An angry A-lister and a clash of egos, and that was just between takes.
Boxer's son turned filmmaker Matt Hookings reveals his long struggle to tell the story of historic English pugilist Jem Belcher...
Scoring several major movie stars to headline your independent film is quite the coup when you're an unknown name in Hollywood but keeping them on board as your finances and luck run out is another matter entirely. Just ask Matt Hookings.
The 32-year-old filmmaker from South Wales has spent a decade trying to tell the story of James "Jem" Belcher who became the youngest English boxing champion in history at the age of 19 in 1800.
It has been a journey that has, at times, almost destroyed him because of the egos, uncertainty and financial turmoil involved.
At least five times, he was told it was "game over" for his film. "Everything was on the line - my life, money, career, credibility," Matt says, lowering his voice. "My body and my mental state."
So, when Gladiator star Crowe finally agreed to play Jem's grandfather, the former Norfolk boxing champion Jack Slack, Matt thought his prayers had been answered.
It took three approaches, including a single £1,200 phone call to Crowe's manager in Australia, convincing him the shoot could still happen after Covid-19 shut down international travel.
Then he nearly lost the star after a lastminute location switch to Malta put millions of pounds on the line.
Thankfully, the Oscar-winner came through. But the stress wasn't over.