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The feuds behind great drama

Werner Herzog, left, and Klaus Kinski. Alamy

Feuds are the secret of creative success, says Ben Lawrence in The Daily Telegraph. Take Laurence Olivier and John Gielgud. On the surface the two actors were friendly, but underneath things were unbearably tense. Neither liked the other’s performance style. While Gielgud was mellifluous and bookish, Olivier was physical and earthy. After the latter’s turn as Romeo, Gielgud sniffed that he “was inclined to be too athletic in the bedroom scene with Juliet”. The actor Klaus Kinski and director Werner Herzog were the same. When Kinski threatened to quit Herzog’s 1972 film Aguirre, Wrath of God, the director allegedly held him at gunpoint to make him stay. “Extreme? Perhaps, but the end result was one of the masterpieces of modern cinema.” 

But in our new “caring, sharing world”, such feuds are under threat. “Theatre practitioners are under pressure to make rehearsal rooms ‘safe spaces’ and the mantra #BeKind echoes from every social media chamber.” We mustn’t let them win. After all, disagreements force artists to reassess their opinions and egos – improving their work in the process. “Even if it creates a nasty atmosphere, the best culture thrives on conflict.”

Read the full article here (paywall).