Director and producer Bryan Singer, who has faced numerous allegations of sexual assault over the years, reportedly almost lost his entire cast during the production of X2, the 2003 sequel to 2000’s original X-Men film.
The Hollywood Reporter took a deep dive into the development of the X-Men film series and the toxic culture Singer helped foster, it was revealed he allegedly went ahead with a failed stunt that resulted in Hugh Jackman covered in blood, prompting the cast to revolt.
The allegations surrounding Singer’s behavior predate his work on X-Men, as he was accused of asking minors to film a nude shower scene for his 1998 film Apt Pupil.
Despite this, he was welcomed by studio executives, and one of them has suggested that Fox ignoring a 1997 lawsuit against him led to his increasingly inexcusable behavior on set.
Producer Lauren Shuler Donner revealed how X-Men‘s critical and financial success masked a troubled production caused mainly by the director’s unprofessional behavior. Donner stated that Singer “was very nervous and he would act out when he was insecure, as many people do. But his way of acting out would be to yell and scream at everybody on the set. Or walk off the set or shut down production. You have to understand, the guy was brilliant, and that was why we all tolerated him and cajoled him. And if he wasn’t so fucked up, he would be a really great director.”
As detailed by THR, during the scene toward the movie’s end that occurs in the X-Jet with most of the main cast, sans Ian McKellen, Singer “was defiant and continued shooting,” which led to the stunt that caused Jackman to bleed on camera. As the scene was not supposed to shoot that day, there was no stunt coordinator to supervise it, and producer Ralph Winter subsequently halted production.
Allegedly, Singer’s conduct “grew erratic and destructive,” resulting in a fight between him and producer Tom DeSanto. According to sources, DeSanto tried to stop filming upon learning Singer was indisposed after taking an unnamed narcotic. Some members of the crew also took the same drug, leading DeSanto to worry about the safety of the people working on the project.
However, after Fox seemingly took Singer’s side and informed DeSanto “to return to Los Angeles,” the main cast members, minus McKellen and Rebecca Romijn, confronted Singer at his trailer in full costume and threatened to quit should DeSanto leave. It was during this moment Storm actor Halle Berry famously told Singer, “You can kiss my Black ass.”
It should be noted that while DeSanto never said anything about the fight, a representative of Singer’s stated, “nothing like that ever happened.”
Singer completed production on the film, and went on to direct the films X-Men: Days of Future Past and X-Men: Apocalypse in the franchise.
An executive involved in the films told THR anonymously, “His behavior was poor on the movie. We accommodated him on the first movie, and therefore we can accommodate him on the second movie. And on and on. And it created a monster.”
The THR story also notes that Singer would reportedly frequently fill small roles on the films with “handsome young men,” several of whom have claimed that the filmmaker “dangled X-Men auditions and roles in exchange for sex,” and that many of Singer’s associates who were later accused of sexual misconduct would frequent his sets.