When one cheats death, it’s normal to re-evaluate life and strive to become a better person and live to the hilt. After all, being given a second (or third, or fourth!) shot at living happens for a good reason. But most of all, pulling out of a near-death experience is cause for celebration and gratitude for life. And it’s but natural to have a better appreciation for it and for the people around you.
Here are some celebrities who nearly lost their lives. For some, the accidents happened while they were filming on-set. And for others, the experiences were just plain freak occurrences.
While filming Syriana in 2005, George Clooney severely injured his back and almost died as a result. He said the pain was so intense that, as he was lying immobile on a hospital bed with an IV in his arm, he even contemplated suicide. Clooney said his headaches were so splitting that he felt as if he was about to have a stroke. Luckily, he pulled himself together and snapped out of the suicidal mindset and recovered from the injury after a successful surgery. And for all his hard work, he was awarded an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for the film.
Back in 2003, Black Sabbath lead singer Ozzy Osbourne got into an accident while driving his all-terrain vehicle on the grounds of his estate and sustained major injuries. He had a broken collarbone, fractured ribs, and a damaged vertebrae. He had to undergo major surgery to repair the broken parts of his body and doctors had to work to stop the bleeding into his lungs. Osbourne said he literally almost died, but he felt lucky to have survived the accident.
Veteran Hollywood actor Donald Sutherland recounted that when he was filming the war comedy film Kelly’s Heroes in Yugoslavia in 1970, he contracted spinal meningitis and fell into a coma. Doctors said he actually went brain dead for a few seconds and the actor can attest to this. He said he saw a blue tunnel and a white light at the end of it. He didn’t want to die yet so he fought the urge to walk towards the light, though he jokingly said he was incredibly tempted to. He was airlifted to London, where he recovered completely and resumed filming after six weeks.
Sometimes an actor’s performance in a scene can be so realistic that it turns out not to be an act at all. This was the case for Isla Fisher when she was filming Now You See Me in 2013. In the film, Fisher played a magician and in one scene where she was bound and shackled in chains underwater while doing a magic trick, her chain got stuck for real. The whole crew thought she was just putting on a stellar performance, but it turned out, Fisher was truly drowning for a good three minutes. Luckily, a stuntman came to her rescue and a quick-release switch was enabled, bringing Fisher back to the water’s surface.
When filming Inglorious Basterds, actress Diane Kruger nearly bought the farm, so to speak, due to a scene that director Quentin Tarantino wanted as authentic as possible. He wanted to get a near-genuine strangling scene, so he decided to wring Kruger’s neck with his own bare hands, warning her that he was going to cut off her air circulation for just a couple of seconds. Tarantino got carried away and Kruger lost consciousness for a while. Luckily, the move paid off and the film was a success with Kruger receiving rave reviews and award nominations for her performance.
Michael J. Fox
One of his most memorable roles was that of Marty McFly in the Back to the Future trilogy, but many of us don’t know what went on during the shooting of the third and last film. During a scene where Fox’s character was supposed to hang by a noose, he held the rope the wrong way and ended up hanging for real. He passed out during the filming of the scene and it wasn’t until one of the crew noticed that he stopped moving that they realized that he was really getting strangled. Fortunately, no other major mishaps occurred and the film went on to become part of one of the most successful film franchises in history.
Film and TV star Jane Seymour learned in the hardest way possible that she’s allergic to penicillin. She was given a shot of the drug when she came down with the flu and suffered a severe allergic reaction to it, one that put her in a coma. She said that she had an out-of-body experience, wherein she saw herself on the bed with people around her trying to resuscitate her. But she willed herself to live, not wanting to leave her children. And fortunately, she did come back to life.
The late screen legend Elizabeth Taylor was said to have had two brushes with death. The first time was during a surgery, wherein she nearly died on the operating table. She was told she stopped breathing for a good seven minutes and within that time, she actually saw herself in the tunnel with the white light at the end. Her second close call was in 1958, when she was scheduled to fly with her then husband Mike Todd, but changed her mind at the last minute due to a cold. The plane carrying Todd tragically crashed, killing everyone onboard.
Even before he came to Hollywood, action star Jackie Chan was already known as a daredevil who performed his own death-defying stunts. In the Hong Kong-made action film Armour of God, Chan was filming a scene where he was supposed to jump from a wall to a tree branch. But the branch broke and Chan plummeted five meters to the ground, hitting his head on a rock and cracking his skull in the process. After an eight-hour surgery, Chan survived the ordeal. But the accident left him with a permanent hole in his head filled with a plastic plate and slight loss of hearing in one ear.
Hollywood sex symbol Sharon Stone escaped the grim reaper not just once, but twice in her life! The first time was in 1990, when she figured in a head-on collision with a car driving on the wrong side of the road. The accident almost rendered her paralyzed due to a sprained back, plus a dislocated jaw and twisted knee. She was bed-ridden with a back brace for six long months. Then eleven years later in 2001, Stone suffered an aneurysm and was feared to become a vegetable if she survived the hemorrhage. But she did survive and has used her tragic experiences to inspire others to live life to the fullest.