Actors can be hard to please. When you’re making a movie, you hope everything will go smoothly and according to plan during production, but occasionally, actors show up on set and want to change everything. Maybe they’re unhappy with the script or the costumes, perhaps they want more money, or they don’t like the ending you had in mind.
Sometimes, these requests are perfectly reasonable, and come from actors who want to collaborate with the director to make the best film possible. But other times, stars come up with completely ridiculous demands that can cost a lot in terms of quality, time, and money. Whatever the desire, many directors still feel it’s usually best to try to stay on the actors’ good side, and if they can, give them what they want.
Even though compromise is often possible and some actors are only trying to help, once an actor gets famous enough, their demands are difficult to ignore. Because if you want big names in your movie, sometimes you have to make some concessions to give them what they want. You might be surprised to learn just how many movies were changed due to actors’ requests. Here are some of the craziest demands that altered movies in ways you never would have guessed.
Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln
Renowned actor Daniel Day-Lewis is known for his 100% dedication to the roles he takes on. So when this method actor was cast as President Abraham Lincoln in the 2012 film Lincoln, he wanted to really get into the part – sincerely and emotionally. He asked everyone on set, including director Steven Spielberg, to call him “Mr. President” – all the time. He also refused to use any words or phrases that Lincoln wouldn’t have actually used in the 19th century. But perhaps most outrageous of all, the English actor refused to speak to anyone British, for fear that it might “throw him off.” Luckily, everyone followed his strange requests, and he went on to win an Academy Award for his performance.
Samuel L. Jackson in Snakes on a Plane
When Samuel L. Jackson was offered the chance to star in a film called Snakes on a Plane, he agreed immediately – solely because he thought it was an awesome name for a movie. The internet agreed, and so do we, but there’s more to a movie than its name. When Jackson found out that the studio executives were considering changing the name to Pacific Flight 121, he fought back right away, so Snakes on a Plane it remained. In addition, the film was originally supposed to be a campy PG-13 flick, but Jackson campaigned for more violence and profanity. The studio eventually agreed, even though they had to reshoot several scenes to give it the R rating Jackson desired.
Ben Affleck in Gone Girl
Ben Affleck spent a large part of his childhood in Massachusetts, developing a clear loyalty for the Boston Red Sox baseball team. Now, if there’s one thing Red Sox fans are known for, is their distaste for the New York Yankees. So when director David Fincher wanted Affleck to wear a Yankees cap during a scene in the film Gone Girl, Affleck flat out refused, shutting down the production for four days. Finally, the actor and director compromised and Affleck agreed to wear a New York Mets hat, shown here.
Robert Downey Jr. in The Avengers
Everyone loves that post-credits scene in The Avengers when the heroes sit around eating shawarma together. And it all started with Robert Downey Jr.’s demand to rewrite part of the script. After the battle in New York, Iron Man was originally supposed to say, “What’s next?” Downey, however, felt that the lines could be improved, prompting director Joss Whedon to write three more pages of dialogue. One of the lines that made the cut was Iron Man suggesting they all go for shawarma, which resulted in that fan-favorite final scene.
Tom Cruise in The Mummy
The more famous the actor, the more demands they seem to be able to get away with. In this case, Tom Cruise had a lot of requirements for starring in The Mummy. Cruise’s biggest demand: more screen time than the mummy. In the original script, the star and the mummy were reported to have about equal screen time – which was not okay with Cruise – so his presence was boosted. It didn’t work out so well according to critics, and the film ended up being a box office flop.
Mike Myers in Shrek
More than one-third of the movie Shrek was already animated, when star Mike Myers suddenly decided that Shrek should be Scottish. He felt that since the villain, Lord Farquaad, had an upper-class English accent, a Scottish Shrek would make a fitting contrast. Plus, the banter sounded great with an accent. Reworking the part of the film that was already animated would cost $5 million, nearly 10% of the film’s budget. But DreamWorks agreed, and it paid off – we can’t even imagine Shrek sounding any other way.
Crispin Glover in Charlie’s Angels
Crispin Glover thought that the script of the Charlie’s Angels reboot, released in 2000, was terrible. In fact, he hated it so much that he refused to say any of his lines. Instead of changing the script or casting another actor, the production team just let Glover stay silent. You have to be a pretty good actor to get away with a stunt like that! The film went on to be successful despite the script, because, let’s be honest – people weren’t lining up to see it for the storyline.
Orson Welles in The Black Rose
Actor, director, and producer Orson Welles pulled quite a trick during production of the 1950 adventure film The Black Rose, when he demanded that the coat he wore throughout the film be lined with mink fur. Although mink fur was extremely expensive and the inside of the coat was never seen during the film, producers agreed. Surprisingly, the coat went missing after filming ended, until one year later when Welles wore it during his adaptation of Shakespeare’s Othello – this time with the fur on the outside.
Michelle Rodriguez in The Fast and the Furious
Michelle Rodriguez had a moral issue with the direction that Letty, her character in The Fast and the Furious, was supposed to go. In the original storyline, Letty was supposed to cheat on hey boyfriend, Dom. But Rodriguez was so strongly opposed to this twist that she threatened to quit the franchise. Vin Diesel, who plays Dom, took her side, and eventually the director agreed. It seems to have worked out well for the franchise, too, because Letty and Dom’s devoted relationship has become an important part of the story.
Samuel L. Jackson in Star Wars
Samuel L. Jackson’s Mace Windu was undoubtedly one of the best characters in the Star Wars prequel trilogy. Jackson himself requested that his Jedi master have a purple lightsaber, in order to stand out during the big battle scene in Attack of the Clones. Traditionally, lightsabers come in two colors: red for villains and green for heroes, but Samuel L. Jackson didn’t care. Although George Lucas resisted at first, he eventually gave in, and Mace Windu’s unique purple lightsaber, now an important part of the character’s identity, came into being.
Shia LaBeouf in Fury
Shia LaBeouf’s antics have often gotten him a lot of attention. He’s known for taking things too far, and did just that during production of the World War II film Fury. His character was supposed to have cuts on his face, so the makeup team set him up with fake scars, but that just wasn’t realistic enough for LaBeouf. Instead, he used an actual knife on his face to make it more realistic. The cuts sure looked real, but it seems a little extreme to us.
Jack Nicholson in The Departed
When an actor as respected as Jack Nicholson makes character suggestions, directors do well to listen. During production of The Departed, Nicholson had a few demands for his role as crime boss Frank Costello: he asked that he be made more evil, adding a scene with women and illicit substances to illustrate his hateful personality. The film was a hit, and Nicholson certainly was a memorable character. In addition to his character changes, Nicholson banned all Boston Celtics gear from set since he is a staunch LA Lakers supporter.
Gary Busey in Quigley
Gary Busey had a near death experience in 1988, and believed that he went to heaven for a short time. So, when he was filming the children’s movie Quigley, and there was a scene that took place in heaven, Busey had something to say about it. He claimed that the set designers got it all wrong, because the room they fashioned looked nothing like the heaven he had visited. Busey made them replace the couch and get rid of all mirrors because, he said, there aren’t any mirrors in heaven.
Jamie Foxx in Miami Vice
Jamie Foxx had many demands while shooting Miami Vice. Since he had recently won an Academy Award, Foxx wanted to be paid more than co-star Colin Farrell. Then, Foxx refused to shoot any scenes on boats or planes. We’re not sure why, but they gave the star what he asked for. Finally, while the team was filming in the Dominican Republic, shots were heard nearby, and Foxx refused to film outside of the U.S. He forced the rewriting of the film’s ending, which was supposed to take place in Paraguay.
Sam Worthington in Clash of the Titans
Clash of the Titans, released in 2010, was a remake of a classic 1980s movie. Sam Worthington starred in the action flick, but he took issue with some aspects from the original. Despite the fact that it takes place in ancient Greece, Worthington refused to wear a toga. In addition, one of the memorable characters in the ‘80s film was a creepy mechanical owl, which Worthington absolutely hated. He reportedly threatened the creature with violence and screamed at it, until the owl got cut entirely, except for a small cameo.
Marlon Brando in The Island of Doctor Moreau
Marlon Brando, one of film’s all time greats, had some bizarre demands while filming The Island of Doctor Moreau. He was hot one day, so he put an ice bucket on his head, refusing to remove it for the entire shoot. He stopped learning his lines, so they were read to him through an earpiece. Finally, Brando became obsessed with co-star Nelson de la Rosa, the world’s smallest man, and had the script rewritten so la Rosa could be in all future scenes – wearing the same clothing as him.
Angelina Jolie in Wanted
Spoiler alert! Angelina Jolie wanted to be sure that there would be no sequel to her 2008 thriller, Wanted. So, she put an end to the franchise by demanding that her character die in the end. Although her character was supposed to survive in the original script, she insisted that the only way her character would react to events in the movie would be to end her life. So, eventually, the producers agreed. Now, even if there is a Wanted sequel, Jolie will not be a part of it.
Harrison Ford in Star Wars
Harrison Ford wanted his Star Wars character, Han Solo, to die for many years. In Return of the Jedi in 1983, he tried to convince George Lucas to kill him off but to no avail. Now – spoiler alert! After 30 years, Ford’s request has finally been granted and Han Solo was killed off at the end of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Ford believes that the character’s death made it into a better film, but fans wonder: if Ford didn’t argue so adamantly, would Han Solo have survived?
Denzel Washington in The Pelican Brief
Denzel Washington starred in the 1993 film adaptation of the book The Pelican Brief, opposite Julia Roberts. The original plot features a love story between the two characters, but Washington refused, saying he didn’t want to offend his black female fans. Reportedly, Washington said that since black women were not often portrayed in Hollywood as the love interest, he felt it wasn’t fair. Since his contract said that he didn’t have to do anything that contradicted his morals, his decision was final.
Steve McQueen in The Towering Inferno
The Towering Inferno is a 1970s disaster movie starring Steve McQueen and Paul Newman, two big leading men at the time. Steve McQueen was excited to work alongside the great Paul Newman, but he still reportedly wanted to have exactly the same amount of lines as Newman. So he demanded that 12 lines be added to the original script, in which he had slightly fewer than Newman. His request was granted, and the two stars had an equal amount of dialogue.
Will Smith in Men in Black 3
Will Smith’s demands during the production of Men in Black 3 didn’t exactly change the film, but they did require a lot of concessions by the production. Even though Smith lived only a few minutes from the New York City set, he demanded a huge two-bedroom trailer with two bathrooms and even a private room for screening movies. Local residents complained that the massive $2 million trailer blocked sunlight in the neighborhood, but when Will Smith makes a request, he most often gets what he wants.
Leonard Nimoy in Star Trek
In Star Trek, Vulcans are known for their logic. So when Leonard Nimoy’s Vulcan character, Spock, was supposed to subdue an enemy violently with his weapon or a karate-chop, he didn’t think it fit. Instead, he came up with the idea for the Vulcan Nerve Pinch, shown here, an efficient way to knock someone unconscious by pinching a nerve on their neck. The production team let him try it out, and it looked great! After that, the Vulcan Nerve Pinch was used over and over throughout the Star Trek series.
Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction
Samuel L. Jackson played Jules in the classic 1994 film Pulp Fiction. In the script, Jules was supposed to have an afro, so the production sent someone to buy Jackson a wig. The person they sent, however, didn’t know what an afro was, and so returned with a glossy, loose curled wig. Jackson reportedly thought it was entertaining, and insisted on using that wig instead. And so, instead of buying a new afro wig, the character Jules ended up with a different hairstyle.
Liam Neeson in A Million Ways to Die in the West
Accents can be problematic for actors, who have to learn to speak differently for certain roles. The comedy series Family Guy joked about how ridiculous it would be for Liam Neeson to play a cowboy, because of his Irish accent. So when Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane asked Neeson to star in the western A Million Ways to Die in the West, Neeson said that he would accept only if he could speak in his Irish accent. And now there’s a cowboy with an Irish accent.
Lena Heady and Jerome Flynn in Game of Thrones
Avid watchers of the popular series Game of Thrones may have noticed that the characters Cersei and Bronn never show up in the same scene together. But what they may not know is that it’s because of a clause in the contracts of the actors who play them, Lena Heady and Jerome Flynn. The two stars dated in real life, and things ended badly. So now, the two cannot be in the same room as each other, forcing the writers to keep the characters apart.
Bill Murray in Ghostbusters
Ghostbusters was a huge hit, a blockbuster comedy that launched a franchise. And we can’t imagine this film without Bill Murray, who starred as Peter Venkman. But Murray reportedly only agreed to be in Ghostbusters on the condition that the studio financed the making of another film which he co-wrote, called The Razor’s Edge. Although Ghostbusters was massively successful, The Razor’s Edge went on to be a huge flop, and Murray was so dismayed that he took four years off from acting.
Milla Jovovich in Resident Evil
Before the Resident Evil franchise became a huge success, Milla Jovovich reportedly threatened to walk off the set of the first Resident Evil movie. Jovovich was cast as Alice, the star of the film, but felt threatened when Michelle Rodriguez was cast as Rain. Due to Rodriguez’s growing popularity, the script was reworked to give her a larger role. Jovovich wanted none of that, however, and demanded for the script to be changed back or she was out. The director agreed, and went back to fix the script, page by page.
William Shatner in Star Trek
During production of Star Trek: The Original Series, William Shatner reportedly always wanted to make sure the plot revolved around his character, Captain Kirk. He demanded that certain storylines and dialogues be altered, in order to make sure that the captain was in fact the real focus of the scene. The actor got his way, and Captain Kirk became the main character, but it led to some serious clashes with Leonard Nimoy and other members of the cast.
Bruce Willis in The Expendables 3
Fans of the Expendables franchise noticed that Bruce Willis was missing from the third installment. The reason? He reportedly demanded at least $1 million for each day of work, even though his role in the film was quite small. This was too much money for the production, so instead of giving him what they wanted, they replaced him with Harrison Ford. So even though his excessive demand was not met, it had changed the casting entirely.
Lindsay Lohan in The Canyons
Lindsay Lohan is known to come up with some pretty outrageous demands. One of these supposed stories is when the script for the film The Canyons required she strip down for a scene. Lohan refused – unless everyone else on set appeared nude as well. Of course, the crew declined, so director Paul Schrader made a compromise with the star and he alone agreed to her request, stripping down to his socks. The scene went ahead as planned, but we doubt Schrader will want to work with Lohan again.
Clint Eastwood in The Outlaw Josey Wales
Clint Eastwood starred in the film The Outlaw Josey Wales. He didn’t like the direction the shoot was going, so he requested to have director Philip Kaufman fired, and took over direction of the movie himself. Kaufman reportedly had a number of disagreements with Eastwood, and in the end Eastwood demanded that the director be fired. The outrage was so huge, it actually led to a law being passed in Hollywood, called the Eastwood Rule, which forbids an actor from taking over the role of director after having them fired.
George Clooney in Gravity
When an actor is as talented and well known as George Clooney, they can make pretty hefty demands, and expect to have them granted. While filming the movie Gravity, Clooney requested a private beach hut next to his trailer, complete with a garden, a private hot tub, and his own personal basketball court. Even though his role in the film was small, he got what he wanted, making the rest of the cast and crew (and us) jealous.
Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean
Johnny Depp reportedly did not want to memorize his lines anymore, so he hired a sound engineer to read him his dialogue through a hidden earpiece. According to Depp’s former managers, he spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on sound engineers for this purpose. During Pirates of the Caribbean, he had all of his lines read to him, sometimes to the point of bothering other members of the cast. Sure, it’s a bit untraditional, but we’re pretty impressed that we couldn’t even tell.
Sharon Stone in A Golden Boy
Sharon Stone agreed to fly to Italy to star in a film by the Avati brothers called A Golden Boy. In one scene, there was a kiss, when she suddenly noticed paparazzi and cameramen nearby. She disappeared, and the Avati brothers couldn’t find her anywhere. Finally, her agent called from Los Angeles and said that she wouldn’t do the scene unless they cleared out the cameras. They did, and filming went ahead, but the question remains – why didn’t she just ask them to get rid of the paparazzi herself?
Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator 3
The 11-page contract that Arnold Schwarzenegger’s lawyers drew up for him before shooting Terminator 3 gave him not only a huge paycheck, but also a great deal of control over the production. Schwarzenegger reportedly demanded the ability to choose the director and a number of the crew members, including his hairdresser and makeup artist. In addition the production had to provide Schwarzenegger with a three-bedroom suite on all locations, complete with private jets, a gym trailer, and bodyguards.
Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man
Iron Man was a hit, and nearly everyone agrees that Robert Downey Jr. makes a fantastic superhero. But after the first Iron Man film came out, Downey became aware of exactly how much was possible using computer generated effects. The Iron Man suit is extremely uncomfortable, so the actor opted out of wearing it. Instead, he insisted that they add the suit in post production, which they did. It created a great deal of extra work for the animation team, but what Robert Downey Jr. asks for, he receives.
Daniel Day-Lewis in My Left Foot
In the film My Left Foot, Daniel Day-Lewis played Christy Brown, a writer and painter who was born with cerebral palsy and was only able to control his left foot. Day-Lewis, being the sort of method actor that he is, insisted on spending most of the film shoot in a wheelchair, being wheeled around set, and lifted over lighting cables by other crew members. He even visited restaurants in the wheelchair, demanding that he be wheeled everywhere in order to understand how it feels. Well, we can’t blame him for being a method actor.
Jennifer Lawrence in X-Men
When Jennifer Lawrence played Mystique in X-Men: First Class, it took seven to eight hours every day to turn her into the character, with six makeup artists painting her blue from head to toe. It was an uncomfortable and grueling process, and she reportedly said that the paint irritated her skin. But in X-Men: Days of Future Past, she requested a better process. They made her a blue skin-tight body suit, cutting down the time it took to get her into character to three or four hours.
Eddie Murphy in… everything
Eddie Murphy reportedly doesn’t like to use things twice. This includes clothing, toiletries, food and drinks, and anything else that most people would reuse. Every day, he is said to require a new pair of underwear and socks, a fresh unopened tube of toothpaste, and brand new packages of food. He doesn’t believe in washing something and using it again – instead he throws everything out once it’s been used and starts over with a new one. Sounds a bit extreme, even for a movie star!
Edward Norton in The Incredible Hulk
Edward Norton is another one of those actors who are known to be full of demands. He agreed to play the Hulk in The Incredible Hulk only if he would be able to alter the script. And so, he was constantly changing dialogue, right up until they shot each scene. He also insisted on adding 20 minutes to the film, so he would have more screen time. And in perhaps his weirdest demand, he created a new character for Michael Kenneth Williams, who played Omar on the series The Wire.
Dwayne Johnson in Rampage
We’ve already seen a number of stars who demand that their characters die at the end of the movie, but this one is something different. Dwayne Johnson starred in Rampage, an action film where Johnson’s character teams up with a giant albino gorilla named George to save Chicago. Spoiler alert – in the original script, George was supposed to die in the end. But Johnson wanted a happier ending, threatening to walk off the film if it wasn’t changed. The production team had no choice, and they rewrote the script.
Jim Caviezel in High Crimes
Actors often have to deal with stripping down when filming movies. Jim Caviezel, however, will have no part of that. Due to his religious faith, and out of a sense of loyalty to his wife, he refuses to shoot scenes in which he has to be naked. During filming of the movie High Crimes, Caviezel demanded that co-star Ashley Judd wear more layers during a love scene, or he would quit the film. The director agreed, and both Caviezel and Judd wore clothes.
Michael Douglas in The Ghost and the Darkness
Michael Douglas was already a big star in the ’90s, so when he expressed interest in his production company producing the film The Ghost and the Darkness, they were willing to make a few changes to accommodate him. Douglas accepted a small part in the movie, but then changed the script to expand the role, making him one of the main characters. Although Val Kilmer was originally supposed to be the star, by the time the script was finished, Douglas and Kilmer had equal billing.
Bryce Dallas Howard in Jurassic World
We were all a bit confused about that scene in Jurassic World where Bryce Dallas Howard somehow outruns a T-rex wearing high heels. Why didn’t she just change shoes? It turns out, director Colin Trevorrow asked her that same question, and she simply refused, saying that her character had to wear the heels. There were no camera tricks used either – she really did wear high heels throughout filming. Howard was surprised later on when the film was released, and her choice of footwear garnered so much attention.
Paris Hilton in The Other Guys
In 2010, Paris Hilton was offered a small role playing herself in the film The Other Guys. She agreed, but having Hilton on set, even if it’s only for a day, apparently comes with a long list of demands. For The Other Guys, that list was reportedly three pages long and included having live lobsters around for when she got hungry, and a bottle of liquor of a certain brand to wash them down. Hilton’s scene was cut from the film in the end, but the memory of her demands will live on forever.