Many authentically good scenes in film were made possible by tricky directors actually scaring their actors. Some directors have no problem lying or withholding information to truly terrify their actors to get a real reaction out of them. But which directors are infamous for this method? These six have made the some of the most memorable scenes in history by putting their actors through hell.
1. William Friedkin – The Exorcist
The director wasn’t messing around when he made this movie. He kept the set at very low temperatures so the scenes where you could see the actors’ breath were real. He also kept loaded guns on set and would fire them to keep everyone on their toes. Lastly he didn’t tell Jason Miller that he would get hit with projectile vomit in order to get a real reaction out of him.
2. Ridley Scott – Alien
This moment wasn’t only shocking to the audience, but it was shocking to the actors. Director Ridley Scott decided not to tell the actors what was going to happen and decided to have their “acting” just be real fear. The script for the chest busting moment read “The thing emerges.” Everyone but the cast showed up in rain gear. “The reactions were going to be the most difficult thing,” said the Scott according to The Guardian. “If an actor is just acting terrified, you can’t get the genuine look of raw, animal fear.”
3. Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez – The Blair Witch Project
Shooting might have only taken eight days, but the director and crew went all out. They planted actors among the town to tell the cast about the witch to make them believe it. The crew gave the actors less and less food throughout filming to put them in more distress. When the actors were sleeping they rattled their tents and played a recording of kids laughing to scare them.
4. Alfred Hitchcock – The Birds
The director and crew lied to the leading lady, Tippi Hedren and said they would use mechanical birds according to her accounts in a BBC film. However when she showed up on set they said there was a malfunction with them so they were to use real birds. They were thrown at her to peck and claw at her to get a real reaction. She was hurt so badly that she was carried off set and taken to a doctor.
5. Mel Stuart – Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory
The children were kept in the dark for many scenes to get real reactions. That includes not being able to see Gene Wilder until the scene we first see Willy Wonka. But it also includes the creepy boat scene when they are going through the tunnel. The kids only knew their lines before shooting, but not what Wonka was going to say including him saying they were all going to die to scare them.
6. Michael Curitz – Noah’s Ark
Before Casablanca, the director was working on this film and was very dedicated to extras and actors doing their own stunts. Instead of using miniatures and overlays for the flood scenes, he used real people and didn’t tell them that gallons of water will be dumped on them. This had dire consequences and three extras drowned.