A new Vulture interview with director Joel Schumacher includes several intimate revelations as well as bombshell claims involving stars such as Tommy Lee Jones, Val Kilmer and the late Brad Renfro.
Schumacher, known for helming films like Batman & Robin and A Time to Kill, also opened up about his longtime friendship with Woody Allen, whose estranged daughter, Dylan Farrow, has accused of sexually abusing her as a child. She was just 7 years old when she first spoke out about the alleged abuse in 1992.
“I saw the interview with Dylan,” the 80-year-old Schumacher said of the allegations, which have received renewed interest and resulting fallout for Allen. “She believes it happened. Her brother [journalist Ronan Farrow] certainly believes it. Mia [Farrow, Dylan’s mother and Allen’s former girlfriend] absolutely believes it. And I’m not saying it happened. I’m just saying they believe it happened. But she was so young at the time that I don’t know.”
Schumacher, who befriended Allen when they worked together on the 1973 film Sleeper and described him a “generous friend,” also shared a theory about Allen’s relationship with Soon-Yi Previn, who is now his wife. Mia Farrow has recounted how she discovered the affair between her then-boyfriend and her 21-year-old adoptive daughter when she found nude photographs of Previn in the 56-year-old Allen’s apartment. Schumacher, however, suspects that Allen left the photos out on purpose.
“Well, Mia found the Polaroids, which were on the mantle,” he told Vulture’s Andrew Goldman. “They lived at opposite sides of the park. Woody is one of the smartest people I’ve ever known. And Mia had a key to that apartment. So he left them out, which is not something Woody would have done. He had a cook. He had help. I mean, you know, he and Soon-Yi were not the only people in the apartment. So I think that was his way of telling her.
“I think sometimes when people cheat, there’s a motel receipt and their significant other says, ‘What is this motel receipt?’” he continued. “I think it’s a way of not having to sit down and tell them.”
Schumacher declined to name the “famous people” he’s slept with; he claimed to have had around 10 or 20,000 lovers, which he insisted isn’t remarkable “for a gay male, because it’s available.” But he was less discreet when it came to recounting behind-the-scenes drama on the set of his most famous films.
Schumacher acknowledged calling Tommy Lee Jones an “a******” because he “was not kind” to co-star Jim Carrey when they starred as villains Harvey “Two-Face” Dent and The Riddler in 1995’s Batman Forever.
“Tommy is, and I say this with great respect, a scene stealer,” the director shared. “Well, you can’t steal the scene from Jim Carrey. It’s impossible. And, I think it irked Tommy.
“No, he wasn’t kind to Jim,” he continued. “He did not act towards Jim the way an Oscar winner with a star on Hollywood Boulevard, being the oldest member of the cast and having such a distinguished career and the accolades to go with it, should have acted towards Jim. But what happens on the set stays on the set.”
Of Batman Forever lead Val Kilmer, Schumacher admits calling him “psychotic” and claimed that Marlon Brando berated the actor while shooting the 1996 The Island of Dr. Moreau (which Schumacher did not direct).
“I do know Marlon Brando threw Val’s cell phone in the bushes and said, ‘Young man, don’t confuse your ego with the size of your salary, ever,’” Schumacher revealed. “Here’s the difference between Val Kilmer and Tommy Lee Jones. I don’t care what state Tommy is in emotionally, when that camera rolls, there is no bad take. Val is a different story. But he was a fabulous Batman.”
Schumacher also shared stories about Julia Roberts struggling with fame after being betrayed by an old friend, the “very, very rough childhoods” of Lost Boys stars Corey Feldman and the late Corey Haim and the “terrible” 2008 drug overdose death of 25-year-old Brad Renfro, whom he’d cast as an unknown in 1994’s The Client.
“[His parents] dumped him at a very young age with his wonderful grandmother Joanne, who couldn’t control him,” he said of the former child actor. “And, like me, he was the scourge of his neighborhood. I didn’t want a child actor for The Client. ... I said to [the casting director], ‘Well, what about kids that are in trouble for this?’
“And so she went to the police, and Brad was in trouble at 10 years old with the police already, drinking and smoking and hanging around with teenagers. Sound familiar? And his audition is un-f******-real. It’s so brilliant. Susan Sarandon and I got him into a very good school. We did everything we could. What happened was, a lot of people took advantage of him from that moment on. Suddenly, he was a star making money. So, I don’t know what would have happened to him in Knoxville, Tennessee, if he hadn’t gotten the role. But it breaks your heart.”
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