Most of us do not realize just how much work goes into playing a role in a movie. Actors and actresses go through a lot to make the films that we see look perfect, sometimes even putting themselves directly in harm’s way. We all love the action and intense scenes that we see on the big screen, but we never really know what went on behind the scenes to make the action look as real as it does. From extreme diets to stunts gone wrong, actors and actresses definitely are not given enough credit for the amount of danger that they face on set every day. It takes a lot to make a movie: long days and longer nights, poor eating habits, no sleep. They basically end up eating breathing and living the movie that they are starring in.
We all get to see the final product, but we never get to hear about the horrors that took place behind the scenes to make it happen. Some people have almost lost their lives and ended up seriously or permanently injured just to make a movie appear to be as real as possible. It is truly crazy the lengths that these people are willing to go just to produce some quality entertainment, and perhaps that is why they are paid so much. Sometimes though, no amount of money in the world can make up for some things that these people endure. Below we will discuss 15 actors and actresses who almost lost their lives while shooting a scene for a movie.
18. Jennifer Lawrence – The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games was an epic series that starred the beautiful and very talented, Jennifer Lawrence. This is an intense action-packed movie about a game where young people basically fight to the death until only one remains, although Katniss found a way around that by forcing the people who ran the games to let her and one other person out. It may come as a shocker to most that, while filming this movie, Jennifer Lawrence almost suffocated. She was running through a tunnel when very suddenly a fog machine malfunctioned and thick fog filled the air, leaving the actress unable to see or breathe properly. She just barely made it out before passing out from not having enough oxygen. Of course, this ended production for that day so the star could go home and rest after such a traumatizing event.
17. Halle Berry – The Call
The Call was a movie that starred Halle Berry, who played the role of a 911 operator who needs to save the life a little girl who called in after being abducted. Production of this movie started out well for the actress, who said that she was happy to have landed this role – that is, until she took a pretty nasty fall on the set. Not a lot was released about this star’s fall, but she did say that she was immediately rushed to the hospital where she was admitted and had to stay for about four days. After being released from the hospital, she was given the doctor’s okay to continue working on the movie. We never really look at acting as a job that is dangerous or necessarily hard, but it is starting to seem as though we definitely do not give actors enough credit for the work that they do to provide us with entertainment.
16. Diane Kruger – Inglourious Basterds
In the movie, Inglourious Basterds, American spies go undercover as Nazis in hopes of assassinating the Nazi leaders. This was an iconic action movie that got very high ratings, but did you know that Diane Kruger actually almost died while filming? It turns out that in one scene Quentin Tarantino had to choke Diane Kruger and since they wanted to make it look as real as possible, he actually choked her and maybe did it just a little too hard because when he didn’t yell cut soon enough, the actress passed out and almost died from asphyxiation. Quentin probably felt horrible for actually causing harm to the actress, and production was stopped for that day so that she could have some time to recover. I think it is safe to say that actually choking her probably was not the smartest idea, but I am sure that they learned their lessons after that accident.
15. Michael Fox – Back To The Future Part 3
Back To The Future is a classic; it is a comedy that is about a boy named Marty who travels thirty years into the past. This movie is packed with action and everyone who saw it loved it, but things didn’t exactly go smoothly during the filming of part three. There was a scene in the movie where Marty was hanging by a noose, only to be saved by the doctor. While filming this scene, they had taken several shoots in which actor Michael Fox was standing on a box. However, after many attempts at making the scene look as real as possible, they decided it would be best to remove the box so that he would actually be hanging. Michael was however very tired at this point and miscalculated the timing of things, causing him to lose consciousness for a full thirty seconds before anyone even realized what had happened.
14. Isla Fisher – Now You See Me
Now You See Me was a mysterious movie about a group of magicians who manage to rob a bank during a live magic show. In one scene, the actress Isla Fisher can be seen chained up inside of a large tank of water that she is supposed to escape from, and things were going pretty smoothly until something went horribly wrong and her chain got stuck. The actress noticed that her chain had become tangled and stuck and although everyone on the set thought that she was just acting, meanwhile she was actually drowning. The actress’s quick thinking saved her life as she managed to get down to the bottom of the tank and push the quick release button, ultimately saving her own life. If she had been in there just a little longer, she would have drowned without anyone ever realizing that she was really struggling.
13. Tom Cruise – Edge Of Tomorrow
Tom Cruise is an actor that enjoys doing his own stunts, and he usually does them pretty well. While shooting the movie Edge Of Tomorrow, Tom was sitting in the passenger seat of a car with actress Emily Blunt when things got a little out of control. Tom knew that something was about to happen as he started to tell Emily to brake, but when she was not braking, Tom began yelling at her to brake hard. Unfortunately for them, the actress had lost control of the car, and they ended up crashing into a tree. Both stars were able to escape uninjured, but this is only because of Tom warning beforehand. Otherwise, the car would’ve rolled possibly injuring or even killing them both. The two were very lucky to walk away unscathed, and needless to say, Tom did not let her drive for the next scene.
12. Jaimie Alexander – Thor: The Dark World
Thor is a superhero action movie that comic book fans everywhere are obsessed with. Actress Jaimie Alexander was on the set filming an important scene in the movie when she had a horrible accident that almost cost her her acting career. It was a dark and rainy morning at 5:00 AM when the actress was starting to walk down a metal staircase, lost her footing, and slipped. She fell down onto the concrete and slipped a disc, chipped 11 vertebrae, dislocated her left shoulder, and tore her left side rhomboid. The actress could not film for an entire month while she was in recovery, and she was quoted saying that it was the worst pain of her entire life. That is one nasty fall that was sure to put a stop to production and delay the making of the movie. At least this star was okay and able to make a full recovery without any permanent damage being done to her.
11. Jackie Chan – Police Stay
Jackie Chan is an iconic actor that everyone knows and loves. He does all of his own stunts, so needless to say, he has encountered his fair share of on-set injuries. In this particular movie, however, things got bad fairly quickly. They were shooting a scene where Jackie Chan was in the middle of a mall fight, and had to slide down a metal pole with light bulbs exploding around him, but something went terribly wrong and the actor ended up cracking his 7th and 8th vertebrae, dislocated his pelvis, and burnt his hands pretty badly. Obviously enough, the actor was rushed to the hospital where he had a very extensive stay and production of the movie was put off for quite some time. This, however, did not stop him from doing what he loves because as soon as he healed and was well enough, he was right back at it again.
10. Natalie Portman – Black Swan
Black Swan was a very dark ballerina movie in which Natalie Portman plays the part of a woman whose passion in life is dancing. However, she begins to spiral out of control, does not know what is real and what is fake, and starts to go insane. There are some very intimate moments in this movie where we can see Natalie’s whole body, and she appears to be very thin, possibly even sickly thin, although most of would probably just write that off as special effects. Well, it turns out that this actress had to follow a very strict schedule with the filming of this movie and was given a very punishing diet. The already skinny actress ended up shedding twenty pounds while filming and ended up so thin, she even broke two ribs while filming. She said most nights she was in so much pain that she thought that she was literally going to die. The movie was a huge success and everyone seemed to have loved it, but was it worth all of that pain?
9. Jason Statham – The Expendables 3
The Expendables is another popular action movie where the actors performed most of their own stunts. While filming a scene for the movie, Statham was driving a truck and all seemed fine, until the brakes on the truck suddenly failed. The truck was headed straight for the sea and the actor knew that he had to act fast. He then opened the door and threw himself out of the moving the vehicle just seconds before it careened into the sea, plummeting 60 feet below the water. The actor did suffer from minor bumps and scrapes, but it could have been a lot worse; he could have drowned on the set of this movie had he not acted so swiftly. It is crazy to think that this movie almost didn’t happen and that we almost lost such a talented actor. Thankfully, though, he was fine, and we were gifted with this epic film.
8. Gunnar Hansen – Texas Chainsaw Massacre
The original 1974 film Texas Chainsaw Massacre was a horror movie in which a murderous man named Leatherface goes on a killing rampage, attacking people with a chainsaw. This is a very gruesome movie that is not for the faint of heart. What makes this movie seem even more scary is that they used a real running chainsaw in all the scenes, making it extremely dangerous for the cast, and it ultimately led to an accident that could have been way worse that it was. Gunnar Hansen, the original Leatherface, was running with the chainsaw when he slipped in a puddle of mud and fell, sending the chainsaw flying into the air. The chainsaw landed only an inch from the actor’s head, saving him from what could have been truly gruesome.
7. Sylvester Stallone – Rocky 4
Rocky is another iconic action-packed movie that everyone seems to love. Sylvester Stallone, who played Rocky, is a very hardcore actor and takes his work very seriously. That being said, all the fights in this boxing movie were real. The actor wanted to make sure that everything looked legitimate on film, so he decided that the best way to do that would be to throw actual punches. In the very last fight, Rocky told Lundgren to punch him as hard as he possibly could. However, this backfired on Sylvester and caused him to be rushed to the ER. The punch was so hard that it caused the actor’s heart to swell, and he had to spend eight days in the intensive care unit. Needless to say, he had to stop acting for a little while and the movie had to be put on hold while he got better. Sylvester Stallone could have died from this hit so, maybe next time he will think twice before he tells someone to hit him as hard as they can.
6. Bruce Campbell – Evil Dead
Evil Dead is a horror movie about five college students who go to a cabin for vacation when things take a deadly turn and flesh possessing spirits begin to kill them off one by one, and only one student survives. Well, this is one movie where the horror in the script was nothing compared to what was about to happen in real life on the set. While shooting this movie, director Sam Raimi had the idea to ride a motorcycle with one hand and film with the other hand; this brilliant idea backfired immediately and Raimi ran right into Bruce Campbell, leaving him pinned underneath the wheel of the motorcycle. Bruce, however, was able to leave the accident uninjured after escaping what could have been deadly, had the motorcycle hit him just an inch closer to his side. This actor got extremely lucky and was able to continue filming that same day, due to the fact that he wound up without a scratch on him.
5. Daniel Day-Lewis – My Left Foot
Daniel Day-Lewis is an actor that is said to take his roles very seriously. During the filming of the movie My Left Foot, Daniel played a wheelchair-bound man with cerebral palsy. The actor refused to leave his character’s wheelchair until the movie was completely done filming, and he even made people feed him, acting as if he actually had the disease. He thought that this would better help him act and understand the character. The slumped position of being in the wheelchair, however, caused the actor to crack three ribs and probably was not worth the intense amount of pain that he ended up experiencing. While this might not have been a life-threatening injury, it was still a very painful one. The star says that he does not regret his decision to remain in the wheelchair for such a long time because he still believes that it is why the movie was as good as it was, and that it helped him channel the character that he was playing.
4. George Clooney – Syriana
George Clooney has had a lot of important roles in some big movies before, but his role in Syriana proved to be the most gruelling for him. One day while he was filming a scene for the movie, there was a terrible accident and the star ended up breaking his back. He was in the hospital for quite some time, and he said that the hospital stay included some of the worst days of his life. Despite the doctors pushing pain meds and trying to make him comfortable, George Clooney was in such intense pain that he was ready to go to extreme lengths to make it stop. The star said that things got so bad and so unbearable that at one point, he was ready to take his own life right there in the hospital just to make the pain stop. He did, however, power through it, and eventually made a full recovery and has since said that it was a low point in his life, and he would not wish that pain on his greatest enemy.
3. Viggo Mortensen – Lord Of The Rings
The Lord Of The Rings is a very popular movie series that nerds everywhere are in love with. Actor Viggo Mortensen was shooting a scene for the movie where he had to float face-first in a river while arrows were being shot at him. This, however, backfired and the current of the river pulled him under. This actor almost drowned in the river as his armor was weighing him down. He was, however, lucky enough to slip out of the current but did not come out without injury. The actor ended up with some broken toes, and some broken teeth. Surprisingly enough, that was not his first dance with fate while filming this movie, because in an earlier scene, a man who was supposed to throw a real dagger at him (but miss by a long shot) could not see properly and ended up throwing it directly at Viggo. Viggo, however, saw it coming and was able to dodge the dagger just in time.
2. Margaret Hamilton – The Wizard Of Oz
The Wizard of Oz is one of the most popular, classic movies out there and literally everyone has seen it. It is a movie about a young girl named Dorothy whose house gets lifted up in the middle of a tornado and lands in Oz, where she has to find the Wizard in order to get back home. Margaret Hamilton played the role of the Wicked Witch of the West, who would disappear in a cloud of a smoke. Well, one day while filming this movie, Margaret suffered from severe second and third degree burns on both her face and her hands. This is because her makeup was petroleum based and some sparks from the special effects smoke that was used to make her disappear reacted with the makeup and caught fire. She was badly hurt and had to be taken to the hospital immediately and was not able to film again for a while after that.
1. David Holmes – Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows
David Holmes was Daniel Radcliffe’s stunt double during the filming of the movie Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows. David did all of Daniel’s stunts, including riding on the broomsticks during a good old match of Quidditch. While filming one scene in particular where Harry was supposed to be in a Quidditch match, David was sitting on a broomstick that was attached to a bunch of metal wires and was supposed to make it appear as if he was flying through the air. Things started out fine, but then suddenly one of the metal wires broke off and it sent the stunt double flying until he smashed into a concrete wall. After this happened, he remained conscious and as he waited for the first responders he kept saying that he could not feel his legs. This condition wound up being permanent and the stunt double was paralyzed from the waist down due to this accident.
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