20 notoriously troubled movie sets
'The Abyss' (1989)
Notable participants: James Cameron, Ed Harris
What happened: Even today, the quickest way to piss off Ed Harris is to ask him about the production of "The Abyss." And why is he still so hot about it? James Cameron seems to always test his casts and his crews, and for a scene involving a long underwater swim from one part of the Deepcore base to another, Cameron asked Harris and his co-star Leo Burmester to make the swim for real, with no scuba gear at all. At the end of their swim, they were supposed to go up a ladder, where they would find waiting air tubes for them to catch a breath. After the first take, Cameron decided that the shot didn't look good enough, so he moved the air tubes up an addition five to ten feet. When they made the swim and the tubes weren't where they expected them to be, both Harris and Burmester panicked. They were able to figure out what happened, but when they came out of the water, Harris laid into the filmmaker, furious at having his safety put at risk just for a shot in a movie. Harris refused to do publicity for the film, and Cameron went on to push other collaborators on other films with that same sense of recklessness. Maybe that explains the official crew shirt for the film that read "Life's Abyss, And Then You Dive."
- Drew McWeeny