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5 Insane Ways Famous Directors Forced Actors Out of Their Comfort Zone

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For decades, we’ve been putting our greatest stories, both real and fictional, to film in an effort to get our minds off the existential dread we experience on a daily basis. (That’s everyone, right? Not just me?) But as cinema has grown, so too have the myriad psychopathic tendencies of these films’ directors. They must suffer for our art, as they say, so they subject their hapless cast and crew to the whim of the voices in their head, just so a few more people can say, “Hey, that one movie was kind of okay.” Here are five times that directors made their cast and crews step (WAY) outside their comfort zones.

David Ayer turns his stars against each other

comfort zones ayer
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Say what you will about Suicide Squad and the insane things Jared Leto did to play its Joker, but director David Ayer also had his share of quirks too. Just one of these involved learning what specific words and names got under actor Joel Kinnaman’s skin and having Viola Davis exploit these in scenes that called for her to scream at Kinnaman. I like to think of Ayer in full-on Devil regalia, sitting on Davis’ shoulder and whispering in her ear. I’d kinda rather watch that than Suicide Squad anyway.

William Friedkin went violently HAM on the set of The Exorcist

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In William Friedkin’s nightmare-inducing The Exorcist, it turns out Pazuzu wasn’t the only demon on-set (eh? EH?). According to Reverend William O’Malley, Friedkin, in a straight-up Godfather move, asked him if he trusted him, told him that he loved him, and then proceeded to slap the piss out of him, all to generate the reaction that he wanted. No word on if Freidkin went full Fredo and kissed him on the mouth, too.

Stanley Kubrick will never settle for anything less than perfection

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Imagine doing literally anything 127 times in a row. Now imagine you’re being forced to do that thing by a tyrannical director on the set of one of history’s scariest films. That’s what Stanley Kubrick subjected Shelley Duvall to while filming 1980’s The Shining. Duvall would go on to play Olive Oyl in Popeye later that year in what had to have been only SLIGHTLY less terrifying, acting opposite Robin Williams while he wore some super weird prosthetics.

Lars Von Trier insists that actors stay in character

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Lars Von Trier has made some of the weirdest films you’ve probably never seen, but on the set of 2000’s Dancer in the Dark, Bjork had to stay in character for hours, something that Von Trier would revisit in 2003’s Dogville. This decision lead to a rather unsettling atmosphere, and if you’ve managed to unsettle Bjork? You’ve reached bonus level-status in the world of bonkers-ness.

Akira Kurosawa put lives in danger

comfort zones kurosawa
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Akira Kurosawa is one of the most influential directors of all time, but his merits don’t stop him from occasionally dipping a toe into the waters of Lake Batsh*t. On the set of 1957’s awesomely-titled Throne of Blood (also known as the similarly awesome Spider Web Castle), Kurosawa shot real arrows at real actors who were very much NOT equipped for real danger. Actor Thoshiro Mifune, to the surprise of nobody, suffered nightmares afterwards. Of course, Throne of Blood currently stands at 98 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, so, sh*t, maybe we’re the crazy ones? No? It’s still insane? Yeah, no, you’re right.

What insane things do you do to keep your family and friends on their toes? Let me know on Twitter!

Contributor: 
Tyler Davidson
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