Jamie Foxx & LL Cool J in “Any Given Sunday” (1999)
The story of Jamie Foxx and LL Cool J coming to blows for real during a scene in Oliver Stone‘s bombastic football movie, in which their characters were supposed to exchange angry words, is best described by an eyewitness account, so here’s co-star and comedian Bill Bellamy telling the tale. “[We all had] weeks of anger and competition, snapping on each other, building up…and then we start talking smack. LL Cool J is trying to snap on Jamie, his jokes ain’t really hitting, Jamie’s killing him. Then Jamie challenges him to a race, he beats him running, and so now he tells him he’s not a real athlete. But nobody thinks it’s going to go that far…in the scene LL ‘earholes’ Jamie [hits him while his helmet’s on so that his ears ring] — that’s not a friendly gesture, very painful. LL Cool J goes ‘My bad, dog!’ but you don’t earhole people by mistake. And we have to go for another take, and he earholes him again. Third take, Jamie turns and punches LL Cool J in the mouth, busts his lip open. But we still haven’t got the shot, so take 4…LL fakes us out saying ‘let’s just get the shot, we’re actors’…then he snatches Jamie’s helmet off and BOOSH! All I saw was Jamie’s spirit ascending into the sky. We thought he was dead. It was completely one of the most brutal sucker punches I ever seen…and Jamie had to go to hospital because he bit though his tongue. And now, it’s like a war on set.” However, the two stars have subsequently patched things up, collaborated on a few music projects and even thinking at one time about mounting a “Black Panther” superhero movie together. In Foxx’s words, “we’re grown now.”
Ryan Gosling & Rachel McAdams in “The Notebook” (2004)
“I love those cupcakes like McAdams loves Gosling,” went the Lonely Island’s breakout song/sketch “Lazy Sunday” back in 2005, referring both to the recent success of “The Notebook” and the real-life relationship between the movie’s two headline stars. But in true romantic movie fashion, when Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling first crossed paths on the film’s set, they didn’t get on at all. According to director Nick Cassavetes in an interview with VH1 to commemorate 10 years since the movie’s release, tensions simmered until, one day, Gosling approached the helmer and asked, “Would you take her out of here and bring in another actress to read off camera with me?…I can’t do it with her. I’m just not getting anything from this.” The incident turned into a blowout argument between the two stars: “We went into a room with a producer,” Cassavetes related, “they started screaming and yelling at each other. I walked out.” But after they let the tensions boil over, it seemed to have had a better effect, according to the helmer: “I think Ryan respected her for standing up for her character and Rachel was happy to get that out in the open. The rest of the film wasn’t smooth sailing, but it was smoother sailing.” The film went on to become a hit, a sleepover weepie favorite in the years to come, and Gosling and McAdams began dating not long after production wrapped, though they broke up around 2008.
Debra Winger & Shirley MacLaine in “Terms of Endearment” (1983)
When a promotional People Magazine spread about the filming of James L. Brooks‘s triple-hanky tearjerker runs with a slugline referring to the “feisty face-off” between its two female stars, you can probably be fairly sure the truth was a lot uglier than that. And the quotes used in the interview piece are portraits of shade, e.g. MacLaine: “I didn’t know the name [Debra Winger]. I didn’t know who she was,” while Winger explained their off-camera hostility in terms of a Method approach to the roles that was carried on when the cameras had stopped rolling: “We knew what we were doing a lot of the time, sparring back and forth, playing games.” But to co-star Jack Nicholson and director Brooks, it didn’t seem that way, with both commenting on the very different approaches they had that often saw them come into conflict and even, it’s heavily rumored, come to blows at one point — whether that was before or after an incident in which apparently Winger lifted her skirt and farted at MacLaine, we do not know. Winger was allegedly using cocaine at the time, but drug-induced or not, her behavior yielded a terrific performance, though MacLaine got the last laugh when, following dual nominations, she was the one who picked up the Oscar for Best Actress that year. More recently, Winger both acknowledged the spat and minimized it, shrugging it off with, “We were wild, you know. She’s not a wilting violet. She’s tough, too.”
Julia Roberts & Nick Nolte in “I Love Trouble” (1994)
Sometimes the fire of mutual dislike can translate to crackling onscreen chemistry (see “An Officer And A Gentleman“), but sometimes it comes across as exactly what it is: two people being paid to pretend to be in love when each clearly wishes the other were trapped under something heavy instead. It’s unlikely that even with the sizzling-est of pairings, Charles Shyer‘s wholly unremarkable “I Love Trouble” would’ve been a great movie — setting itself up as a homage to the wisecracking battle-of-the-sexes comedies of old only highlighted how comparatively unmagical and unsparkling its script was. But cast Nick Nolte against Julia Roberts and the result is actually a kind-of-fascinating essay on the nature of acting compatibility and what happens when there isn’t any. Roberts later practically sprained her backhand delivering this nugget about Nolte: “He can be funny and charming, but he’s also completely disgusting,” apparently loathing his machismo. Nolte responded simply by describing America’s Sweetheart as “not a nice person, everybody knows that.” Unlike many of these rancorous exchanges which mellow over time, 15 years later, on ‘Letterman,’ Roberts brought up the experience again, doing her impression of Nolte which involves him cursing her out and casting aspersions on her acting capabilities. Sad news for the millions praying for “I Love Trouble Too.”
Sean Young & Charlie Sheen in “Wall Street” (1987)
It’s hard to sort the legend from the reality when it comes to any story touching on Sean Young; after a dazzling start, including, most indelibly, “Blade Runner,” the actress’ erratic behavior and outspokenness saw her become a byword for a specific sort of Hollywood crazy. But while her volatile relationship with James Woods that started on “The Boost,” and her antics trying to secure the role of Catwoman in “Batman Returns” (having been replaced by Kim Basinger as Vicki Vale in the first one as the result of an accident in training) have become the stuff of industry lore, one spat she was involved in feels more understandable than most others, and not just because it also involves Charlie Sheen, who himself is no slouch in the department of batshit. Young’s transgression on the set of Oliver Stone‘s “Wall Street” was to campaign for a larger role (played by her “Blade Runner” co-star Daryl Hannah), while shooting was already underway. That is certainly a disruptive thing to do, and when her bid failed, she apparently became difficult on set, forgetting her lines, showing up late, etc. Whether it merited Sheen sticking a sign on her back reading “I am the biggest cunt in the world” is debatable, but that apparently the crew all disliked her so much that no one told her about it for hours is not. That said, Young had the last (sensible) word on the subject when she later told Vogue: “Stone has great difficulty with women. Sheen has had great difficulty growing up” — both inarguably true statements.