Which stars had a near-death experience while shooting?

Which stars had a near-death experience while shooting?

Published on September 04, 2022 11:28 AM by Andrew Koschiev

You might think acting is easy, but just like many other jobs, it comes with its own risks.

Safety while shooting for a movie or a TV show may be the major concern when the cameras start to roll, but as there are so many variables to take care of, at times, things do get out of control, leaving the stars with near-death experiences.

Unfortunately, there is a long list of people who died on the sets, actors like Brandon Lee, who starred in The Crow in the year 1993, the Walking Dead stunt artist John Bernecker in 2018, or emergency service personnel dedicated to overseeing specific sets like Michael Davidson – a firefighter who lost his life when the fire broke out on the sets of Motherless Brooklyn in 2018.

However, there are a plethora of times when our favorite stars had to bear the consequences of stunts gone wrong or some stars cheated death in an incredibly lucky way.

Keep on reading to know which stars almost went to their graves while shooting for movies or TV shows.

Jackie Chan – Armor of God

Jackie Chan's legend has suffered more than enough injuries during the shoot to have his own list. Chan is popular for doing his own stunts for his movies, and as a result, there is hardly any bone left unbroken during the life of his career.

A few of his most popular stunt incidents include his horrific fall while shooting for Project A, when he fell from a clock tower through double cloth rooftops and ultimately landed on his head, almost fracturing his neck. Another one is his incredible leap during Police Story, when he drove from a balcony in the mall, slid down a pole of flashing lights, and crashed through a glass roof. 

However, the actor's closest encounter with death was when he was filming the movie Armor of God in 1987. As he was jumping from a cliff to a tree, one of that tree's branches broke, sending Chan plunged to the ground, laying on his back and hitting his head hard on a rock.

This hit with the rock broke his skull, and a bone pierced into his brain. Chan didn't shy in admitting that he almost died, but even this couldn't stop him from doing more action movies in the future.

  Jackie Chan, you really scare us!

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Sylvester Stallone – Rocky IV

The Rocky film franchise is regarded as the most iconic in cinema history. The fourth installment of this franchise is surely a fan favorite as Rocky is all set to take up a fight against Ivan Drago, a Russian boxer.

Sylvester Stallone is the star, director, and producer of the movie. While shooting, a bright idea crossed Stallone's mind. Following his idea, the actor told almost 6'5" Dolph Lundgren (Drago in the movie) to punch him in reality. The actor said to Lundgren, "Just go out there and try to clock me." 

Unfortunately, the bright idea didn't fructify well for Stallone, and he had to be admitted in the hospital for nine days as his heart was knocked against his breastbone. Because of this, the supply of oxygen and blood to the heart was cut, resulting in swelling.

Jim Caviezel – The Passion of the Christ

There are hardly any bigger roles for actors than Jesus Christ. Therefore, when Jim Caviezel was chosen to play Christ for Mel Gibson's 2004 iconic The Passion of the Christ, Jim would have been on cloud nine for sure as he would have felt the most blessed actor then. 

However, Jim's experience while shooting for the movie was anything but a blessing because he suffered many injuries during the entire shoot. Jim was left with multiple scars and bruises and also a dislocated shoulder. Thus, he might have been forgiven for feeling he was somewhat cursed for that role, especially when the lightning struck the actor.

When Jim was filming the Sermon on the Mount scene, Jim was struck by a lightning bolt that supposedly saw him lit up just like a Christmas tree. It was a shocking relief that he was not at all harmed in this terrible incident.

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Dylan O'Brien – Maze Runner: The Death Cure

The Maze Runner films are a series of sci-fi movies. These movies are based on the novels written by James Dashner. Till now, three movies have been released, and it was during the shooting of the third one that the main actor Dylan O'Brian met with a horrendous accident.

While filming for Maze Runner: The Death Cure, a stunt scene was being shot by Dylan when one vehicle smashed with another. This accident resulted in multiple severe injuries to the young actor, including a facial fracture, a brain trauma, or a concussion.

The movie's shooting was to be paused for around a year when Dylan needed reconstructive surgery in the hospital. Fortunately, the actor recovered from his injuries and returned to acting.

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Viggo Mortensen – The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

Aragorn's character is no stranger to battle, but the actor playing Aragorn also faced some dangerous situations on the sets of The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Viggo Mortensen played the character of Aragorn in this trilogy. He performed all his stunts seen in the movie himself. Also, he even used real swords and knives wherever he could. However, things do not always go as planned, and the same happened with him. The incident occurred on the sets of Fellowship of the Ring when a real knife was accidentally thrown directly toward him, and the actor had to divert it using his sword – an incident shown in the movie's final print.

Next, while filming for the movie The Two Towers, Viggo didn't only fracture his two toes when he was kicking a helmet but almost drowned while filming the scene where the unconscious body of Aragorn floats down a river. The weight of the armor Viggo was wearing pulled him underwater, and the actor was caught in an undercurrent that could put him in real danger. 

Kate Winslet – Titanic 

While Titanic is the movie with which actress Kate Winslel's career was launched, she often talks about the difficulties she faced during the shoot, especially with director James Cameron.

Winslet actually feared for her life when shooting a scene where the coat she wore tore on a gate. She was struck there for a brief moment and drowned. The actress shared the incident during an interview and discussed her unsympathetic nature toward Cameron. She revealed that she had no breath left in her body. She thought she was about to burst. And Carter just said, OK, let's try again. This was his attitude!

This is not the first, and the last time Cameron had a drowning actor on his set. Ed Harris also almost drowned when filming for Cameron's 1989 film The Abbys. Maybe it's time the stars should have second thoughts while signing a movie with director Jim Cameron that involves shooting in and around water.

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Michael J. Fox – Back to the Future, Part III

During the 80s, the Back to the Future films brought Michael J. Fox into the mainstream and became a household name. However, a stunt went wrong while shooting for the third part of the future franchise, which almost killed the actor.

In his memoir Lucky Man (such an appropriate title), Fox explains how when they shot for a scene where his character Marty McFly was hit by Buford 'Mad Dog' Tannen along with his gang, the shooting got rather real. Though the scene was practiced with the stunt coordinators plenty of times, when the shooting for the scene started, the rope around the actor's neck tightened so much that it became hard for him to breathe.

The frightening aspect of the whole scenario was that everybody in the crew felt he was simply acting, and nobody even had the slightest idea that they were watching a man struggling to save himself. Fortunately, the filmmaker realized something was wrong and rushed to save Fox. Although, Fox lost consciousness during the whole episode.

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Isla Fisher – Now You See Me

Just like Michael J. Fox, a real-life catastrophe nearly happened during the shooting of the first Now You See Me when the production team misunderstood the actual struggle as a convincing shot of acting. 

Fisher is an escapee in this film, and she is tied inside a water tank in a scene. While shooting this stunt, the chains got enmeshed, and the actress actually tried to free herself.

But, as the scene demanded Fisher to bang on the glass with full force in panic, the production team, in the beginning, didn't realize that something was wrong. Fisher tried hard to free herself and get out of there but failed to reach the safety button that could have drained all the water. On top of that, a safety driver with oxygen wasn't around to help her. 

Eventually, the stunt coordinator felt something was wrong and helped the Australian actress. In an interview, Fisher said she was lucky enough to get timely help.

Eli Wallach – The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

Eli Wallach played Tuco's character in The Good, the Bad & the Ugly. While shooting for it, the actor narrowly escaped death not once, twice, but thrice! This is amazing.

Wallach revealed in her memoir in 2005 that he had plenty of close calls on the set that started when he unknowingly drank acid. Unapprehended by Wallach, some crew member poured some sort of acid into a bottle of soda and carelessly and unknowingly kept it near the actor's drink. Wallach was immediately taken to the nearby hospital after he consumed that acid. The doctors successfully pumped the poison out of his system and prevented a disaster.

Wallach had to shoot where he rode a horse, but his hands were fastened behind his back. While filming this scene, a gunshot frightened the horse the actor was sitting on. The frightened horse started running and dragged Wallach for almost a mile before the production team could get hold of the horse. 

As if all these incidents were not enough to scare Wallach out of his wits, again, a life-threatening incident occurred.  In this scene, the director Sergio Leone convinced him to lie next to a railway track while a train sped by, ultimately cutting him free from his handcuffs. The movie crew failed to realize that this train had low-hanging steps projecting from the carriages. The steps of this train missed the actor's head by just a few inches. Not to even think about it, but if Wallach had lifted his head at any angle, he would have probably been guillotined.

Johnny Depp – The Lone Ranger

Johnny Depp has become one of the most well-known names in Hollywood, barely avoiding a disastrous accident while filming for The Lone Ranger back in the year 2013. While filming a scene, the horse Depp was riding thru him.

The accident's footage shows how close the actor was to a severe injury. Depp slid down the horse's side while the animal rushed like a bullet. Depp eventually fell to the ground and avoided getting crushed by God's grace as the horse dived over him.

Miraculously, Depp suffered some minor injuries only during this accident and continued the shooting after being done with a proper examination by the doctors.

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