One of the most endearing moments from Metallica's otherwise uneasy 2004 Some Kind of Monster documentary almost didn't make the final cut.
The film depicts perhaps the rockiest period in Metallica's history from 2001 to 2003, including longtime bassist Jason Newsted's departure and frontman James Hetfield's sabbatical to go to rehab.
As the remaining band members Hetfield, Kirk Hammett and Lars Ulrich contemplate the future of Metallica in the film, they search for Newsted's replacement and explore why the relationship with him became so unsalvageable.
The dourness of the film finally takes an optimistic turn when the band discovers Robert Trujillo, eventually hiring him and revealing to him on camera that he will be paid $1 million to put him on equal footing with his new bandmates.
Some Kind of Monster co-director Joe Berlinger revealed in a recent interview with Greatest Music of All Time podcast that the band was, at first, highly resistant to the scene being included in the final cut.
“It's a three-hours-plus screening,” Berlinger recalled of the rough cut he and co-director Bruce Sinofsky showed the band. “[There’s] literally not a peep through the whole screening – not a laugh, not a moment of recognition, just total silence. And it wasn’t feeling good.”
There was no applause for the final credits, either. Berlinger recalled the band and management basically leaving the screening room in complete silence.
Following the screening, the band, management and the two filmmakers drove back to Metallica's headquarters to discuss the film. Berlinger and Sinofsky were certain the ensuing meeting was going to be rough, and it was.
Metallica was understandably wary about scenes in the movie that were too specific about their wealth and status, like the $1 million signing gift to Trujillo and an earlier scene where Ulrich celebrates a successful art auction.
Ulrich was not as sensitive about as Hetfield and Hammett, Berlinger recalls. And after "hours" defending the rough cut, the directors started making headway with the two guitarists.
“I happened to look over at James Hetfield at the right moment, because I saw this moment of clarity come over him. And he pushed himself out from the chair, stood up … and he said, ‘Look, it's painful to watch. But you guys did exactly what you said you would do. It’s an honest, raw, truthful portrait of what we went through.’”
With that, Hammett relented and Ulrich nodded approvingly.
While the trio still wince at the thought of some scenes in the movie, they have stood behind it years later as a forthright depiction of that period in Metallica history.
Berlinger added that he's proud that the band decided not to wield its power over the final cut, saying, “It is truly our film. And that was a magic moment of just going full circle and James realizing … ‘Let's put it out there.’”
Watch Berlinger talk about the film via the clip below!
Photo: Getty Images