MVPs of Horror: How Jack Nicholson coached George Miller through his first Hollywood directing gig on 'Witches of Eastwick'

George Miller was well established in the rough-and-rugged world of Ozploitation cinema thanks to his work on the cultishly adored Australian trilogy Mad Max (1979-85). But he was still a little wet behind the ears when it came to how Hollywood functioned when he arrived on the major studio set of 1987’s The Witches of Eastwick.

Luckily, there was Jack.

“It was my first full Hollywood feature,” Miller told Yahoo Entertainment (watch above) about the horror-comedy about three women (Cher, Susan Sarandon, and Michelle Pfeiffer) who get into some hocus pocus after Jack Nicholson’s mysterious playboy arrives in their sleepy New England town. “Jack said to me, ‘Look, George, they mistake politeness for weakness. You gotta make ‘em think you’re a little crazy. ’”

The studio, Warner Bros., was not giving Miller the adequate resources he needed to execute his vision (i.e., a dozen extras when he asked for 50, one camera instead of the two he requested), so the filmmaker, thanks to Jack’s advice, took a stand.

“One day, when I just couldn’t be heard, I just didn’t turn up on set,” recounted Miller, who returned to the Mad Max series in 2015 with the monster hit, Fury Road. “And the moment that happened, suddenly I had everyone calling me from the studio.”

Jack had his back in other ways, too. “I was quite happy to leave the production,” Miller said of his on-set frustration. But “Jack kept on saying to me, ‘Listen, there’s good work being done here. Don’t forget that. And stick with it.’ He was over my shoulder telling me how to work in the Hollywood system.”

Watch our full Director’s Reel interview with George Miller from 2015:

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