In the burning eyes of Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine, Metallica and filmmakers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky, who shot the Metallica documentary "Some Kind of Monster," are the real monsters.
Mustaine claims that after years of bitterness between himself and Metallica, he agreed to help them out with the $4.3 million movie and got stabbed in the back for his efforts. In one of the most powerful scenes in the film, Mustaine confronts Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich about being kicked out of the band in 1982 for being a belligerent drunk.
Over an uncomfortable five minutes of footage, Mustaine tells Ulrich that the move ruined his life, and that no matter how many platinum albums he's earned over the years with Megadeth, he has always lived in the shadow of the more successful Metallica (see "Metallica: The Talking Cure").
At one point, Mustaine asks Ulrich why the band didn't just send him to rehab instead of booting him, a reference to Metallica frontman James Hetfield's entrance into a substance-abuse center in 2001, which significantly delayed the release of the band's St. Anger album (see "Metallica Frontman James Hetfield Enters Rehab").
As emotional as the footage is, it should never have been included in the film, said Mustaine, who claims he didn't approve it because he felt the clip didn't represent the full extent of what happened in the meeting.
"If you watch the stuff linearly, it's totally different," Mustaine said. "They filmed three hours of us together and they only used about five minutes. Why didn't they use the part where Lars gets up and walks to the bathroom crying because I let him have it because of the sh-- that happened?"
On Tuesday (July 20), filmmakers Berlinger and Sinofsky issued MTV News a statement in which they said, "We stand by what we filmed, how we filmed it, and our decisions in the editing room. ... We are all very surprised that Mr. Mustaine is displeased. We found him to be an intelligent, articulate person struggling with the same issues as Metallica — questions of creative and existential identity and collaborative tensions. Lars Ulrich is shown in an equally human manner, even shedding a tear on camera during the scene. ... While we certainly couldn't include the entire three hours we shot with him, we strongly believe that the scene in question is truthful and representative of the emotions that transpired."
Mustaine said that after the filmed therapy session, he was handed release papers, which he agreed to sign, provided he was given the chance to OK the footage he was in after it was edited. More than a year later he was sent a tape of his scene, which he was extremely unhappy with. So, he said, he talked to one of the movie's directors and sent a message to Metallica stating that he didn't want his scene released.
"It didn't mean anything to them," Mustaine said. "Then Lars put his spin on it, saying, 'Well, we looked at [his statement], and we couldn't figure out if it was him or the management saying it.' Who gives a f---? We didn't approve it, and that's all that should have mattered."
Berlinger and Sinofsky tell a different story. "As is our standard practice, the release form that Mr. Mustaine signed on the day of the shoot did not include any provision that he, or any of the dozens of other people we filmed who signed this same release, would have approval over the material," they said. "However, throughout the filming of the scene, there were several moments that became particularly emotional, in which Mr. Mustaine asked us to turn the camera off, a request we honored — none of that material was included in the film. The footage that was used did not have any restrictions from Mr. Mustaine when he signed the release.
"Two years after filming the scene with Mr. Mustaine, we contacted his representatives not for approval over the scene, but in order to request permission to use clips of Megadeth videos and archival footage. ... When Mr. Mustaine asked to see how he appeared in our film before he would grant permission to use this archival material, we sent him a copy of the scene, assuming he would see it as positive. When we were told that he was unhappy with his portrayal, we offered to screen the entire film for him in person ... [but] he refused our offer. There was no attempt to stab him in the back by anyone connected to this film."
Mustaine said he was so emotional and revealing during the shoot because it was filmed two days after September 11, and he was still reeling from the terrorist attacks. He added that when he agreed to take part in the project, he thought he would be treated fairly and objectively.
"I had no idea I was getting set up," Mustaine said. "And the thing I don't understand is that for 20 years they've said that I was the temporary guitar player, and that I was no good. You don't talk about me, and basically pretended that I never even existed, and now I'm so goddamn important I gotta be in the movie? Give me a break."
While the filmmakers agreed that the timing of the interview probably contributed both Mustaine's and Ulrich's willingness to be open with their feelings toward one another, "the timing of the conversation does not invalidate the scene's integrity or legitimacy," they said. "Probably just the opposite is true. The timing allowed us to capture an incredibly truthful and human moment. The cameras were not hidden — we were invited into the room."
"Some Kind of Monster" is playing at seven theaters nationwide and will open in 93 more by August 6.
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This story was updated July 20 at 5:28 p.m. ET