A poster for Stanley Kubrick's 1960 historical epic 'Spartacus', starring Kirk Douglas and Jean Simmons. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)
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Kirk Douglas Had To Force Stanley Kubrick To Film Spartacus' Most Famous Scene
Stanley Kubrick’s films gave cinema some of its most iconic moments, from “Here’s Johnny” in “The Shining” to the phone conversation in “Dr. Strangelove,” but the most iconic is undoubtedly the heroic “I’m Spartacus!” scene in the 1960 epic “Spartacus.” However, had the director gotten his way, the scene would not have happened.
In a 2016 interview on his 100th birthday, lead actor Kirk Douglas looked back on his time with Kubrick, whom he called “difficult [...] but he was talented.” The actor and director had sparred a bit on the set of “Paths of Glory,” but they really fought on the set of “Spartacus,” and Kubrick initially wrote off the iconic scene where Spartacus' followers each bravely claim to be the man himself as “a stupid idea.”
After relentless arguing and some therapy sessions, Douglas finally convinced Kubrick to keep the scene in the film, but they would continue to fight throughout production. Kubrick was unhappy with the finished film for many reasons, including its portrayal of the title character as a perfect moral archetype, and he would go on to call it his worst film.