The feud between Frank Darabont and “The Walking Dead” just got shockingly public. The director of “The Shawkshank Redemption” and “The Mist” developed the zombie adaptation for television before being fired in the middle of production on Season 2. Ever since December 2013, he’s been in a lawsuit against the series, claiming $280 million in damages over allegedly being denied rightful profit participation. The emails were released this morning by The Hollywood Reporter.
“F*ck you all for giving me chest pains because of the staggering f*cking incompetence, blindness to the important beats, and the beyond-arrogant lack of regard for what is written being exhibited on set every day,” he wrote in an email to producer Gale Anne Hurd and others on June 14, 2011. “I deserve better than a heart attack because people are too stupid to read a script and understand the words. Does anybody disagree with me? Then join the C-cam operator and go find another job that doesn’t involve deliberately f*cking up my show scene by scene.”
Darabont’s frustration with the series began when AMC demanded budget cuts for Season 2 of the hit zombie series. The director created the season’s one-location setting at a Georgia farmhouse so that the show could work around the limitations of the lower budget, but AMC then demanded all scripts be turned in before the start of principal photography. Scripts for later episodes are usually written during the filming of episodes with completed scripts, making AMC’s request highly unusual for television.
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“I have never been a screamer, but I am now,” he said in the same email. “The work being done on this episode has turned me into one. Congratulations, you all accomplished what I thought was impossible. You’ve turned me into a raging asshole. Thanks a lot, you f*ckers. Everybody, especially our directors, better wake the f*ck up and pay attention. Or I will start killing people and throwing bodies out the door.”
In a July 2011 email to AMC studio executive Ben Davis, Darabont lashed out at the writer’s room. “There IS no writers room, which you know as well as I do,” he wrote. “I am the writers room. The lazy f*cking assholes who were supposedly going to be my showrunners threw that responsibility on me after wasting five months of my time.”
Darabont was fired soon after these email exchanges. He returned to television in 2013 with the TNT gangster series “Mob City,” but it was cancelled after one season. You can read all of his email exchanged by heading over to The Hollywood Reporter.