Performing stunts is no laughing matter. Even so, some actors insist on doing the hard work themselves. The thing is, stunts don’t always go as planned, mistakes happen, and injuries have probably had more than one actor question staying in show biz.
From Isla Fisher almost drowning in Now You See Me to Sylvester Stallone taking the final fight in Rocky IV a bit too seriously, here are some actors who’ve almost lost it all after serious stunt fails.
Kate Winslet Almost Drowned During Titanic
The entire second half of Titanic is a whirlwind of running, screaming, panic, and people pretty much fending for themselves as the huge ocean liner sinks to the bottom of the sea. One of those scrambling to get off the ship is none other than Kate Winslet’s character, Rose.
And while she didn’t drown in the movie, she almost did while filming. During the scene when Rose and Jack get into an elevator, which inevitably fills with water, Winslet’s coat got caught on the elevator gate. Thankfully, she was able to get unstuck before the water level got too high.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt Biked Into A Cab
When the premise of a character is literally riding a bike through heavy New York traffic, it’s safe to say people would assume the actor playing said character would be okay on a bike. Well, it’s not to say Joseph Gordon-Levitt didn’t know what he was doing in Premium Rush; it’s just that he should have dodged when he weaved, so to speak.
While shooting one scene, Gordon-Levitt accidentally collided with a taxi, resulting in the actor getting a pretty bad gash along his arm that needed more than thirty stitches. At least he didn’t land on his head?
Margaret Hamilton Received Second-Degree Burns
One of the most iconic characters in cinema is arguably Margaret Hamilton’s Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz. Green, sassy, and just trying to get her sister’s shoes back from some stranger, the Witch had a way of making an exit — a red spark and smoke.
Unfortunately for Hamilton, one of the flares that produced the red sparks had a bad reaction to the petroleum in the green makeup. This resulted in a fire, causing Hamilton to get second and third-degree burns on her hands and face. So much for witches getting hurt by water.
Diane Kruger Passed Out On Set
Diane Kruger really showed her acting chops in Inglorious bastards, playing a film student turned Allied spy, Bridget Von Hammersmar. While her role was no joke, there is one scene in particular that went above and beyond anything an actor should be expected to bring to the table, or stunt double, for that matter.
During one scene, Kruger’s character is being choked out by a character whose face isn’t shown onscreen. Well, that person is actually the director Quentin Tarantino. And Kruger is actually getting choked out. So much so that the actress wound up passing out on set!
Charlize Theron Jumped And Fell On Her Neck
The film Æon Flux is full of incredible physics-defying twists, turns, and stunts. More impressively is the fact that actress Charlize Theron took on a majority of the stunts herself. Unfortunately, all it takes is one for everything to go sideways for a person. In Theron’s case, it was falling on her neck.
While performing a free-falling stunt, Theron miscalculated the landing, winding up on her neck. The landing was so bad, that the actress was stuck in the hospital for eight weeks with doctors unclear on if Theron was ever going to have full mobility again. Thankfully, she made a full recovery.
Jackie Chan Broke His Back
Jackie Chan might be a master martial artist and stuntman, but that doesn’t mean he is immune to mistakes, missteps, and otherwise “oops” moments in his lengthy career. In fact, it was one of his earlier films that resulted in Chan being bedridden for some time.
While filming Police Story, Chan was to do a stunt that required him to jump from a roof and slide down a pole. The seemingly simple stunt for the acrobatic actor ended badly, with Chan breaking his back and dislocating his pelvis.
Jason Statham And A Truck Dove Into The Black Sea
Actor Jason Statham might be a seasoned action star, but nothing really prepares a person for diving into pitch-black water while still inside a vehicle. That’s exactly what happened to Statham while shooting a scene for the 2014 film The Expendables 3.
During the scene, Statham was driving a truck when the brakes gave out, causing him to sail right over a cliff and into the Black Sea, all while trapped inside the truck. Thankfully, Statham is an accomplished driver and swimmer, so he was able to escape the vehicle once it “landed.” According to the actor, “It was a very harrowing experience.”
Jaimie Alexander’s Time In The MCU Was Almost Cut Short
Actress Jaimie Alexander’s time in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Lady Sif almost came to a screeching halt while filming the 2012 film Thor: Dark World. While filming, Alexander slipped and fell down something very tall, leaving a slew of horrible injuries in her wake.
During an interview with MTV, the actress laid out her injuries, saying, “I herniated a disk in my Thoracic spine, I dislocated my left shoulder, I tore my right Rhomboid and chipped eleven of my vertebrae…I went paralyzed in my right leg and my right hand. So I was in the hospital for a week.” Thankfully, she made a full recovery.
Isla Fisher Almost Drowned During A Magic Stunt
The film Now You See Me is all about its illusions, tricks, and magic. But during one scene, actress Isla Fisher’s trick went a bit too far. During the scene, her character is chained to the bottom of a water-filled tank. Apparently, the chains were a bit too tight because Fisher actually became trapped and was drowning.
It took a while for the crew to realize Fisher wasn’t just acting her butt off but was in real danger. Thankfully, they were able to get the actress to safety in the nick of time.
Sylvester Stallone Wound Up In The Hospital For A Week
It’s no secret that Sylvester Stallone takes his role of Rocky very seriously; the franchise is his baby, after all. So, there was nothing Stallone wouldn’t do for the perfect fight, shot, or scene. But that all came crashing down around him while filming the big fight scene in Rocky IV.
Wanting to make the fight look as realistic as possible, Stallone told his onscreen enemy, Dolph Lundgren, to punch him square in the face. Well, he did. And Stallone wound up in the ICU for a week because of the little stunt gone wrong.
Jackie Chan Fell Out Of A Tree And Sustained A Head Injury
Jackie Chan is one of the best stuntmen and martial artists to grace the silver screen. He makes his stunts look effortless and, well, pretty easy. Behind the scenes, that’s not always the case, and Chan has had some close calls. One such call being on the set of Armour of God.
While filming one scene, Chan wound up falling more than 16-feet out of a tree! Horribly, this stunt mishap had Chan being rushed into surgery, where a piece of his skull had to be removed from his brain.
Tom Hanks Got A Bad Infection While Filming Cast Away
Being stranded on an island is one thing, but being stranded on an island with an infected cut wreaking havoc on your body and in your bloodstream is something else altogether. And that’s exactly what happened to Tom Hanks while he was filming Cast Away.
In the film, Hanks’ character is marred with scraps, cuts, and bruises. But one of the cuts got away from Hanks, settling into a horrible infection that put the actor in the hospital and delayed filming for a solid three weeks. According to the actor, he was unaware of the seriousness of the cut, only thinking it to be sore.
Gerard Butler Was Almost Taken Out By A 20-Foot Wave
The ocean is a powerful force, something actor Gerard Butler now knows first-hand. While filming the surf film Chasing Mavericks, Butler was taken down by what he describes as a 30-foot wave. The wave completely took the actor under, tossing him in the water to the point of him nearly drowning.
Ironically, while he was being tossed and turned over by the ocean, there was only one thing going through Butler’s mind. “All I could think was, ‘there’s a whole film crew up there,’” Butler admitted during an interview with CBS.
Halle Berry Choked On A Fig
She wasn’t scuba diving, jumping from a plane, or even running through traffic; Halle Berry was doing nothing more than eating a fig when her “stunt” went wrong. While filming Die Another Day, the actress was supposed to be seducing James Bond. Well, that went horribly wrong, and Berry wound up choking on the object of her seduction, a fig.
James Bond, played by Pierce Brosnan at the time, came to the actress’s rescue, performing the Heimlich maneuver and dislodging the fruit from Berry’s windpipe. That’s enough of a reason to never eat figs again!
George Clooney Suffered A Head Injury
George Clooney didn’t suffer an injury from his character being beaten up in Syriana. How, we’re not entirely sure, considering he’s tied to a chair and it’s actually Clooney going through the movements and not a stunt double. However, it was during that particular scene where Clooney suffered a bad head injury.
While being “beaten up,” the chair is pushed over, with Clooney still tied down. He wound up hitting his head so hard on the cement ground that the actor suffered a concussion! For a while, the injury caused Clooney to have chronic headaches, something that was later fixed with surgery.
Lorenza Izzo Was Swept Down Stream
While filming The Green Inferno, actress Lorenza Izzo had a scary experience, and that’s not because she was surrounded by people acting like cannibals. She almost drowned in the Amazon River. At the beginning of the film, her character wakes onboard a canoe with cannibals. Trying to escape, she jumps into the river.
However, the current was powerful and threatened to pull Izzo under. According to the crew, no one realized she wasn’t acting, and her screaming was real until a few minutes into shooting. She was clinging to rocks for dear life before being rescued by the stunt coordinator.
Jennifer Lawrence Suffocated Via Smoke Machine
Playing heroine Katiness Everdeen is no laughing matter. The character is a total fighter, surviving the Hunger Games more than once and taking on the Capitol. For actress Jennifer Lawrence, portraying the character was no walk in the park, especially when it came to one stunt during The Hunger Games: Mockingjay.
A smoke machine malfunctioned during one tunnel scene, spewing out way more fog than any person’s lungs can handle. Lawrence was still inside the tunnel when the malfunction happened, choking her to the point of the actress suffering from nausea and vertigo after getting rescued.
Leonardo DiCaprio Got A Bit too Friendly With Some Glass
Leonardo DiCaprio’s character in Django Unchained was a bit, well, unchained, unhinged, and just a little loony. One particular scene displayed his not-so-great personality perfectly, even if it did cost the actor a solid chunk of skin, a few stitches, and probably more than one swear word.
During one scene, DiCaprio slammed his hand down on a table. Unfortunately for the actor, the table in question happened to be made of glass. He wound up slicing a nice gash into the palm of his hand. And while it no doubt hurt, DiCaprio is a professional and powered through the scene. The stunt-gone-wrong actually made it to the film’s final cut!
A Rope Got A Little Too Tight Around Michael J. Fox’s Neck
Scenes with a noose can be harrowing for any actor. It takes a team to ensure everything surrounding the rope and actors is up to snuff, so no one gets hurt. Michael J. Fox didn’t get that lucky on the set of Back to the Future: Part III.
During one scene, Fox’s character Marty McFly is being hung in the town square by a group of outlaws. But something went wrong, and Fox actually began to get strangled by the rope to the point of the actor losing consciousness. How he didn’t hang up acting after that little mishap is a question in and of itself!
Johnny Depp Was Thrown For His Horse
Johnny Depp probably has a few regrets making the film the Lone Ranger, one being the fact that the movie wasn’t great by any stretch of the imagination. But even more so, he probably regrets the fact that he almost got trampled.
While filming, Depp was riding his horse, a co-star that was with him in many shots. But it took one for his saddle to slide off the horse, for Depp to hit the ground, and for his horse to almost trample on his head. Talk about seeing his life flash before his eyes!
Uma Thurman Was Almost Hit By A Runaway Van
As it turns out, Percy Jackson wasn’t the only one after Uma Thurman’s Medusa during the filming of Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief. Thurman was in the middle of a scene when a runaway van began rolling down a hill directly towards her.
Thankfully, 007 was on the case, and Pierce Brosnan opened the van door, jumped into the moving vehicle, and was able to slam on the brakes before the actress was seriously injured. If there weren’t a million and five James Bond jokes after that heroic display, then the entire cast and crew missed a golden opportunity.
Halle Berry Knocked Herself Out While Filming The Call
Fight scenes are no joke; something Academy Award-winning actress Halle Berry learned the hard way while filming The Call. Her character, Jordon Turner, gets into a fight with Michael Foster, played by Michael Eklund, the kidnapper in the film. However, when Berry and Eklund filmed their fight scene, the latter might have pushed it a bit too far.
While fighting, Eklund miscalculated how far away the floor was, accidentally slamming Berry down a little harder than necessary. The actress hit her head so hard she was knocked out instantly. Thankfully, she was back to work the next day.
Brendan Fraser Had A Hanging Stunt Go Terribly Wrong
There were a lot of stunts performed throughout The Mummy, one of which shows Brendan Fraser’s character Rick meeting “his end” at the gallows early on in the movie. Unfortunately for Fraser, the stunt didn’t really go as planned. Well, at least for him. His stuntman did a great job!
After Fraser’s stuntman performed the gallows stunt, the crew needed a close-up of Fraser’s face. But the rope was too tight around the actor’s neck, causing him to blackout! According to an interview he did with EW, “I did get fully choked-out. It was scary.”
Zero Stunts Went Right For Jim Caviezel
When it comes to the stunts Jim Caviezel performed during Passion of the Christ; it seems as though nothing could go right for the actor. Not only did he suffer from hypothermia, pneumonia, and a lung infection. But Caviezel suffered a head injury, as well.
During the scene where Christ is carrying the crucifix down the path, the 150-pound wooden cross fell directly on top of Caviezel. According to the actor, the cross “actually struck my head and buried my head in the sand. And I bit through my tongue.”
Meryl Streep Fell Out Of A Boat And Into Icy Water
In the 1994 film The Wild River, Academy Award-winning actress Meryl Streep pushed her body to the limit, performing a majority of her own stunts. Doing so takes a toll on the body, and by the end of the day, she was tired. But that didn’t stop director Curtis Hanson from asking her to do one more.
Unfortunately, that last stunt ended badly, with Streep falling into the icy cold river and getting sucked straight down to the bottom. Thankfully, her co-star, Kevin Bacon, was there to save the day, pulling her out from the water and to safety.
Ellen Burstyn Suffered A Serious Lower Back Injury
While filming the 1973 film The Exorcist, actress Ellen Burstyn injured her back during a stunt. Playing the demon child’s mother, one scene shows Burstyn’s character being pushed across the room with great force. That happened by a crew member pulling on a wire wrapped around the actress’s waist.
But they pulled her back too hard, causing Burstyn to hit the ground with so much force she permanently injured her lower back and, at the time, her coccyx bone.
Daniel Craig Passed Out Via Plastic Bag Over His Head
Stunts can even go wrong with action stars like Daniel Craig. His little mishap didn’t happen on the set of James Bond, though, but rather while filming The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. During one scene, Craig’s character is lifted into the air, suffocating with a plastic bag over his head.
Well, it’s pretty easy to act like one is suffering when that person is actually suffocating. As it turned out, Craig completely passed out with the bag over his head. The director gave him the rest of the day off after that little mistake.
Tom Cruise Broke His Ankle
Tom Cruise is one of those actors known for taking his stunts to the next level and performing a vast majority of them in the process. But, sometimes, things don’t go as planned. Such as the “easy feat” the actor miscalculated while filming Mission: Impossible – Fallout.
Jumping from one building’s rooftop to another, Cruise accidentally whacked one of his ankles on the side of the building, breaking it. During an interview, Cruise discussed the accident, saying, “I knew instantly my ankle was broken, and I really didn’t want to do it again, so I just got up and carried on with the take.”
Sean Bean Got His Distinctive Scar From A Stunt Mishap
Sean Bean’s characters have a habit of getting into fights. But one fight on the set of Patriot Games turned real, leaving Bean with a distinctive mark on his face. During the film’s climax, Bean and his co-star Harrison Ford get into a fight on a speedboat.
One thing led to another, and Ford accidentally whacked Bean’s face with a boating hook, hard enough to leave a gash on the side of his face. According to Bean, the resulting scar works for him since he typically plays rough-and-tough characters. He once told a reporter, “It’s in the right place.”
Daryl Hannah Slipped And Her Elbow Went Through A Window
Playing Pris in Blade Runner was actress Daryl Hannah’s big break. But she probably didn’t think her big break into the entertainment industry was also going to include an almost break to her elbow. Running on wet pavement, Hannah slips and fell into a van.
Unfortunately, she didn’t fall directly into the van but the van window. Her elbow went straight through the glass, chipping the bone in eight places. According to the actress, she still has slight scarring from where the stitches were.