled constantly during filming, as the star questioned almost every one of the director's choices. As a result, the rest of the cast often spent hours waiting for them to settle their differences. One major bone of contention was Penn's insistence that they add a scene in which Bonnie and Clyde pretend to be dead. Beatty insisted the idea was ridiculously pretentious, but Robert Towne tried to write it anyway. The writer soon realized that Beatty was right, but cautioned him to avoid a confrontation on the matter. In his opinion, Penn was only holding onto the idea out of insecurity - he couldn't admit he was wrong. After a few weeks of filming bolstered Penn's confidence, Towne was sure he'd drop the idea, which is exactly what happened.
    • On McCabe & Mrs. Miller, he constantly asked for multiple takes, which annoyed Robert Altman greatly. One scene where Beatty catches a bottle after it falls and pours another drink required twenty takes and he still wanted more. Altman stormed off the set and let an assistant director handle it. And it took twenty more takes. Altman got his revenge by making Betty do twenty-five takes of a scene in the cold snowdrift.
    • On Ishtar, he spent a lot of time arguing with Elaine May, getting to the point where they went for days without speaking to each other. Eventually they compromised by shooting every scene twice, one her way and one his. During postproduction, May and Beatty fought frequently in the editing room, and May often left it to Beatty to direct the actors during looping sessions. The joke was (and some people say it was not a joke) that Bert Fields, their mutual agent, was the one with the real final cut on the film.
    • On Town And Country, he clashed with the director and demanded numerous script changes and retakes. This led to the film being shelved for three years.
  • On Hard Target, Jean-Claude Van Damme would often second guess John Woo and in post-production, he went with his own editor to make his own edit of the film. Van Damme's version excises whole characters to insert more scenes and close-ups of his character Chance. When asked about this edit, Van Damme replied that "People pay their money to see me, not to see Lance Henriksen".
  • Harry Dean Stanton was quite difficult to deal with on Repo Man.
    • He wanted to do a 'baseball-type signal' to Emilio Estevez in a scene where he had to show him where to park a car. Alex Cox - a notorious sports-hater - refused the suggestion. According to Cox on the DVD commentary, Stanton lost his temper:
    "I've worked with the greatest directors of all time. Francis Ford Coppola. Monte Hellman. You know why they're great? Because they let me do whatever the fuck I wanted!"
    • On another occasion, while filming a scene in which Bud brandishes a bat at the Rodriguez brothers, he wanted a real bat and did actually use it in one take, swinging it around recklessly. The other cast members were (relatively) OK with it, but Robby Müller took Alex Cox aside and said: "Just now I felt the wind of a wooden baseball bat pass over my face. I will not shoot this scene unless all the actors use plastic bats." Unsurprisingly, Stanton was furious when asked to use a plastic bat, screaming out that "Harry Dean Stanton only uses REAL baseball bats." A literal tug of war ensued over the bat, much to the amusement of the crew. Fortunately, a quick-witted production assistant was able to swap the wooden bat out for a plastic one.
    • Stanton's general moodiness and constant grumbling about money prompted Cox to consider writing him out of the rest of the film and giving his remaining scenes to Lite. Michael Nesmith vetoed this plan, so Stanton stayed in the picture. It also helped a little that Stanton noticed how the crew revered Muller, and began to do so in turn. So if Cox wanted something done, he'd sometimes tell Stanton that it was "for Robby". It worked.
  • A positive example: When Helen Mirren was cast in The Long Good Friday, her character was a stereotypical gangster's moll, but she refused to play it that way and insisted on making her more intelligent and interesting.
  • Spencer Tracy wasn't fully cooperative on Bad Day at Black Rock. He told John Sturges to avoid close-ups (probably because of his age) and hated to do additional takes. In the garage sequence between him and Robert Ryan, Sturges called for a second take. Tracy asked the crew if they had understood him in the scene. When they said yes, he refused to shoot it again.
  • The only major conflict between Paul Newman and George Roy Hill on Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid occurred over what became known as "the Bledsoe scene," a break in the extended superposse chase when Butch and Sundance go to visit an old sheriff hoping to get his help enlisting them in the Army to fight in the Spanish-American War. Newman felt the scene should come at the end of the chase and be the motivation for their flight to South America. Hill disagreed strongly. Every day, Newman came on the set with fresh arguments for why it should be done his way and with increasing passion for his opinion. "Paul was becoming almost anal about it," noted Robert Redford, who at one point jokingly suggested they rename the film "The Bledsoe Scene." Ultimately, Hill won the argument.
  • Charlton Heston was so unhappy with the script for Beneath the Planet of the Apes that not only did he demand less screentime, but he insisted that his character be killed off so he couldn't come back for any sequels and end the series there. Obviously, he didn't succeed in the last bit.
  • Russell Crowe was continually unhappy with the screenplay of Gladiator, rewriting much of it to suit his own ends. He would constantly question the script and would frequently walk off the set if he didn't get his way. The famous line "And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next." he initially refused to say, telling writer William Nicholson "Your lines are garbage but I'm the greatest actor in the world and I can make even garbage sound good". On a positive note, he objected to a sex scene between Maximus and Lucilla, feeling that it would be out-of-character for a man avenging his family's deaths.
  • Stewart Granger had the first director of King Solomon's Mines, Compton Bennett, sacked as they couldn't get along and the shooting was going nowhere. The next director Andrew Marton, being a man's man, hit it off instantly with Mr. Granger.
  • On Mildred Pierce, Joan Crawford was in constant clashes with Michael Curtiz over her character's wardrobe. The director was annoyed that Crawford was trying to make Mildred look more glamorous than she should. Crawford insisted she was buying all her clothes off the rack, but she was still secretly having her costume designer altering the waists and padding the shoulders.
  • The shooting script for Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band called for Peter Frampton's character to kill Steven Tyler's, but when it came time to film this scene, Aerosmith threatened to walk out. "There's no fucking way that Steven is gonna get directly offed by Frampton," commented Joe Perry. "It's gotta be an accident, the way it was in the original script we fucking agreed to." They finally agreed to a compromise, with Tyler's character being accidentally pushed to his death by Sandy Farina.
  • Richard Pryor was initially unhappy with the blackface gag in Silver Streak. Originally, a white man walked in and believed George was black. Pryor was uncomfortable with the scene and felt it would be funnier if a black man walked in and is not fooled at all. Pryor asked Arthur Hiller for a re-shoot but Hiller refused. Pryor walked off the set and refused to return to filming until the scene was changed. Hiller relented and Pryor's idea was used for the final cut.
  • A positive example: Brandon Lee requested that one character be removed from The Crow - an Asian character from the comic who tries to steal Eric's powers - as he felt it was a stereotype.
  • Susan Sarandon objected to how her sex scene with Catherine Deneuve in The Hunger originally played out. Originally, Deneuve gave Sarandon something to drink, then Sarandon becomes light-headed and loses her inhibitions. Sarandon didn't like that angle - she stated that it didn't matter if you were straight or gay, no one would need to be drugged to be talked into sleeping with Catherine Deneuve!
  • According to Bruce Campbell, on The Quick and the Dead, Gene Hackman initially refused to do the scene where Herod leans to his aide and asks, "What are the odds on The Kid?" It was only when Sam Raimi explained his character's motivation that he agreed to do the scene as planned.
  • Ralph Richardson took his role as God in Time Bandits so seriously that he submitted his own red ink edits complete with message "God wouldn't say that".
  • On his final film, The Shootist, John Wayne saw that the final shoot-out was edited to show him shooting a guy in the back. He said, "I've made over 250 pictures and have never shot a guy in the back. Change it." They did. However, Wayne had shot men in the back in several of his movies, including The Searchers.
    • Wayne was highly self-conscious of his public image, considering it unmanly to be photographed in production stills while makeup was being applied with a powder puff. He also insisted on using a particular reddish tint of makeup, which flattered his complexion but created headaches for cinematographer Bruce Surtees. Most importantly, he insisted on toning down the profanity and more explicit references to cancer from the original novel.
  • Fist of Fury was originally going to end with the main character surviving, as his real life counterpart did. However, Bruce Lee insisted that he die at the end, but with honor.
  • George Stevens had a hard time directing James Dean on Giant. The problem started with Stevens' ordering Dean to get rid of his Actor's Studio mannerisms like moving his head from side to side or hopping while walking. The two argued constantly, and at one point the actor went on strike for three days. Dean even ordered his agent to come to the location to help him deal with the director. He also referred to Stevens as "Fatso" behind his back. In defiance, Dean would often hold up production for hours, causing the film to go over schedule.
    • At one point, Dean was said to have ruined an outdoor scene by yelling "Cut!" and then unzipping his pants and urinating in full view of the crew and visitors on the set.
    • Dean also refused to undergo a lengthy make-up process for his later scenes, claiming "a man of 45 shows his age in thoughts and actions, not in wrinkles." He only allowed them to gray his temples and put a few lines on his forehead.
    • In addition to Dean, Stevens often argued with Elizabeth Taylor. Most of their fights stemmed from his practice of demanding multiple takes without explaining why or offering additional direction to the actors.
  • A positive example from Sixteen Candles: Carlin Glynn, who plays Brenda, confronted John Hughes about the fact that the script didn't call for her to apologize for forgetting her daughter's birthday, despite the fact that her character was described as a good and attentive mother. Hughes agreed and added the scene where Brenda tearfully apologizes to Sam.
  • Training Day originally ended with Alonzo being a Karma Houdini, but Denzel Washington insisted that he get his comeuppance.
  • Brian De Palma claimed that while making Carlito's Way, Sean Penn demanded 30 takes of the shot of Kleinfeld asking Carlito to help him with Tony T's escape. When De Palma wanted to move on to the next shot, Penn screamed at him. He continued to yell at De Palma on the ride back to New York City. Penn later called De Palma on the phone to continue yelling at him. De Palma said that was the only argument they had on the film.
  • An expose by Variety revealed that Tom Cruise had a lot of control over The Mummy (2017) and these include:
    • Early drafts of the script gave about 50/50 screentime to Nick Morton and Ahmanet, but Cruise brought in writers he was more familiar with (Christopher McQuarrie, and Dylan Kussman) to make changes to the script, including increasing Nick's screentime at the expense of Ahmanet's screentime and development.
    • Alex Kurtzman was director in-name only. It was essentially Cruise who was the actual director of the movie. Not helping was that Kurtzman's inexperience in directing big-budgeted action blockbusters was showing through, giving even more incentive for Cruise to take the reins.
    • The whole production team basically falling in line with whatever Cruise said, even going as far as overseeing the editing of the movie with his preferred editor, Andrew Mondshein.
  • Alfred Hitchcock tolerated this pretty much just once: Marlene Dietrich was allowed to have some creative control over how she was shot in Stage Fright, mainly because she had learned cinematography and lighting from actual European masters of the art, and she was willing to directly collaborate with the film's cinematographer to get the effects desired. Otherwise, Hitchcock had very little tolerance for this kind of thing, save when the objection was at the level of writing.
  • Speaking of Dietrich, in Morocco, she insisted on adding a scene where her character kisses another woman on the lips. In order to justify this, she had the other woman hand her a flower that she later hands to Gary Cooper's character, so that the censors would be unable to cut the kiss without also editing the scene with the flower.
  • Narrowly averted on Alejandro Jodorowsky's ill-fated adaptation of Dune. Jodorowsky wanted to recruit Salvador Dalí to play the Emperor, but he had very little experience with negotiating and Dali made a number of demands, including the hiring of Amanda Lear as Princess Irulan and $100,000 for every hour he was on set. Jodorowsky, in a rare moment of lucidity, realized that this would bankrupt the film and rewrote Dali's role so that he would only have to be on set for one hour. This all ended up being a moot point, as Dali was ultimately fired for his pro-Franco statements.
  • Patty Maloney was reportedly displeased when she read the script for the telefilm Sideshow, as it described her character as a "freak". The script was amended at her request.

    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 that his on-camera love-interest/co-star Julie McCullough be fired simply for appearing in Playboy, and threw tantrums whenever anything remotely sexual happened (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 fornicating, 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. Reportedly, Baker went to the showrunners asking what would happen if Baker left the show as a show of clout, and was very surprised when they called his bluff.
    • 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 story, "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.
    • William Hartnell demanded that dialogue implying Brother–Sister Incest between Richard the Lionheart and his sister Joanna in The Crusade be removed, as he felt it was inappropriate for a family series. The Incest Subtext was still implied in the performances.
  • 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 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 did"note . 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 "Plato's Stepchildren", 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 DeForrest 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."
  • Star Trek: Voyager:
    • Kate Mulgrew proved just as tough as Janeway. She knew what she was getting into with the Star Trek "boys' club." The second season episode "Death Wish" is apparently where she'd had enough; Q's outrageously (and unceasingly) sexist dialogue wasn't as amusing as Michel Piller had hoped.
    • According to Trek legend, Mulgrew's reaction to being handed a padded bra was to march into the writer's room and slam it on the table, flatly informing them "I'm not wearing this."note  When asked about the story, Robert Picardo wasn't able to corroborate it but conceded that "it sounds like something Kate would say".
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation
    • A positive example - on the first season episode "Angel One", Patrick Stewart sought to have the script changed to remove the sexist elements. He was overruled, resulting in a thoroughly despised episode.
    • Stewart also wasn't too thrilled with his stodgy, preachy, apparently sexless Captain in Seasons 1-2, and intimated that he might leave the show if something wasn't done about it. (Actually, the phrase he used according to Ron D. Moore was "there isn't nearly enough shooting and screwing on this show.") The vacation episode, "Captain's Holiday", was tailor-made to please Patrick.
    • According to the legendary blog of Wil Wheaton, Brent Spiner had to throw what amounted to a polite temper tantrum early on in filming. During the filming of the first batch of episodes, whether Data could use contractions in his dialogue changed from writer to writer or director to director. It got to the point where Spiner refused to continue with a scene until the showrunners made up their minds one way or another, permanently. Wheaton added in his blog entry "Given how important it was to the character, I really can't blame him."
  • 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.
  • One episode of Dad's Army called for Captain Mainwaring to have a grenade dropped down his trousers, prompting him to hastily remove them. However, Arthur Lowe refused to do it, citing a clause in his contract that he not be filmed without his trousers on, so it went to Corporal Jones.
  • Paul Eddington, a firm believer in nuclear disarmament, once convinced the writers to rework the script of a Yes, Prime Minister episode that he believed was rather too flippant about nuclear war.
  • The Punisher (2017): Jon Bernthal was very aware throughout filming that Frank Castle should not come off as a completely admirable hero, and in a few scenes convinced the writers to more clearly play up his darker nature.
  • Daredevil (2015): Charlie Cox and Deborah Ann Woll have both spoken about working with season 3's showrunner Erik Oleson with regards to Matt's and Karen's story arcs. In Cox's case, it was about working to seamlessly integrate Matt's character growth from the first two seasons of the show plus The Defenders (2017). Meanwhile, Woll encouraged Oleson to make Karen's past something difficult for her to endure and avoid the misogynistic and sexualized violence that Karen was subjected to in the comics. In one interview, she said, "if we ever do delve into Karen’s past, please don’t make it that she shot someone while saving a busload of children. You know? I wanted to encourage him to make this difficult, make it something hard for her to get over, and so we can hopefully pull off something pretty interesting. I like the idea of compromising the character in some way, but I just don't know that it has to be sexual, or that it has to be in a way that causes her to lose her strength."
  • Twin Peaks originally planned to have a romance develop between Dale Cooper and Audrey Horne. Kyle MacLachlan objected, stating he felt it would be out of character for Cooper to enter into a relationship with a high school student, although rumor has it that the real reason was because Maclachlan was dating co-star Lara Flynn Boyle at the time who was jealous of Sherilyn Fenn.
  • On The West Wing Richard Schiff rejected the infamous secret military space shuttle leak plot, arguing his character would never do such a thing. He did ultimately play the stuff more or less as written by the post-Sorkin writers, but the way he acts it one can't help but wonder he's covering for somebody. To this day the plotline is a Fandom Berserk Button and quite a few fans agree with Schiff over the writers.
  • In the 1986 Lord Peter Wimsey adaptations, Edward Petherbridge and Harriet Walter insisted on Lord Peter's proposal to Harriet being the climax of Gaudy Night, as in the books, rather than a couple of lines in the middle.
  • Rik Mayall agreed to appear in Blackadder on the condition that his part be in every conceivable way funnier than Rowan Atkinson's. The showrunners agreed, and Lord Flashheart, British television's most legendary ham, was born.

  • 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, 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 furore 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 there’s gonna be anyone knocking anyone offstage, it’ll be me knocking the gorilla", which is what subsequently happened.
  • The Cranberries didn't like Samuel Bayer's original cut of "Ridiculous Thoughts" and re-edited the video with live footage and credited as "Freckles Flynn".

  • 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 jeopardised 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).
  • After being cast in the role of Ansem the Wise for Kingdom Hearts II, Christopher Lee walked into the studio and gave an ultimatum to the director. He was a busy man, so he was going to read his lines once, and only once, and then walk out the studio. That's exactly what he did.

    Western Animation 
  • From 2002 onwards, Casey Kasem refused to voice Shaggy on Scooby-Doo 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.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Paul and Linda McCartney appeared as guest stars in "Lisa the Vegetarian" under the condition that Lisa would convert to vegetarianism permanently, stating that not doing so would confuse viewers. (It also helps that the earlier episode, "Lisa's Wedding" stated that Lisa converted to vegetarianism at some point). This remains one of the few permanent changes in a show that delights in Status Quo Is God.
    • 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 into 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.
    • Lawrence Tierney guest starred as Don Brodka in "Marge Be Not Proud". Then showrunner Josh Weinstein, called Tierney's appearance "the craziest guest star experience we ever had". In addition to yelling at and intimidating employees of the show, Tierney made unreasonable requests such as abandoning his distinctive voice to do the part in a southern accent and refusing to perform lines if he did not "get the jokes".
    • When John Waters appeared as John in "Homer's Phobia", John's line "Do you know who would like [Homer]? My landlord." was originally " father", but was changed by Waters' request. He didn't want to imply his actual father was intolerant of his sexuality.

Alternative Title(s): Actor Meddling


Example of: