Saturday, August 6All That Matters

In his own words, this is why American History X director Tony Kaye was furious with Edward Norton, and how the film turned out

In his own words, this is why American History X director Tony Kaye was furious with Edward Norton, and how the film turned out

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  • magus-21

    > “I’m fully aware that I’m a first-time director, but I need the same autonomy and respect that Stanley Kubrick gets”

    > Kaye spent $100,000 of his own money to take out 35 full-page ads in the Hollywood trade press denouncing Norton and the producer, using quotations from a variety of people from John Lennon to Abraham Lincoln. He attended a meeting at New Line to which (to ease negotiations) he brought a Catholic priest, a Jewish rabbi and a Tibetan monk. When the company offered him an additional eight weeks to re-cut the film, he said he had discovered a new vision and needed a year to remake it, and flew to the Caribbean to have the script rewritten by the Nobel Prize-winning poet Derek Walcott. Finally, when the Directors Guild refused to let him remove his name from the New Line version of the film, he demanded it to be credited to “Humpty Dumpty” instead, and filed a $200 million lawsuit when the company refused.

    Wow. No wonder they refused. The guy is an asshole.

  • The_Lone_Apple

    An angry entitled man who might be missing a few screws as well. Normally I side with the artist, but this guy would try the patience of Buddha.

  • scriptfan

    I work in advertising and Tony Kaye used to be a major commercial director and stories of him being an epic asshole are everywhere. One story I always hear involves him forcing clients to wear prison jump suits when visiting the edit room to see a cut of the commercial. Life’s too short for that shit, which is why his career imploded. F this guy.

  • ManiShrimp

    I remember hearing about how mad he was that they edited the movie to completely be different than his original vision. I liked the movie and imo Derrick carries that movie. I wish there was some details about what was changed. My first instinct would be either Derrick was not meant to be redeemed or maybe that whole portion in the jail was enhanced for more runtime. Not sure. But I like the movie. I want to know what the original vision was

  • AJG-71

    You can be an artist with full control of your own art, or you can be an artist who works as but a cog in the machine of the film industry. You can’t be both.

    Plenty of other artists out there who work and play well with others

  • Permanenceisall

    I love the way this is shot, it’s so cool and weird. Reminds me of those old Eric Bogosian monologues.

    Also how strange is it that he did American History X and then the video for Dani California by RHCP but that’s basically it.

  • jl_theprofessor

    Edward Nortion deserves this guy.

    Also, I looked at the photo of him from recently and he definitely has the ‘mad wizard’ look going.

  • jelatinman

    Mods gonna delete this because it’s not a photo of an actor eating a sandwich as the first official image of some indie movie the sub won’t watch.

  • JohnnyTeardrop

    I worked with Tony Kaye on a commercial once. Probably the most insane experience I’ve ever had. He had me come to his house, inside he had every wall torn out so it was just a massive open space. No furniture except maybe a couch with stacks of books everywhere. We go over the project (for an Italian jeans ad) and his furiously scribbling these drawings with his ideas on 11×17 paper (I still have all of them).

    I’m feeling good on my way out, I like his intense energy in a way. Then I go home and do my work and send him results. He replies almost immediately with unpunctuated run on sentences of pure anger and insults. He’s angry that I didn’t use the proper kerning in my sentences. As I’m taking it all in I get another email from him, same style, but this one profuse apologizing for his previous outburst. This cycle went on until the job was done which of course he was never happy with. I’ve worked with a lot of ego driven directors but he by far takes the cake.


    Here’s [one of the emails]( he sent me. Having a hard time finding the original email where he really laid into me, this was after he felt bad and became more amendable.

  • tangnapalm

    Uh… well the adult man screaming his lungs out and pointing at nobody in the middle of the afternoon certain seems reasonable.

  • Obwyn

    From everything I’ve heard, they’re both assholes and very difficult to work with.

    American History X is a fantastic movie. I don’t know if Kaye’s vision would’ve made it better or not, but it’s not like Norton turned it into a dumpster fire.

    I get why he’s pissed since it’s not the movie he wanted to make, though.

    I also find it hilarious at how many people are defending Norton in here. By all accounts he’s an insufferable asshole to work with

  • MurielHorseflesh

    The hilarious shortsightedness of the brooding artist. American History X didn’t make a bunch of money, but it was critically lauded. He had every right to be pissed off that his movie got changed. But if instead of setting fire to his own career by publicly trashing the money men involved, he had simply taken the critical lauding as his and everyone else’s, he would have gotten a mountain of work on his desk after the release and a bunch more leverage as a ‘successful’ director to make sure that doesn’t happen again.

    But instead, he went the other direction and self immolated. Some people need to be seen doing something that isn’t in their best interest, it’s a pretentious artistic martyr thing.

  • Incubus85

    It’s one of my favourite films. This and American beauty. These two films will be timeless imo. I can’t imagine it not being the same.

    I’m pretty sure neither would be made today either. Absolute classic film.

  • CreamyBagelTime

    Damn, for a second I thought this was the intro to a new Prodigy music video.

    But seriously I thought he was going to comment on the film’s message. On a domewhat related note, a few years ago I listened to a podcast interviewing Christian Picciolini, a former skinhead leader who now spends his time try to get kids out of white nationalist gangs. He talked about AHX and how in his experience the film actually had the opposite intended effect. He said kids actually loved the film because they saw themselves in it, that it validated their identities. The fate of the main characters didn’t dissuade them at all. Even though the film shows the ups and downs of these groups and their ideas, at the end of the day these kids only remember the ups, the highs. Because they’re not searching for the best ideas, they’re searching for purpose and identity, and the film reinforces that identity, for them at least. Anyways, I thought that was really interesting and had made me look differently at film and TV attempting similar ends.

  • burgersandcomics

    he and norton are both fucking righteous bitches. which is why that movie is fundamentally so flawed.

    some of that movie is dope as hell tho.

  • ScrapMetalDrone

    And this why studios like to / need to keep auteur directors on such a short leash sometimes. Great movie with alot to say though I’m actually glad they didn’t change it.

  • huntyboi08

    Good lord, even if this guy has a valid point, the way he presents it is so grating I don’t know how anyone could be on his side.

  • platanuswrex

    I like the idea of the ‘head shaving’ ending. But can totally see how the money guys would have balked at it as it would have cost them a lot of “Hollywood Ending” money. If Norton was amenable to the happier ending, it makes sense the producers would have given him his way.

  • maddenmcfadden

    I personally would have loved to watch such a powerful film, and then when the credits roll I see the name Humpty Dumpty.

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