Norman Mailer & Rip Torn in “Maidstone” (1970)
It’s unlikely you’ve heard of “Maidstone,” Norman Mailer’s grandiose experimental ego trip, and even if you have, it’s very unlikely you’ve actually made yourself sit all the way through it. To this day, it remains famous for one thing only (also its best, least boring scene in which at least some of writer/director/producer/star Mailer’s posturing kind of pays off) — the fight between Mailer’s Norman Kingsley and his onscreen brother played by Rip Torn. Torn was also not known for being the most mild-mannered of men — witness his ongoing row with Dennis Hopper, who claimed that he gave Jack Nicholson the role meant for Torn in “Easy Rider” after Torn pulled a knife on him. Other witnesses claim it was Hopper who pulled the knife, and Peter Fonda asserts that both used cutlery in the event (a butter knife and a salad fork). Whatever the truth, around this time Torn was apparently in fighting form. In the scene at the end of Mailer’s longform doodle (shot, incidentally, by verité pioneer D.A. Pennebaker), Torn hits Mailer on the head with a hammer, drawing blood, and Mailer retaliates by biting Torn’s ear. The ensuing brawl becomes so real that both men use their real names, Mailer’s children can be heard crying in the background and it only ends when his wife intervenes. It’s crazy that this happened, but crazier still (and sort of admirable) that Mailer ended up using it in the film.
Richard Gere & Sylvester Stallone in “The Lords Of Flatbush” (1974)
Currently in theaters in “Norman,” and soon to be in theaters in “Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2,” Richard Gere and Sylvester Stallone are two of our most enduring movie stars, but many people aren’t aware that they crossed paths early in their career, and that they’ve had beef for close to 45 years now, a beef that may have led to a legendary rumor about one of them. The two were originally set to star together as the leads, with a pre-Fonz Henry Winkler, in an “American Graffiti”-ish low-budget coming-of-age movie called “The Lords Of Flatbush.” But decades later, Stallone would share the story of how he and Gere fell out. “We never hit it off,” the “Rocky” actor shared to Ain’t It Cool News in a fan Q&A. “He would strut around in his oversized motorcycle jacket like he was the baddest knight at the round table.” Tensions brewed for a while, until the pair came to blows over a food spillage. “The only place that was warm was in the backseat of a Toyota. I was eating a hotdog and he climbs in with half a chicken covered in mustard with grease nearly dripping out of the aluminum wrapper. I said, ‘That thing is going to drip all over the place.’ He said, ‘Don’t worry about it.’ I said, ‘If it gets on my pants you’re gonna know about it.’ He proceeds to bite into the chicken and a small, greasy river of mustard lands on my thigh. I elbowed him in the side of the head and basically pushed him out of the car. The director had to make a choice: one of us had to go, one of us had to stay.” Director Martin Davidson picked Stallone and replaced Gere with actor Perry King, and as a result, Stallone says that Gere holds a grudge to this day, even blaming him for starting the rumor that Gere once had to have a live gerbil removed from his anus: “Richard was given his walking papers and to this day seriously dislikes me. He even thinks I’m the individual responsible for the gerbil rumor. Not true but that’s the rumor.”
Channing Tatum & Alex Pettyfer in “Magic Mike” (2012)
Few stars in the modern era have been so massively and swiftly hyped, only to self-destruct so immediately, as British heartthrob Alex Pettyfer: he’s like a sort-of James Dean if instead of dying, everyone thought James Dean was an asshole and refused to work with him. Things particularly seemed to boil over on the set of the film that could have given Pettyfer a major credibility boost: Steven Soderbergh’s “Magic Mike.” Rumors flew soon after the film became a surprise hit, albeit on a supermarket-tabloid level, that Pettyfer was hated by Channing Tatum, with US Weekly reporting that “Channing thought Alex was a diva on set…[He] was a jerk to everyone during filming for no reason. He thinks he’s the star of the movie, not Channing or Matthew McConaughey.” But actually, Pettyfer would later confirm that there was bad blood, and that it was at least in part his fault. “I had a very negative past relating to the things I had done on movies and the promotion of movies,” he told Bret Easton Ellis on Ellis’ podcast. But it was less the negative reputation, and more Pettyfer stiffing a friend of Tatum’s who he’d been renting a house from during the making of the film that led to the strife: “All of a sudden, i got a very negative email from Channing — rightfully so — saying, ‘Don’t fuck my friends. You owe money. Pay the fucking money. Don’t be a clown.’ And I really took that the wrong way, which I shouldn’t have, and emailed him back and said ‘I’m in a real negative headspace and can you respect me for a moment and blah blah blah.’…By the end of it, I just basically said ‘Fuck them, what is money when life is so much more, I’m not paying.’ And I should have just paid.” Tellingly, when the sequel was made a few years later, Pettyfer was excluded from the proceedings.
Kenny Baker & Anthony Daniels in “Star Wars” (1977)
It’s curiously heartbreaking that the two men behind the odd-couple droid pairing of R2D2 and C3PO in all six of the original “Star Wars” films were not only not bestest-ever buddies, but really disliked each other. It does really seem that it stemmed from a basic personality clash, with Daniels’ reserve and his more solitary nature being interpreted by the gregarious and popular Baker as disdain and rudeness, until it seemed to have become a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy. The animosity dates back to the first film, but became a matter of public record more recently with both Baker and Daniels involved in the prequels and then in ‘The Force Awakens.’ Partly, at least, the reason is financial: in 2009 Baker told Metro, ” If [Daniels] just calmed down and socialised with everyone, we could make a fortune touring around making personal appearances. I’ve asked him four times now but, the last time, he looked down his nose at me like I was a piece of sh*t. He said: ‘I don’t do many of these conventions — go away little man.’ He really degraded me and made me feel small — for want of a better expression. He’s rude to everyone though, including the fans.” For his part, Daniels doesn’t often talk about the spat, but there’s a distinct chilliness there. His condolence tweet when Baker died in 2016 was polite but impersonal, and his coolness was also clear when pointing out how Baker was not actually in the suit in ‘The Force Awakens,’ but was a consultant for the character. “I haven’t seen him for years,” he said in 2015. “His name is on the credits as a sort of…I don’t know, a good luck charm, a courtesy. He’s a talisman.” Which sounds distinctly like the etiquette-bot equivalent of a burn.
Marilyn Monroe & Tony Curtis in “Some Like It Hot” (1959)
She was an icon, a great comedienne and often a wonderful actress, but Marilyn Monroe was, famously, not an easy person to work with: her inability to remember lines, tardiness to set (and the sped with which she left it), and troubled personal life meant that she wound up her co-stars something rotten. As documented in weak-sauce biopic “My Week With Marilyn,” Laurence Olivier once said the hatred he felt for the actress during the making of “The Prince And The Showgirl” was “one of the strongest emotions I had ever felt,” while Jean Kent, a co-star in the same film, said, “she never arrived on time, never said a line the same way twice, seemed completely unable to hit her marks on the set, and couldn’t and wouldn’t do anything at all without consulting her acting coach, Paula Strasberg.” One of the more famous, and complex, relationships she had was during the making of maybe her greatest movie, “Some Like It Hot,” with Tony Curtis. Monroe had nominally retired a couple of years earlier, and so was reportedly more difficult than ever when she returned, running late, requiring her lines to be hidden around set, and eventually being banned from the wrap party by Billy Wilder. Curtis famously said that kissing Monroe in the film was “like kissing Hitler” (he denied the famous quote for a time before later admitting it), and claimed that “she would play Jack Lemmon off against me or me against him, and Billy Wilder against both of us.” But Curtis was rewriting history to some extent: he also claimed (somewhat dubiously) that he rekindled an affair that first began in 1959 with the actress during the making of the film, which resulted in her becoming pregnant with a child she later miscarried. As ever, Monroe may have been taken advantage of as much as she was badly behaved…
There’s plenty more we could have included, of course — we’re sure barely a shoot passes without a couple of co-stars falling out. Patrick Swayze & Jennifer Grey on “Dirty Dancing” and James Franco and Tyrese Gibson on “Annapolis” were among the ones that nearly made the cut, while we tried to exclude when stars fell out after the fact, like Robert Downey Jr. and Terrence Howard between “Iron Man” and “Iron Man 2,” or feuds that we couldn’t source properly like Claire Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio on “Romeo + Juliet” or Sarah Jessica Parker and Kim Cattrall on the “Sex And The City” movies. Any others you’re aware that are particularly juicy? Spill the beans in the comments.