Actors Talk About Long-Lasting Physical Damage They Got Making A Movie

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Vote up the stories that make the movie business sound like dangerous work.

Some wounds never heal. Hear what these famous actors had to say about long-lasting physical damage they sustained from making a movie.

Film sets are supposed to be safe. However, when dealing with pyrotechnics, complicated stunts, and tight corsets - anything can go wrong.

Find out which actors suffered permanent hearing loss from explosions and prop guns. Which actor contemplated suicide after sustaining a painful life-threatening spinal injury? Which actor gained so much weight for a role that he required the use of a wheelchair?

Vote up the stories that make the movie business sound like dangerous work.

  • The Wizard of Oz is a timeless, joyful family-friendly film. Unfortunately for the actors, the production became one of the most dangerous film sets in Hollywood history.

    Margaret Hamilton played the Wicked Witch of the West. During one nearly fatal scene, the actress received second and third-degree burns on her face and hands after a trap door failed to open in time. 

    The pyrotechnic disaster forced Hamilton to spend six weeks in the hospital. After she was released, Hamilton went right back to work.

    “I won’t sue, because I know how this business works, and I would never work again," said Hamilton. "I will return to work on one condition - no more fireworks!”

  • Uma Thurman does a lot of martial arts style butt-kicking as The Bride in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill movies. However, it was not an errant punch or kick that left the actress with permanent physical damage. Instead, the Tarantino muse has had to battle lasting neck and knee injuries after crashing a stunt car into a palm tree during a scene in Vol. 2.

    Thurman talked about how she didn’t feel comfortable driving the car in Kill Bill: Vol. 2. The actress asked Tarantino to use a stunt double for the scene. 

    She said:

    Quentin came in my trailer and didn’t like to hear no, like any director. He was furious because I’d cost them a lot of time. But I was scared. He said: “I promise you the car is fine. It’s a straight piece of road.”

    But that was a deathbox that I was in. The seat wasn’t screwed down properly. It was a sand road and it was not a straight road.

    Thurman also suffered a concussion in the crash. “I accused him of trying to kill me. And he was very angry at that, I guess understandably, because he didn’t feel he had tried to kill me,” Thurman added.

  • Burt Reynolds and his macho swagger defined 1970s Hollywood tough guy. The sex symbol insisted on performing many of his own movie stunts.

    In 1972’s thriller Deliverance, there is a scene where Reynolds’s character Lewis drops his river-rafting canoe down a 25-foot waterfall. Director John Boorman wanted to use a stunt double for the scene. Reynolds declined.

    Unfortunately, his machismo nearly cost him his life. The actor landed in the emergency room and later called the stunt “a dumb macho thing to do.” He regretted not letting his trusty lifelong stunt double Hal Needham do his job.

    I went over the falls in Deliverance, and I hit a rock and cracked my tailbone. I tell everyone I was a 31-year-old guy in great shape before I went over the falls. And once I got in, they couldn't find me. I remembered one of the stunt guys said to me before the stunt, "If you get caught in the hydrofoil and you can't get out, go to the bottom and it will shoot you right out," but he didn't tell me it was like being shot out of a torpedo. I came out of the river about a mile away it seemed like, and I came out with no clothes. I had no shoes, socks - the falls tore them off. It was a pretty hairy stunt.

    "When it's cold and I'm limping around I think, 'Why didn't I let Hal make some money and I just sit down?'" Reynolds added. “But you can't go back.”

  • In 2016, Dylan O’Brien suffered a concussion, facial fracture, and brain trauma during a stunt gone horribly wrong on the set of the third film of the Maze Runner series. His injuries were so severe that it shut down production for an entire year.

    O’Brien, who plays the heroic Thomas in the franchise, was rushed to a hospital in British Columbia after a stunt car ran him over. He didn’t just suffer horrible physical injuries. The accident left him with psychological trauma as well.

    The incident hasn’t completely scared O’Brien from doing his own stunt work. He talked about how the accident still affects him four years later:

    Whenever I’m putting on a rig, I’m vetting every piece of that rig and much more. Even to this day, if I’m on set and I’m doing a stunt, if I’m in a rig, if there’s some action going on, I am slightly irritable. There is a degree of anxiety in me that I don’t think there’s ever not going to be.