Most Difficult Actors to Work With in Hollywood

Leonardo DiCaprio and Daniel Day-Lewis stand next to each other in a crowd in Gangs of New York

Leonardo DiCaprio and Daniel Day-Lewis in Gangs of New York | Miramax

Sometimes being an actor takes a bit of an ego. How else can one be expected to get in front of the camera for take after take or endure rejection after rejection in order to finally land a breakthrough part? Some of the elite Hollywood actors, however, let their egos get the best of them. We’ve scoured the news sites and gossip mags to compile this list of the most notoriously difficult actors to work with.

1. Julia Roberts

Julia Roberts

Julia Roberts | Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images

This big star has made headlines for the huge paychecks she takes home for even small on-screen roles. But Roberts apparently is a diva, too. Sources revealed that the crew on Hook gave her the nickname, “Tinkerhell.”

Next: This actor is no longer “winning.”

2. Charlie Sheen

Charlie Sheen on Two and a Half Men

Charlie Sheen on Two and a Half Men | CBS

Sheen’s hard partying made him increasingly difficult to work with on the set of Two and a Half Men, reports People Magazine. In a letter to Sheen’s lawyer, Warner Bros.’ counsel described the troubled actor as having “a series of well-chronicled and increasingly erratic outbursts.” The studio also noted that Sheen lost weight, missed rehearsals, and directed “inflammatory comments” at Chuck Lorre, the co-creator of Two and a Half Men. 

Although the studio claimed it gave Sheen multiple chances to clean himself up in rehab, the actor failed to continue those efforts. So they fired Sheen and replaced him with Ashton Kutcher for the show’s final four seasons. Sheen later told Matt Lauer that he “regret[s] ruining Two and a Half Men.”

Next: The definition of unprofessional

3. Marlon Brando

American actor Marlon Brando smiling

American actor Marlon Brando | Dove/Getty Images

As legendary actor Marlon Brando aged, he cared less and less about his movies, which was a problem for some directors. For the 2001 film The Score, Brando began addressing director Frank Oz as Miss Piggy (he voices the Muppet character). He also refused to wear pants during shoots and claimed he was allergic to Oz.

For The Island of Dr. Moreau five years earlier, he didn’t bother to learn any lines, and instead had crew members feed him lines through an earpiece for the shoot. Brando nearly drove Francis Ford Coppola mad while shooting Apocalypse Now when he showed up late, grossly overweight, without having read a line of the script. It took far longer than anticipated to film his scenes — not good for the film’s budget considering the huge sums Brando demanded for his work.

Next: This actor may take his beliefs too far.

4. Kirk Cameron

Kirk Cameron in Saving Christmas

Kirk Cameron in Saving Christmas | Camfam Studios

Everyone loved the ‘80s sitcom, Growing Pains, the TV show about the middle class family, the Seavers. But the happy facade the group of actors put on for the show was just that. When Kirk Cameron, who played dreamy teenager Mike Seaver, became deeply religious, problems followed.

According to Cracked, in some of the later seasons of Growing Pains, Cameron spent the majority of his time judging his co-stars for what he deemed immoral behavior. He took it a step further when he requested script revisions to fit his religious beliefs. For example, Cameron started calling for script rewrites when his character had to lay in bed with a woman.

Eventually, his religion led to the firing of another cast member. Cameron turned on his co-star, Julie McCullough, who played his girlfriend on-set. McCullough once appeared nude in Playboy, and Cameron demanded that ABC fire her when he found out. ABC went along with Cameron’s demands (he was responsible for much of the show’s popularity), forcing Growing Pains writers to rewrite a major plot line (McCullough and Cameron’s characters were supposed to get married).

Today, Cameron is known primarily for his Christian-themed movies, such as Saving Christmas, which gained notoriety for being one of the worst rated movies ever.

Next: This actor did not “rock” on-set.

5. Alec Baldwin

Alec Baldwin sits next to Tina Fey on 30 Rock

Alec Baldwin on 30 Rock | NBC

Reportedly a nightmare to work with on the set of NBC’s 30 Rock, Alec Baldwin often showed up to set late, yelled at cast and crew, and complained about something as innocuous as “dry air.” His reputation for being difficult to work with goes back much further. The Week compiled a list of his many notable public freak outs — too numerous and confusing to list.

Next: This actor’s coworkers did not appreciate being harassed.

6. Casey Affleck

Casey Affleck poses in the press room during the 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards

Casey Affleck poses in the press room during the 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards | Kevin Winter/Getty Images

The actor was sued by two women who he worked with on I’m Still Here. They alleged he sexually harassed them and retaliated against them. A producer claimed he tried to get her to stay in a hotel room with him. He also allegedly refused to pay her. The other woman was the film’s director of photography who claimed he tried to get into bed with her while she was sleeping. He settled both lawsuits.

Next: This on-set diva was “desperate” for drama.

7. Teri Hatcher

Teri Hatcher

Teri Hatcher | Jason Merritt/Getty Images for Variety

The actress was the lead actress on Desperate Housewives, which reportedly got between her and the rest of the cast. Her co-star Nicollette Sheridan called her the “meanest woman in the world” for her diva behavior. At the end of the show, Hatcher’s name was left off the card that the cast gave to the show’s crew.

Next: This man proved you can be too intense while acting.

8. Christian Bale

A devoted actor, Christian Bale seems to lose himself in roles. His dedication can be frighteningly intense, most famously resulting in his highly publicized onset meltdown while filming Terminator Salvation. He dropped F-bomb after F-bomb while railing against the director of photography for walking through his line of vision during an important acting sequence.

Next: A prolific comedian lacked any humor off-screen.

9. Chevy Chase

Chevy Chase

Chevy Chase | Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

This comedy legend is notoriously difficult. He was on Saturday Night Live for just one season and many members of the cast didn’t get along with him. Years later he worked on the show, Community, which he vocally hated. “It’s just a f**king mediocre sitcom! I want people to laugh, and this isn’t funny.” His feud with the show’s creator led to leaked angry voicemails from Chase, and he eventually left the show.

Next: High-maintenance requests got this actress in trouble.

10. Sharon Stone

Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct 2

Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct 2 | MGM

Golden Boy director Pupi Avati publicly slammed this actress. “It was a negotiation that bordered on ridiculousness, concerning embarrassing details,” Avati told The Hollywood Reporter, “as if Italy was a third world country. By the way, we do have electricity in Italy.” The director also claimed that Stone would leave set unannounced and have her manager call them with more demands. Stone denied these claims.

Next: Addiction and arrests prevented this actress from any success.

11. Lindsay Lohan

Actress Lindsay Lohan

Lindsay Lohan | Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images

The actress has publicly struggled with addiction and had multiple run-ins with the law, so it’s not surprising that she’s hard to work with. According to The New York Times, Lohan regularly canceled appointments while working on The Canyons. She’d also reportedly get upset when filming certain scenes and then hide.

Things didn’t go well while filming Liz & Dick either. “Producing a movie with Lindsay is not for the faint of heart,” said producer Larry Thompson. He said working with her included “some serious challenges.” He also claimed they made clauses in case she was in a car accident, violated her parole, and more, given her history.

Next: You’d think this actor would be better than this.

12. Bruce Willis

Bruce Willis in Die Hard

Bruce Willis in Die Hard | Fox

A rich man’s Steven Seagal, Bruce Willis is renowned for playing bald, surly action heroes and for his occasional dramatic turn (The Sixth Sense). Director Kevin Smith supposed long-standing rumors about Willis’ difficult nature, saying that working with him for Cop Out was “soul-crushing.” At the wrap party, Smith said, “I want to thank everyone who worked on the film, except for Bruce Willis, who is a f—ing dick.”

Willis is a notoriously irascible interview subject as well; the third Expendables film dropped him for demanding a higher fee. Sylvester Stallone tweeted in reference to the incident, “GREEDY AND LAZY …… A SURE FORMULA FOR CAREER FAILURE.”

Next: This actor’s weird antics backfired.

13. Shia LaBeouf

Shia LaBeouf

Shia LaBeouf in Transformers | DreamWorks

The actor seemed to have a great career ahead of him after getting lead roles in blockbusters like Transformers. However, LaBeouf’s career has slowed due to his behavior, including a fight with Tom Hardy on the set of Lawless. 

“There was definitely a fight between them,” said director John Hillcoat. “It escalated to the point where they had to both be restrained. But I was very pleased to hear it didn’t go that way because I would hate to see the outcome.” Hardy said he was knocked out from the interaction.

When doing press for Nymphomaniac , LeBeouf put a brown paper bag over his head with the words “I Am Not Famous Anymore” on it. Despite his bizarre behavior, he still gets work.

Next: This singer/actress prioritized her roles over everything.

14. Lea Michele

glee

Glee | Ryan Murphy Productions

The Glee star reportedly has a big ego. Her former costar, Naya Rivera wrote a book and said the actress, “kept threatening to call SAG about the unsafe working conditions.” Glee fired Rivera, who seems to blame Lea Michele for it. “So I guess you can throw a b*** fit, lock yourself in your trailer, stall production yet still allegedly find time to leak stories to the press,” she wrote.

Michele currently works on the show Scream Queens, but ironically refuses to scream. “Ryan [Murphy] got me in a booth one day,” she told Women’s Health. “And I told him, ‘I’m screaming like twice and then you’re going to have to use it the whole season,’ because I’m a singer.”

Next: This actress may be the original on-set diva.

15. Shannen Doherty

Actress Shannen Doherty

Actress Shannen Doherty | Brad Barket/Getty Images

A breakout star of the ’90s teen drama Beverly Hills, 90210, Shannen Doherty earned a reputation as one of the most difficult actresses to work with. Costar Jason Priestley described her diva-like behavior per The Hollywood Reporter in his book, Jason Priestley: A Memoir, recalling that Doherty “really and truly did not give a shit” and noted that she even complained when a publicist had a town car pick her up instead of a limousine.

Producer Aaron Spelling characterized her in a slightly more sympathetic light, telling People Magazine that, “She is a very honest person who wears her emotions on her sleeve. If you ask her a direct question, she’ll give you a direct answer.”

Unfortunately for Doherty, her costars didn’t appreciate her style of “honesty” and ousted her from the show. As revealed in Lifetime’s The Unauthorized Beverly Hills, 90210 Story telefilm, Doherty’s co-workers voted her off the show, and her character moved to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London. Doherty never returned to the show, although she appeared on The CW’s spinoff show, 90210, in 2008.

Next: This actor may take method acting too far.

16. Daniel Day-Lewis

Daniel Day-Lewis sits in a wheelchair in a green field

Daniel Day-Lewis in My Left Foot: The Story of Christy Brown | Ferndale Films

It’s difficult to argue that the methods of three-time Oscar winner Daniel Day-Lewis don’t get results. His method acting yields engrossing performances in films like My Left Foot and There Will Be Blood, but his on-set reputation is less than stellar.

For My Left Foot, he refused to leave his wheelchair while playing his paralyzed character, forcing resentful crew members to carry him around set. While filming There Will Be Blood, Day-Lewis threw bowling balls at co-star Paul Dano with considerable vigor for one scene. And that was after Kel O’Neill, who was originally cast in Dano’s part, left the production, allegedly because Day-Lewis was too intense while in character (as he always was on-set). While filming Gangs of New York, Day-Lewis insisted on calling costar Liam Neeson by his character’s name even offset, which infuriated Neeson.

As hard as Day-Lewis is on costars and crew members, he’s hardest on himself in the grueling training and education he devotes to his roles.

Next: This actress learned not to bite the hand that feeds you.

17. Katherine Heigl

Actress Katherine Heigl

Katherine Heigl | Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Deserved or not, Katherine Heigl has a reputation for being one of the most difficult actresses to work with in Hollywood. It started in 2008, when she criticized Judd Apatow’s Knocked Up — a movie she starred in — as being “a little sexist,” sparking a feud with Apatow and costar Seth Rogen, reports The Hollywood Reporter.

Her reputation took another hit when she disrespected the writers of Grey’s Anatomy by claiming the writing wasn’t good enough for her to be considered for an Emmy. Although Heigl later apologized for both comments, her reputation as a difficult person to work with persists.

Next: This legend destroyed his acting career.

18. Steven Seagal

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Steven Seagal is a poor man’s Willis, already forgotten after his career devolved into a series of direct-to-video releases and one baffling reality show. That might not be such a bad thing, if the rumors about his on-set cruelties hold any water. There are dozens of rumors of him physically abusing workers and actors on-set, even kicking them in the groin while they’re not wearing a cup. Not cool, man.

John Leguizamo opened up about working with the notoriously abusive actor:

I’m playing his Master Sargeant, and we come in for rehearsals and he says, ‘I’m in command. Everything I say is law. Anybody doesn’t agree?’ I was like, ‘Bwahahaha.’ I started cracking up because he sounded like a retard … He came up and he Taekwondo’ed my ass against the brick and he [hit me with his elbow] … He’s six-foot-five and he caught me off guard and knocked all of the air out of me and I was like, ‘Why?! Why?!’ I really wanted to say how big and fat he was and that he runs like a girl, but I didn’t because all I could say was, ‘Why?!’ Why’d he slam me against the wall? We were rehearsing.

Next: Things got weird and inappropriate with this actor.

19. Joaquin Phoenix

joaquin phoenix

Joaquin Phoenix | David Buchan/Getty Images

The actor was the star of I’m Still Here, and he was also brought into the Casey Affleck sexual harassment allegations. The producer of the film claimed that Affleck, along with Joaquin Phoenix, locked themselves and two women in her hotel room while filming in Costa Rica. She reportedly was not allowed to go into her room during that time.

Next: Bad behavior caused this actor’s career to disappear.

20. Val Kilmer

Val Kilmer as Batman in Batman Forever

Val Kilmer in Batman Forever | Warner Bros.

The actor has a notoriously bad reputation from his on-set antics. He was fired by Richard Stanley from The Island of Dr. Moreau after only three days. This is because he reportedly was always fighting with people. He was also called “childish and impossible” by Batman Forever director, Joel Schumacher. This is probably one of the reasons why you don’t see him much today.

Next: You’d think this funny man would take things less seriously.

21. Mike Myers

Mike Myers in Wayne's World

Mike Myers in Wayne’s World | Paramount Pictures

The comedian might seem fun based on some of his silly roles, but he is apparently far from it in real life. “I honestly root against him,” an executive said, according to Entertainment Weekly. The director of Wayne’s World also joked, “Maybe he could open, like, a children’s hospital to clean up his rep. He’s got to do something pretty quick.” Myers also reportedly felt threatened by Dana Carvey and the two would argue on-set.

Next: This actor’s behavior was not so “beautiful.”

22. Russell Crowe

Russell Crowe

Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind | Universal

The Oscar winner also has been known for being difficult. Nicole LaPorte wrote a book titled, The Men Who Would Be King: An Almost Epic Tale of Moguls, Movies, and a Company Called DreamWorks, that revealed some his more difficult traits. She claims the actor called producer, Branko Lustig at 3 a.m. and called him a “motherf***er.” The actor was allegedly angry and thought his assistants were being low-balled. Afterwards, Lustig reportedly told Steven Spielberg, “I’m leaving. Russell wants to kill me. I’m leaving.”

Next: You know you’re difficult when producers recast your role…

23. Edward Norton

The Illusionist

Edward Norton in The Illusionist | Bull’s Eye Entertainment

The actor is known for wanting a lot of creative control over his projects. His role in The Incredible Hulk led to a lot of tension with director, Louis Leterrier. According to Slash Film, Norton was allowed to rewrite the script shortly before production, so he mostly added dialogue and character motivations.

Afterward, the director openly talked about Norton and Marvel not getting along. “The press is what kept Edward and Marvel from talking to each other. [The argument] was nothing, but then it became something big.” Norton left the role after the movie, and the character of the Hulk was recast.

Next: It’s possible to push your costars too far.

24. Sean Young

Sean Young

Sean Young in Blade Runner | Warner Bros.

The actress hit her stride in the ’80s after Blade Runner. However, what tanked her career was her behavior off-camera according to reports. Actor James Woods claimed she harassed him by leaving a disfigured doll outside of his home in 1988 and sued her. She also reportedly slapped a security guard who was throwing her out of an after party for not having a ticket, according to The Guardian. The last straw was when she was fired from the film Wall Street and was blackballed.

Next: This actor proved that some insults will not be tolerated.

25. Isaiah Washington

Grey's Anatomy

Grey’s Anatomy | ABC

The actor played Dr. Preston Burke on Grey’s Anatomy and was one of the show’s important love interests. But things took a turn when he reportedly called his costar, T.R. Knight a “f****t” during an argument on-set. Knight later came out as gay.

Washington would also argue with his co-star Patrick Dempsey, and the show wrote him off after the argument. He has rebounded, however, and currently acts on The 100.

Additional reporting by Nicole Weaver, Nathanael Arnold, and Kirsten Yovino.

Follow Jeff Rindskopf on Twitter @jrindskopf

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