It’s been said that pain is temporary, but film is forever. Perhaps that’s why some of cinema’s best scenes come from making actors suffer.
Whether it’s being put in a barrel with raw fish or having to eat it, saying something nasty about another character or sharing a sex scene with them, there are plenty of things that can make an actor uncomfortable on set. If they’re lucky the scene can be done in just a few takes, but some of these scenes can take literally months.
Captain America: Civil War
The first teaser trailer of Captain America: Civil War features a shot of Steve Rogers stopping a helicopter from taking off with his bare hands. Chris Evans beefed up even more for his fifth outing as Captain America, and the filmmakers wanted to show this off by having him actually strain against a crane holding helicopter. This gave the effect of Evans’ very real muscles bulging, and co-director Joe Russo said that it’s "the most powerful shot of the film”.
The Force Awakens
To shoot the scenes that take place on Rey’s home planet of Jakku, the cast and crew of Star Wars: The Force Awakens spent the first part of the film’s production in the blazing desert heat of Abu Dhabi. Actors Daisy Ridley and John Boyega trained on treadmills for all the running they’d have to do, but that didn’t prepare them for the added challenge of running on sand. Ridley said running on the combination of hard and soft sand was killer on the legs, and she was thankful for the shots that included explosions, because that usually meant fewer takes.
Mad Max: Fury Road
Since Mad Max was essentially a two hour car chase in the dessert, the film was extremely trying on the cast and crew. Tom Hardy in particular struggled to see George Miller’s vision through the sand and sweat of the production. Both Miller and costar Charlize Theron described Hardy as difficult to work with, but once Hardy saw the final product he was thoroughly impressed and apologized to Martin and Theron for failing to see the big picture while on set.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2
The Hunger Games cast has said multiple times that the hardest scene in Mockingjay to shoot was the sewer scene. It was three weeks of shooting in an actual hot sewer that Liam Hemsworth, the tallest cast member, couldn’t even stand up straight in. It didn’t help matters that their costumes were super absorbent, adding up to 20 pounds of water weight.
One of Leonardo DiCaprio’s first days of filming on Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained was a dinner scene that he shared with costars Samuel L. Jackson and Jamie Foxx. DiCaprio had to stop in the middle of a take at one point because he was struggling with character’s excessive use of the ’N word’. Jackson famously pulled him aside and told him "Motherfucker, this is just another Tuesday for us.” Apparently this helped, as there is nothing sugarcoated about DiCaprio’s performance of slaveowner Calvin Candie, and Django Unchained holds the all time record for most uses of the ’N word’ with 116 uses.
Guardians of the Galaxy
Every Guardian of the Galaxy has a near death experience at some point in the film. As Drax, Dave Bautista had one of the most difficult scenes to survive. After losing a fight against Ronan, Drax nearly drowns before before Groot pulls him out of the pool of yellow liquid. Bautista was already recovering from a cold and could barely speak, yet he was required to be shirtless, freezing, and covered in goo while delivering a scene which serves as the emotional centre of his character. On top of all that, he gets mocked by a racoon.
While we haven't seen the movie yet, we've heard enough stories from the set of Suicide Squad to know that Leto's Joker made some of his costars a little uncomfortable. While the rest of the cast rehearsed together, Leto was off working on his own brand of crazy while sending them strange gifts. When he did show up to film his scenes Leto refused to break character between takes. It made for a weird energy on set, so director David Ayer brought a therapist to set just in case any of the actors became a little too tormented.