We don't know how or why these two utterly amazing clips of Lily Tomlin and David O. Russell, the headlockingest, Clooney-feudingest director in all of Hollywoodland, sharing a couple of very special moments on the set of I Heart Huckabees (video whose existence on the talent agency tape-swapping black market we first heard about in a Sharon Waxman NY Times piece in 2004—more on that later) have suddenly surfaced on the YouTubes, but here they are, giving us all a taste of the existential cockfight that the Huckabees shoot seems to have been.
After the jump, the desk-clearing, c-bomb-dropping scene that unfolded when frustrated actress and fed-up, talent-destabilizing director had finally had enough of one another:
[UPDATE: The original clips disappeared, but they're reappeared elsewhere on the YouTubes. We've replaced them here with the new versions.
UPDATE 2: They've come down again, but are now back up; new videos via omg blog.]
Just in case you'd like a little context for the clips, here's an excerpt from the Sharon Waxman article (which touched off a spat between the reporter and director at the time; reading the whole thing requires a TimesSelect membership) we mentioned above giving some background on the complicated Tomlin/Russell dynamic that contributed to the highly entertaining blow-up. Spoiler alert: Despite the friction, no one was murdered during production—a happy ending that only enriches subsequent viewings of both the videos and the eventual feature film.
July 24, 2003: The Car Trip [...]
So far, the actors have been remarkably tolerant of Mr. Russell's mischief. As Ms. Huppert later observed in a phone interview, the actors knew Mr. Russell was intentionally trying to destabilize them for the sake of their performances. ''He is fascinating, completely brilliant, intelligent and very annoying sometimes, too,'' she said. They also know he has created superb films from chaotic-seeming sets before. Besides, he's the director and the writer; now that they've cast their lot with him, they really don't have a choice.
But on what is meant to be the last take of the day, Ms. Tomlin, who recently ended an exhausting run of her one-woman play, collapses into Mr. Hoffman's arms crying and doesn't stop. As he embraces her, the wails grow louder and louder, and finally it becomes clear that she is not in character. After long moments, Ms. Tomlin breaks the tension by shouting at Mr. Hoffman: ''You're driving a hairpin into my head!'' Everyone collapses in laughter and the take is trashed.
But the drama is not over. The car scene takes several more hours to shoot, and as the sun fades, the accumulated tension erupts. Ms. Tomlin begins shouting at Mr. Russell: she is unhappy with the way she looks. She wants to try the scene a different way. She taunts him with a few expletives and curses at the other actors too. Their patience worn, the other actors laugh at her outburst.
Later, unfolding himself from the back seat of the Chevrolet, Mark Wahlberg jokes that his next project will be a nice, easy action film.
July 31, 2003: Candid Camera
The production has moved from the dried-up swamp to the set of the detectives' office. It is hot and cramped, and the hour is getting late. To pass the time while a shot is set up, Mr. Russell treats the crew to a description of a baby passing through the birth canal.
And then Ms. Tomlin is berating Mr. Russell again.
This time, the director turns on her angrily, calling her the crudest word imaginable, in front of the actors and crew. He shrieks: ''I wrote this role for you! I fought for you!'' Mr. Russell ends his tirade by sweeping his arm across a nearby table cluttered with production paraphernalia. He storms off the set and back on again, continually shouting. Then he locks himself in his office, refusing to return. After an uncomfortable, set-wide pause, Ms. Tomlin goes in to apologize, and Mr. Russell returns to the shoot.
Unbeknownst to both of them, a member of the crew has videotaped his tirade. The recording makes its way around the Hollywood talent agencies. Asked about the incident later, Mr. Russell says: ''Sure, I wish I hadn't done that. But Lily and I are fine.'' For her part, Ms. Tomlin admits that both she and Mr. Russell lost control. ''It's not a practice on his part or my part,'' she says. ''I'd rather have someone human and available and raw and open. Don't give me someone cold, or cut off, or someone who considers themselves dignified.''
This must be the Zen part.