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Movies That Were Over-Shadowed By Real-Life Scandals

Of all the releases so far in 2022, one has stood out thanks to its seemingly endless controversy: Olivia Wilde's sophomore directorial effort, "Don't Worry Darling." The behind-the-scenes drama of the film came to light not long before its premiere at the Venice Film Festival in September 2022 and some of the cast's strange behavior during the premiere and press junket only sparked more speculation as to what really happened while this movie was being filmed. While "Don't Worry Darling" may be the movie most plagued by backstage rumors in recent memory, it is far from the only Hollywood production that has been overshadowed by the real-life drama of making it.

We are taking a look back at some of the most memorable behind-the-scenes scandals in movie history and boy, is it a big barrel of extramarital affairs, erratic on-set directors and actors, and straight-up bizarre behavior. In fact, the controversies of many of these movies make that of "Don't Worry Darling" seem vanilla in comparison. We'll explore the facts behind "Don't Worry Darling" and its press tour, as well as many other notoriously dramatic Hollywood productions.

Don't Worry Darling

"Don't Worry Darling" has been garnering hype since Olivia Wilde first signed on to direct and cast Florence Pugh and Harry Styles as her leads. It seemed like it would be one of the most anticipated movies of 2022, but rumors have been following the film's production since the start of principal photography. 

Olivia Wilde split with her longtime fiancé Jason Sudeikis (with whom she shares two kids) while she was working on the film, and rumors of her new relationship with Styles were confirmed not long after. 

The drama around the film has been rampant. There was the awkward conflict between Olivia Wilde and Shia LeBeouf, who was originally supposed to star. Wilde told Variety that he was fired because of the "combative energy" of his acting process, while LeBeouf denied this claim and said that he quit because Wilde didn't give the actors enough time to rehearse (via Variety). Then there was Pugh, who uncharacteristically refused to promote the film on her Instagram, while Wilde was enthusiastically singing her praises.

Everything came to a head at the film's Venice Film Festival premiere in September 2022. According to Variety, Pugh didn't show up for the Q&A, Wilde and Pugh avoided each other on the red carpet, and there was a whole conspiracy theory that Styles spit on Chris Pine at the premiere, which Wilde denied on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Pugh has declined to comment directly on the rumors of her feud with Wilde, but she did finally post about the film on her Instagram and praised the film's crew. 

Mr. and Mrs. Smith

Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston announced their separation in 2005 but both parties insisted that the split had nothing to do with the tabloid reports of his relationship with Angelina Jolie (via People). When he and Jolie were photographed on vacation together just a month after his divorce was finalized, Pitt found himself at the heart of one of the biggest Hollywood scandals of the 2000s.

It all started with 2005's "Mr. and Mrs Smith," a decent action flick that stars Pitt and Jolie as two undercover spies tasked with killing each other. Pitt and Jolie met on set and the rumors immediately started that they were having an affair. Jolie spoke to Vogue in 2006, claiming that she and Pitt didn't consider a relationship until the end of the shoot in 2004, but the damage of the rumors was already done (via People).

Every celebrity tabloid on the news stands was covered in paparazzi photos of Jolie and Pitt, and the public obsession with the Pitt-Aniston-Jolie love triangle became so rampant that Doug Liman, the director of "Mr. and Mrs. Smith," needed to have units on set just to block the paparazzi from interrupting the shoot (via Entertainment Weekly). 

Despite Pitt's efforts of denying that his relationship with Jolie led to his divorce from Aniston, tabloids spent the better part of the next ten years looking for ways to resurrect the drama. The actual film of "Mr. and Mrs. Smith," however, hasn't had the same lasting impact except for its role in the scandal.

I Heart Huckabees

Celebrated award-winning director David O. Russell has a reputation for being difficult on set, especially with his actors. He's gotten into screaming matches with mega-stars like George Clooney and Jennifer Lawrence and is notorious for his alleged physical and verbal abuse of cast, crew, and others, as detailed by several sources in Vulture

One of the most memorable instances of his behavior occurred on the set of his 2004 film "I Heart Huckabees," a dark comedy centering on existential detectives played by Dustin Hoffman and Lily Tomlin. Russell got into at least two massive screaming matches with Tomlin, one of which was captured on a profanity-laden video.

It began with Tomlin expressing her frustration that Russell kept contradicting himself with his actor notes, which made it hard to know what to do in the scene. Russell exploded with anger, throwing around papers and other props, while screaming misogynistic insults at Tomlin. The video went viral and although The New York Times outlined a series of other dramatic incidents on set, this was the one that came to define the movie.

Tomlin, like many other actors who have worked with Russell, has since claimed that there's no bad blood between them (via Entertainment Weekly), but she also hasn't worked with him since "I Heart Huckabees."

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

There's probably no Hollywood feud more notorious than that between actresses Joan Crawford and Bette Davis. After all, it did inspire the first season of Ryan Murphy's anthology show, aptly titled "Feud."

The tension between them began in 1933 when Crawford announced her divorce from Douglas Fairbanks Jr. on the same day that Warner Brothers had planned a ton of press coverage for Davis' first headlining film (via Harper's Bazaar). Davis' film was immediately overshadowed by Crawford's personal life. This began a decades-long rivalry between the two that included numerous altercations, which escalated when Crawford and Davis starred together in 1962's "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?"

According to Charlotte Chandler's "Not the Girl Next Door: Joan Crawford: A Personal Biography," Crawford was the one who convinced Davis to sign up for the movie. Davis only agreed after director Robert Aldrich promised her that he and Crawford weren't romantically involved because she "didn't want him favoring [Crawford] with more close-ups."

Not surprisingly, Davis and Crawford remained barely civil while shooting the film. "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane" plays off their well-known animosity, as it's a psychological thriller about a power struggle between two damaged sisters. 

According to Harpers Bazaar, the rumors ran wild: Crawford requested a body double for the scene where Davis beats her character up, because she didn't trust that Davis wouldn't actually hurt her, while Crawford filled her pockets with rocks for a scene where Davis had to drag her body around. Bette Davis got an Oscar nom for it, but "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" will always be most remembered as a symbol of Hollywood's greatest feud.

Death on the Nile

"Death on the Nile" is the second film in Kenneth Branagh's on-screen revival of Agatha Christie's famous detective Hercule Poirot. Like his first Poirot film — 2017's "Murder on the Orient Express" — Branagh's "Death on the Nile" also relied on an all-star ensemble cast featuring Gal Gadot, Armie Hammer, and Letitia Wright among others.

Unfortunately, it was in post-production when Hammer — a lead of the film – was accused by several women of sexual violence, adultery, and a cannibalism fetish (via Vulture). Other stars of "Death on the Nile" also found themselves in hot water: Wright faced scrutiny after re-tweeting an anti-COVID vaccine video (via People) while Gadot received backlash for leading the tone-deaf effort of celebrities singing John Lennon's "Imagine" at the start of COVID, as well as for her statement about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in 2021 (via The Hollywood Reporter).

It's tough to sell a movie that depends on the appeal of its ensemble cast when many of the members of that cast are not looking so great in the public eye. "Death on the Nile" wasn't a box office success considering its big budget and big expectations (via The Numbers), and Armie Hammer has been removed from several projects and made persona non grata in Hollywood (via Variety). Maybe the studio will get lucky with a less controversial ensemble the next time Kenneth Branagh adapts a Poirot story for the screen. That is, if the series isn't already dead in the water.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Fifty Shades of Grey

Ah, "Fifty Shades of Grey." Originally written as "Twilight" fan-fiction, the book was a sweeping sensation and turned author E.L. James into the highest-paid writer in the world in 2013 (via Forbes). So, it was hardly a surprise when the rights were optioned for a screen adaptation. 

For months, the rumors swirled about who would play the leads of Anastasia and Christian, until it was finally announced that it would be Dakota Johnson and Charlie Hunnam, who backed out soon thereafter due to scheduling conflicts (via People). Hunnam was replaced by Jamie Dornan but once the movie's press tour began, it became clear that Johnson and Dornan had no sexual chemistry and or even much affection for each other, as detailed by Defamer

Any film would suffer if its two leads didn't have on-screen chemistry, but it was a special kind of disaster for a movie that completely centered (and depended) on the relationship between its actors. After all, "Fifty Shades of Grey" is about an intense, sexual relationship involving BDSM and a love so strong it supposedly convinces Christian to go "vanilla" so that he can stay with the woman he loves. 

The film was critically panned, but Johnson and Dornan stuck it out to make two more sequels based on the books. Johnson told Vanity Fair in 2022 that she "signed up to do a very different version of the film we ended up making" and wouldn't do it again if she could go back in time. However, she doesn't regret doing "those big naked movies" and claims she always got along with Dornan, whom she loves like a brother.

Blade: Trinity

When "Blade" came out in 1998, it put Marvel on the map in a new way thanks to its grit and Snipes' turn as an extremely cool vampire (via The Hollywood Reporter). By the time of the release of 2004's "Blade: Trinity," Snipes' star had faded and according to actor Patton Oswalt, this was in part because of his antics on set. In an interview with The A.V. Club, Oswalt talked about how filming "Blade: Trinity" was one of the worst work experiences he's ever had. 

According to Oswalt, Snipes refused to film most of the movie and instead a body double had to be used for every scene except for his close-ups. Snipes also allegedly got into verbal and physical fights with writer-director David Goyer and insisted on staying in character throughout the production, only referring to himself as "Blade" to cast and crew.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Goyer neither confirmed nor denied Oswalt's claims but called "Blade: Trinity" a "very tortured production." Wesley Snipes spoke to The Guardian in 2020 and denied Oswalt's allegations, while wondering why people were so inclined to believe Oswalt in the first place. 

Ryan Reynolds — who also starred in the film — told IGN in 2012 that the rumors about tension on set were "overblown" and that he respects Snipes' method process. Unfortunately, "Blade: Trinity" was panned by critics, and is mostly remembered for solidifying Snipes' reputation as a difficult actor, despite the cast's lack of agreement as to the severity of his behavior.

The Island of Doctor Moreau

Marlon Brando might be one of the most famous Hollywood actors of all time, mostly due to his incredible work in films like "A Streetcar Named Desire" and "The Godfather," but also in part due to his bizarre on-set behavior towards the end of his life. That's not to say that he wasn't also difficult to work with when he was younger, but it became more of an issue the older he got.

According to The Independent, Brando was one of Francis Ford Coppola's biggest problems during the famously troubled production of "Apocalypse Now." But luckily for Brando, it's still remembered first and foremost as a triumph of film. 

The 1996 screen adaptation of "The Island of Doctor Moreau," however, had no such luck. Only a little before filming began, Marlon Brando's daughter died, which understandably exacerbated his already difficult work conduct. Brando refused to learn his lines, spent a lot of time conceiving a bizarre backstory for his character, and insisted on both doing his own make-up (via FX Guide).

The worst part of production, though, was the volatile combination of Brando and the film's other star, Val Kilmer — an actor fairly well-known at that point for being hot-headed and demanding on set (via Inverse). It's already difficult to make a simple movie with ONE diva, let alone trying to adapt a philosophically complex and unsettling sci-fi story with TWO extremely difficult actors, and "The Island of Doctor Moreau" never surpassed the drama of its production.

Suicide Squad

While 2016's "Suicide Squad" was a commercial hit, it didn't fare so well with the critics and for many, the drama surrounding the film's cast has easily become the most memorable thing about the movie. Jared Leto is famous for his intense method acting and boy did he go for it while he was The Joker for "Suicide Squad." 

Will Smith told Beats 1 that he never actually met Leto during the film's six-month shoot because "he was all in on the Joker" (via Complex), while the film's other stars have all revealed the horrific "gifts" that Leto — or "The Joker," rather — sent them.

Adam Beach (Slipknot in the film) told E! News that Leto sent a live rat to Margot Robbie and bullets to Smith, while Viola Davis confirmed to Vanity Fair that he sent the cast a dead pig, "and that was our introduction to Jared Leto."

In 2017, Leto told Entertainment Weekly that he didn't give these gifts that his co-stars said he did and lamented how these rumors got out of hand. However, he was actually the one who bragged about his behavior and inappropriate gifts in an interview with E! Entertainment in 2016.

What's worse, David Ayers' final cut of the film was never shown in theaters, and the vast majority of Leto's performance as The Joker was cut from the film (via Den of Geek). Basically, Leto traumatized his costars for the sake of about seven minutes worth of screen time.

Bohemian Rhapsody

It's difficult to understand what Fox executives were thinking when they signed off on Bryan Singer as the director for their Freddy Mercury biopic, "Bohemian Rhapsody" back in 2016 (via Deadline). By the time the movie began shooting, Singer had been accused of not only knowing about and facilitating Kevin Spacey's sex crimes but also of committing sexual assault against several minors himself, according to IndieWire.

Despite Spacey's public accusations and subsequent exile from Hollywood's elite, Bryan Singer managed to avoid the same level of scrutiny, despite being implicated in and accused of many similar crimes.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, on the set of "Bohemian Rhapsody," Singer's attendance was erratic at best, and he allegedly was in frequent conflict with the star of the film, Rami Malek. Fox decided to fire Singer with just two weeks left of filming, but "Bohemian Rhapsody" will forever be tainted by his involvement.

Malek won an Oscar for his work as Freddy Mercury and the film enjoyed massive financial success, but for many, "Bohemian Rhapsody" will go down in history as having been mostly directed by an unreliable, unprofessional director, who had been accused of sexual assault by a number of men long before he was hired. 

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Proof of Life

If you've never heard of the 2000 thriller film "Proof of Life," we would not be surprised. Originally meant as a vehicle for Meg Ryan to expand her career beyond the rom-coms for which she was known, it soon became tabloid fodder when intimate photos of Ryan and her costar Russell Crowe on set went public (via Entertainment Weekly). Normally, costars dating might not be considered that big of an issue, but when the photos were released, Ryan was already in a nine-year marriage to Dennis Quaid and the two got divorced soon after news broke of her affair with Crowe.

In a 2006 interview on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Ryan insisted that her romance with Crowe wasn't the reason for her split from Quaid, saying, "it was a very unhealthy marriage ... and I probably should have left much earlier." Ryan and Crowe went public with their relationship just a week after she and Quaid separated (via The New York Post). Things fizzled out pretty quickly but not without totally overshadowing the film that started it all: "Proof of Life."

Both Crowe and Ryan refused to participate in press conferences for "Proof of Life," and the film's director, Taylor Hackford, blamed them and their affair for the film's box office flop (via The Guardian). 

Super Mario Brothers

1993's film adaptation of "Super Mario Brothers" should have been a fun, colorful movie but instead, the directors tried to give audiences a dark interpretation of one of the most G-rated video games ever made. 

The problem was that no one — neither the producers, directors, or writers — could agree on what that dark interpretation would be. So, the production of "Super Mario Brothers" turned into a disaster. Producer Roland Joffé brought in the husband-and-wife team of Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel to direct, whose lack of feature experience was made up for with their pioneering work with computer graphics (via The Guardian).

Morton and Jankel trashed the first finalized draft of the script and then hired and fired at least three different writing teams before landing on something workable. Except they still weren't satisfied, so the rewrites continued throughout filming and frustrated both cast and crew to no end. 

Stars John Leguizamo, Bob Hoskins, and Dennis Hopper all expressed their anger to The LA Times, with Leguizamo putting it most poetically, "Every day's a new page. It's like waiting for the news."

The notoriously hot-headed Hopper finally lost his patience and according to The Guardian, screamed at the directing duo for at least 45 minutes after being handed new rewrites just before a scene. By the time Morton and Jankel were done with principal photography, the studio was so fed up that they tried to keep them from entering the editing room in post-production. In the end, "Super Mario Brothers" became a massive flop, taking in just half of its $42 million budget.

Snow White and the Huntsman

Kristen Stewart was at the height of her "Twilight" popularity when she filmed 2012's "Snow White and the Huntsman," a gritty live-action interpretation of the Snow White fairytale. While the film made it through production and premiered without any major issues, things took a turn during the press tour during the summer of 2012, when US Weekly published photos of Stewart and the film's director Rupert Sanders passionately embracing.

A director and his leading lady stepping out for a smooch isn't so shocking — even if he is 19 years her senior — but at the time, Sanders was married with kids and Stewart was still involved with her "Twilight" costar Robert Pattinson.

"Snow White and the Huntsman" was released between the last two installments of the "Twilight" film saga, and the fans who had been so excited that the actors playing Bella and Edward were in love in real life were devastated by the photos. 

Both Sanders and Stewart apologized and referred to it as a momentary lapse in judgment, but the damage was already done (via Vanity Fair). Sanders and his wife divorced, Stewart and Pattinson called it quits for good just a few months after the photos went public, and one of the biggest Hollywood scandals of the year overshadowed yet another mediocre action flick. 

Neither Sanders nor Stewart was invited back to work on the sequel, with Stewart telling Howard Stern that "They didn't put me in that movie because I went through such a highly publicized scandal, they were scared of touching that" (via Yahoo! News).