On-Set Stitches: 15 Movies That Almost Killed Their Stars

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Although there are obviously glamorous parts, being a movie star has some serious job hazards. You can get burned, drowned, stabbed, strangled, hanged, or just straight up get the crap kicked out of you. But it’s all in a day’s work! Read on to see 15 movies that almost (accidentally) killed their stars. These celebs are tougher than you think! Thank god for insurance…

15. George Clooney Breaks His Back In Syriana (2005)

[Photo: Warner Brothers]

[Photo: Warner Brothers]

When a back-firing stunt led to a serious back and spine injury for Clooney, the pain was so bad that he apparently considered taking his own life. “I was at a point where I thought, ‘I can’t exist like this. I can’t actually live,’” he told Rolling Stone in 2011. “I was lying in a 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. You start to think in terms of, you don’t want to leave a mess, so go in the garage, go in the car, and start the engine.” Obviously it breaks our heart to hear the superstar say such things, but luckily his injury was cleared up after some spinal surgery. Hopefully the Oscar he won for the role helped smooth things over.

 

14. Quentin Tarantino Wrings Diane Kruger’s Neck For Inglourious Basterds (2009)

The Big Q is a guy who likes to do things his way, and he decided that the best way to film a scene where beautiful allied spy Bridget von Hammersmark gets strangled by a Nazi was to….strangle her for real. He didn’t want to trust anyone else to do the job, so he threw on a Nazi costume, hopped on top of her, and did the job himself! “What I said to her was, ‘I’m gonna just strangle you, alright?’” he revealed during an appearance on The Graham Norton Show. “‘Full on. I’m gonna cut off your air, for just a little bit of time. We’re gonna see the reaction in your face and I’m gonna we’ll cut.’” He promised they would only do one take, but we guess that was one take too many -Kruger actually passed out from the experience! And that was the shot used in the final film. For bonus points, Tarantino also almost burned actors Eli Roth and Omar Doom to death in a controlled burn gone awry!

 

13. Michael J. Fox Hangs Out in Back To The Future 3 (1990)

In the western-style finale of the beloved time travel trilogy, Fox’s Marty McFly gets strung up by thugs in the town square. Obviously most of the shots were accomplished with the aid of a stunt double, but close-ups required Michael to stand on a box with a noose around his neck. Simple, right? But the whole thing didn’t look realistic enough for director Robert Zemeckis, so trouper MJF straight up offered to do it without the box! Yes, only very careful hand placement stood between safety and getting hanged for real. It all went to plan for the first few takes, but by the third his hand slipped and…well, he got hanged for real. “I swung unconscious at the end of the rope for several seconds before Bob Zemeckis, fan of me though he was, realized even I wasn’t that good of an actor,” Fox wrote in his autobiography, Lucky Man. But it wasn’t for nothing; that shot was used in the final film.

 

12. Charlize Theron Flips Too Far For Aeon Flux (2004)

[Photo: Paramount Picture]

[Photo: Paramount Picture]

The lovely Charlize has a badass streak to match her beauty, as she proved in ’04 when she volunteered to do some of her own stunts for this sci-fi flick. Unfortunately she landed on her neck while doing a back-flip, herniating a disc that was dangerously close to her spinal cord. The injury shut down production for eight weeks while she recuperated. Doctors feared she might have limited mobility, but she thankfully made a full recovery.

 

11. Apocalypse Now Gives Martin Sheen A Heart Attack (1979)

Few films have had a production as troubled as Francis Ford Coppola‘s war epic, which was given an extra dose of authenticity by being filmed in civil-war torn Philippines. Apparently the sounds of real death and destruction could be heard on set, which obviously made things a little stressful. It seems like the strain of the whole thing got to Martin Sheen, who ended up suffering a heart attack in the middle of the jungle! The actor had to drag himself a quarter mile in order to find any kind of help. In an effort to make sure that the production wasn’t totally shut down, Coppola tried to pass the incident off as “heat exhaustion” (the oldest trick in the book), and let Sheen take a month off to recover.

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