Throughout his life, Cassavetes was known for his wild-man behavior. He was delightfully nutty, and impetuous and impulsive to a fault. He seemed capable of doing or saying anything to anyone, utterly fearless and heedless of consequences. Sometimes the nuttiness manifested itself as a stunt or a prank – like the time he chained himself to radiator at CBS to attempt to force them to give him a walk-on in You Are There or got mad at a receptionist and faked an appendicitis in her office (refusing to give up the ruse, even when the paramedics showed up) or deliberately made a scene in public just to see how people would react. This was the actor who, after all, if he found himself with a spare hour or two on his hands, would ride uptown in the bus loudly crying the whole way, and then downtown loudly laughing, just to see how people responded. Or (in anticipation of Seymour Moskowitz) approached women on the street he had never seen before, insisting he knew them from high school or college, trying to pick them up. Half of his friends thought he was nuts; the other half adulated him, since even simply going into a bar with him became a kind of street theater – Cassavetes would do something completely demented, a crowd would gather, and craziness would ensue. And Cassavetes ate it up. He was a born clown who loved to the center of attention (in fact demanded to be). He was a Svengali with women. A guru with men. And took full advantage of the power that accrued.
He turned life into fun and games. Of course the game was often not funny for those who were its victims. The years he was trying to make it as an actor are full of examples. There was the time a casting director rejected him for a part because “no one would believe you as a murderer,” and Cassavetes returned to his office a few hours later with a gun and threatened his life: “You don’t believe I can be a murderer? You don’t think I can kill you? I’ll show you.” The young actor wasn’t smiling and the agent was so terrified he broke into tears.
— From an interview with Ray Carney on John Cassevetes, pictured above with Peter Falk in Mikey and Nicky (1976, dir. Elaine May)