When film characters engage in a knock-down, drag-out fight, the audience usually assumes that the actors are faking the physical blows. Who would be wild enough to throw real punches in movies?
Unfortunately, some actors prefer authenticity to sanity. Instead of faking a blow for the camera, certain stars decide to really take a hit and lend some blood-soaked legitimacy to their acting. For example, Sylvester Stallone was known for taking real hits during his fight scenes in the Rocky film series. His tactic led to some of the best movie punches in film history, but it also resulted in some serious injuries for Stallone.
Other actors, however, aren't as committed to their craft. Instead, they're caught in the crosshairs of a high energy moment. While filming a fight scene, their co-star might slip up and land a real punch now and then. They certainly didn't sign up for the physical pain, but they refuse to break character and ruin an entire scene for a simple bump on the head.
Whether on purpose or by accident, take a look below at the movie fight scenes where characters threw real punches and decide for yourself if the pain was worth the finished product.
When the Joker (Heath Ledger) is finally caught by police in The Dark Knight, an angry Batman (Christian Bale) shows up to interrogate him. The angrier Batman gets, however, the more Joker seems to enjoy it.
Ledger's total commitment to his role as the Joker was a huge topic of conversation after the film premiered. During the intense fight scene where Batman attacks his nemesis, Ledger asked Bale to hit him for real. In fact, he practically insisted.
Bale said that the fight would look just as good with fake punches, but Ledger encouraged him to actually make contact. After the scene was done filming, walls on the set were cracked and dented from Ledger willingly throwing himself into them.
While Fight Club is full of feigned violence, the first punch of the movie is actually real. As The Narrator (Edward Norton) chats with his newfound friend Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), Tyler asks The Narrator to hit him in the face.
Before filming the scene, the director told Norton to throw a real punch. Unsure where to hit his opponent, Norton swung and connected with Pitt's ear. Pitt stayed in character, but he did choke out a surprised, "You hit me in the ear! Why the ear, man?"
When he was just a teenager, Jackie Chan worked as a stuntman in Enter the Dragon. In one scene, fighters rushed Bruce Lee, who fended them all off with a stick.
When Chan rushed the actor, Lee accidentally hit him across the side of the head with a stick. He kept his cool and simply looked at Lee, who continued acting as if nothing had happened until the director said cut. After that, Lee rushed to Chan and apologized for the accidental blow. Although Chan says he recovered quickly, he pretended to be in pain to spend a little more time with his idol.
Frank Grillo has a strong reputation for doing his own stunts. His role as Brock Rumlow in Captain America: The Winter Soldier was no different.
While taking an elevator ride, Captain America (Chris Evans) eventually realizes something fishy is going on. Surrounded by enemies, he takes down each man, despite the small space of the elevator. By the end of the scene, Rumlow is the only adversary left and the two face off in a one-on-one fight.
After the film premiered, Rumlow explained that the close quarters forced the actors to throw real punches. At first, Evans was shocked that he was really getting hit, but Grillo refused to let his stunt man step in. After filming that scene for six days, both actors were covered in bruises.