George Clooney is generally a laid back guy, but an incident with his Three Kings director nearly drove him over the edge. Things got tense when David O. Russell lost his temper on set, though Clooney tried to deescalate the situation. His efforts were largely futile, as a physical fight between the two men broke out on set.
Clooney may have fought for his role in the critically acclaimed Three Kings, but working with director Russell on-set might have made him rethink taking the part. In a 2000 interview with Playboy, the Oceans 11 star shared his experience with the famed director, and it wasn’t very pretty.
At first, Clooney was fairly complimentary of the Silver Linings Playbook director, then he got into how it was actually working with him. “David is in many ways a genius, though I learned that he’s not a genius when it comes to people skills.” If his recollection of events is true, Clooney made a huge understatement.
According to Clooney, Russell “yelled and screamed at people all day, from day one.” The environment proved toxic for Clooney, so the actor made it known multiple times that he was uncomfortable with the way Russell handled himself on set. The director shaped up his behavior, but it wasn’t long before he was back to his old ways.
The Final Meltdown
The shoot was about three weeks behind schedule, which definitely put pressure on Russell. One day, Clooney recalled, they were shooting a scene where “some army kids, who were working as extras, were supposed to tackle us. There were three helicopters in the air and 300 extras on the set. It was a tense time, and a little dangerous, too.” Russell wanted one of the army extras to throw Clooney to the ground, but the boy was nervous.
“David walked up to him and grabbed him. He pushed him onto the ground. He kicked him and screamed, ‘Do you want to be in this [expletive] movie? Then throw him to the [expletive] ground!'” When Clooney came up to try to calm things down, Russell got aggressive with him.
Reaching The Boiling Point
“He started banging me on the head with his head. He goes, ‘Hit me, you [expletive]. Hit me.’ Then he got me by the throat and I went nuts.” Clooney recounted that a buddy of his was the one who finally got him away from Russell. It wasn’t just a fistfight, this was a dangerous moment where someone could have gotten hurt. “I had him by the throat. I was going to kill him. Kill him. Finally, he apologized, but I walked away.” Cooler heads prevailed and Russell and Clooney managed to finish the rest of the movie, though Clooney recalled, “David sort of pouted through the rest of the shoot,” but the two men powered their way through. In the interview, Clooney described the incident as, “truly, without exception, the worst experience of my life.”
As an A-lister in Hollywood, Clooney is no stranger to the tabloid rumor mill. Recently, the Globe reported that Clooney’s back pain was resulting in marriage problems with his wife, Amal. The article claimed Amal was overwhelmed by Clooney’s medical needs after his 2018 scooter crash and tired of his “silly sense of humor” and partying. Gossip Cop looked into this story and easily debunked it. How could Clooney be ill enough to overwhelm his wife, but still have enough energy to party? The whole story doesn’t make sense, which was why it fell apart so easily.