20 notoriously troubled movie sets
Notable participants: Werner Herzog, Klaus Kinski
What happened: No list of fractious production stories would be complete without at least one entry devoted to Werner Herzog and his legendary love-hate relationship with volatile leading man Klaus Kinski, with whom he shot five films – despite clashing viciously from the very first one, “Aguirre, the Wrath of God.” We could just as easily write about that one, where Kinski's tantrums further complicated an already fraught shoot in the Amazon rainforest, but “Fitzcarraldo,” their fourth collaboration, was troubled even before Kinski came on board. Oscar-winning actor Jason Robards was initially cast in the title role, only to quit due to illness when shooting was 40% complete – forcing Herzog to start from scratch with his best frenemy. Mick Jagger also pulled out of a secondary role; instead of recasting, Herzog decided to write him out of the script altogether. If only actors had been Herzog's only problem: war broke out on the Peru-Ecaudor border, right where the film was shooting, severe drought kept the film's crucial steamship set sandbanked, one crew member had his foot amputated with a chainsaw after a snake bite, another drowned, the cinematographer's hand was split open and sewn back together without anesthetic... we could go on and on. At least the film turned out to be pretty spectacular.
- Guy Lodge