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Werner Herzog Wanted to Murder One Of His Stars

Werner Herzog consistently denies ever having directed Klaus Kinski at gunpoint, as the apocryphal story goes. But he did threaten to shoot him — if only to save his film. “We had a great love, a great bond, but both of us planned to murder each other,” Herzog said at the premiere of “My Best Fiend” at the Cannes Film Festival (via The Guardian). “Klaus was one of the greatest actors of the century, but he was also a monster and a great pestilence. Every single day I had to think of new ways of domesticating the beast.” Their feud escalated during the troubled production of “Fitzcarraldo” — one example of a great film saved by reshoots — and Herzog later admitted to planning to murder Kinski.

In the documentary “My Best Fiend,” Herzog says, “One day, I seriously planned to firebomb him in his house. This was prevented only by the vigilance of his Alsatian shepherd.” He recounted the story to the press in more detail, explaining how he would have burned Kinski to death in his bed — but the actor’s dog attacked Herzog, foiling his scheme. That’s not the only time Kinski narrowly avoided death on “Fitzcarraldo.”

Herzog explains in “My Best Fiend” that Kinski’s frequent outbursts on set also made him a powerful enemy: the Peruvian natives who were working on the film. He says that the chief of one indigenous tribe seriously offered to kill Kinski for him, but Herzog declined.

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