Famous movie scenes that nearly killed actors



Thrilling cinematography and seamless, state-of-the-art special effects have come such an incredibly long way in the modern movie industry that it can be very easy to forget that there's actually still a fair amount of real, honest-to-goodness danger that goes along with making all that Hollywood magic happen. When things don't go exactly the way they're supposed to on the set, some of our favorite stars can end up paying a painful—and lasting—price for the privilege of bringing the audience entertainment. With that in mind, we've put together a look at some of the most memorable times when it all went wrong and stars were seriously injured on set.

Halle Berry




Halle Berry is an Oscar-winning talent and a seemingly ageless wonder—unfortunately, she might also be one of the most accident-prone actresses in Hollywood. Berry has been injured multiple times while filming over the course of her career, and it's occasionally actually been fairly serious. She broke an arm during Gothika, hit her head on a lighting rig during Catwoman, broke and re-injured her foot during Cloud Atlas, and smashed her head on the floor during The Call. Most embarrassingly, Berry had a scarily close brush with death while filming Die Another Day…when she choked on a fig during a sex scene with Pierce Brosnan. Sadly, that is not a euphemism.

Jason Statham


Starting with his breakout role in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Jason Statham has been one of Hollywood's go-to tough guys for high-intensity action movies. Which is why it was no surprise when Sylvester Stallone cast him in The Expendables, the film franchise that basically says "Yo dawg, I heard you like action. So I put action in your action so you can watch action while you watch action." Each one of these films exponentially ratchets up the insanity, and for the third and latest installment, Statham nearly drowned, got blown up, or was crushed to death— whichever one of those happens when you drive a truck off a loading dock and into the Black Sea, as Statham did after something went wrong with the brakes and he went crashing into the water. The truck quickly plunged 60 feet, but Statham—who once competed as an Olympic diver—was able to get free. When asked about on-set injuries, he joked, "I snapped a shoelace in the very first scene." This guy is tough as nails and has a sense of humor. Ladies?



Tom Hanks




You wouldn't necessarily think that a movie about a guy living all by himself for years on a deserted tropical island would end up being all that dangerous for its star to make, but you'd be wrong. Just ask America's dad, Tom Hanks, who nearly died while filming Cast Away—a film that ended up being notoriously hard on his body in a surprising number of ways. After gaining and losing 50 pounds in order to accurately portray a marooned Fed Ex delivery man—a process that takes a definite physical toll—Hanks suffered a cut on his leg that reportedly swelled for two weeks. When he finally went to a hospital, he was diagnosed with a life-threatening staph infection. Thanks for nothing, Wilson

Jennifer Lawrence




Hilariously accident-prone Jennifer Lawrence has a habit of taking a spill while walking onstage to accept awards, but it was no laughing matter when a smoke machine malfunctioned and almost suffocated her on the set of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1. According to "an insider" on the set, "Filming came to an abrupt halt when this fog machine broke and began spewing so much dense smoke during a tunnel sequence that Jennifer literally disappeared from sight." Luckily, she escaped with only a bit of vertigo and nausea, but this wasn't the only time The Hunger Games series knocked her around. During training, she ran into a wall, sparking rumors that she damaged her spleen—which turned out to be false, but she did have to get an MRI just to be sure. The next time everyone freaks out when Lawrence asks to be paid the same as her male costars, maybe we should all remember that she's willing to bleed for our entertainment.

George Clooney




George Clooney put audiences on the edge of their seats with his 2005 geopolitical thriller Syriana—and he put himself in unbearable pain, and eventually the hospital, in the bargain. While filming a torture scene for Syriana, Clooney was severely hurt when he sustained a head injury. While he knew he was in pain, doctors were unable to diagnose the exact nature of his injury for many weeks, and his agonizing condition was left untreated. It wasn't until Lisa Kudrow's brother, a neurologist, discovered that Clooney was actually leaking spinal fluid that he was finally able to receive proper treatment. Reportedly, the pain was so intense that Clooney contemplated suicide at one point—which, not that we're holding a grudge or anything, is pretty much how Batman & Robin made everyone else feel.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt


Joseph Gordon-Levitt has been in a Batman movie, a time-traveling assassin movie, and a G.I. Joe movie—so it makes sense that he incurred a near-death injury while playing a bike messenger in Premium Rush, right? Well, kind of, since the actor actually shot scenes in which he cruised between moving cars at speeds up to 30mph. That might not sound very fast, but on a bicycle—smashing unprotected into the back window of a cab—it's going to hurt. A taxi drove over safety cones during filming and into his shot, cutting Gordon-Levitt off, sending him through the rear windshield and badly slicing up his forearm. Director David Koepp feared he was dead, and later told MTV, "For a moment, you're watching the monitors, and for a moment, he leaves frame, and he's wearing a body mic, so I can hear the most horrible crash. For about 18 seconds before I could get there to see what happened, I'm thinking, 'Did I kill him? Did I actually kill an actor?"

Gordon-Levitt ended up getting 31 stitches and actually laughed the whole thing off, as seen in the above video, smiling as blood gushes out of his arm. We wonder if he thought it was so funny when the movie's worldwide gross came in $4 million below the production budget?

Jackie Chan




According to this comprehensive breakdown of Jackie Chan's endless on-set injuries, he's broken almost every bone in his body, torn ligaments, been badly burned, and damaged his spine on several occasions. But wait, there's more! On the set of Armour of God II, he sustained an injury so bad, he had to have brain surgery. Chan later told Parade, "I still have a metal plate in my head and can feel the indentation from the impact."

Compared to some of the stuff he's done—like free-falling 60 feet, sliding down the side of a skyscraper, and getting hit by a real, flying helicopter—the Armour of God II stunt was relatively tame. He was jumping from a slope and into a tree when he missed and fell to the ground, smacking his head on a rock, which sent a piece of his skull into his brain. Amazingly, this happened in the early '90s, and Chan continued to make many more films, performing almost all of his own stunts—in other words, the exact opposite of what any normal person would do, which is nothing even remotely dangerous ever again. "Oh, you guys are going on that rollercoaster? I'm cool. I'll be over here on this safe, motionless bench, not having a piece of my brain shoved into my skull again."


Viggo Mortensen




Viggo Mortensen was definitely the most injured actor during the filming of the second installment in director Peter Jackson's blockbuster adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings books, released in 2002 as The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. While Mortensen's castmate Orlando Bloom was also wounded during filming, hurt in an on-set incident that left him with a cracked delicate Elven rib, Viggo chipped a tooth while shooting an intense battle scene—and as if that wasn't painful enough, the poor guy also broke a couple of toes after kicking a helmet. Most seriously, however, was the very scary incident that elapsed while the crew was filming a water scene: Mortensen was actually swept away in a current…and almost drowned.

Charlize Theron




Even at its absolute best, the late-night MTV cult favorite Aeon Flux never made much sense as a surrealist cartoon—and it made even less as a box office flop, failing to earn back its reported budget by a $10 million margin. The audience suffered for star Charlize Theron's art, but she suffered plenty too: in fact, one of the film's acrobatic stunts left her seriously injured. Early during filming, while performing a backflip, Theron herniated a disc in her spine, nearly damaging her spinal cord. Theron's mishap halted filming for a month, and required six weeks of physical therapy. Fortunately, she healed—just in time to undergo the years of career therapy she needed after Flux tanked at the box office. All's well that ends well.

Isla Fisher



The 2013 crime caper film Now You See Me packs a ton of magical visuals, but the magic of CGI meant the actors never really had to get in harm's way. Right? Well…not quite. One of the stage performances had Isla Fisher's character Henley drop, handcuffed, into a giant water tank so she could escape in front of a cheering crowd. Her chain gets stuck, but moments from death, she escapes in the knick of time. Only in real life, the drama wasn't entirely fake. Just like her character in the movie, Fisher got stuck in the water tank and spent almost three full minutes struggling to get out. She told Chelsea Lately, "Everyone thought I was acting fabulously. I was actually drowning. … No one realized I was actually struggling."


Brad Pitt


One of the most intense sequences in 1995's Se7en is the scene when Brad Pitt's character, Mills, chases John Doe out of his apartment building. The sequence has Mills fall off a fire escape onto his arm, then get whacked in the same arm by a crowbar, so it makes sense when Mills shows up with a cast on his arm later in the movie. But what most moviegoers didn't know was that the cast was was real. While filming that scene, Pitt had to leap across the rain-slicked hoods of moving cars. According to reports, he slipped on one of them and smashed through the windshield, slicing through one of the tendons in his arm. Considering how much worse the accident could have been, an armful of stitches probably didn't seem that bad.


Kate Winslet



If there's one thing you remember about Kate Winslet in Titanic, chances are it isn't the scene of her running through the ship's hallways to escape the floodwaters. But while the drawing scene (and plenty of others) almost embarrassed her to death, it was the flooding sequence that came a couple breaths away from killing her. In the scene above, Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio had to run through a narrow hallway below deck while a wave of water crashed over them and swept them against a locked gate. Winslet's big coat got caught on the gate, though, and kept her from coming up for air. Winslet was traumatized, but director James Cameron? He let her catch her breath and then set up for another take, since Winslet had just ruined that one with her silly near-death experience.


Diane Kruger


Working with Quentin Tarantino is a dream for most actors, and Diane Kruger is no exception. She told Parade, "I think Quentin's female characters are just so smart and so fierce. They're impossibly glamorous yet they're as tough as nails. It's such a pleasure to play that kind of role." With that in mind, check out this clip of Quentin Tarantino telling Graham Norton how he literally strangled her and briefly cut off her air supply during her death scene in order to get a more realistic reaction.





That's not even acting anymore—that's just reckless abandon for someone's life. Sure, there was a stuntman standing by, but how was he supposed to know the exact amount of pressure it takes to cause "psychological injury (PTSD, depression, suicidal ideation, memory problems, nightmares, anxiety, severe stress reaction, amnesia and psychosis), neurological injury (facial or eyelid droop, left or right side weakness, loss of sensation, loss of memory and paralysis) and even delayed fatality"? According to DomesticShelters.org , all of those can result from less than ten seconds of strangulation. It's one thing to have a Tarantino movie on your resume; it's another thing entirely to have a droopy eye for the rest of your life because the director of Pulp Fiction thought it would look super rad if he choked you for reals.

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