According to the Hollywood Reporter, Caan was only scheduled to shoot for two days as the role of the U.S. Speaker of the House who chokes to death on a cookie. But the director, David O. Russell, asked him to cough as he choked. Caan told him that he couldn’t cough while choking to death because it doesn’t make sense. When Russell suggested they just shoot it both ways, Caan knew that meant the correct way would probably be dismissed for the film and walked off the set.
I have to agree with Sonny Corleone on this one. This isn’t his first time on a movie set. He knows the “let’s do one for safety” is going to end up being the take selected for the film and he wants it done right, even if it’s a small part. Especially when the director is telling him to do something that makes zero sense.
Besides, David O. Russell has a history of being difficult on set with his actors, so I doubt this whole cookie thing was an isolated incident. It came to fisticuffs with George Clooney on Three Kings and you’ll probably remember the viral YouTube clip of him in a screaming match with Lily Tomlin during I Heart Huckabees. In case you haven’t seen it, check this out and laugh along with the expletives. My favorite part is when he exits the set in one direction and then bursts through the fake door somewhere else, still yelling.
If you’ve seen “Entourage,” the character of Billy Walsh is rumored to be based on this nut.