Robert Downey Jr. left jars of urine on the set of ‘Zodiac’ to protest his director

Have you ever seen David Fincher’s Zodiac? I didn’t see it when it first came out – I think I saw it for the first time maybe two years ago. I was absolutely BLOWN AWAY. I think it might even be David Fincher’s finest film, and I’m saying that as a big fan of Seven and The Social Network (but not so much The Game, Fight Club and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo – solid films, but not my favorites). At first, I thought Zodiac was going to be an interesting character study and period piece about what went down in San Francisco in the 1970s when the Zodiac Killer was prowling around. But what Fincher created was so incredibly creepy and get-under-your-skin terrifying, simply because the viewer becomes completely enmeshed in the world of the film.

Zodiac is full of great performances, mostly by Mark Ruffalo (an SFPD detective tracking Zodiac) and Jake Gyllenhaal (a cartoonist and amateur cryptographer obsessed with the Zodiac case). But there’s also a ballsy, intense supporting performance by Robert Downey Jr. as a beat journalist at the San Francisco Chronicle. The film was before RDJ’s giant Hollywood comeback in Iron Man – this was done in the years when RDJ was sober, but still trying to prove himself to establishment Hollywood. Here’s something I didn’t know about Zodiac: it was shot on digital film (a misnomer, etc). And in a new documentary, Fincher described how RDJ was unaccustomed to the kind of rapid filmmaking pace of a digital film… and how RDJ “protested” by leaving jars of urine around the set:

David Fincher says in Keanu Reeves’ doc on filmmaking, “Side By Side,” that Robert Downey Jr. was so peeved about putting in long hours on “Zodiac,” he left jars filled with urine around the set, in protest. (Fincher’s use of digital cameras meant less time for breaks.) Reeves unveiled his movie at MoMA on Thursday. He said at the Tribeca Film screening he wasn’t above begging to land interviews with Fincher, Christopher Nolan, James Cameron, Martin Scorsese and George Lucas.

[From Page Six]

Keanu’s documentary actually sounds incredibly interesting – the Wall Street Journal has a great piece about it here. As for RDJ and the mason jars full of urine… gross. Maybe I just don’t get it because I’m a girl. There have been so many times when I wished I could just pee standing up, or just be able to go without having to make a pit stop in the bathroom. But mostly… I’m really glad I’m not a boy. Boys are GROSS. Ugh, mason jars.

Photos courtesy of All Movie Photos.

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62 Responses to “Robert Downey Jr. left jars of urine on the set of ‘Zodiac’ to protest his director”

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  1. marie says:

    well, that’s disgusting.. but on the bright side at least it was just mason jars and not the coffee? I dunno, the whole thing is gross..

    • Roma says:

      I think it was more of a “I don’t have enough time to have a proper washroom break so I’m buying to pee in this jar & leave it as proof”. I actually find it funny.

  2. bea says:

    Did he think the director would be the one cleaning it up?

    • Po says:

      That was exactly the same thing I thought. I wonder whether the production assistant who had to clean it up thought it was as clever as RDJ thought it was.

      • Aussie girl says:

        Ha! Imagen if worked a blue collar job & was only allowed a 15 min morning break. Reality check Robert !!

      • Isa says:

        That’s what I was thinking! It wasn’t the assistant’s fault the schedule was so hectic! I hope he cleaned up his own jars otherwise I think less of him.

      • dlc says:

        If most people left jars of urine around to protest work conditions they’d get fired. God, Hollywood people really are a bunch of entitled brats, aren’t they?!?

    • Mitch Buchanan Rocks! says:

      Yeah, what a douche – not cool.

  3. Maya says:

    I’ve never been a big RDJ fan. He’s a talented actor, and I admire him for getting through his addiction, but in general I’ve always thought he seems like a bit of a douche. Which this story kinda just confirmed.

    Also, didn’t Tina Fey write about guys at SNL doing the same thing? (Urinating in jars, that is, not doing it in protest.)

    • Kimbob says:

      Yes, I’m w/you Maya. So, RDJ had to actually put in days of hard work w/not so many breaks due to cinematic technological breakthroughs that now speed up the process of film making….& so he leaves jars of his urine to “protest?” To me, he’s a passive-aggressive QUEEN.

      A couple years ago I read a “group interview” he was a participant in w/some other big-name actors like Brad Pitt and Mickey Rourke. In that interview RDJ was talking “all bad-ass,” trying to come across as manly, brash, etc.

      Now I know that he goes on blind item websites, participating in “informing” readers of the truth about some Hollywood icons, which, at first I thought was pretty brazen.

      Now, I read about this insanely passive behavior of his…leaving jars of his own urine to “protest,”…..really?! The picture is now forming in my mind that this guy (RDJ) has a good many resentments, & instead of going back to his old habits/coping skills of using drugs, he’s learned “new coping skills” to handle himself when he gets upset (going on blind item sites, leaving his urine around a set), which leaves me w/the distinct impression that this dude doesn’t have much of a backbone.

      Don’t get me wrong, I’m SO GLAD he’s not using anymore….I’m VERY proud of him. But…..just my humble opinion…he’s still got some growing up to do….doesn’t make me respect him, for sure.

  4. mln76 says:

    GROSS..and I pity the poor assistant who had to clean it up.

  5. yellowshaba says:

    I wonder in what context of sound mind hating on long hours does one protest by urine? Lol..

  6. Glimmer Bunny says:

    I love Zodiac too! I don’t understand how it got so many mediocre reviews. I think it was interesting, unsettling and well-acted (actually I found RDJ especially great.) Definitely one of Fincher’s strongest films, almost on par with Fight Club, the Social Network and Se7en and SO much better than The Game or The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

  7. Eve says:

    I love Zodiac too! Mark Ruffalo is absolutely brilliant in it.

    • Kimbob says:

      Eve, I haven’t seen this film (Zodiac)…do you or anyone else know if it’s available on DVD?

      • Eve says:

        Zodiac is a rather old movie (2007) so it’s certainly available on DVD.

        I’m certain you can get it on Netflix too (if that’s the way you watch movies).

    • j.eyre says:

      I agree, a great movie that should have been received much better. I think all the performances in it are quite good – one of my favorite Jake Gyllenhaal roles. Ruffalo, Downey and Brian Cox are fantastic.

    • Kimbob says:

      Thanks, Eve! I just got off work, & am going to look that one up in the online catalog of my local library! I honestly don’t know what I’d do w/out my library card. The libraries here in my county are THE BEST, & I liken it almost to a membership to Netflix or something….almost any movie I can think of, they have on DVD.

      Again, thank you.

    • Mira says:

      Ruffalo rocks in Zodiac! This post made me laugh. I love RDJ but he’s an entitled ass much! In RDJ’s defence though, Fincher is not an easy man to work with. He’s supposedly a major A-class douche to work with. He’s especially infamous for retakes. Makes actors redo shots 90 times or so is the count. Might as well fluke 89 times if Fincher insists on 90 takes per shot and get the last one right!

      • K.B. says:

        Wasn’t Fincher the director that made Jake cry because of the repeated takes of the same scene? Maybe not literally cry, but I thought Jake said something a year or so ago whining about his frustration with the number of takes he had to withstand in a movie. Which is ironic, because I think it’s one of Jake’s better screen performances.

        This just makes me like David Fincher more, in general. It’s hard for me to feel bad for a bunch of over-paid pretty people who play pretend for a living.

        (Sorry for the repeat info; I just saw Vic’s comment below)

    • mayamae says:

      I loved Ruffalo in In the Cut. He was also really good in a film he did with Joaquin Phoenix that I can’t think of right now.

      I find RDJ’s behavior specially irritating considering he was trying to rebuild his image. How tempting it must have been to do a little drug testing after he so accomodatingly provided the specimen – perhaps a force of habit?

      • Ranunculus says:

        I am starting to wonder how much truth is to this story. Maybe Fincher is just trying to change his reputation as a well known megalomaniac a**hole, and exaggerating stories to save his face. Wasn’t there a blind about him and Rooney Mara. Perhaps he was mad because nobody wanted to blow him on Zodiac. Regarding RDJ – I think he did Iron Man right after Zodiac. I doubt the producers would have hired him if they found out he was behaving like an idiot on the set of his recent movie. Either that or they were understanding because everybody knows Fincher is a huge d**k.

  8. Jackie O says:

    immature and gross.

  9. Jovia says:

    Agree with your comments on the film, Kaiser. I loved Zodiac so much that I have owned a copy of it since it came out on DVD. (Great screen cap of RDJ second pic down!)

    I am always up for Keanu news; thanks for the WSJ film review link.

  10. dahlianoir says:

    RDJ and scarves… swooooooon <3
    As for the urine, I would have sold it on ebay !! Quick bucks never hurt xD

  11. Mia 4S says:

    I love RDJ to bits as a performer and he seems generally to be a nice guy, but I can’t be the only one who has picked up on the fact that he can also be a bit of a tool and a full tilt diva? ;-)

    Zodiac is a great movie and I really want to see that documentary; that’s a fascinating interview list.

  12. Silk Spectre says:

    I wish Mark Ruffalo was in more things. He’s adorable.

    Actors who complain about their long hours and difficult working conditions and other assorted hardships get on my last nerve. Quit your bellyaching, silly little millionaire.

  13. Ming says:

    The movie with more piss on set:

    Aviator vs. Zodiac – and the piss Oscar goes to Leonardo DiCaprio !

  14. Ranunculus says:

    Ruffalo talked about his experience on Zodiac some time ago on some round table, and he said something like he was hoping Fincher was going to fire him during production, because the actors had to do up to 80 takes to satisfy Finchers idea of framing and composition. Of course that doesn’t justify RDJ urine “pranks” but I somehow always got the impression that he (Fincher) is a pain in the a** to work with.

    • Vic says:

      Don’t forget Gyllenhaal who had quite a few problems with Fincher’s intense schedule and infamous 100 takes per shot.

      I know people think most actors are babies but shooting in digital probably enabled Fincher’s obsession with shooting the simplest shot over and over again. It must have worn them out, not to mention kill their self esteem seeing as he sometimes would have actors deliver a line a ton of times just to delete the shots right away and have them start over.

      • Ranunculus says:

        Fincher is known for this actually. And I highly doubt either Ruffalo nor RDJ need that many takes to give good performance. BS! The way Mark told the story I got the impression that this was the first and the last time he would work for Fincher. Anyway who knows what REALLY happened on set. Sounds a lot of actors are -pissed- by the “almighty” Fincher.
        The video can be seen here

    • carrie says:

      RDJ also said that working with Fincher was like to live in a gulag and Fincher replied that RDJ is “a Malibu kid who doesn’t know what a gulag is”

      Fincher knows he’s painful to work and it’s why he rarely reteams with the same actors (except for Brad Pitt) (he dislikes “cry baby actors”)

      • Ranunculus says:

        Brad Pitt needs 80 takes to give an adequate performance, that’s why he doesn’t complain.

    • carrie says:

      and for the note,RDJ came on the set totally stoned with 2 hours of late without knowing his lines

  15. dee says:

    I don’t get the comments here. He didn’t piss the whole studio ffs. It’s icky, but this so-called “poor” assistant would probably just throw away the jars into trash can or something.

  16. Jacq says:

    Like they said over on DListed, they never caught the Zodiac, so RDJ was probably just too scared to go to the bathroom alone! Haha

  17. TheOriginalKitten says:

    Eh, lots of pearl-clutching over nothing. I was in the car a couple weeks ago when my friend stopped at a convenience store. His friend and I were stuck in car sitting in the parking lot and his friend really had to take a piss.
    Before I knew it he was peeing in an old green tea bottle. I tried to make small talk because it was kind of awkward but he just snapped “No talking!”. lol! Guess he was concentrating?
    He left the bottle on the back window of my friend’s car, who thought it was tea.
    This story is really gross but honestly, it made me laugh my ass off at the time. Growing up with a big bro, I guess I have a pretty high tolerance for dudes playing with their own piss. *shrugs*

  18. Kennedy says:

    Ugh first a Republican… and now this? Sit down RDJ!!

    • Toot says:

      Hmm, I knew there was a reason I never really liked him. He’s a good actor, but I didn’t like Iron Man and his defense of Mel turned me off.

      • Mira says:

        His defence of Mel comes from a personal space because Mel stood by RDJ during his addiction days and his comeback was possible because Mel paid for RDJ’s insurance bond for The Singing Detective.

  19. serena says:

    Still, if it’s RDJ who cares.
    He looks frigging hot with glasses and that attire.

  20. T.C. says:

    This cracked me up. Funny story.

  21. koi..koi says:

    he’s so cute…

  22. stinky says:

    wow Kaiser – ‘The Game’ is seriously one of my favorite movies. It’s SO well done. Gosh, how can you not care for it!??? HOW?

    • F5 says:

      I know right? ಥ_ಥ

    • anon33 says:

      I can’t speak for Kaiser, obviously, but my problem with the movie was the end. I thought it was great-taut, suspenseful, well written-right up until the end, which I felt just cheapened the whole movie and its concept. Kinda like Vanilla Sky, another movie that I loved but which ultimately disappointed me with its too “look how neatly we wrapped this up!” ending.

  23. Alexis says:

    RDJ is kind of looking like Al Pacino in this pics, who I also found super attractive back in the day.

  24. DANDILION says:

    Homey the clown ‘In living color’ did that first.. and better..

  25. Lindy says:

    What a nasty, petty, immature move on RDJ’s part. Yuck. Having talent does not mean you should get to behave like a total brat. Not impressed.

  26. ZenB!tch says:

    Gross! I agree with the spoiled Malibu kid who doesn’t know what a Gulag is. I also think he needs to cut down on the coffee. He’s always in Starbucks and Coffee Bean on the Westside. I’ve seen him so many times it’s scary. He’s usually really tan and always really short. He and I have that in common.

  27. e.non says:

    what an a..hole…

    i bet it didn’t even occur to downey that the director — if he even saw them — sure as hell wasn’t going to clean up his filthy mess.

  28. Scarlet Vixen says:

    While leaving urine jars about isn’t quite as gross and immature as p*ssing in your director’s tea–and then bragging about it–like Kate Beckinsale, I still find it to be pretty disappointing behavior from an actor I admire. Now Beckinsale, on the other hand, I’ve disliked ever since.

  29. VV says:

    Zodiac was a great film! I didn’t even realize it was a David Fincher movie until reading this article. I just happened to catch it on t.v. a while back and I got scared/blown away with how chilling and awesome the movie was.

    I didn’t need to know about urine in jars though but guys are kinda gross that way haha.

  30. anya says:

    Well, I can totally see RDJ doing something like that, he doesn’t give off the best vibes. I usually try to avoid his films- but this one sounds pretty good!

  31. MrsBPitt says:

    This really knocked RDJ down a notch in my book…boo hoo, he had to work hard…try working a real job Jr. for $9.00 an hour and let me know if you want to switch jobs…

  32. crtb says:

    Tell RDJ never become a tacher because you can’t leave your classroom to take a leak. So you better use the bathroom before school or have to wait until lunch or afterschool.