Hollywood movie stars aren’t all about glitz and glamour. These actors who talk about the times they got hurt doing their own stunts remind us all that sometimes making movies can be life-threatening.
Why would Tom Cruise, one of the biggest movie stars in the world, insist on doing his own stunt work? Why would Sylvester Stallone want the Herculean Dolph Lundgren to punch him really hard during their boxing match in Rocky IV? Why would Burt Reynolds refuse a stunt double for the dangerous rafting waterfall scene in Deliverance?
Those questions are difficult to answer. Perhaps those actors were being macho. Perhaps they just wanted the movie to look as realistic as possible. Regardless of the reasons why, all three of those billion-dollar movie stars suffered significant injuries.
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- 1Photo: Paramount Pictures
Blake Lively starred in the 2020 revenge thriller, The Rhythm Section. The Gossip Girl star played against type in the R-rated violent action movie that centers around horrific tragedy.
The actress revealed during an interview with Good Morning America that production had to completely stop for six months after she severely injured her hand.
"We were doing all of our own stunts, by and large, and there's, like, one-shot fight sequences, which is how I shattered my hand," said Lively. "We shut down for six months."
"My hand, basically, turned to, like, feta cheese... I was lunging towards (co-star) Jude Law with my fake rubber knife, and my hand collided with his elbow, and I broke some things and dislocated some things and severed a ligament. It was intense."Ouch?
- Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures
Brad Pitt took on the titular Greek mythology Trojan War hero Achilles in the 2004 epic historical war drama, Troy. Pitt figured if he was going to portray the greatest Greek warrior of all time, he had to go all in. That meant hitting the gym to bulk up and doing his own battle scenes.
In a tragic twist of irony, Pitt hurt his Achilles tendon while playing a character named Achilles. The injury occurred when Pitt was filming a fight scene in the sand.
"That injury was a bout of stupid irony," Pitt says. "I tweaked my Achilles tendon, which is bizarre."
Production shut down for six weeks.Ouch?
- Photo: Syriana / Warner Bros. Pictures
George Clooney revealed that he considered taking his own life following a brain injury he suffered while filming the 2005 political thriller, Syriana. "There was this scene where I was taped to a chair and getting beaten up. The chair was kicked over, and I hit my head," said the ER star. “I knew immediately [how serious it was]. I thought I'd had a stroke. It was like a train horn going off in your head, and you can't see and you can't stand."
The accident caused Clooney to experience unrelenting pain and headaches. He decided not to take painkillers because there is an addiction history in his family. Clooney chose a more holistic route by dealing with the pain through mental therapy.
Doctors initially could not diagnose Clooney's dire condition, which included spinal fluid coming out of his nose. Eventually, a neurologist figured out the fluid was actually leaking from his spine. The doctor diagnosed the actor with a torn dura, which required surgery. Clooney said:
I had a two-and-a-half-inch tear in the middle of my back and a half-inch tear in my neck. The doctors did these blood patches, where they tie you down to a bed, and you’re awake because they have a long needle and need to know if they’re touching your spinal cord. And they take blood out and shoot it directly into your spinal column to try to get the blood to coagulate in those spots. I did about 15 of those over 15 days. It’s like getting a spinal tap every day, and you’re awake. But what we didn’t understand was how big the holes were.
"I thought I was going to die. Talk to any doctor about a CSF - a cerebral/spinal fluid leak - and they’ll tell you it’s way up there on the pain scale. There was this whole coming to terms with [mortality]," added Clooney.
Clooney won his sole acting Academy Award for his performance in Syriana as CIA Officer Bob Barnes.Ouch?
- Photo: Warner Bros.
Burt Reynolds didn't just look like a tough guy; he was a tough guy. The throwback mustachioed sex symbol performed many of his own stunts during his 1970s and '80s salad days, even though he had his trusted stuntman/BFF Hal Needham standing by.
In the 1972 backwoods thriller Deliverance, Reynolds insisted on doing the scene himself where his river-rafting canoe plunges down a 25-foot waterfall. Director John Boorman wanted to use a dummy or a stuntman for the action sequence, but Reynolds wasn't having it.
The actor nearly drowned and wound up in the emergency room. Years later, Reynolds admitted that the stunt-gone-wrong changed his life forever:
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.Ouch?