Director David O. Russell’s 2004 film I Heart Huckabees is, in large part, a meditation on the quest for spiritual enlightenment. But there was little meditative about two behind-the-scenes clips shot during the film’s production that turned up on the Internet last month, showing one of the film’s stars, Lily Tomlin, at loggerheads with Russell.
In the more memorable of the two, the director loses his temper with the actress, who is filming a scene with Jason Schwartzman and Dustin Hoffman. ”F— you!” he shouts. ”I’m just trying to f—ing help you, do you understand me? I’m being a f—ing collaborator.” Russell then angrily pushes some papers off the desk behind which Tomlin is sitting and continues: ”I worked on this f—ing thing for three f—ing years not to have some f—ing c— yell at me in front of the f—ing crew when I’m trying to f—ing help, you bitch.”
After the footage surfaced, a rumor began circulating that its emergence was in some way connected to George Clooney, who had gotten into a physical confrontation with Russell on the set of the 1999 film, Three Kings. Clooney subsequently issued a statement denying responsibility for leaking the footage and offering a $1 million reward to anyone who could prove otherwise.
While being interviewed about the forthcoming Ocean’s Thirteen for EW, Clooney answered a couple of questions about the I Heart Huckabees clips.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You’ve denied leaking the Huckabees footage. But is it possible we will ever see any similar material from Three Kings?
GEORGE CLOONEY: The funny thing is that that tape has been going around for about two and a half years. And everybody’s seen it. I saw it when we were shooting Ocean’s Twelve. I felt bad for Lily but I also felt a little vindicated for anyone that thought that that had anything to do with me on [Three Kings]. But, you know, the last thing in the world I would have done is stick it on the Internet. I don’t even know how to get onto YouTube. So there’s not going to be any Three Kings things. There are pranks I like to play [but] that [posting this kind of footage online] falls into the world of screwing with people’s careers. I’m up for a good fight, but not sneaky. I like ’em face-to-face.”
Do you think this kind of thing is going to happen more and more?
Sure. I just think the Internet is a free-for-all now. Ultimately a lot of crap comes out. There’s going to be tons of things. You’re going to have someone filming in somebody’s hotel and get them when they have Spanktro-vision on and put that on the Internet and that will be a career-ender for somebody. There’s gonna be plenty of that going on. Until someone figures out how to tame the wild wild west then I don’t really know you can put the genie back in the bottle. Maybe it’s good. Maybe it’ll make people behave themselves on sets.