Willis Earl Beal trashed Memphis film set in drunken outburst

Singer-turned-actor Willis Earl Beal almost jeopardised his role in new movie Memphis after losing his temper and trashing the set during a drunken rampage. Director Tim Button cast the Nobody Knows star as the lead in the film, which chronicles a struggling musician who lands a big break when he finds his way to the legendary Stax Records label, but he admits relations between himself and Beal occasionally turned hostile.
In a joint interview with RollingStone.com, Button says, “I wouldn’t say we clicked and were best friends – we’re not. We clashed on this set…
“This was an incredibly difficult performance for Willis because it is him, but it absolutely is not him, but it is him. There were all these characters that came into this movie that were strangely representative of his life…
“There’s a point in the film where he had to go further and further into the dark, and I wanted him to go to Beale Street (in Memphis, Tennessee) and cause havoc. Willis didn’t want to do it. He spent a lot of time in his life doing s**t like that, he didn’t want to regress like that. The day was horrible, we were having a horrible time, Willis was drunk out of his mind.”
Beal reveals he had already decided to walk away from the film before he began destroying the set furniture – but he immediately regretted lashing out so violently.
He explains, “I went off, I disappeared, and then I showed up to the house (to shoot) totally smashed (drunk) and ready to go to Beale Street. And they said, ‘Well, we’re not going down there’ and I just flipped. I just started trashing the place… I knew that I was quitting at that moment, I knew that it was over, and everyone was going to spread my name and say, ‘He was impossible to work with,’ and my career was over.”
Luckily for Beal, he managed to work out his differences with Button to finish the film, and it was screened at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah over the weekend (17-19Jan14).