A considerable amount of hard work, sweat and dedication goes into making a movie. Although it may appear that only the actors are working; there’s actually a lot of things going on all around them. At any moment, something can go wrong; an overhead lamp can fall, a stunt can malfunction and even the impossible can happen.
Many actors have been injured on set before. Some have even tragically lost their lives. It makes you wonder if the price we pay for entertainment is worth the risk. But like any other profession, there are going to be a few mishaps that occur along the way.
As time progresses and working conditions ameliorate, there are fewer casualties in the acting business. However, as our culture evolves, the demand for bigger, better and more extreme movies gets heightened, resulting in some actors or their stunt doubles putting their well-being at risk on a daily basis.
15. Isla Fisher – Now You See Me
Isla Fisher had the scare of her life while filming a stunt for 2013’s Now You See Me. What her fellow actors and cast member’s mistook for phenomenal acting turned out to be an actual cry for help. The 40-year-old actress screamed and fussed, but her efforts were muted by the water around her. Fisher’s release chain had gotten stuck in her swimming costume and she was unable to communicate her malaise to her cast members.
“I was actually drowning. Everyone thought I was acting fabulously … no one realized I was actually struggling.” The redheaded actress remained underwater for nearly three whole minutes before she was cut lose. Although Fisher had one foot in the grave she still manages to find humor in the daunting situation. “Who wants to die in a swimming costume?” Fisher jokes.
14. Sylvester Stallone- Rocky IV
Not everything went as planned while filming the 1985’s boxing classic Rocky IV. Sylvester Stallone, who would be fighting against his much hated co-star Dolph Lundgren, got an idea that would later land him in the hospital. Stallone figured it would be more believable if Lundgren actually knocked him out during a fight scene, and Lindgren was all too happy to do so. His blonde rival charged at him and punched him in the chest with such an enormous force that Stallone felt as if he’d been struck by a car at full speed.
“Later that night my blood pressure goes up to 260, I go to hospital, they put me in an emergency jet and fly me back to America. Next thing I know I’m in intensive care for five days with nuns walking around.” Stallone explains. After close examination, it was stated that the force of Lundgren’s punch had caused Stallone’s heart to rattle against his ribs and swell dramatically.
13. Jaimie Alexander – Thor : The Dark World
Jaimie Alexander saw her life flash before her eyes while filming for 2012’s Thor: The Dark World. Alexander, who played the role of Lady Sif, had no idea that she would be subjected to injury and end up spending a month in the hospital. Alexander presented herself on that September morning to film an average scene that she was not in the least bit afraid to shoot, but sadly her situation turned drastic in a matter of seconds.
“It was raining, it was dark outside, it was like 5 in the morning. I went down a metal staircase and slipped and slipped a disc in my thoracic spine and chipped 11 of my vertebra. I knocked my left shoulder out of place and tore my rhomboid on my right side.” Alexander clarifies after much speculation over the incident. Within a month, Alexander was back on set and kicking butt.
12. Aaron Paul – Breaking Bad
We all remember Breaking Bad; the intense drug infested series that had most tv abiding citizens on the edge of their seats. Aaron Paul played the role of Jesse Pinkman, the right-hand man of the great Walter White, was undoubtedly the perfect choice to play this role. But what if I told you that we could have lost this great actor in the first season of Breaking Bad?
After many re-takes of a scene that clearly wasn’t working, Paul asked the director if he could improvise instead. It was one of the scenes that was filmed in the desert while outside of their meth trailer. Almost instantly after Paul moved from his requested spot, a huge rock that was being used to hold down the trailer flew off and fell where Paul had just been. If he had not asked to make changes to the scene, Paul would have met an untimely end.
11. Michael J. Fox – Back To The Future III
Sometimes while filming a movie, the truth is needed to accurately demonstrate the director’s vision, but most of the time ignorance is truly bliss. Michael J. Fox learned this lesson first hand when he decided to take drastic measures to fulfill his acting duty.
While filming a scene for Back To The Future III, Fox found himself in a tight situation. He wanted it to appear as though he was being hung in real life, but the scene kept coming up short. His solution was to take the box he was using to support his weight out from underneath him, and actually suspend himself. However, things did not go as planned and Fox ended up passing out from lack of oxygen. It took about 30 seconds for Fox to regain consciousness.
10. Kate Winslet – Titanic
Titanic was arguably one of the hardest movies to shoot, from malfunctions to drenched actors – it’s safe to say that a wet cast is an unhappy one. Kate Winslet experiences many short comings after taking on the role of Rose ; a rich yet adventurous, red headed beauty.
Amongst many problematic encounter’s, Winslet managed to keep her cool throughout cases of influenza, chipped bones and ghastly bruises. However, while filming that heart-wrenching scene where Rose and lover Jack Dawson are submerged in water and thrown against a gate, Winslet got to see what true fear was all about. Winslet’s jacket got caught in the gate and she ended up swallowing large amounts of water and drowning. It wasn’t until she was freed that she was able to cough out the water and gasp large quantities of air into her lungs.
9. Jason Statham – The Expendables III
Some of you may be surprised to know that Jason Statham competed for England in the Auckland Commonwealth Games in 1990, shortly before pursuing a career in acting. His past experiences as a professional driver is what helped him jump out of death’s path while filming a stunt in The Expendable III.
While filming a scene that required Statham to drive a three-ton truck at full speed, the worst thing that could have happened, happened. The breaks of the truck malfunctioned and Statham was forced to leap out of the vehicle before it plunged 60 feet into the sea. Luckily the crew had dismantled the door of the truck for the action scene, and Statham was able to escape in due time. If Statham hadn’t been an excellent swimmer, he would not have been able to escape and survive this horrifying incident.
8. Matthew Fox – Lost
Matthew Fox, who played the role of Dr. Jack Shepherd in the hit TV series Lost, came close to losing his own life while shooting a fight scene. With all the hustle and bustle that goes on on-set, it is sometimes easy to misplace objects or get confused by all the props, but sometimes a small mistake can lead to a fatality.
Terry O’Quinn was given a knife and told to stab his co-star Fox, but what O’Quinn did not know was that the knives had gotten mixed up, and he had not been handed a retractable knife. The confusion came from the director wanting Fox to be stabbed with an actual knife—at first, but then deciding that the protective gear seemed too bulky underneath Fox’ shirt. To fix the wardrobe malfunction, the director then decided to use a retractable one instead, but make Fox wear a smaller protective vest to prevent bruising. If Fox had not been wearing the vest, the knife would have went through him and he could have died.
7. Chevy Chase – Modern Problems
To think that we could have lost Chevy Chase back in 1981, is a thought most of us never want to have. Truth is however, that we came close to just that. Back then, and I say back then, because by now Chase is as old as sin, movie sets were not the safest place to be, and although they have gotten a lot safer— they aren’t perfect yet.
While filming the movie Modern Problems, Chase came close to getting fried like an egg on Sunday morning. Chase was wearing landing lights in this particular scene, and they betrayed him by short circuiting and electrifying him to the point that he lost consciousness. Luckily for him, and for us, no permanent damage was done for the most part.
6. Tom Cruise – Top Gun
Tom Cruise may hold the record for the most near-death-experiences ever attributed to one specific actor. He has played in so many action-packed thriller’s that it is almost shocking that this actor has survived his career.
While filming a scene for the action flick Top Gun, Cruise came close to being the subject of a freak accident. During the ocean scene where he clutches onto Goose’s lifeless body, Cruise’s parachute began to take on water. If it hadn’t been for a cast member who noticed and quickly cut Cruise loose —he would have been fished into the ocean and captured by its depts.
5. Joseph Gordon-Levitt – Premium Rush
Joseph Gordon-Levitt usually abstains from performing his own stunts, but while filming for Premium Rush he decided to break out of his usual comfort-zone. For those of you who have never seen this movie, it revolves around Gordon-Levitt being followed by a corrupt policeman as he tries to deliver a package to Colombia University.
Being in New York, it is extremely difficult to maneuver out of harms way, and it did not take long for Gordon-Levitt to meet face-to-face with danger. While the actor was speeding on his bike, he managed to collide with the back of a taxi cab and bust through the window. The accident resulted in him getting 31 stitches on his arm —but no permanent damage was done and Gordon-Levitt was all smiles after the collision.
4. Margaret Hamilton
The Wicked Witch of the West was played by actress Margaret Hamilton back in 1939. While filming a certain scene in the movie The Wizard of Oz, Hamilton’s usual maniacal shrieks of laughter quickly turned to ones of terror.
Hamilton’s character had the trademark of disappearing in a cloud of smoke whenever she damn well pleased, but this stunt was not as easy as it seemed. Back then, effects were not the strongest points of a movie, and so they had to work with what they had — and what they had was petroleum. Hamilton used this substance as an essential base to her makeup, but what they didn’t know was that it was flammable when it came into contact with the sparks from the cloud of smoke. The Wicked Witch of the West went up in flames and suffered from third degree burns on her hands and face.
3. Daniel Day-Lewis – Gangs Of New York
Daniel Day-Lewis is one of the most praised actors of his generation. This brilliant man is known for deliberately getting so attached to his roles, that well, he will risk his life for them.
While filming for the movie Gangs Of New York, Day-Lewis refused to wear any clothing that would not go hand-in-hand with the movie’s time era. The year in question was 1863, and it was so cold outside that the camera man’s finger’s felt like falling off even with gloves on. No matter the weather, Day-Lewis would not head to the consent of the cast and persevered in his thin attire. Eventually pneumonia came up behind him, tapped him on the shoulder, and asked him for a dance while whispering death threats in his ear. This was enough to make Day-Lewis reconsider his position and put on some extra layers.
2. Halle Berry – The Call
Halle Berry is as ferocious as they come— which is probably why she played the role of Catwoman so flawlessly, but no matter how ferocious someone may be —human’s don’t always land on their feet.
While shooting a fight scene for the movie The Call, Berry seemed to misplace her feet and ended up smashing her head on the concrete floor. The impact was so intense that she was instantly knocked out and rushed to the hospital. Berry regained consciousness shortly after but was in no condition to get back to filming. As a result, production was closed down for the rest of that day.
1. Jackie Chan – Police Story
Jackie Chan is the man, it’s as simple as that. He’s funny, quick and never hesitates to perform his own stunts. All in all, he is the full package and an inspiration to those who admire the magnificent precision of martial arts. However, even the most amazing people can fall sometimes, especially when the tasks at hand are well, damn right insane.
While Chan was filming the final fight scene of Police Story, he suddenly felt something he doesn’t usually experience. Fear. When Chan jumped onto that metal pole and proceeded to slide down, many of the light bulbs exploded. This caused severe burns on his hands, but that wasn’t the only malfunction of the day; the cast had used sugar glass instead of the usual stunt glass, which proved to be a lot thicker than necessary. Chan’s seventh and eight vertebrae cracked and he dislocated his pelvis from the impact, but he managed to walk away with his life.