James Caan Remembered Misery As One Of The Most 'Painful' Films Of His Career

It really should be no surprise that filming a movie called "Misery" was a miserable experience, but actor James Caan was apparently truly tortured making the 1990 Rob Reiner film. Based on the novel by Stephen King, "Misery" is a taut thriller that follows Caan's novelist character Paul Sheldon. Paul gets into a car accident during a blizzard and is "rescued" by his super-fan, Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates). Annie is obsessed with Paul's books about a woman named Misery, and she doesn't want him to end the series and move on. In fact, she's willing to hold him captive and force him to write her the next Misery novel, even if it means doing some horrible things to keep him under her control. 

The role required Caan to lie in bed for the 15-week shoot, which was extremely difficult for the hyperactive actor. He also had to get into some pretty uncomfortable positions in order to create the film's most memorable moment, when Annie hobbles poor Paul with a sledgehammer and a block of wood. Caan wasn't the only one struggling, however, and in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, he and Bates revealed the struggles of surviving "Misery."

'All of God's children got hurt.'

In the interview where Bates and Caan rehashed the making of "Misery," Caan elaborated on why the film was one of the most painful of his entire career:

"By the way, that was one of the most painful shoots... Do you [Bates] remember the shot when you pushed the wheelchair to go back into that glass, and I push myself forward and jump on you, when we get into that fight?... So they said, 'Jimmy, you know, you don't have to go too hard, because the real glass is behind it.' Of course, I oversold it again, boom, and I went into that glass, and on the wheelchair, they had an air gun. And they really fired that sucker, because it had to throw me, you know. But they never put a seat clamp on it, so it slipped out, and it hit me right above the tailbone."

The interviewer pointed out that not only did Caan get hurt, but Bates and the pig performer playing Annie's pet were also injured. Caan replied, "All of God's children got hurt," which is definitely not how filming is supposed to go. Horror movies are notoriously difficult to endure for actors, but injuries are supposed to be few and far between. Thank goodness on-set safety rules have improved since 1990.

Don't mess with Bates

Not content to let Caan get all of the painful glory, Bates chimed in on her experiences during their character's big climactic fight:

"When he slammed my head into the floor and started shoving the paper in my mouth, that was bad. When we got through with that, I just went off stage and burst into tears. It was just awful."

Caan proceeded to tease Bates about being a "little prairie flower" despite playing the absolutely brutal Annie Wilkes, and she wasn't having any of it, responding with a hearty "f*** you." Bates went through hell of her own bringing Annie to life, and making "Misery" was simply miserable for everyone involved, except maybe Reiner. The majority of his problems involved script rewrites, which are significantly less painful than faking a hobbling or a knock-down, drag-out fist fight. 

While it's a real shame that "Misery" isn't exactly a happy memory for much of its cast, the result was a brilliant and terrifying film that's one of the all-time best Stephen King adaptations. At least that suffering went towards some great art, and it's not like they got beat up to make "Norbit." Now that would be miserable.