Klaus Kinski in Aguirre: The Wrath of God (1972, dir. Werner Herzog)
Herzog on a regular day on the Aguirre set with Kinski:
“[Kinski] suddenly packed his things in dead earnest, packing everything in a speedboat, resolved to leave our location. I knew he had broken 30, 40, 50 contracts before this. Only shortly before he had broken up a tour. He ruined theater engagements and I knew he was leaving for good. I went up to him, very composed. By the way, I was not armed. Later on, he tried to change things around to save face.
I went up to him and said: ‘You can’t do this. The movie is more important than our personal emotions, even more important than our persons and this can’t be permitted. This simply will not be!’
He said: ‘No, I’m leaving now’. I told him I had a rifle and by the time he’d reach the next bend in the river there’d be 8 bullets in his head and the ninth one would be mine. And he had enough instinct to know that this wasn’t a joke anymore.
He screamed for the police like a madman. However, the next police station was at least 300 miles away. Later it was circulated in the press that I directed him from behind the camera with a loaded rifle. Of course, this wasn’t true but he was very docile during the last days of shooting and very disciplined. The beast had been domesticated after all and pressed into shape, so that his true madness and energy were contained within the frame of a screen image. I thank his cowardice and his instincts for the magnificent ending of Aguirre.”