The Kings Of The Desert: The Day George Clooney Wanted To “kill” David O. Russell – CinéSéries

If George Clooney is one of the definitions of “cool” and a star among the nicest, he almost came to blows violently with David O. Russell on the set of the hit “Kings of the Desert”. A film which was, in 1999, the first big budget of the director, and this one badly lived the pressure. Without this pressure fully explaining the behavior of the director, whose abusive nature has been the subject of numerous testimonies for this film as for others that have followed.

Kings of the desert : a great film and a career turning point for George Clooney

In 1999, director David O. Russell revealed himself to the world with the war film Kings of the desert. It is a great critical and commercial success, both Gulf War I action film, heist film and satire (1990-1991). With its star cast of George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg and Ice Cube, the film offers humor, suspense, innovative visual ideas, Kings of the desert introduces David O. Russell as a future Hollywood greats and definitely imposes George Clooney as a big movie star, he who until then mainly had his fame from the series Emergency room.

But if the film is a great success, its shooting was very complicated, the fault of the explosive and tyrannical temperament of David O. Russell, then 41 years old. He alienated a good part of his teams during production, including her first role and lead performer, George Clooney.

Kings of the desert © Warner Bros

Growing tension between actor and director

The facts which occurred during the shooting waited for the presentation and exploitation of the film to be revealed. But the two men never tried to hide them, each going from his own commentary. David O. Russell stated that “would never work with George Clooney again, even if he was paid $ 20 million.“Time has passed and hatred seems to have given way to a very cold politeness, each stopping to recognize the talent of the other.

But it was not long before their collaboration on Kings of the desert ends very, very badly. George Clooney, in an interview with Playboy in the early 2000s, detailed the conflict as follows:

The first time, he attacked the driver of a “camera car”, whom I knew from high school. I had nothing to do with it, but David started screaming and then yelling at him and humiliating him in front of everyone. I told him: “You can scream and scream and even fire him, but you can’t humiliate him in front of the team. Not on my set, if I have a say in it.”

A moment of illusory appeasement

A beginning of hooking which fortunately does not go further. But quickly the director starts again, this time attacking the scriptwriter, until making her cry. This time around, George Clooney enters a more formal approach by writing a letter to David O. Russell. In it he writes: ” Look, I don’t understand why you’re acting like this. You wrote a brilliant script, and I think you’re a good director. Let’s try not to have that kind of atmosphere on set. I don’t like it and I don’t work well in these conditions.”

Kings of the Desert © Warner Bros

A very violent confrontation …

The letter once read, things seem to be on the right foot, but the situation ends up degenerating one day of filming at maximum pressure. The production of the film Kings of the desert is three weeks late, on that day a sequence is shot with 300 extras and helicopters circling over the set. David O. Russell is very tense and in a bad mood. George Clooney says that the director then asks one of the extras to grab him and throw him to the ground, for the scene.

Except that the extra is not very comfortable with the idea of ​​manhandling the mega-star ofEmergency room, and is nervous. David O. Russell then approached the extra, grabbed him and put him to the ground.

He starts hitting him and yelling, “you wanna be in this fucking movie? So you throw him on the fucking floor!” The second assistant director came up and said, “Don’t do that David. You want them to do something, you tell me.” David took his walkie-talkie from him and threw it to the ground. He shouted at her, “Shut up your fuck ***! Go fuck yourself!” and the assistant director answers him: “Go fuck yourself! I’m resigning.” He actually left.

… narrowly avoided!

George Clooney then insisted that the situation was becoming dangerous. As well as the fact that he had sent her this letter, and that he was trying to work things out. He then approached David O. Russell, put his arm around his shoulder, and attempted a diplomatic approach by speaking to him: “David, this is an important day. But you can’t push, shake or humiliate people who aren’t allowed to stand up for themselves. “The actor then reports the director’s hysterical reaction, and his own when he almost became very violent:

“Why don’t you just take care of your shitty role? You’re a jerk. You wanna hit me? You wanna hit me? Come on, you coward, hit me!” I look at him like he’s gone mad. And there he starts to nudge me, continuing, “Hit me, you coward, hit me.” He grabbed me by the throat and there I went mad. Waldo, one of my closest friends, grabbed me around the waist to let him go. I also held it by the throat. I was going to kill him. To kill him. Finally, he apologized, but I left. At this point, the guys from Warner Bros. were in a panic. David sulked the rest of the shoot, and we finished the movie. But it was, without exception, the worst experience of my life.

You might think that George Clooney is giving himself the beautiful role and that only his version has been retained. But while David O. Russell admitted his responsibility, relinquishing much of the pressure to make a big budget film, he continued to make headlines on his subsequent shoots, drawing the wrath of much of the film. cinephile audience and logically seeing the hollywood community turn their backs on him. Will he be able, with his next film Canterbury Glass, restore its image?