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Even the most beloved and highly anticipated Hollywood productions are often chock full of behind the scenes drama. It's an industry defined by big personalities, and as such they're bound to clash when things get tough. One of the most famous on-set clashes in recent memory was the one shared by George Clooney and David O. Russell on the set of Three Kings. Between Clooney's pay cut, scheduling conflicts with ER and on-set production delays, the friction between him and the director eventually reached a boiling point. Producer Charles Roven elaborated:
Now we're shooting the climax of the movie. Helicopters, explosions, gunfire. It's chaos, madness. And George sees David talking to the extras' [assistant director], and it looks like he's yelling at him. But he's yelling to be heard. And George comes running over and goes, 'I told you, motherfucker, if you're going to pick on somebody, pick on me.' And David goes, 'Why don't you just fucking remember your lines for once?' And boom! They grab each other, and they're tussling. And so I pulled George away. That was it.
Charles Roven's comments to THR make the drama between George Clooney and David O. Russell on the set of Three Kings sound even more intense than we had previously imagined. Amid all of the stress of filming the movie, Clooney approached the director as he seemingly scolded extras on set. This apparently enraged Clooney and the two engaged in a verbal argument that eventually escalated into an actual brawl. The fight was simply a perfect storm (Clooney pun) of stressful factors coming together.
It's hard to fault either party in this particular situation, as both of them were dealing with their own form of stress at the time. George Clooney was obviously being stretched incredibly thin between his work on the film and ER, and David O. Russell had to contend with all of the minutiae that goes into making a major motion picture. Tempers flared, but ultimately Charles Roven was there to calm things down and get them back on track -- which is easily one of the most fundamental aspects of a film producer's job.
The stress of filming Three Kings definitely paid off in the end. The film currently holds a 94% on Rotten Tomatoes, and is generally considered one of the best war movies of the 1990s. George Clooney and David O. Russell may have attacked each other while filming the movie's climax, but they should certainly look back proudly on their work.
However, it's worth noting that this appears to be a pattern for David O. Russell. Although the guy makes phenomenal movies, he also has a history of clashing with his actors on set. While working with Jennifer Lawrence on Joy last year, it was reported that the director exchanged some heated comments with the actress. Lawrence has downplayed the incident, but the rumors still seem to fit in with reports about Russell's intense directing style.
Now, if you will excuse me, I kind of want to pop in my DVD of Three Kings and watch that climactic scene.