When most of us think of being an actor, we think of the bright lights and the red carpet. The glitz and glamour that come with being an actor in Hollywood are well-known to us all, and to be honest, it can be pretty enviable. I mean who wouldn’t want to get paid millions to pretend to be someone else? Being an actor isn’t all fun and games however. Actors spend a lot of time perfecting their craft and getting into their roles. The risks that come with being an actor may not seem like much, but for these actors who almost died on set, the risk is all to real. Many times, especially in today’s cinematic universe, actors are trying to get more hands on with their stunts. Minor accidents and injuries occur, but when it involves a big name in Hollywood and the result is actors who almost lost their life on set, it can make for some pretty big headlines. Sometimes it can even involve someone purposefully putting an actor in danger simply to make a better scene. These 27 actors who almost died on set prove that acting can have dangerous, and sometimes even life threatening consequences.
1. Matthew Fox had a literal run in with a knife while filming for the T.V. show “Lost”. Fox was filming a scene in which he is stabbed with a knife, the only problem is that it wasn’t a collapsible knife as it should have been. Luckily, Fox was wearing a protective vest as mandated by the shows stunt coordinator.
2. Bob Denver plays the classic goofy character Gilligan from “Gilligan’s Island”. The comedian was filming a scene for an episode that involved sprinting into Mr. and Mrs. Howell’s hut to get away from a fierce lion. Unfortunately for him, the lion was already inside the hut. Bob has said that the lion tried to attack him but luckily the trainer was able to tackle it mid-air.
3. Jennifer Lawrence plays the ultra popular Katniss Everdeen in the critically acclaimed The Hunger Games series. While filming a scene where her character is running through a tunnel, a fog machine malfunction occurred causing the tunnel to completely fill with smoke. Lawrence was barely able to escape the tunnel before suffocating.
4. George Clooney is one of the most famous actors on the planet, however that didn’t stop him from almost losing his life on set. While performing a stunt during the filming of Syriana, Clooney suffered a major back injury that required a complex and difficult surgery to repair.
5. Diane Kruger was brilliant in Inglorious Bastards. Unfortunately for her, she was also almost killed by Quentin Tarantino during a scene where she is choked. Tarantino didn’t want Kruger in any more danger than necessary, so he did the strangling himself. Ironically enough, he didn’t yell cut in time and Kruger went unconscious and almost asphyxiated.
6. Sylvester Stallone is one of the most macho actors in history. For Rocky IV, he wanted to try something new. He told Dolph Lundgren to actually punch him as hard as he could. Lundgren, being the physical freak he is, actually damaged Stallone’s heart so much that he was in intensive care for eight straight days.
7. Margaret Hamilton’s performance as the Wicked Witch of the West is an iconic performance. You won’t find many people who don’t know of it. However, during the filming of The Wizard of Oz, Margaret’s makeup had a chemical reaction with some of the special effects fireworks that were used. The reaction caused her to receive second and third degree burns on her hands and face.
8. Police Story is a Jackie Chan classic. As most people know, Jackie Chan does almost all of his own stunts. While filming Police Story, Chan cracked his seventh and eighth vertebrae and dislocated his pelvis (which was previously thought impossible) while jumping from a roof to a metal pole and sliding down it. Now that is some serious dedication.
9. During the filming of Die Another Day, a James Bond franchise movie, Halle Berry and Pierce Brosnan had a passionate love-making scene that went a little wrong. Berry cuts apart a fruit and starts kissing Brosnan while they both eat it. Berry apparently got caught up in the act of passion and started choking on the fruit. Luckily for her, Bond was there to give her the Heimlich maneuver and save her life.
10. James Cameron is an amazing director, and his suspense thriller The Abyss is probably one of his most underrated films. In a scene where Ed Harris is underwater and supposed to run out of air, Cameron actually purposefully made sure that Ed Harris’s oxygen tank did not have enough oxygen to last the whole scene. As a consequence, Ed almost drowned, and later punched Cameron for the stunt.
11. Gunnar Hansen plays a character called “Leatherface” in the iconic horror film Texas Chainsaw Massacre. During one scene, Hansen is running with a fully functional, and running chainsaw. Mud on the ground caused Hansen to slip and send the chainsaw flying in the air. Hansen hit the ground, only the have the chainsaw hit inches from his head. Talk about a close call.
12. While filming Apocalypse Now, Martin Sheen had a very scary moment in the jungle. Sheen was a heavy alcohol and drug abuser while filming the movie. The abuse of his body caused him to have a heart attack in the middle of the jungle in the Philippines. He had to crawl half a mile through the jungle before he found medical attention. Like a real trooper though, he was back on set in a month.
13. Like Jackie Chan, Sylvester Stallone is known for doing his own stunts. So back when he was filming Rambo: First Blood as a young man, his passion for stunts was even greater. He decided that he was going to perform a jump from a cliff to a tree, without safety gear. He did three takes before he was satisfied, but cracked his ribs terribly in the process.
14. Omar Doom and Eli Roth both played amazing roles in Quentin Tarantino’s modern classic Inglorious Bastards. During the final scene where dozens of high-ranking Nazi officials are gunned down inside a theater while it is burning down, the special effects crew set the temperature of the burn higher than any one thought. Omar and Eli were forced to stand near excruciatingly hot flames for hours holding machine guns while the building almost burned down around them.
15. Daniel Day-Lewis is famous for completely immersing himself in a role and absolutely knocking it out of the park. During filming for the movie Gangs of New York, Day-Lewis refused to change out of his period accurate clothing even when he contracted Pneumonia. He even refused medicine until he found out he would die without it.
16. Gerard Butler is no stranger to doing his own stunts. But while filming the movie “Chasing Mavericks”, a huge 20 foot wave forced Butler underwater and nearly drowned him.
17. Joseph Gordon-Levitt had a run in with a New York City taxi while filming the bike messenger movie Premium Rush. He slammed into the taxi at high-speed and needed 31 stitches from the incident.
18. Uma Thurman is no stranger to action, but she may have gotten a little more than she bargained for during the filming of Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief. Someone forgot to set the parking brakes on a van that was on set. The van started rolling towards Uma, but luckily 007 Pierce Brosnan was on the scene. He jumped into the vehicle and hit the brakes just before Thurman was injured.
19. During the filming of Django Unchained, Leonardo DiCaprio was filming a scene where he slams his hand on a glass table. Apparently Leo slammed just a little to hard and put his hand completely through the glass. He required medical attention to stop the bleeding, but not before he finished the scene. What a guy!
20. Charlize Theron has been known for doing a lot of her own stunts throughout her career. During the filming of the movie Aeon- Flux, Theron had a really nasty fall that caused her to land on her neck. The crew had to stop production for 8 weeks. Doctors weren’t sure if Charlize would ever gain full mobility again. Luckily for her and all of her fans she made a full recovery.
21. In the movie Now You See Me, actress Isla Fischer was supposed to be pretending to be drowning in a tank of water. Unfortunately for her, she really was drowning. The crew apparently just thought she was an extremely good actress. Luckily for her, she was able to free herself from her bonds in time to escape, just like a real magician.
22. Aaron Paul, who played Jesse on Breaking Bad was filming the first season when a boulder sitting on top of an RV near where he was standing was knocked off by a gust of wind. Luckily for Paul, he had asked the director if he could film the scene from a different spots just moments before.
23. Jason Statham is one of the biggest action heroes on the planet on the big screen. Apparently, he likes being a real life action hero as well. While filming The Expendables 3, the brakes on the truck he was driving failed and the truck went straight into the Black Sea. Statham calmly exited the vehicle while it was under water and swam to the surface. That’s an action hero.
24. Everyone’s favorite pirate Johnny Depp played Tonto in the remake of The Lone Ranger. During a scene where Johnny Depp is riding his horse, his saddle came loose and Johnny was left dangling from the horse. Luckily he was able to free himself from the saddle before the horses hooves kicked him in the face.
25. Michael J. Fox’s hanging scene from Back To The Future 3 was absolutely brilliant, perhaps a little too brilliant. During the scene, Fox slipped and was actually hanging himself while the camera was rolling. Luckily for him the director noticed in time to get him down. He even used the real hanging scene in the movie.
26. During filming for an episode of the Brady Bunch called “The Cincinnati Kids”, the whole family was on a roller coaster with a camera attached to the front. Before the scene was actually filmed, Robert Reed (Mike Brady) wanted a test run done with the roller coaster because he thought the camera looked unsafe. Good thing he did too, because the camera flew up during the test run and would have killed one of the cast members if they had been seated behind it.
27. The great Meryl Streep is an acting icon of our time. The world almost lost her during filming for the movie The River Wild. Meryl fell overboard and into the icy river during filming. Luckily for her though, everyone’s favorite Footloose actor and her co-star Kevin Bacon was there to pull her to safety.
Being an actor comes with a lot of perks. The money, the fame, the social influence that come with being a famous movie star make it seem like nothing could ever go wrong in their lives. However, every job has its dangers and pitfalls. Whether it’s doing your own stunts, standing inside a burning building, or having your director purposefully try to asphyxiate you, things can go really wrong on a movie set extremely fast. Luckily for these actors, the curtain hadn’t drawn on their performances.