We tend to think actors are invincible, but they can and do get injured on-set. While you might assume that the stunts we see on the big screen don’t actually hurt the actors because they’re performed in a controlled environment, that’s not the case – and these actors are proof.
Many of our favorite actors have permanent damage (whether emotional or physical) thanks to on-set accidents. Brendan Fraser’s injuries were so severe they kept him in and out of the hospital for seven years. If there was an award for “most pain or damage incurred for a role” at the Oscars, these actors would’ve won.
Tom Hanks In Castaway
While Tom Hanks isn’t necessarily known to lose himself in the role that he’s playing, he has gone to extremes on a few occasions. One of those was when he starred in the movie Castaway and lost an insane amount of weight. He was malnourished and lost weight at a pace he never had before during the shooting of the film.
Hanks thinks that losing that weight and then having to gain it back quickly after, along with being “genetically inclined” may have been contributing factors to being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Hanks says he probably won’t be taking on a role like that again.
Linda Hamilton In Terminator 2: Judgement Day
Linda Hamilton transformed into Sarah Connors in the 1991 Terminator 2 movie. It was one of the first times that a female actor was a true action star in a blockbuster movie, which paved the way for many we see today. But, it didn’t come without a price.
During a scene where she was trying to escape the psych ward and reluctantly accepted help from Arnold Schwarzenegger’s new Terminator, she forgot to put her earplugs in. Arnold let off a big blast in the elevator and the amplified sound caused Hamilton permanent hearing loss.
Jamie Alexander In Thor: The Dark World
While making the 2013 version of Thor, Jamie Alexander took an absolute beating. She slipped from a high surface and did some serious damage to her body. She said that she herniated a disk in her thoracic spine, dislocated her left shoulder, tore her right rhomboid, and chipped the 11th vertebrae.
When she took the fall she thought that she would end up being okay, but she was far from it. She went to the hospital and when she sat in the car her right leg and hand went numb. She had to undergo a month of physical therapy but her spinal injuries still linger.
Mila Kunis In Black Swan
Mila Kunis had to lose a lot of weight for her role in the psychological thriller, Black Swan. She got down to 95 pounds for her role and had to go back to a few old bad habits to do so. She says she used to be a smoker, so she took that up again so that she didn’t really have an appetite.
Kunis says that her body has never been the same. She says that going back to her regular body type will just not happen because her transformation for the role was just too drastic. She claims that when she tried to gain the weight back, it went to different areas of her body than it used to.
Uma Thurman In Kill Bill: Volume 1
We may have never known about this injury to Uma Thurman if the whole Harvey Weinstein thing didn’t come to light. She talked about how Weinstein assaulted her during the making of Pulp Fiction, and also said that Quinten Tarantino forced her to perform a dangerous driving scene in Kill Bill that left her with lasting damage.
She had to hit 40 miles on a sandy road and would end up losing control of the car and smashing into a tree. She said that she was in so much pain that she thought she would never be able to walk again. It left her with a permanently damaged neck and screwed up knees.
You’ll be surprised by the potentially life-changing injury one top star rececived.
Channing Tatum In The Eagle
While filming The Eagle in Scotland, Channing Tatum and other cast members had to wade into freezing waters. The only way to keep warm was by pouring a mix of boiling hot water and river water down your suit. On the last pour of the day, one of the crew guys poured the water down Tatum’s suit but forgot to dilute the boiling water with colder water.
Basically, he poured scalding hot water down his suit and Tatum said he tried to pull his suit away from his body to get away from the boiling water but that just ended up sending the hot water to his, uh, groin where it did some lasting damage. Tatum’s genitals will never be the same.
Michael J Fox In Back To The Future Part III
During a hanging scene in the third installment of Back to the Future, Michael J Fox nearly lost his life. He had agreed to have a rope tied around his neck for a scene so that it made it look very real. There’s almost no room for error during a stunt like this, and man oh man, there was an error.
Fox didn’t get his hand into place in time to spare his neck from the noose and it was a full 30 seconds before anyone even noticed that he was no longer acting. Fox had written that a close friend was watching this scene happen, and knew Fox was a good actor, but not THAT good to lose color in his face.
Two main characters in the movie Warrior combined for about 7 major injuries. Find out more just ahead.
Jackie Chan In Any Movie He’s Ever Done
Honestly, it’s probably easier to list the movies that Jackie Chan wasn’t injured during the making of the film. He’s always done his own stunts which means that there’s a lot of room for injury. He has broken dozens of bones on set and had many near-death experiences.
Among other things, Chan has suffered damaged eye-brow bones, lip lacerations, knocked out teeth, too many broken fingers to count. He’s broke his breastbone and both ankles. Shall we continue? He’s dislocated his pelvis, shoulders, and cheekbone as well. He’s a walking band-aid and we’re thankful for it.
Brendan Fraser Was In and Out of Hospitals for 7 Years
In the late ’90s and early ’00s, Brendan Fraser climbed the ranks of Hollywood’s elite. But after staring in a handful of movies like Bedazzled, George of the Jungle, and The Mummy, Fraser suddenly seemed to disappear into thin air. Now nearly two decades later, Fraser revealed his ‘disappearance’ was largely thanks to the physical toll his roles took on his body.
“By the time I did the third Mummy picture in China, I was put together with tape and ice—I was building an exoskeleton for myself daily,” Fraser said in an interview with GQ. Fraser’s injuries were so bad he needed a laminectomy, a partial knee replacement, and additional work on his back to fuse compressed spinal pads together. He even had to have his vocal cords repaired. He’s since made a return to the big screen after his hiatus, staring in 2015’s miniseries Texas Rising, the drama series The Affair, and the FX anthology series Trust.
Leonardo DiCaprio In Django Unchained
Leonardo DiCaprio is one of the best improvisers on set. While filming Django Unchained, he was in the middle of a heated monologue when he slammed his hand onto glass that shattered. He sliced his hand very badly, and blood was flowing everywhere.
Instead of seeking medical attention, DiCaprio decided to keep going with the scene and stayed in character so that the real blood could improve his monologue. He then smeared his blood across the face of an unsuspecting Kerry Washington, whom I’m sure was very thrilled.
George Clooney In Syriana
While filming a torture scene in the movie Syriana, Clooney cracked his head open during a stunt and injured his spine. He had to lay up in a hospital bed for a long time and said he even contemplated taking his own life because the pain was so bad. He was unable to move and had headaches where it felt like he was having a stroke.
Doctors couldn’t pinpoint what it was but finally realized that fluid was leaking from his spine. They gave him tons of pain medications that Clooney said didn’t work. He still feels the effects to this day but he was at least able to take home a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his pain.
Joel Edgerton And Tom Hardy In Warrior
It should come as no surprise that a film about the brutal sport of mixed martial arts may have caused some bodily damage to the actors. Both Joel Edgerton and Tom Hardy had to seek medical attention at some point during the filming of Warrior.
Joel ended up blowing out his knee and tearing his ACL in the process. He had to get surgery to fix the tear but his knee has never been the same since. Tom, on the other hand, broke his finger, ribs, and toes. Both of them shared black eyes and don’t regret it for a second. The goal was to not have to act out their fights which is exactly what happened.
Dylan O’Brien In Maze Runner: The Death Cure
Dylan O’Brien had a horrific accident on the set of Maze Runner that suspended the movie’s production for a long time. The movie came out in early 2018 which was over two years after the production was started. O’Brien suffered severe brain trauma when a stunt involving a motorcycle went wrong and he literally broke his face.
He has four plates in him now that will be there forever and had to get extensive reconstructive surgery to get back to normal. His face after the incident was almost unrecognizable and he says that it’s a miracle that doctors were able to salvage his face.
Daniel Craig In James Bond: Spectre
Craig suffered a knee injury during his latest stint as James Bond. He can thank his co-star and WWE wrestler Dave Bautista. He ended up having to get surgery on a knee injury that he got while being tossed around by Bautista.
Craig completely downplayed the seriousness of the injury, saying that it could’ve happened to him when he got out of the shower. At first, he did resist surgery because he was worried that it would stop filming for a long time. He ended up waiting to get surgery till after he was done shooting.
Michelle Yeoh In Crouch Tiger, Hidden Dragon
It should come as no surprise that Michelle Yeoh has gotten herself into situations where injuries occur on set. With all the amazing stunt work in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon there was bound to be a misstep somewhere.
Yeoh landed wrong on her knee to which it abruptly gave out. She was trying to do a forward jump kick, something she does all the time, but botched the landing. She says she knew that something was wrong when she turned left and her leg went right. She completely tore her ACL and needed surgery and months of rehabilitation. She says she’ll never get back to the way it was.
The movie Aeon Flux almost ruined the career of Charlize Theron after she landed on her neck.
Nicole Kidman In Moulin Rouge!
The set of Moulin Rouge! was not a pleasant one for Nicole Kidman. While rehearsing for a dance routine she would have to perform during the film she fractured a rib. She later would fracture her ribs again when she attempted to put on a corset before they were fully healed.
She said that she wanted to get her waist down to 18 inches, which is the measurement that Vivien Leigh went for in Gone with the Wind. She kept asking the wardrobe people to tighten up her corset until she literally couldn’t breathe anymore.
Brad Pitt In Se7en
So, basically, when you’re Brad Pitt, you get your injuries written into the script after they happen. The actor slipped during a chase scene and his arm went through a windshield, severing a tendon. So, the producer decided that Pitt’s character faced the same injury even though it wasn’t in the original script for Se7en.
They gave Pitt’s character a cast so that they wouldn’t have to put a halter on any filming. The same can’t be said for the movie Troy, in which Pitt ended up severing his Achilles tendon (while playing the warrior Achilles) and had to halt the filming of Troy for 10 weeks.
Charlize Theron In Aeon Flux
Who knew that the 2005 flick Aeon Flux could’ve been the last time we ever saw Charlize Theron on the big screen. The actress says that she was nearly paralyzed for life after attempting a back handspring and landing on her neck. Spectators to the stunt were horrified after seeing her body contort the way it did.
They were only 10 days into shooting the film and Theron would end up herniating a disc in her spine. The injury halted production for eight weeks, which was the amount of time that she felt she needed to get her physical strength back to fully partake in the stunts again.
Jim Caviezel In The Passion Of The Christ
Jim Caviezel was struck by lightning while filming the Sermon on the Mount sequence for The Passion of the Christ. He says that he knew it was going to happen about four seconds before he felt anything. He remembers seeing extras grab the ground as they saw fire coming out of Jim’s head.
Miraculously he would walk away from that with just minor injuries. He wasn’t so lucky the rest of the film though as he suffered a separated shoulder, hypothermia, pneumonia as well as lung and skin infections. If anyone can get through all that pain, it’s definitely Jesus.
Halle Berry In Gothika
In the 2003 film, Gothika, Halle Berry plays a psychologist who finds herself trapped in a sanitarium. There was one scene which found her struggling to resist the doctor — played by Robert Downey Jr.— who was trying to pin her to the cot. During the resistance, she tried to resist so forcefully that she ended up breaking her ulna.
She said that she knew instantly that it was broken and Robert knew it too because you hear the ulna snapping from a mile away. It took her only three weeks to recover enough so that she could continue filming but still feels the effects to this day.
Sylvester Stallone Destroyed His Back In Expendables 3
Considering that Sylvester Stallone has always played the role of the action movie hero, he’s no stranger to minor cuts and bruises while on-set. However, things were a little bit while filming for the film The Expendables 3. He experienced his worst injury during filming so far when he severely injured his back.
Apparently, he fell from a high distance directly on his back, which caused him to need serious surgery. He had metal pieces installed on his back, and despite his physical therapy and surgery, he said that he hasn’t gotten any better and now there’s just squeaking metal pieces in his back.
Jason Statham Nearly Died On Set
In 2014, actor Jason Statham was filming The Expendables 3 when an accident happened on set. Statham was driving a three-ton truck while shooting the film. Suddenly the brakes failed and Statham was seconds away from plunging off a 60-foot cliff into the Black Sea below.
Luckily the doors had been taken off of the truck, and Statham’s quick thinking saved his life. He jumped out of the truck as it flew into the water, hit the water himself and was able to swim to safety. In fact, Statham had previously had a career as an Olympic diver, competing for England in the 1990 Olympic Games.
Bruce Willis Blew Out His Ears In Die Hard
Bruce Willis is another actor that is no stranger to the cuts and bruises that come along with making an action film. However, it wasn’t until he was filming for Die Hard that he experienced an injury that has stuck with him to this day.
While firing a pretend gun, he accidentally shot it too close to his ears and suffered what he said is “two-thirds hearing loss in his left ear.” His daughter Rumor went on to comment that if he seems to be not very talkative when promoting a movie or at an event, it’s because he can’t always hear the questions very well. Hre’s rather stay quiet then seem deaf to the audience.
Angelina Jolie Was Hurt In A Simple Stunt InSalt
Angelina has proven herself to be a real action star time and time again, and her movieSalt was no different. To prepare for the action scenes in the film, Jolie had to religiously practice fighting styles such as Muay Thai and Krav Maga.
Although there were some crazy stunts performed personally by Jolie for the movie, it was a rather simple scene that left her with a permanent scar on her face. During the final fight scene of the film, she was rolling on the floor when she accidentally fell into a corner piece of the set and gave herself a nasty bump on her head.
Ellen Burstyn’s Body Went Through the Ringer Filming The Exorcist
While filming for The Exorcist, Ellen Burstyn’s possessed daughter violently pushes her onto the floor. For the scene, she had a wire attached to her back to make it look as real as possible. While filming, she was complaining to the director that she was being pulled to hard by the wire and was hurting her back.
She believes that they never took her safety into consideration because on the next take she was slammed onto the floor and ended up permanently injuring her spine. Burstyn loves the director William Friedkin but thinks that his desire to get the perfect shot can sometimes get in the way of safety.
Harrison Ford Was injured By The Millenium Falcon
While filming the seventh Star Wars movie, Harrison Ford fractured his ankle. The actor and film producer was injured when a hydraulic door on the Millennium Falcon landed on his leg. The incident caused a two-week delay in production and left Ford with residual pain in his leg.
Interestingly enough, Ford was injured again just a few months later — only this time he survived a plane crash. While out in his 1942 Ryan Aeronautical ST3KR, the plane lost power outside of Santa Monica, California. Fortunately, the aircraft crash-landed belly down on a golf course nearby, leaving Ford with non-life-threatening injuries. He didn’t walk away unscathed though, breaking his pelvis and his ankle…again.
Isla Fisher Almost Drowned On Set
There are few things more terrifying than being stuck underwater, unable to breathe, and unable to escape. That’s exactly what happened to Isla Fisher while filming Now You See Me in 2013. In the heist thriller, there is a scene in which Fisher is trapped in a tank of water filled with piranhas. Filming was going fine until Fisher became stuck in the tank and tried desperately to alert the crew by banging on the window.
The crew and her fellow castmates didn’t think anything of it at first because that’s how her character is supposed to respond during the scene. Fortunately, Fisher was able to untangle the chain and escape the tank physically unscathed.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt Needed 31 Stitches While Filming Premium Rush
Joseph Gordon-Levitt needed 31 stitches while filming Premium Rush on the streets of New York City. The actor plays a bicycle messenger in the movie and lost control of his bike, causing him to take a gnarly fall on his wrist.
The Inception star took to his website following the accident, revealing he “busted through the rear window of a cab,” and that the accident was ultimately his fault for going too fast. Gordon-Levitt also proved he’s a trooper as he was back on the set the next day.
Jeremy Renner Broke Both Of His Arms On Set
While filming comedy flick Tag, actor Jeremy Renner broke not one, but both of his arms on set. The actor prefers to perform his own stunts, including a scene in Tag where he falls of a stack of 20-foot-high chairs.
The chairs luckily didn’t topple onto the actor, but he did accidentally land on his arms. On The Tonight Show, Renner recalled the accident, saying: “I knew when I hit the ground that it wasn’t good. So I couldn’t feel my arms. But then I went back up the stack of chairs, did it again, did okay. And then I went to the hospital at lunch and they said, ‘that’s broken, that’s broken.’ I’m like, ‘okay, cool.’ And then I went back to work.”
Tom Cruise Injured on the Set of Mission Impossible 6
It’s hard to believe that there are now six films in the Mission Impossible franchise, but it’s true. And Tom Cruise has been in every one of them. Over 20 years after the first film came out in 1996, Cruise should take a little more care when doing his own stunts on set.
In August of 2017, Cruise broke his ankle while doing a stunt that required him to jump onto the roof of a building. Filming was put on hold while he recovered as the 55-year-old was seen limping off the set. No more dancing on Oprah’s couch for Tom!
Blake Lively Needed Two Surgeries on Her Hand
In December of 2017, actress Blake Lively was performing an action scene on the set of The The Rhythm Section when she hurt her hand. Unfortunately, the injury required surgery and production was put on hold. More bad news arrived the following month in January 2018 when it turned out that the first surgery did not go as planned and she would need to have another.
The mother of two had a hand injury so bad that production was still on hold as of April 2018, and not expected to resume again until June.
Burt Reynolds Has a Permanent Jaw Injury
Actor Burt Reynolds is one of the biggest names in show business, but he was out of commission for two years while he healed from an injury. On the very first day of filming for City Heat, Reynolds was injured. It was the last take of the day, which was a fight scene.
A prop was to be used in the fight, a fake chair specially designed for the stunt that required a man to throw a chair at Reynold’s head. However, the other guy picked up an actual metal chair and hit the actor square in the jaw. Reynolds recalled the injury in his book But Enough About Me, “ Every time I tried to speak my face clicked. My bite was so lopsided I couldn’t chew. I could only drink liquids, and I began losing weight.” He was diagnosed with a temporomandibular disorder, an injury to the joint that connects the lower jaw to the skull.
Jennifer Lawrence Punctured an Eardrum On Set
The Hunger Games required actors to train extensively and play out action scenes. Actress Jennifer Lawrence was all about it, and fully committed to the role. Many of her scenes required her to swim, which ended up causing the actress multiple ear infections. And then, she punctured her eardrum.
While filming Catching Fire Lawrence swam too close to jets that were running under the water surface and it hit her on the side of the head. Lawrence said she couldn’t hear out of that ear for about a month and learned she had punctured her eardrum.
Priyanka Chopra Suffered A Concussion On The Set Of Quantico
While filming the ABC thriller series Quantico, Priyanka Chopra took a nasty fall. It was raining and the cast and crew were forced to quickly film a scene before running out of daylight. Chopra was wearing clunky rubber boots and wasn’t aware how dangerous the conditions were outside.
Both she and her colleague fell and were rushed to the emergency room, where Chopra learned she had a concussion. Fortunately for the star, she was fine and after three days of rest was back on set in great condition.
Kate Winslet Almost Drowned While Filming Titanic
Titanic was one of the biggest box office success stories — but did you know that Kate Winslet nearly drowned while filming? During the scene where Kate is fully clothed in the water, her heavy coat snagged on a gate causing her to be briefly submerged. The star had to shimmy out of the jacket to get to the top of the water.
Although frightened by the event, director James Cameron was quick to keep filming. “I had no breath left. I thought I’d burst,” Winslet said. [James Cameron] just said, ‘Okay, let’s go again.’ That was his attitude. I didn’t want to be a wimp so I didn’t complain.”
Ike Barinholtz Broke His Neck On The Set Of The Mindy Project
Ike Barinholtz is arguably one of the most lovable characters on The Mindy Project. But the happy-go-lucky funny man was sidelined while filming the series in 2017.
While on set, Barinholtz fell off of a high platform and sustained two fractured cervical vertebrae in his neck. Of course, the actor was quick to make light of the situation, telling People, “I have to wear an incredibly stylish neck brace for a while as the bone heals. It’s a cool look, especially in the summer.”
Margaret Hamilton And Her Stunt Double Were Badly Injured In The Wizard Of Oz
The Wizard Of Oz was ahead of its time but struggled when it came to special effects involving fire. While filming the skywriting broomstick scene, Margaret Hamilton’s stunt double sustained significant burns on her legs. The Wicked Witch of the West spent weeks in the hospital following the accident.
Interestingly enough, Hamilton herself was badly injured a few weeks later when a trapdoor and flames were triggered too soon.
John Wayne Possibly Contracted Cancer On Set
While filming the movie The Conqueror, released in 1956, there were over 200 people working on set. Out of those 200 workers, 91 of them had contracted cancer, and 46 of them died from it.
While at first, it seemed like an unbelievable coincidence, it was later discovered that the United States government were conducting atomic bomb tests nearby in Nevada. This was then believed to be a major cause of rampant cancer among the crew. Also, John Wayne died of stomach cancer 25 years later, which might have been a result of being exposed o the atomic tests.
Jared Leto In Chapter 27
Jared Leto is a method actor that doesn’t hold anything back when it comes to transforming himself entirely for a role. While he was playing Mark Chapman, the man who shot and killed John Lennon, Leto admitted he gained so much weight that he abruptly suffered gout.
Leto said that his weight gain hurt his body so much and towards the end of shooting the movie he couldn’t even walk. He ended up having to get a wheelchair because his feet hurt so much he could barely walk. It took him about a year to get back to feeling semi-normal but doesn’t think he’ll ever get back to where he was.
Viggo Mortenson Shattered His Toes For the Perfect Shot
While filing the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Viggo Mortenson was known to perform most if not all of his own stunts. He took sword fighting lessons, learned how to ride a horse, and everything in between to make the character of Aragorn as real as possible.
In the scene when Aragorn is floating down the river, Viggo knocked out multiple of his teeth and got them fixed immediately in order to continue filming. On another occasion, Aragorn kicks a helmet and screams. These were real screams because Viggo had just broken numerous toes on the helmet. At least he got the perfect shot.
Justin Theroux Split His Head Open For The Spy Who Dumped me
While filming for his upcoming movie The Spy Who Dumped Me, Thoroux was filming a scene when he’s peeling away on a scooter. As he’s speeding down the street, he noticed that there weren’t blockers up ahead and that he was about to speed into real traffic.
So, he grabbed onto both breaks as hard as he could. This caused him to skid out on the scooter and fly off the handlebars, landing on his head. He ended up splitting open his head. This was on the last day of filming which would have been really bad if he had been injured any worse.