This also explains why making films can be so expensive. There are cast, crew, producer, and director salaries, production expenses such as gear, catering, stunt work, and insurance. Lots of insurance. But production insurance doesn’t save actors from getting hurt or even dying. Oh no. As the saying goes, sh*t happens, and film sets can be very dangerous places.
When you’re working with weapons, aircraft, vehicles, horses, rain, water tanks, boiling water, ferrets, guns, or even just a styrofoam dummy, proceed with extreme caution. Which famous actors and actresses have literally bled for their art? Read on to learn which film stars have been injured on set and which movies had to halt production until their star recovered. Making movies isn’t just glitz, glamor, and fun and games, as these behind the scenes movie injuries prove.
Ford fractured his ankle during filming of the seventh Star Wars movie at Pinewood Studios in the UK. A hydraulic door on the Millennium Falcon fell on his leg forcing a two-week delay in production while Ford healed. Did Han not keep up the maintenance on that old girl all these years or what?
Just when we thought the beloved actor was out of the woods, Ford survived a plane crash on March 5, 2015 when his 1942 Ryan Aeronautical ST3KR lost power shortly after take off from the Santa Monica Municipal Airport in California. Ford crash-landed belly down on the Penmar Golf Course just beyond the airport when he tried to return. No one on the ground was injured. Ford suffered a nasty wound on his face and scalp as well as a broken pelvis and injured ankles. Someone get Indy a boat, mmmkay?
Source: Hollywood Reporter
While prepping a scene in which Tatum and other actors would be getting into a freezing cold river in the Scottish Highlands, a crew member poured boiling water into Tatum’s wardrobe, burning the skin off of the tip of his penis. (Normally river water is mixed with boiling water and poured into the suit to keep a person warm.)
On the way to the hospital, Tatum told the driver, who was ex-special forces Marines, “You might have to knock me out because I don’t know if I can take the pain. Just grab something and hit me on the back of my head.” He said the incident was the most painful thing he had ever experienced and the embarrassment smarted as well. “I had five guys looking at my shriveled, burned penis.” But Tatum recovered just fine. “I’m good… now. My penis is fantastic! One hundred percent recovered. Put me back in the game, coach.”
Source: US Magazine
Every anatomy student should just study Jackie Chan’s list of injuries to get a quick review of the human body. Jackie Chan is not one of those actors who says they do their own stunts but by that means, “I have a stunt double but I’m going to hang from this wire for this scene.” Nope. Chan actually does all of his own stunts. The result… dozens of broken bones, countless bruises, and other random ouchies.
Here’s the list of Chan’s injuries:
Supercilliary / eyebrown bone damaged, almost causing blindness: Drunken Master (1978)
Knocked-out tooth: Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow (1978)
Broken nose: Young Master (1980)
Chin injury: Dragon Lord (1982)
Broken nose: Project A (1983)
Spinal damage falling from a 82-foot clock tower: Project A (1983)
Spinal damage falling from a pole: Police Story (1985)
Pelvis dislocation almost causing partial paralysis: Police Story (1985)
Broken finger bones: The Protector (1985)
Skull fracture, bone cave-in behind left ear, and brain bleeding from falling out of a tree: The Armour of God (1986)
Broken breastbone: Armour of God II: Operation Condor (1991)
Cheek bone dislocation: Police Story 3: Super Cop (1992)
Knee damage: City Hunter (1993)
Thigh injury from being caught between two cars: Crime Story (1993)
Dislocation of the right shoulder: City Hunter (1993)
Broken ankle: Rumble in The Bronx (1995)
Broken ankle: Thunderbolt (1996)
Lacerated lip: Police Story 4: First Strike (1996)
Broken nose: Mr. Nice Guy (1997)
Malleolus injury: Who Am I? (1998)
Tailbone damage causing temporary partial paralysis: The Accidental Spy (2001)
Eye injury: The Medallion (2003)
Whenever there is an accident involving a gun on any set, Brandon Lee’s name is mentioned. The Wilmington, NC set was rife with accidents before Lee’s fatality, but on March 31, 1993, the armorer (a firearms expert) left set early after being told that a scene could be handled by the prop master. Actor Michael Massee (Funboy) was to shoot Lee (Eric Draven) when he arrived home carrying groceries.
The .44 Magnum was not properly cleaned after being in used in a prior scene where a cap and no powder was used. The prop master dry fired the weapon to clear the chamber. The bullet unseated from the dummy round that was lodged in the barrel of the handgun from the dry firing. No one noticed the bullet and the gun was loaded with a blank cartridge. When the blank was fired by Massee at close range, the bullet hit Lee in the abdomen. A set medic issued CPR and Lee was transported to a hospital where doctors worked for hours to save his life. Massee wasn’t blamed for Lee’s death but the actor struggled with the fatality and took time off from acting to recover from losing Lee.
In July 2017, actor Jeremy Renner said he “broke his arms” filming a stunt. While many believed he injured himself while filming Avengers: Infinity War, the actor revealed he fractured his right elbow and his left wrist while filming Tag.
Renner’s Tag co-star, John Hamm, confirmed the injury when he stopped by Ellen to promote the film in June 2018:
We had several on-set injuries, the most notable being – I was not there that day, so it’s impossible to blame this on me – Jeremy Renner, who broke both of his arms at the same time, day three of production. We had… 40 more days to go? Keep in mind this is a man who’s done a hundred Avengers movies and been fine. And he does a movie about playing tag… both arms, like firewood, just snapped like a matchstick.
Jolie took home a permanent souvenir from her time filming Salt. She sliced her face just above her nose during a “ridiculously easy” scene. She tumbled into a doorway with a gun and ended up rolling onto the floor. “I was bleeding and I have a little scar now,” Jolie said.
Robert Downey Jr.
Oh, ankles. They get you every time. Robert Downey Jr. sprained his ankle while performing a wire-rigged stunt on the Iron Man 3 set in Wilmington, NC. Production slowed to a crawl for six weeks, causing a very expensive break in the action. But the visual FX team came to the rescue. They used face replacement and body doubles to create RDJ’s scenes. If you’re looking for the VFX scenes, watch the final sequence on the beach.
Although Lee’s on set death due to a gunshot wound is the most talked about, Hexum’s death is often mixed up with the details of Lee’s. In 1984, the actor was joking around with a .44 Magnum pistol during a film delay on set. When he was told there would be even further delays, he held the gun to his head and said, “Can you believe this crap?” and shot himself in the temple. The gun was loaded with blanks but a blank at close range is deadly. Hexum’s skull was fractured when a bone fragment was driven into his brain. He was declared brain dead six days later.
Source: Entertainment Weekly
Note to producers who are considering hiring Halle Berry, you better get yourself a boat load of production insurance cause this tiny, hot woman sure does get injured on set a lot.
In 2012, Berry was performing a fight scene with a stunt man on the set of The Call when her head was slammed into a concrete floor, knocking her out. She was taken to the hospital and checked out, diagnosed with a minor head injury. Berry also broke her foot and arm and sustained a bruised eye on the set of Catwoman.
Berry also broke her right foot while on location in Mallorca, Spain for Cloud Atlas. Production was halted for over two weeks while she healed. She then re-injured her foot shooting a scene when she slipped off a rock.
On the set of Gothika, Robert Downey Jr. twisted Berry’s arm the wrong way and it snapped. She also got a shard of glass in her eye on the set of Die Another Day.
Source: Hollywood Reporter
Daniel Craig sprained his knee while filming the James Bond film Spectre at Pinewood Studios in February of 2015. Craig was filming a fight scene when he was injured and roduction was delayed briefly, but resumed shortly thereafter. Former Bond actor Sir Roger Moore quipped on Twitter, “Aaah good news: Daniel will be back on set tomorrow. I’m hanging my safari suit back in the wardrobe.”
Craig is no stranger to Bond film-related injuries. On the set of Quantum of Solace, he had to get eight stitches after an on-set collision caused cuts to the actor’s face. Craig would eventually get plastic surgery. He also cut off the tip of one of his fingers on set and sustained a “slap tear” in his shoulder requiring six pins.
Source: The Guardian
During the filming of 2018’s Deadpool 2, Zazie Beetz was burned after being hit by a stray shell during a shootout scene. This left a scar on her chest.
Hemsworth injured his ankle on set during filming in Berlin. Fortunately the injury wasn’t serious and he was back on set the next day. Was he shooting an epic battle scene when he sustained the injury? Nope! He had kicked a styrofoam dummy.
Source: MTV Movie News
Fisher was filming a water chamber escape scene in 2013 when she nearly drowned. The actress was shackled in the tank when something went horribly wrong, holding her down for nearly three minutes.
“My chain got stuck. I had to really swim to the bottom. I couldn’t get up. Everyone thought I was acting fabulously. I was actually drowning. No one realized I was actually struggling,” Fisher said. She hit a quick-release switch and a stuntman helped her escape. Ta da?
Statham was driving a truck during a scene when the brakes failed. He drove straight into the Black Sea and nearly drowned. But Statham is a badass and totally escaped from that sunken three-ton truck like a boss. He was a little rattled, though, saying, “It’s the closest I’ve ever been to drowning… It was a very harrowing experience.” He also joked that maybe Sly Stallone had something to do with the brakes. To which Sly probably replied, “Don’t be a princess.”
Depp is a capable actor but he was not a horse whisperer on set in 2013 when he fell off his horse during a scene. Even though Depp had ridden horses before, his saddle came loose and Tonto was dragged nearly 25 yards and almost trampled. “My horse had it in for me,” Depp said. “Scout decided to jump over a few obstacles. I was still holding onto the mane like an idiot trying to get back up and at a certain point you have to make a decision. Do I go down and hit the deck on my own? Or do I wait for the hoof to split my face in two? I decided to go down and, incredibly, the horse lifted its front legs and missed me.”
Maybe Scout’s favorite movie was Benny and Joon but he was making a statement about The Rum Diaries or Mortdecai. Although Depp walked away from the accident with only a few minor cuts and bruises, he’ll probably check the saddle next time.
Walker tore an ACL while performing a stunt on set of Furious 6. Production had to work around his absence while he recovered from surgery.
Of course, Walker’s death on November 30, 2013 overshadowed any previous injury. Walker and his friend Roger Rodas were both killed when their 2005 Porsche Carrera GT crashed into a light pole and a tree during a test drive in Valencia, CA. Walker had completed the majority of his scenes for Furious 7before he died. His brothers Caleb and Cody filled in for the remaining scenes. Vin Diesel named his third child after Walker; Pauline was born on March 16, 2015.
Playing a bike messenger has its risks. Gordon-Levitt was filming Premium Rush on the streets of New York City and lost control of his bike, falling off and landing on his wrist. Some reports say he even smashed into the back of a parked cab and went through the windshield. The fall cut up his forearm and he required 31 stitches. He was back shooting the next day.
Gordon-Levitt was also kicked in the head by Bruce Willis during a fight scene on the set of Looper. The actor was thrilled saying, “I just got hit int he head by Bruce Willis.”
Source: The Hollywood Reporter
During the dinner scene, DiCaprio slammed his hand down on a glass and cut his hand, requiring stitches. His hand bled profusely but the actor stayed in character and finished the scene. The take was used in the final cut and it makes DiCaprio’s slave owner character look even more demented.
His co-star Jamie Foxx couldn’t believe it. “And now blood is shooting out [of] his hand and I’m like ‘Does everyone else see this? This is crazy!’ and he keeps going. And I almost turned into a girl looking at it! But what was amazing is he was so into his character that even when they finally said ‘Cut,’ he was still this guy… people almost gave him a mini ovation. It was amazing to see that.”
Source: ET Online
The sets the Expendables movies have been riddled with injuries, for actors and for stunt workers. On Expendables 3, Stallone landed on his back – sustaining a “back blast” – during an action take and “had some metal put in there.”
But the action veteran is used to getting hurt. “Through Rambo and The Expendables, I break my neck and my spine and I dislocate both shoulders.” He even made fun of Antonio Banderas for getting injured during his first take, “You got a pain in the knee? I wake up like that for breakfast.”
While playing Achilles in 2004’s Troy, Pitt actually ruptured his Achilles tendon after he landed the wrong way. It’s a pretty sucky injury and Pitt was down for the count for three months.
Source: OMG Facts
- 21Nitro Circus
Johnny Knoxville attempted a back flip on a motocross bike and got halfway through the rotation when things went wrong. He hit the ground and the bike landed on top of him with the handlebars landing squarely on his crotch. Knoxville tore his urethra and had to flush his bladder by sticking a tube about 10 to 11 inches into his penis to prevent scar tissue from building up. Of all of the Jackass injuries that have happened, this has to be the worst.
Talk about realism on screen. Director Quentin Tarantino wanted the scene in which Hans Landa strangles Bridget Von Hammersmark to look real. He wanted this so much that he stood in for Christoph Waltz and cut off Diane Kruger’s airway on camera – she’s really choking and even briefly lost consciousness. Tarantino has tried to explain what he was thinking when he made this decision, but it seems like a step too far.
Source: The Graham Norton Show
Arnold SchwarzeneggerThe Expendables 3, The Last Stand
After he wrapped The Expendables 3, Schwarzenegger had to get shoulder surgery. The grueling film shoot put a lot of wear and tear on the veteran action star.
While shooting The Last Stand in Albuquerque, Schwarzenegger got a nasty gash on his forehead during an action scene. It’s not a tumor, so there’s that…
Source: CinemablendP.S. I Love You
Gerard Butler’s stripper game is strong. During filming of P.S. I Love You, Butler hit Hilary Swank in the forehead with his suspender strap and she needed stitches.
Source: About Entertainment
Clooney really got into his role during a torture scene on the Syriana set in 2005. He was tied to a chair and suffered a head and spinal injury when the chair tipped over. Clooney was in so much pain, he was nearly suicidal. “I was lying in the hospital bed with an IV in my arm, unable to move, having these headaches where it feels like you’re having a stroke and for a short three-week period, I started to think, ‘I may have to do something drastic about this.’”
He used alcohol to augment the pain and had surgery. He still suffers headaches and has back pain from the injury. But he did win an Oscar for the role. Talk about suffering for your art.
Source: The Hollywood ReporterDjango Unchained
Like DiCaprio, Waltz also got injured during training for the film, falling off his horse and dislocating his pelvis. The two-time Oscar winner got back in the saddle after he healed and was fairly casual about it. “Our stunt coordinator said in a rodeo, it would be an 86.5. I don’t know what that means.”
Source: E! Online
Bruce WillisLive Free or Die Hard
Maggie Q’s stunt double kicked Bruce Willis in the face with a spiked heel just above his right eye during an action scene in a truck. Willis needed seven stitches across his eyebrow and into the corner of his eye.
Source: IMDbThor: The Dark World
Alexander, who played Lady Sif, was shooting a scene for the film in 2012 when she slipped on a metal staircase on set during heavy rain. She suffered a herniated disc, dislocated her left shoulder, tore her right rhomboid, and chipped eleven vertebrae. Ouch!
Alexander received immediate treatment but things got worse the next day when she said that was paralyzed in her right leg and hand. She was in the hospital for a week and in rehab for a month. She returned to complete filming, albeit very carefully.
Source: IGNG.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
Not to be outdone by the likes of Channing Tatum and Johnny Knoxville in the naughty bits injuries department, Sienna Miller sustained a injury that can only be described as “flaming boobs.” Technically it was just a cleavage toasting when Miller’s chest caught on fire after some pyrotechnics went awry on set.
Source: MandatoryFlora Plum, Cinderella Man
While training for 1998’s Flora Plum, Crowe injured his shoulder, which required surgery. Jodie Foster was set to direct the picture but it wasn’t meant to be. Crowe never returned and the film didn’t get made.
While filming a fight scene in the ring for Cinderella Man, Crowe dislocated the same shoulder he injured while training for Flora Plum. Maybe it flared up again when he threw that telephone?
Source: MoviewebThe Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
Orlando Bloom cracked a couple of ribs when he fell off his horse during the filming of the second installment in the The Lord of the Rings franchise. Oh, Legolas.
Charlize TheronÆon Flux
Early on during filming, Theron did a series of 18 or so back handsprings when she landed on her neck, suffering a herniated disc between her third and fourth vertebrae. She was hospitalized for five days in Berlin. Because she suffered some nerve damage, production was halted for six weeks so Theron could heal.
Source: About Entertainment
Along Came Polly
In an interview with IGN to promote Along Came Polly, both Ben Stiller and Jennifer Aniston admitted that they don’t like ferrets. In a scene where his phobic character proves that he’s a changed man, he runs after Polly holding her pet ferret. During the scene, the ferret turned on him, biting Stiller’s chin and refusing to let go. Stiller had to get a rabies shot.
Source: IGNThe Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
Mortensen did many of his own stunts during the filming of the The Lord of the Rings trilogy, so it’s not a huge surprise he got hurt. Mortensen’s real life injury even made the final cut of the film. During the filming of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Mortensen broke two of his toes kicking a helmet after seeing a charred belt in a pile of burned orc bodies. Mortensen fell to his knees in extreme pain and that take stayed in the film. His scream was for real!
Director Peter Jackson said, “Viggo turned a broken toe into a performance.” Oh, and Mortensen nearly drowned in the Battle of Helm’s Deep scene. He also chipped a tooth.
Source: TV Tropes
Nicole KidmanMoulin Rouge
Kidman broke a rib during rehearsals and then re-broke it when she was being strapped into a corset. Then, she tore the cartilage in her right knee during a dance number with Ewan McGregor. “It was like 3 am and I was thinking, ‘I’m so tired and I probably shouldn’t do another one in these heels but yeah, ok, one more take. This will be it,” Kidman said. “And I just kind of fell and tore my knee up. I broke a rib on that too, but that was in rehearsal, so I had time to recover. The knee was bad because it lasted the next couple of years… but when you’re in a role, it’s almost like a high. Once we started, there was no way I was going to stop.”
Source: Entertainment Weekly
Tom HanksCast Away
First, Hanks had to gain 40 pounds to play Chuck Noland. After filming the scenes that show the character prior to being stranded on a remote island, production ceased for a year while Hanks lost the weight and grew a magnificent beard. People did not know what was up as Hanks showed up for appearances looking like a brother from another ZZ Top mother.
When filming started up again with the new, skinny Chuck, Hanks got a blister on his knee that turned septic. He had to be flown from Monuriki to Los Angeles to have the staph infection treated. Hanks didn’t exactly enjoy his time on the island, calling the experience “excruciating.” Also, during a water scene, a cable connecting Hanks’s raft snapped and the actor was adrift for a spell. “I was there 40 minutes. I mean, I wasn’t in any real danger but at the same time, you realize that there’s no one else around, and no place else to go. That’s it. You and the sea. It’s kind of freaky.”
Source: The GuardianX-Men, X-Men 2, The Wolverine
One of the benefits of being immortal is the ability to heal yourself. While Wolverine can do that, actor Hugh Jackman… not so much. Jackman has been injured several times playing the steel-clawed mutant. While filming X-Men, he injured his groin due to a harness mishap. “I screamed so much, and they kept going because they figured it was me primal-yell emoting.” He also smashed his ear into a stationary camera when his attached wire sent him off course.
On the X-Men 2 set, he stabbed himself in the upper left thigh with his own claw running down a hallway half naked. Later during the shoot, Jackman stabbed himself near his left eye, leaving a scar.
While filming The Wolverine, Jackman nearly snapped his own spine swinging into a speeding bullet train window when his neck got stuck. Fortunately, the stunt was stopped and he got sent home to recover, mostly from the shock.
Source: Yahoo! MoviesThe Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers
Contrary to popular belief, those Hobbit feet are not that tough. Sean Astin cut his foot on a piece of glass or rock in a river during a scene in which he was running to a boat.
During filming of The Two Towers, Andy Serkis accidentally pulled off Astin’s wig and the actor fled the set in immense pain.
Source: The FWShootout at Wadala
While filming a scene in 2012, actor Anil Kapoor fired a blank at fellow actor John Abraham from close range (one and a half feet), grazing Abraham’s neck. Abraham was in a crouched position and Kapoor’s aim was off, sparing Abraham the type of fatal injury that killed actor Brandon Lee on the set of The Crow in 1993.
Abraham wasn’t seriously injured but he did experience burns on his neck and ringing in his ears for 24 hours. Abraham considered the close call a reminder to check firearms on set even though there were firearms experts present. “I am agnostic but I now feel that there is a God up there,” he said. The scene remained in the movie… because who wants to tempt fate with a second take?
Source: Times of IndiaThe Passion of the Christ
Jim Caviezel went through a lot to play Jesus in 2004’s The Passion of the Christ, directed by Mel Gibson. He experienced hypothermia, sustained gashes to his back from the scourging scenes, and separated his shoulder carrying a giant cross.
But if that wasn’t enough, Caviezel and assistant director Jan Michelini were struck by lightning. “I was lit up like a Christmas tree! I was doing the Sermon on the Mount. I knew it was going to hit me about four seconds before it happened. I thought, ‘I’m going to get hit.’ And when it happened, I saw the extras grab the ground,” Caviezel told Scott Ross during an interview with the Christian Broadcast Network.
Source: CBNThe Messenger
Actor and director Sergei Bodrov Jr. was just stepping out of his father’s shadow and was on his way to massive stardom in his native Russian when he died in a landslide, along with 42 members of the film’s crew. On the second day of filming The Messenger in 2002 in North Ossetia, a 500-foot glacier slid 15 miles, burying the crew along with hundreds of others. Their bodies were never recovered.
In 2014, during a “high-octane” dance scene, Singh fell off a platform and gashed his cheek. Ranveer joked, “Now I am even more in character for Gunday with an inimitable smile.”