Inspiring Behind-The-Scenes Stories About Actors Helping Other Actors

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Vote up the stories that make you want to give a standing ovation.

The media often focuses on the drama of film and TV production, but plenty of feel-good behind-the-scenes stories deserve more recognition. Many actors, like Robin Williams, have mentored or stood up for their co-stars, leading to heartwarming stories of kindness on set.

Set aside the breakups and rivalries to focus instead on positive, inspiring stories about nice actors, and vote up the ones that make you smile.

  • During the filming of the monsoon scene in Jumanji in 1995, producers asked the child actors' families if they could film for longer hours to get everything done sooner.

    Although filming in one day saved money, it added pressure on the already exhausted kids. Bradley Pierce, who played young Peter Shepherd, recalled that Williams ensured the kids on set were never overworked:

    Robin caught wind of these conversations happening and apparently he pulled the director and producers aside and said, "No, we're not doing any extra time. You're gonna let everyone out of the pool now and we're going to come back next week." For all the dollars that would have cost, nobody else could have stood up the way he did. 

    4,909 votes
  • Actor Emma Thompson got her start as a comedian, specializing in content about ridiculous societal expectations for women's looks. Later, while acting in the 2008 drama Brideshead Revisited, she had a chance to, well, revisit the issue.

    During production, the producer asked another actor if she would lose some weight for the film. Right away, Thompson spoke up. She recalled:

    I said to them, "If you speak to her about this again, on any level, I will leave this picture. You are never to do that." It’s evil what’s happening and what’s going on there, and it’s getting worse. There’s so many kids, girls and boys now, and actresses who are very, very thin into their 30s, who simply don’t eat.

    Thompson also said that whenever she's asked about her weight for acting roles, she declines to answer.

    4,564 votes
  • Denzel Washington Paid For Chadwick Boseman's Theater Classes In College
    Photo: DFree /

    The late actor Chadwick Boseman won many awards for his roles in films like Black PantherMarshall, and 42. And another beloved actor, Denzel Washington, secretly helped make his career happen.

    During Boseman's time at Howard University, one of his professors, Phylicia Rashad from The Cosby Show, reached out to some of her celebrity friends. She asked if they would sponsor students who were interested in being a part of a summer program at the British American Drama Academy.

    Sure enough, Washington agreed to help Boseman. During a speech at the American Film Institute’s Life Achievement Award presentation to Washington, Boseman recalled:

    [Washington] graciously and privately agreed to contribute. Imagine receiving a letter that your tuition for that summer was paid for and that your benefactor was none other than the dopest actor on the planet. There is no Black Panther without Denzel Washington. And not just because of me. My whole cast, that generation, stands on your shoulders.

    3,457 votes
  • Keanu Reeves Refused To Hurl Sexual Insults At Winona Ryder On The Set Of 'Dracula'
    Photo: Bram Stoker's Dracula / Columbia Pictures

    While filming the 1992 movie Bram Stoker's Dracula, Winona Ryder had a difficult time crying during a scene in which Dracula turns into a pile of rats. Director Francis Ford Coppola wanted her to act more shocked and emotional, so he started yelling insults to make her cry.

    Coppola tried to get other cast members to join in, but Ryder was never offended to the point of tears because Keanu Reeves refused to be mean to her. Ryder explained:

    To put it in context, I’m supposed to be crying. Literally, Richard E. Grant, Anthony Hopkins, Keanu... Francis was trying to get all of them to yell things that would make me cry. But Keanu wouldn’t, Anthony wouldn’t. It just didn’t work. I was, like, really?

    If anything, this incident had the opposite effect on Ryder because she and Reeves formed a close friendship. 

    3,510 votes
  • Francia Raisa Donated Her Kidney To Selena Gomez
    Photo: Luke Ford / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.5

    In 2017, singer and actor Selena Gomez needed a kidney transplant. She had arthritis and her kidneys were shutting down, but she didn't think it was fair to ask someone to donate a kidney to her. However, actor Francia Raisa, her best friend and roommate at the time, wanted to help. Gomez recalled:

    She lived with me in this interesting time where my kidneys were just done. That was it and I didn't want to ask a single person in my life. The thought of asking somebody to do that was really difficult for me. And she volunteered and did it... The fact that she was a match, I mean, that's unbelievable.

    Raisa said she feared for her own health at the time, and she even had to write a will in case the procedure didn't go as planned. Now, Gomez credits Raisa for saving her life, allowing her to continue her acting and singing careers.

    3,233 votes
  • Fred Astaire Helped Teach Debbie Reynolds To Dance When Gene Kelly Criticized Her On The Set Of 'Singin' in the Rain'
    Photo: Studio publicity still / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

    During production of Singin' in the Rain in the 1950s, Debbie Reynolds thought Gene Kelly, the film's star and co-director, was too hard on her. Only 19 at the time, she had no dancing experience, so it was difficult for her to keep up with the other dancers.

    Although Reynolds admitted that Kelly's harsh lessons helped her become a better performer, she was exhausted and overwhelmed, forced to dance until her feet bled and she had difficulty moving. Doctors even put her on bed rest for two days. Reynolds wrote in her memoir:

    I had three months to learn what Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor had been doing for years. I was dancing for eight hours a day, nonstop. One day I was lying under the piano sobbing when I heard a voice ask, "Why are you crying?"

    The voice belonged to famous dancer Fred Astaire, who quickly came to the rescue. Astaire, who was in the studio to prepare for Royal Wedding, assured her that he got frustrated too at times, and invited her to watch his rehearsal to help her learn. His encouragement and advice helped her master the moves for Singin' in the Rain

    3,612 votes