Dealing with difficult leading ladies

Anyone had a hard experience?

In my last short film the leading lady I had ended up being a train wreck (she got her car stolen, it got wrecked, she became homeless, couldn't get down to the shoot, went to rehab). My DP ended up finding this actress that he and his ex girlfriend had worked with off some actors worksheet. I had no idea who she was. But she did look good so I was okay with the choice.

She was pretty friendly right off the bat. I don't really like people who are overly friendly when I first meet them. That usually means that the person is hiding this ambition and their other side. But she was good actress and on that day she was easy to work with.

But after that she got weird. She wanted to meet up and rehearse. She said she wanted to meet up at starbucks. I thought that was weird as the short was shot at my house, we could have rehearsed at the location. But I just said to meet up a study hall in the library. Once there she sat a chair away from me. I didn't really think anything of it. But she had started to change from the first day. The acting part was fine. But in between she started to show her true self a little : a super serious ambitious high maintenance actress.

The next day she then did a very under handed thing. My DP called telling that she had spoken to him and that while she was fine with the kissing scene on the first day, she didn't want to do the sex scene or make out. Now I don't know if it was because of her boyfriend, because she wasn't attracted to, because was attracted to me and didn't want to let go on screen (she is a decent kisser haha), that fact that she is still a young actress with not a lot of experience (21 and her first credit on IMDB). But this altered what I was going for. I think it still turned out quite well. But this isn't what I wanted. I didn't appreciate what she did at all.

There was one instance where she was talking to the DP and asked him a question that I felt should have came my way (I wrote the whole thing, I was directing it, I came up with the shot list, I was controlling the camera, etc, etc). And I had to make it clear that what she was doing was disrespectful.

On set was something else. I don't mind an actress who is hard to work with as long as she is at least funny and open. She was hard to work with, not funny, and unopened. If I wasn't in such a poor spot I would have not choose her at all.

I guess the obvious thing to do here is not work with her. I have to really screen my leading ladies more. I seem to do better picking my supporting actresses.
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6 foot is just below average height in The Netherlands :P

I got to work with Dutch factory workers in Krommenie. I don't know if you know the name, but they worked for a company called Forbo. F'kin giant mother lovers. I'm 5'4 :). They were telling me funny jokes about the Germans,... and Belgians and dead birds (I wonder if you know that one haha) Edit: And of course, making fun of themselves also.
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I learned this on my first short where an actress refused to say the lines on set. She said the lines in rehearsal, had the script for a month, we had a read-through and in addition, her acting CV was interesting. What was worse was she refused to come up with a better option. It was just 'I don't feel like saying this.' My responses e.g. 'what would your character say?' were met with 'I don't know.'

As a director, I've seen some diva-ish behaviour but ultimately, they've come around and what's more, they want to do more with me. Helps that I have a couple of high profile film fests behind me etc... but that's just more of a 'genuine' confidence thing.

I know what you guys mean by diva-ish behavior. I met an actor at a meetup and she was saying "you know... it's my art and directors need to leave me alone, and just let me do my thing," and the actors around her were agreeing. And I wanted to say, "no, it's not your art. A lot of people are involved, and will remain involved after your part is done," but of course I didn't say anything.

But I've indeed been lucky with the actors I've worked with. I let them know that they're the most important part of the project. And I mean it too. I don't care about lights, and I don't care about camera. I care about the actor's facial expressions and body language, and I work with them to get to a place where we both agree. But yeah, so far, my experience with most actors have been simply awesome.
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Film autre: Like this one actress told me: casting is about likability and dependability. My first actress was a sweetheart. But undependable. This actress was dependable for the most part. But not the most fun out there. Even the supporting actress didn't show up on the first day due to going out to a party and getting "slipped" roofies (and I have known her for eight months). But she was cool, nice, funny, and open (we we're going to do a short where she was my romantic interest) so at least there was something to work with.

Walter: The taller you are you can use it to your advantage in terms of creating charisma and etc. I'm not the tallest guy ever. But I have the attitude that goes along with it.

I will say that I don't think it's about figuring out people's intentions. But about seeing what they do to get their desires. That gets to the root. You can spot what someone is doing and really get into their subconscious which really tells you who people are.

Trueindie: Most of my dealing with actors as a director has been good except for this last one. Even the actress from my first two shorts was a bit closed. But she was open enough on set and could be funny sometimes. I've acted in movies alongside divas. But this is the first time that I directed one.

I would say on this short film I was really into how the way it was shot, production value, and just overall visual. I am for sure an actors director (being an actor myself). But I think this time I around became more 50/50 in terms of how I treated my actors and how I treated telling the story visually. I am not a director who just cares about the camera. But I see it as such an important tool to tell the story, just as important as the actors. The way the camera moves, doesn't move, turns, swings all adds up. I love the details of the film that have nothing to do with the actors.

When I am directing an actor at that point I've given them the tools that they need to create their own character (I like to give them music, articles to read, websites, movies etc). And I expect for them to do work on their own. On set I am just trying to see what they are doing to get to the truth of the scene. Then I will steer them into the right direction of how I believe the scene should be played. Everyone has a different psychology, so I try to provide the psychology of the character. And I just try to be open for questions.
I think Sfoster was being genuine and finding the root cause of the problem. That Sometimes pay determines their professional attitude...which I disagree with. If you find a solid actor, they come through on many levels both on the camera and off camera.

It's not entirely your art. They are performing it. Sounds like you don't need an actor, you need a puppet. lol.

She read the script and you are damn right. She shouldn't waste your time. If she commits, then she commits. But people are flaky.

But really, you have no one to blame but yourself. If you were in a tight spot and went forward unprepared, then you know you took the risk.

I completely agree. I do think Sfoster was being genuine as well.

That having been said, no need to be snarky, no one is attacking you. Your initial question did read a little egocentric, and in fact every question Sfoster asked you, I had, myself thought during the reading myself. And with the exception of the amount of pay (there is no question it makes a difference, art or no art, sex scenes are a bigish deal), you've answered all of the questions.

All of that having been said, a quick congratulations to you on the start of a very diverse career, looks like you're up to some really good work! Don't get so defensive.