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

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)

[caption id="attachment_393401" align="aligncenter" width="615"][Photo: Warner Brothers] [Photo: Warner Brothers][/caption]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)

[caption id="attachment_393391" align="aligncenter" width="615"][Photo: Paramount Picture] [Photo: Paramount Picture][/caption]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.

10. Gerard Butler Goes Out To Sea In Chasing Mavericks (2012)

[caption id="attachment_393417" align="aligncenter" width="615"][Photo: Splash News Online] [Photo: Splash News Online][/caption]It's too bad that no one saw this movie, because Gerard Butler nearly died to make it! The actor called upon his amateur surfing skills while filming, but apparently they just weren't good enough to hack it in the open sea. Butler wiped out big time, and nearly drowned when another massive wave crashed on top of him. He was forced under water for nearly a minute and ended up in the hospital. While there he became addicted to painkillers, which resulted in a three week rehab stay. So all in all, not a great experience during the making of this flick. He at least deserves a sympathy Oscar, right guys!?

9. Jaimie Alexander Takes The Long Way Down For Thor: The Dark World (2013)

[caption id="attachment_393415" align="aligncenter" width="615"][Photo: Disney Studios] [Photo: Disney Studios][/caption]Wanna know why you should always hold the handrails when you're on the stairs? Well then listen to this brutal tale from the set of the latest Thor movie! Jamie Alexander suffered a bad spill during filming, falling down metal staircase. But the trip was no laughing matter. "I went down a metal staircase and slipped, and slipped a disc in my thoracic spine and chipped 11 of my vertebrae," she told the New York Post. "I knocked my left shoulder out of place and tore my rhomboid on my right side . . . It took me out of filming for a month." But once she was all healed and well, then the jokes started to fly. "Everyone thinks it’s really funny to tease me about staircases now that I fell down one."

8. Bruce Campbell Gets Attacked During Evil Dead (1981)

Production costs for the Evil Dead was legendarily low. Filming took place in a cabin without water or heat, by the end the crew resorted to burning furniture in order to keep warm! The low budget nature of his iconic horror flick is part of what makes it great, but it also nearly ended in death of its star. Unable to afford better eye prosthetics, director Sam Raimi had actors wear extremely thick contact lenses to get the whole "demonic eye" look. It was pretty difficult to see through those things, and the low lightening didn't help matters much. The director then gave a knife to an actress wearing a pair of these impairing contacts, and told her to go after Campbell like a woman possessed. However, Raimi neglected to tell the woman that the knife in her hand was actually real. The end result shows Bruce desperately trying to get away from a blind woman who is authentically trying to stab him.

7. Jason Statham Drives A Semi Into The Black Sea During The Expendables 3  (2013)

[caption id="attachment_393419" align="aligncenter" width="615"][Photo: Lionsgate] [Photo: Lionsgate][/caption]During a recent appearance on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno, Statham's co-star Terry Crews described a scary "near-death" incident that occurred on set. "We were doing a stunt and Jason Statham was driving the truck," Crews explained. "He gets in the truck; we're in Varna in Bulgaria, on the edge of the Black Sea. He literally is supposed to stop the truck, we get out, we shoot, the whole thing. The truck doesn't stop. The truck goes over the dock, into the Black Sea with Jason Statham driving." Lucky the action star was able to free himself from the vehicle before it became too submerged. This isn't the only injury caused by the Expendables franchise...

6. Peter O'Toole Nearly Gets Camel Trampled During Lawrence Of Arabia (1962)

[caption id="attachment_393420" align="aligncenter" width="615"][Photo: Columbia Pictures] [Photo: Columbia Pictures][/caption]While filming in the deserts of Jordan, big screen legend Peter O'Toole fell off his camel and injured his back. As if this wasn't bad enough, he very nearly was trampled to death by a stampede of other camels and horses that were kept around for the extras! Luckily for him, his own trusty ride stood directly over him, shielding him from other hooves.

5. Joseph Gordon-Levitt Catches A Cab For Premium Rush (2012)

Like many actors with a wild streak, JGL insisted that he perform many of the dangerous bike stunts himself for this thriller that takes place on the streets of New York City. This decision cost him a whopping 31 stitches when he went careening into the rear window of an authentic NYC Yellow Cab, slicing up his arm and wrist in the process.

4. John Wayne Nearly Drowns In Noah's Ark (1928), Gets Radio Active In The Conqueror (1956)

They say showbiz ain't easy, but directing pioneer Michael Curtiz took things to a whole new level. While making a big screen epic of Noah's biblical flood, he decided to go with REAL PEOPLE thrashing around, instead of the miniatures that his set designer suggested. You know, little human-shaped objects that can't actually die for real? But Curtiz wanted to go all out and hired a phenomenal number of extras for the scene. With so many lives at stake, you'd assume he took necessary precautions to make sure that no one got hurt, right? Nope.

He failed to tell any of the extras that he was about to throw serious tidal waves onto them. "Oh, they're going to have to take their chances," he reportedly said when his tech crew protested. The cost for this authenticity was pretty high: an actor broke two ribs, the leading lady got pneumonia, one of the extras had to have his leg amputated, and three of them actually died. But not a young John Wayne, who appeared in the scene as one of the people frantically swimming for their lives.

Although he beat the odds this time, movie magic may have ended up contributing to his death from cancer in 1979. The set of his 1956 flick The Conqueror was apparently near to an atomic bomb testing site in Nevada. 91 members of the 220-person cast contracted cancer by the late '70s, and 46 of the cases were fatal -including Wayne's. Experts say the nuclear fallout may be to blame for the unusually high figure, but Wayne himself blamed his illness on the many packs of cigarettes that he smoked everyday. Yeah, that might have helped.

3. The Witch Gets Burned And The Tin Man Gets Hives In The Wizard Of Oz (1939)

[caption id="attachment_393452" align="aligncenter" width="615"][Photo: MGM] [Photo: MGM][/caption]Contrary to urban legend, no munchkins were injured during the filming of this movie, but the same can't be said for two of it's stars. Margaret Hamilton, playing the role of the Wicked Witch of the West, got badly burned while filming a scene where her character disappears in a fiery flash. They got the flame part right, but the trapped door that was supposed to get her out of harm's way jammed, and she got caught. The pain was made even worse the by intense copper makeup she wore all over her body, making the burns extremely hard to treat. When they tried to shoot the scene again with her stunt double, the same thing happened!

But that was a walk in the park compared to what happened to Buddy Ebsen. Originally cast as the Scarecrow, he swapped roles with Ray Bolger to become the Tin Man. This was a bad move, because the aluminum dust in his make up coated his lungs and caused him to have a violent allergic reaction ten days after shooting. The incident nearly cost him his life, and he remained in critical condition for several days before recovering in an iron lung. In the end he had to leave the picture, with the part of the Tin Man going to Jack Haley.

2. Sylvester Stallone In Way Too Many Things (Often)

Ol' Sly is known for putting himself through hell during his movies, and he's the first to admit that he brings it upon himself!  During the filming of Rocky IV, he issued a dare to super-jacked costar Dolph Lundgren.  "'Punch me as hard as you can in the chest.' Next thing I know, I was in intensive care at St. John’s Hospital for four days. It’s stupid!" Ooof.

Just a few years later he broke several ribs while filming First Blood, when he jumped off a cliff and used a tree to break his fall. He did the scene three times, and he STILL continued to film for the rest of the day. So it's safe to say that Stallone is made of stronger stuff than the rest of us. But perhaps the most intense injury took place while filming The Expendables in 2010, when the 63 years old broke his neck during a particularly intense fight scene with Stone Cold Steve Austin. Luckily it was a hairline fracture, and it wasn't anything a little medical miracle couldn't clear up. "I haven't told anyone this, but I had to have a very serious operation afterwards. I now have a metal plate in my neck," he told the Daily Mail.

1.  Jackie Chan In Everything (Always)

He's been hurt way too many times to count. Honestly, this guy's lucky to be alive. Perhaps the most serious of his long list of injuries occurred in 1986 when he was filming Armour of God in Yugoslavia. He was attempting the (relatively) simply stunt of jumping from a castle wall to a tree branch, but he missed and wound up slamming his head on the rocky ground. Emergency surgery was required when a piece of his skull became lodged into his brain. Thankfully he was able to make a full recovery, and is still doing crazy action sequences on the reg.

[Photo: Warner Brothers/Disney/Paramount]