10 Times Movie Directors Went Too Far To Get A Scene

When the pursuit of art becomes a dangerous obsession.

The Passion Of The Christ
Newmarket Films

Making movies is a gruelling and monumentally complex task at times. All manor of things need to fall into place in order to bring a polished and enjoyable finished product to the audience. The need to have someone at the helm with a vision, the drive, and an ability to micro manage is key. With huge amounts of money on the line, and their reputation in the balance if things go wrong, the pressure on a director is there from the start.

Whether it be through portraying things as realistically as possible, or attempting to entice that Oscar-worthy performance from an actor, directors are constantly striving to make their movies as immersive as possible. But the history of film is littered with directors pushing their cast and crew to the extremes in order to see their vision come to life.

Whether it be working in extreme conditions, blurring the line between fantasy and reality, or simply acting like a spoilt brat, the dedication to one's art can lead to some rather unpleasant and undesirable results.

These are the directors who took filmmaking to the extreme.

10. James Cameron - One Too Many Takes

The Passion Of The Christ

By the late '80s, James Cameron had developed a reputation as something of a hard case, particularly after his tumultuous time on Aliens (1986). He maintained that reputation throughout the production of his next film, The Abyss (1989), even causing actress Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio to walk off set.

The shoot was difficult from the start. Much of the film's narrative took place beneath the ocean, and huge amounts of the filming schedule saw the cast submerged in an underwater set, in an abandoned nuclear power plant.

Shooting days would often stretch to 16 hours, with the cast and crew having to spend a significant amount of time in freezing cold and chlorine-filled water. Conscious of time delays, Cameron even insisted the cast take toilet breaks in their wetsuits. Add to that his tendency to be a ruthless perfectionist, and tensions ran high.

Towards the end of the film, Ed Harris' character attempts to revive his unconscious love interest, played by Mastrantonio. Eager to get things right, and hoping to drum up some real drama, Cameron insisted on doing numerous takes. Mastrantonio spent hours soaking wet, with Harris pounding on her chest.

After one particularly brilliant but emotional run, the cameraman informed everybody they'd ran out of tape and the moment had not been captured. Mastrantonio was so frustrated that she stormed off the set, yelling at Cameron to finish the scene without her.


Before engrossing myself in the written word, I spent several years in the TV and film industry. During this time I became proficient at picking things up, moving things and putting things down again.