Stanley Kubrick: overwhelmed by his actors
Kubrick is considered one of the most innovative and influential filmmakers, renowned for a legendary perfectionism.
But one of his most intense actors, R. Lee Ermey, the menacing drill instructor in Full Metal Jacket (1987), has said, “Stanley called me about two weeks before he died [in 1999].
“We had a long conversation about Eyes Wide Shut. He told me it was a piece of s**t and that he was disgusted with it and that the critics were going to have him for lunch.
“He said Cruise and Kidman had their way with him – exactly the words he used.
“He was kind of a shy little timid guy. He wasn’t real forceful. That’s why he didn’t appreciate working with big, high-powered actors. They would have their way with him, he would lose control, and his movie would turn to s**t.”
[Wikipedia.org and imdb.com 5 Oct 2006]
Being shy is an intriguing revelation about Kubrick, and is an aspect of her personality for Nicole Kidman as well, who said in a magazine interview in 2000, “I am very shy – really shy – I even had a stutter as a kid, which I slowly got over, but I still regress into that shyness.
“So I don’t like walking into a crowded restaurant by myself; I don’t like going to a party by myself.”
She has also said, “It was very natural for me to want to disappear into dark theater, I am really very shy. That is something that people never seem to fully grasp because, when you are an actor, you are meant to be an exhibitionist.”
Celebrity and narcissism
But maybe at a certain level fame and power can not only overcome shyness, but cause some people [such as Kidman and her then-husband Tom Cruise?] to experience personality distortions such as entitlement that led to the problems Kubrick and the film suffered.
In the article Acquired Situational Narcissism, Robert B. Millman, professor of psychiatry at Cornell Medical School says celebrities can acquire common symptoms of classical narcissism, a personality disorder whose symptoms include lack of empathy, grandiose fantasies, excessive need for approval, rage, social isolation and depression.
“Celebrities are different,” says Millman. “They’re not normal. And why would they feel normal when every person in the world who deals with them treats them as if they’re not?”