Shooting a film is pretty much always a complex and arduous process. It usually takes at least a month to film around the two hours that the audience winds up seeing in the finished film product. But movies are kind of like snowflakes, and because each one of them is different they all present different problems and complications when it comes to actually translating whatever is in the script on to the screen. And while filmmakers love to let their imaginations run wild when it comes to what they can achieve in their movies, there are always actors and other people behind the production that actually have to make that imagination into reality, which sometimes is even more difficult than it might seem. Whether it's mental, physical, or financial, there are a litany of problems that a production can run in to while filming a movie, and while the audience might only see thirty seconds of a scene on their screen it could be a scene that took days, weeks, or months to achieve.
So out of all of the memorable scenes in cinema, which ones were the most difficult to make happen? These scenes put nearly impossible expectations on the cast or sometimes the crew in order to make the impossible seem like a reality. Which of these super memorable scenes are moments in cinematic history that the actors who performed in them would probably like to forget?
20 Everything In The Abyss
This might come as a shock, but trying to shoot almost an entire film underwater is actually pretty hard and pretty risky. The Abyss is most memorable for its extensive and beautiful underwater sequences, but it's probably best known in the film world for its insanely difficult shoot. The entire cast had to become certified divers before filming began, but in one particularly memorable incident lead actor Ed Harris felt things got out of control and dangerous, and was so upset by the incident that he confronted director James Cameron afterwards. Nearly everyone who worked on the film agreed that it was the most difficult film they'd ever shot.
19 The Crazy 88 Scene Of Kill Bill
Creating a well choreographed and beautifully executed martial arts stunt scene takes an enormous amount of practice and work, and that can be said about a fight between two characters that requires a lot of stunt moves. So just multiply that difficulty by 44 times, and you have an idea of how difficult the scene of the Crazy 88 in Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill might have been. Of course Uma Thurman didn't actually have to take on 88 people at once, but coordinating the kind of stunt work that can make an audience believe that she's taking on 88 warriors at once is a serious job.
18 Leonardo DiCaprio And The Extremes Of The Revenant
Well if you can say one thing, it's that actor Leonardo DiCaprio really did have to suffer to finally win his first Academy Award in his role in The Revenant, which he described as the most difficult performance of his career. In one of the particularly difficult scenes to shoot, DiCaprio's character is supposed to be eating raw bison meat in order to survive. Initially Leonardo was given a fake prop version of a bison liver to eat on screen, but because the fake meat looked too obviously fake DiCaprio decided to eat real raw bison liver for that scene.
17 Spider Man Catching Mary Jane's Lunch
There is a pretty memorable scene in the first Spider-Man film where Peter Parker catches Mary Jane Watson when she slips and falls, and Spidey manages to catch every item that falls right back on her lunch tray as well. It's clearly meant to show off Peter's newfound agility skills, but surprisingly the scene itself wasn't CGI. Actor Tobey Maguire actually caught all of those objects while the tray was glued to his hand. An impressive feat to be sure, but it actually took 16 hours of shooting and a whopping 156 takes to actually get the stunt effect right.
16 RoboCop Catching Some Car Keys
RoboCop is meant to be a super cop who can do the job of 20 regular police officers at the same time, but in reality RoboCop was just actor Peter Weller in a massive costume that was absurdly difficult to move, see, and hear in. So clearly, it was an easy recipe for some serious trouble. One memorable scene in the film was of RoboCop snatching a set of keys out of the air, but because Peter Weller could barely see in his costume it took the production nearly a full day to get a good take of RoboCop catching the keys looking cool instead of clunky.
15 Iron Man 3's Skydiving Extravaganza
Seeing a massive amount of CGI and special effects in a Marvel film is pretty much what the audience expects at this point, but one of the most memorable scenes of Iron Man 3 was surprisingly a real performed stunt. At one point in the film a group of free falling civilians are rescued by Iron Man and link hands while falling through the sky, and instead of performing this scene with actors in front of a green screen the film had actual skydivers leap out of a plane at 12,000 feet and perform the entire scene while they were falling through the air.
14 Fast 5's Commitment To Realistic Action Scenes
The Fast and the Furious series has definitely had a nearly never-ending list of amazing stunts, but one of the more memorable entries on to that list came in Fast Five, where the movie features an enormous bank safe being stolen and dragged away by two Dodge Chargers. But what makes the scene exceptionally surprising is that it was a practical effect – the production crew actually dragged an enormous prop vault. Or rather, they dragged one of seven prop vaults, each of which had to be specifically designed for different purposes and different shots throughout the scene.
13 Inception's Spinning Hallway
Christopher Nolan's Inception is one of the most mind-bending movies of the past decade, but the director's passion for doing as many live effects instead of computer generated ones created some understandable difficulties during the production of the film. One of the most memorable scenes in the movie where Joseph Gordon Levitt fights in a spinning hallway was surprisingly filmed on a real-life set, which gave an incredible visual effect but was also insanely difficult to do. The production had to build an entire hallway set that spun, and then Joseph had to learn how to navigate the spinning set to make it look easy and believable.
12 Return Of The Jedi's Alternate Scene
It's no secret that Star Wars creator George Lucas is a bit of a perfectionist, and a big fan of cutting edge special effects. And while the Star Wars trilogy was cutting edge for its time, there were some scenes in the films that left George unsatisfied that he actually decided to reshoot... over a decade after the original films were shot. Lucas decided that he wanted a shot of one of the minor characters inside of the rancor pit in Return of the Jedi, so he had an identical set of the pit rebuilt and got the original bit player actress to reprise the role simply for that scene.
11 Keeping The Secret Of The Shining From Danny Torrance
The Shining is probably one of the most famous and well regarded films ever made, but can you believe that Danny Lloyd, the young actor who played Danny Torrance in the film, didn't even know that he was in a spooky movie at the time? Director Stanley Kubrick wanted to film the movie without scaring the young boy with some of the more upsetting elements of the movie, so he told the boy they were filming a normal drama film and kept him out of the more questionable sequences. Lloyd only discovered what kind of film The Shining was once he was a teenager.
10 The Police Lineup In The Usual Suspects
The police lineup scene of all of the major characters in the film The Usual Suspects is probably the most memorable image of the movie, but it was actually one of the most difficult scenes to shoot. And you might ask yourself why, seeing as it's literally just a row of actors standing in an empty room doing the scene. But it wasn't any technical difficulty that made the lineup scene so hard. It was so tough because the actors couldn't get themselves to stop laughing for long enough to actually get a decent and complete take of their scene.
9 The Water Scenes In Titanic
Shooting a film on the scale of Titanic is a massive headache for everyone involved, but the actors in the epic James Cameron film had a special kind of difficulty that they had to deal with throughout almost the entire production that seems simple, but must really wear down on a person. Simply put, the water in their tank sets was really cold. Most people have a difficult time in cold water even for short periods, but these actors had to spend days on end in the extra chilly temperatures and they still had to, you know, act while freezing.
8 The Extreme Heat Of The Wizard Of Oz
The Wizard Of Oz is best known by many people as the first Technicolor movie, and while the transition from the dull sepia tones of Kansas to the bright candy colors of Oz is one of the most memorable moments in film history, it was also an enormous pain for the production. The earliest versions of the Technicolor coloring process required extremely bright lighting in order to get shots that looked good and were vibrant, which meant that the set was often heated to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit during the shoot. Add in the heavy costumes and makeup, and it's easy to see why many of the performers had to be taken off set.
7 Faye Dunaway Vs. Roman Polanski In Chinatown
Actors clashing with their director can sometimes lead to bad results or to great results, but it seems borderline miraculous that the feud between actress Faye Dunaway and director Roman Polanski resulted in a movie that was as good as Chinatown. Dunaway is pretty well known for being a temperamental actress, and after filming the movie she described Polanski as a bully that she had very little patience or tolerance for. Polanski had similar ill feelings towards Faye, and although there are many unconfirmed rumors about the extremes that the Chinatown set was taken to both seem to agree that it was some of the most difficult work they ever experienced.
6 The Malfunctioning Jaws
The choice to have the shark in Jaws be an unseen and terrifying force throughout most of the movie only to be physically revealed in the final act is widely regarded as one of the best suspense building choices in the annals of film history, but keeping the great white out of sight for that long wasn't actually a choice. The mechanical shark that was built for the production unfortunately had constant problems and the crew had a hard time even getting it to work in most cases, so director Steven Spielberg simply figured out a way around the problem as much as he could.
5 Cleopatra's High Costs
The legendary film Cleopatra has the fairly dubious distinction of being one of only two films in history to be the highest grossing film of the year while still ending up with a net loss, and the sprawling historical epic nearly bankrupted its studio, 20th Century Fox. The film originally began its production in England, but after a few weeks of production the filming was moved to Italy and all of the sets of the film had to be rebuilt. And if you were to adjust the film's budget for inflation, it would cost an unimaginable $344 million dollars to produce today.
4 Waterworld's Shoot On The Open Sea
Waterworld is a notorious film for a few different reasons, but one of the biggest difficulties of the production was also one of the simplest – that it's just really difficult to film on the open ocean. The set of the film actually involved building a $22 million dollar, thousand ton floating set that actually used up all of the available steel in the state of Hawaii. And unsurprisingly, shooting on the ocean introduced a lot of problems, some major issues being inclement weather wreaking havoc on their sets and many of the actors, including leading man Kevin Costner, nearly falling prey to the ocean in set mishaps.
3 Apocalypse Now Vs. The Month Long Typhoon
Shooting a film on a real-life location instead of on a stage opens up the production to a never ending list of possible problems to run into, and it's no real surprise that a film like Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now, which was shot mostly on location in the jungles of the Philippines, ran into some problems during the filming. The film was originally scheduled for a six week shoot, however it ultimately took sixteen months to film, in large part because the filming location was struck by a typhoon that delayed filming and demolished the sets for the movie.
2 Kubrick's Attention To Detail In Eyes Wide Shut
Legendary director Stanley Kubrick will always be remembered for his intense attention to detail and his perfectionism when it comes to his movies, but occasionally his need to get things exactly the way that he wanted them seemed a bit over the top, even for a perfectionist. When shooting his film Eyes Wide Shut, Kubrick reportedly had Tom Cruise do nearly a hundred takes of one scene before he was satisfied. And while a hundred takes is quite a lot even for a hard to shoot scene, this particular scene was simply Tom walking into a room, but apparently not in a way that Kubrick liked.
1 D-Day In Saving Private Ryan
When Saving Private Ryan was first released it was reported that their D-Day scenes were so realistic that veterans of World War II had a difficult time watching them. And unsurprisingly, when you're committed to filming a scene that is one of the most famous events in history that involves thousands of people it's actually a pretty difficult task to pull off. But in addition to recreating a believable version of a massive battle, the film has to actually tell a story during that battle and the actors have to actually perform in all of that chaos, so Saving Private Ryan's success is pretty impressive.
References: imdb.com, wikipedia.com