There’s more to movies than the glitz and glamour – it isn’t simply writing a script and pointing the camera at actors. Film crews and companies take filmmaking to heart and they do their best to make films look real as much as possible. This isn’t an easy task though as there’s a lot to consider when creating a masterpiece.
When we see thrilling action sequences in films, one of the first things we think about is, “how could they have possibly shot that?” Well for starters, the fast-paced action sequences are often shot with the help of stunt doubles. Not many actors do their own stunts. Since stunts are often dangerous, the work is best done with the help of professionals who are trained to break falls and make things look real with less risk.
It’s a very dangerous line of work and through the years, we’ve heard of a ton of accidents on set involving stuntmen. Regardless of how careful film crews are, accidents are bound to happen at some point. Some are more tragic than others and these make us respect their line of work even more. Here are 15 times film stunts went wrong.
15. The Twilight Zone Accident
One of the most tragic accidents to ever happen in film history was during the filming of Twilight Zone: The Movie. The accident involved actor Vic Morrow and two child actors, Myca Dinh Le and Renee Shin-Yi Chen. It was an incident that’s both horrific and tragic as it ended the life of a veteran actor and two up-and-coming actresses who were just about to make it to the big screen.
The scene was shot in the Indiana Dunes in California. In the scene, a helicopter crashed near the actors during filming and it was all caught on tape. Aside from the actors, six others were injured. The accident raised a ton of issues as the filmmakers broke the child labor laws of California by making Chen and Le work late at night. And of course, the film crew was on the receiving end of criticism for their carelessness.
14. The Hangover Stuntman Sues Warner Bros.
Despite its wacky story, The Hangover franchise has a few action sequences that definitely required the help of professional stuntmen. In the second film, one of the stuntmen was veteran Scott McLean. He’s been a part of The Matrix, Star Wars Episode 3 and Ghost Rider. Needless to say, he knows the stunt business inside out.
In one scene of the film, McLean was doubling for Ed Helms in a taxi chase scene. Helms’ character was supposed to put his head out the window and then be hit by another car. However, while filming it, McLean hit the car head-on and suffered significant head injuries. McLean sued the producers and Warner Bros. because according to him, the car was moving too fast for a stunt.
13. Vin Diesel’s Double Dies On The Set Of xXx
Vin Diesel‘s earliest action stint was with the 2002 film xXx. The film was very intense and fast-paced and it was one adrenaline rush of a film. Diesel’s stunt double was Harry O’Connor and that film was the last he ever became part of. O’Connor’s life was taken from him after one horrible stunt gone wrong.
In his last scene, O’Connor was attempting to rappel down a parasailing line. While dropping down, O’Connor hit a bridge with high velocity. Even before filming xXx, O’Connor already had a pretty active lifestyle. He’d been a stuntman in several films and most notably, he was a former Navy SEAL.
12. Explosives On The Set Of The Expendables 2
The Expendables series is home to many veteran actors in the action genre. The cast includes action stars such as Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Jason Statham and much more. Don’t get us started on the scenes. The Expendables are a group of mercenaries that get into a bunch of trouble so it’s expected that explosions and over-the-top action will happen. Sadly, tragedy struck on set during the filming of the second film while they were filming an explosive scene.
While filming in Bulgaria, stuntmen Kun Lieu and Nuo Son got in an accident. Lieu was killed in the explosion and Son, was left severely injured. This accident caused controversy with the film but luckily, the rest of filming went smoothly.
11. Dragged To Death In Comes A Horseman
Stuntmen today are definitely luckier than the ones back then. Thanks to the ever-growing film industry, studios and organizations are putting more and more work into the safety of their stuntmen. Accidents were present even back then and it’s most likely caused by the lack of safety precautions. In one of the worst cases of on-set accidents, a stuntman was dragged to death by a horse.
During the filming of the 1978 film, Comes A Horseman, Jason Robaard stunt double, Jim Sheppard was dragged by a horse. Ironically, the scene they were shooting was about Robaard’s character being dragged to death by a horse as well. It was a really tragic accident and it was one of the earliest cases of film stunt gone wrong.
10. Young Stuntwoman Hits Her Head During Kick-Ass 2 Filming
Kick-Ass 2 was a superhero film unlike any other. It didn’t feature any superpowered heroes. They were just regular Joes and Janes who have a knack for fighting and saving others. One of the heroes on spotlight was Hit-girl who was played by Chloë Grace Moretz. Since the role is really fitting for a teen, the stunt double for Moretz was also a young girl. Talia Craig took on the role and despite her age, she’s been a stuntwoman on many films already. Some of her stunt work was for Game Of Thrones and Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows.
The scene was that Hit-girl is going be thrown into a wall. A malfunction in the equipment caused Craig to launch forcefully into the air and hit the wall with high velocity. A bar that she hit caused her skull to crack open. Luckily, this wasn’t the end of her career as Craig made a recovery shortly after.
9. Milla Jovovich’s Double Loses Arm
We’re all very familiar with the grisly Resident Evil series. Although the film franchise isn’t as scary and as big a hit as the video game entries, the films were still okay for a zombie nuts’ standards. The film has a ton of gore and scenes with brutalities but one freak accident on set involving the stunt double for Milla Jovovich tops them all.
Olivia Jackson, a seasoned stuntwoman was on set for Resident Evil: The Final Chapter. In one scene, Jackson crashed on a metal camera arm without a helmet while on a motorcycle. She had severe injuries to her back, head, and shoulder and had to be put in a coma. The worst of her injuries is her arm which became paralyzed and withered afterward. It had to be amputated and her life has changed since then. It was a sad day for everyone and Jackson received support from Jovovich during the ordeal.
8. The Hoverboard Incident In Back To The Future Part II
In one of the best scenes from Back To The Future Part II, Marty McFly was being chased around by a bunch of thugs in an intense hoverboard chase scene. Not everyone knew this but while filming this scene, one stuntwoman almost lost her life after hitting a pillar and falling from 30 feet to the concrete ground.
On the receiving end of the accident was a veteran stuntwoman, Cheryl Wheeler-Dixon. Actually, it was Lisa McCullough who was tasked with the dangerous stunt but she felt nervous and Wheeler-Dixon decided to do the job instead. The scene was the part where the hoverboard thugs crashed into a clock tower. Despite the really high drop, Wheeler-Dixon walked away from the accident with a wrist and face injury only. It could’ve been much worse.
7. Death On The Set Of Top Gun
Being a stuntman is not an easy job. There have been injuries across film sets caused by stunts and despite the safety precautions taken, accidents still happen. In worst case scenarios, the people doing the stunt not only break a limb or get a nasty cut, some end up losing their life as well. On the set of Top Gun, flight expert Art Scholl lost his life during one stunt.
Scholl isn’t an actual stuntman by profession but his skills with an airplane are top notch. While filming a scene for Top Gun, Scholl’s airplane suddenly headed towards the direction of the Pacific Ocean, which wasn’t supposed to happen. The original plan was for the plane to spin. Scholl’s plane and body were never recovered after the incident and it’s very possible that whatever remains of this amazing pilot is hidden somewhere deep within the vast ocean.
6. Bruce Willis’ Stunt Double Fell From 25 Feet
Bruce Willis‘ Die Hard film franchise is filled to the brim with suspenseful moments and a lot of action shots. It isn’t Willis doing the stunts though and that is left to a professional stuntman, Larry Rippenkroe. This veteran stuntman has been in films around Hollywood including Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Iron Man. Despite his amazing repertoire, Rippenkroe is still prone to making mistakes while on set.
While filming Live Free or Die Hard, Rippenkroe fell 25 feet during a stunt. He was knocked unconscious and he had a ton of injuries including broken bones in his face and ribs. Willis paid for the hospital bills since they’re good pals. Rippenkroe made a full recovery and he was back to double for Willis in A Good Day To Die Hard.
5. A Fatal Drop On The Set Of Vampire In Brooklyn
Eddie Murphy‘s Vampire In Brooklyn is really just a film about a vampire who is in Brooklyn. Murphy starred in the film alongside Angela Bassett. During the filming of one scene, Bassett’s stunt double, Sonja Davis fell 42 feet to her death during a stunt gone wrong. Many claim it was a mistake that could’ve been avoided if the film crew took more safety precautions before Davis went through with the stunt.
Davis’ last words were allegedly, “are you sure?” She was visibly not comfortable with filming the stunt but still, the crew went on with it. After the accident, Davis’ family sued Paramount Pictures and Eddie Murphy Productions for a whopping $10 million. The family sued because they believed that the accident happened because the film crew failed to provide the proper safety equipment.
4. Jackie Chan’s Hole In The Head
Jackie Chan is known for a lot of things and one of those is his dedication to his work. Chan is an adrenaline junkie and he loves doing his own stunts. Throughout the years, Chan has admitted to feeling the effects of his stunts on his body and even before he got old, he already had a ton of injuries on his body. Out of all the accumulated injuries, the hole inside his head is the most memorable according to him.
During the filming of Armour of God, Jackie Chan’s scene was to jump onto a tree from a ledge. The branch he was holding broke and he fell. A part of his head broke when he fell down and to this date, the hole can be felt in his head; if he allows you to touch it, that is. This is just one of many of Chan’s injuries however and the film legend has all the scars and tapes to prove it.
3. Stabbed By A Bayonet On The Set Of Fury
Not all mishaps during stunts in movies are of people falling from high places or with vehicles suddenly crashing too hard. In a bizarre case, one unidentified stuntman was stabbed while filming the war film, Fury. To be more specific, he was stabbed by a bayonet. The knife that was attached at the end of rifles.
Two stuntmen were practising a scene which required them to use rifles with bayonets. One of the stuntmen stabbed the other accidentally. The 35-year-old stuntman was rushed to the hospital after the accident and was actually laughing about what happened on set. The injury wasn’t fatal or anything but it was a stab with a bayonet nonetheless. If it went a little deeper and the stab hit organs, it would’ve been much worse. Lucky for the film crew and all of the other stuntmen, no other stabbing was reported during the rest of the shoot.
2. Trouble On The Harry Potter Set
When people think about the Harry Potter franchise, people don’t initially think about death-defying stunts or stunts gone wrong. But before people forget, it’s worth noting that the movie still includes action scenes. Perhaps the most action-filled part of the franchise was the Quidditch matches Harry plays at Hogwarts. Harry and friends also battle bad guys from time to time and when magic comes into play, explosions follow.
During the filming of Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 1, Daniel Radcliffe’s stunt double David Holmes was on the end of a huge explosion. He slammed against a wall from the force of the impact and immediately said that he couldn’t feel his legs. Sadly, Holmes was left a paraplegic after the accident and needless to say, his days as a stuntman have come to an end.
1. Almost Scalped On The Avengers Set
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is packed to the brim with explosions and a ton of fight scenes. As careful as the film crew is, accidents can’t be helped sometimes and if the stuntmen and actors aren’t careful enough, they are bound to get injured. In one of the most action-packed entries in the series; which is The Avengers, acclaimed stuntman, Jeremy Fitzgerald got more than he bargained for.
One of Fitzgerald’s stunts in the film was to fall from 30 feet. During the stunt, Fitzgerald hit his head on a brick and this caused a part of his scalp to come off. Like the professional that he is, Fitzgerald simply bandaged his head and continued to work. Lucky for him, it was the brick that hit his head because he was close to hitting a sharp rain gutter so it could’ve been a lot worse.
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