There are those filmmakers and actors who are so wholly dedicated to their craft that they’ll stoically go through hell and back simply to score a convincing performance. Sometimes their efforts pay off and you get something like Apocalypse Now or the now-classic Daniel Day Lewis Eating Nothing But Goddamn Ants For 900 Days Because He’s Penciled In 40 Minutes Of Voice Work To Play A CGI Anteater. Other times, this self-inflicted punishment is in the service of a project that’s a colossal turd, and all that suffering becomes more like some sad, philosophical exercise in pointlessness. Like when …
#7. Waterworld Went Through Aqua-Hell
Waterworld‘s budget famously ran over the equivalent of several micronations’ worth of GDP, and while it wasn’t the total failure that many now think of it as, some of the bad decisions on display were truly majestic. Such as when Kevin Costner chose not to hire Robert Zemeckis (Back To The Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit) and demanded that the studio hire his pal Kevin Reynolds, director of Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves, a movie in which England’s legendary bandit talked like a guy from Ohio. And aside from having to deal with the issues of swamp crotch and an unsettling proximity to Dennis Hopper, life on set presented its own set of challenges.
Visual representation of the shoot.
You’d think that when you’re making a film in which constant dampness is an uncredited co-star, constant, fungally-responsible wardrobe changes would be the order of the day. But the movie’s requisite love interest, Jeanette Tripplehorn, says that she wore the same filthy rags for six freaking months. And when she wasn’t adorning her body with what appeared to be the exploded remains of a rattan chair, the actress was arguing with the filmmakers, who desperately wanted to add her bare butt to the world of water. (They ended up compromising by using a body double. “I picked my dream butt from one from three finalists […] She had the right derriere,” Tripplehorn later remarked.)
“If Hopper’s not showing his ass, then neither am I.”
Meanwhile, to play the part of the cute kid with the map to paradise tattooed on her back, nine-year-old Tina Majorino had to spend hours getting the freaking thing painted on every day, even for scenes in which she appeared fully clothed. This was on top of getting spray-tanned by the makeup department daily.
Secret Spoiler: Kid Rock has survived all these centuries in child form.
As for the life-threatening shit that went down, aside from an entire multi-million dollar set sinking into the watery abyss, Majorino and Tripplehorn nearly glubbed their way to the bottom after being pitched off a boat. Costner himself almost became hammerhead chow when a squall kicked up during a scene in which he was tied to a mast. And then there was the incident in which Costner’s stunt double, Laird Hamilton, was nearly lost at sea when his jet ski ran out of gas. The film would’ve been safer had they just redubbed it Fireworld and sprayed kerosene all over an abandoned warehouse.
#6. The “Video Game Scene” In Doom Was Stupidly Complicated
Some doughty souls believe that the movie Doom deserved a bit more respect than the critical mauling it received upon its release in 2005. And the only arguments in favor of this minority position are A) Doom starred The Rock, and B) the movie’s first-person shooter scene, which pays homage to the Doom video game with a few sort-of-neat / sort-of-cringeworthy minutes of demon-mutant obliteration:
If that scene looks like it was a pain in the ass to put on film, you’re only half right. It was actually a huge pain in the ass. Those few minutes of badassery took two weeks to shoot and three months to plan. And once that ordeal was accomplished, it took no less than six months to complete the scene in post-production. All in all, this sounds like an ordeal not unlike filming a Tetris movie that required the crew to blow up the set several times daily.
“Oh shit, we accidentally killed Bobby Moynihan and Stephen Merchant.”
The movie also had a wheelchair demon battle — look it up, we’re not spending 100 words explaining that shit — that required 2,000 frames of film and involved the laborious process of “creating bullet hits, debris, sparks, blood splats, muzzle flashes, smoke, [and] adding CG rats.” There were also the countless hours The Most Electrifying Man in Sports Entertainment had to spend in a makeup chair to look like a half-assed Walking Dead extra.
Not even one from the good show. A Fear The Walking Dead one.
And if all that seems rather excessive for the type of movie that the SyFy Channel would be hesitant about airing during the Super Bowl, the principals also had to spend two weeks in training with a former special forces operator, learning how to pretend-shoot their space guns at make-believe hell-barons. You’d think the producers would’ve eschewed all this effort and opted to make a Call Of Duty movie, where randomly inserted footage of David Duke rallies could be used to simulate the joys of online gaming.
#5. It Took A Herculean Effort To Make That Shitty-Looking Dragon In Dragonheart
When Dragonheart came out in 1996, the computer-generated creature effects were considered groundbreaking, if for no other reason than they managed to make Sean Connery slightly less reptilian and boorish for a couple hours. Chances are you might not even remember this buddy flick about a medieval knight / dragon scam artist team, primarily because the movie was as forgettable as its direct-to-video sequels — the most recent of which, holy balls, came out last year?
It’s nice to see that Godzooky was able to find work after his cartoon got cancelled.
Anyway, Draco, the disturbingly lippy mush-mouthed dragon from the original Dragonheart, only scored a total of 23 minutes of screen time, but it took over a year to make the damn thing, with every individual one of those minutes requiring over 1,000 man-hours to produce. And all that time wasn’t only spent on CGI trickery — on top of the five months spent merely making the dragon’s skin, they also had to build practical effects like a giant foot and gaping, fang-filled mechanical mouth big enough to fit Dennis Quaid.
“I always thought Jaws 3-D would be the worst jaws I’d be in.”
And to provide a point of reference for the cameramen and scurrying actors playing terrified villagers, an airplane was flown around the set locations, after which they digitally “put Draco over the top and removed any traces of the aircraft” in the editing room. That seems like a rather expensive proposition when people could, you know, just pretend there was an immense wife-slapping Scottish lizard swooping around. But hey, at least they weren’t lazy about it. And to be perfectly honest, the movie as a whole still kind of holds up, as long as you’re a 10-year-old with Creationist parents who won’t allow you to watch any of the Jurassic Park movies as a matter of principle.
“Shadly, your noshtalgia shometimes doeshn’t hold up to shcrutiny.”
#4. Torgo From Manos: The Hands Of Fate Wore Satyr Legs For No Damn Reason
The 1966 horror movie Manos: The Hands Of Fate (or Hands: The Hands Of Fate for our non-Spanish-speakers) is one of cinema’s great disasters, and would’ve been lost to the unforgiving annals of time had it not been salvaged and savaged by Mystery Science Theater 3000 nearly 30 years later.
Thanks for carrying the captioning load on this one, fellas.
Such was this movie’s unbridled craptacularity that exaggerated rumors about the production persist to this day. This much we know is true: A fertilizer salesman named Harold P. Warren, after remarking to an Oscar-winning screenwriter acquaintance in a coffee shop that “making a movie isn’t so hard,” made a bet with said screenwriter that he could accomplish that very feat from start to finish, and promptly began hammering out a script on restaurant napkins. Armed with $19,000 and a cast culled from El Paso community theater productions, Warren dragged the actors out to the Texas desert, where this ensued:
We’ve seen the movie, and we don’t know what’s going on here.
We won’t waste time explaining the plot, which is basically a collection of the sort of dreams Buffalo Bill pit survivors would describe to their therapists. But easily the most memorable thing about the movie — aside from Satanic concubine catfights — is the character Torgo, a satyr who serves the film’s handsy antagonist, “The Master.”
Torgo was played by a young actor named John Reynolds, who sadly committed suicide a month before the film was even released. Although the entire cast’s dialogue would be dubbed over by a small group of people in post-production, Reynolds still had to endure wearing improvised leg prostheses made of coat hangers, chicken wire, and car upholstery foam. You know, because he was supposed to be half goat. Not that the movie ever gets around to explaining this fact.
Or anything else, for that matter.
It’s been whispered that the grueling task of wearing these completely unnecessary prostheses caused Reynolds to develop a painkiller addiction, but according to a fellow cast member, he was already an an avid consumer of extracurricular chemicals to begin with. It’s also been rumored that Reynolds wore the braces incorrectly, which also isn’t true at all, mostly because there’s no right way to wear random piles of garbage strapped to your legs.
#3. Josh Brolin Couldn’t Eat While Filming Jonah Hex
The year 2010 saw Jonah Hex join Elektra and the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen on the list of cool comic book characters defiled by egregiously shitrageous movies. Admittedly, adapting the mystical tale of a facially mangled Wild West bounty hunter into a mass appeal popcorn flick was a tall order to begin with. But you can’t fault lead actor Josh Brolin, who was willing to put in the due diligence to achieve Hex’s signature “I once mistook a bowlful of thermite for delicious cocoa” look.
But when the end result is a 12 percent on Rotten Tomatoes (and a $10 million box office haul on a $47 million budget), you have to wonder if Brolin spent at least a month after the film’s release repeatedly punching himself in the groin for spending all those hours in the prosthetics chair, practically starving himself as a result.
“Badass thousand-year stare. That’s gonna look perfect.”
“I don’t have the energy to blink anymore.”
In addition to boots that “made [his] feet so swollen that every morning [he’d] get up and look like Quasimodo trying to get to the bathroom,” Brolin also had to get made up to look like he’d spent some time deep-throating the business end of a branding iron. So yeah, he was essentially playing Torgo’s great-great-grandfather in Torgo Origins: A Walk To Remember.
With most special effects makeup, the wearer is probably at least able to wolf down a snack or two between takes (or dull the regret with copious amounts of hooch). But Brolin’s perforated latex mug meant he couldn’t eat for anywhere from 12 to 21 hours. And so every morning before shooting began, he would gorge himself like a velociraptor in a petting zoo to make it through the day.
“Why the fuck did I eat all that deep-fried hay for breakfast?”
Brolin also credited the makeup with forcing him to go cold turkey on his smoking habit. Which he promptly took up again after the film. And then quit again. You know what? That bullshit with the makeup might have been the director trying to show his love via a little clandestine intervention.
#2. Mark Wahlberg Lost 60 Pounds And $45,000 (That Didn’t Belong To Him) For The Gambler
There are many tales of actors who underwent drastic physical changes to play a role. Robert De Niro bulked up to play a portly middle-aged Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull, Tom Hanks did the opposite for Castaway, and Mel Gibson presumably has to begin every new project by lasering the Swastikas off his face. But former tighty whitey supermodel Mark Wahlberg upped the ante for his portrayal of a college professor-turned-degenerate in the universally shrugged-at 2014 remake of the James Caan classic The Gambler. He lost not only an alarming amount of weight, but also a fortune of someone else’s money.
It’s possible that he may have mistaken the script for a k. d. lang biopic.
Everyone must have known from the start that it would take a remarkable amount of work to pass off the artist formerly known as Marky Mark as a literature professor, and step one was for Wahlberg to drop 60 pounds of rippling-yet-aging Tiger Beat cover boy musculature from his famous physique. Step two, apparently, was to blow thousands of dollars of his friends’ money.
Wahlberg did pretty well at blackjack while he was “preparing for the role” in a Chinese casino in Macau. It was at the roulette wheel that he proceeded to blow $45,000 in borrowed money by betting everything on black. Whose money was it, you might be wondering? Well, Wahlberg describes the rightful owners of the currency as “two very wealthy businessmen” he was with at the time, which could mean anything from Arab oil magnates to Slovakian Elite Hunting Club executives. And even though 45 grand might be a drop in the bucket in Wahlbergian terms, he himself admitted that his associates were rather displeased by his nonchalance in flushing the equivalent of a pre-owned Jaguar XJ down the toilet.
He then went on to thank the reconstructive surgeon who successfully reattached this thumbs.
#1. Joaquin Phoenix Adopted An Insane Public Persona For A Movie Nobody Watched
Hey, remember that “mockumentary” I’m Still Here with Joaquin Phoenix and Casey Affleck? Yep, neither does anyone else. But you might recall that halcyon moment back in 2009 when Phoenix cultivated a full yeti beard, claimed he was giving up acting to become a rapper, and went on Late Night With David Letterman in full shambling hobo mode. But this behavior was not in fact due to the sudden mental collapse of an acclaimed actor. It turned out he was just fucking around. (Oops, “acting.”)
Maybe he was trying to pick up chicks by pretending he was Zach Galifianakis?
Yup, Phoenix told almost nobody that this whole shtick was him playing a character for I’m Still Here. And the role Phoenix was playing was … himself. Sort of? Yeah, it wasn’t a great movie.
“BROLIN. PHOENIX. TORGO. TWINS. 2017.”
The movie was intended as a documentary of Phoenix’s life, or rather an imaginary version of it, which explored the “nature of celebrity.” And in it, you could watch the guy who played Johnny Cash in Walk The Line leave Hollywood behind to fall off the stage at a hip-hop show and generally behave like the genetic hybrid of Marlon Brando and a developmentally challenged fur trapper. Oh, and Phoenix inhabited this regrettable character for two years.
And if you dare think Phoenix was wasting his time in a big way, keep in mind that Casey Affleck also remained committed to this albatross of a project — and went broke in the process — at the exact time he should’ve been exploiting his own Oscar nomination for The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford. At the end of the day, I’m Still There racked in a paltry $500,000 — which, when accounting for inflation, is roughly 3.5 Manos: Hands Of Fates.
“You mean that guy from the band Spacehog pretended to shit on me for nothing?”