Danny Boyle is said to run an energetic, focused set, but he too is not above trying to tweak his performers. For "127 Hours," he tried to elicit a specific performance from star James Franco by alternating cinematographers — one of whom he was expected to get along with, thus helping the calmer, happier scenes, and one he was expected to clash with, for when Franco needed to be tense and aggravated. But the plan failed, according to producer Christian Colson, "because James got on brilliantly with both of them."
The responsibility of wielding so much power on a set, however, can take even the most seasoned directors by surprise. "The Way Back's" Peter Weir recalls on a set some years ago that he admonished a crew member in front of everyone. He apologized publicly later, but the ripple effect was internal: "It was devastating. I humiliated that man, and it was so easy to do — and it was accepted because of this hierarchy. I thought, 'I have the power to do that, and how awful.'"