We are well aware of the fact that what we see onscreen is scripted. Even the stunts we see the actors and actresses performing are immaculately staged, so immaculately staged and pretended that they look real. But they are not. And keeping that in mind, we think that these stunts are harmless—well, to some degree.
There are instances when while shooting for an upcoming film, an actor attempts to pull off a stunt even in the presence of all the guides and safety measures, and still he or she is left permanently damaged. And working in Hollywood, solely, remains the biggest motivation for the actors to go an extra mile: some pull off a miraculous body transformation (for instance, Christian Bale), some prefer to be shot doing stunts without much equipment (for instance, Tom Cruise). Notwithstanding all the safety equipment and whatnot, they are always vulnerable to permanent damage.
That being said, here is a list of actors and actresses who were permanently damaged while shooting for their movies. Click on Begin Slideshow to start reading!
Movie Damaged in: Chapter 27 (2007)
The Oscar-winner is no best-kept secret in Hollywood. He has a handsome number of accolades to his name—and he is known for his transformations in different movies. Suicide Squad and Dallas Buyers Club, for instance, can be taken as a case. But these movies did not permanently damage his body.
In 2007, while shooting for Chapter 27, he was trying to transform his body to better adapt the role given to him. Adapting to the role of Mark Chapman, the murderer of John Lennon, his body succumbed to intense transformation and it was left permanently damaged. In an interview with LATimes, Leto admitted that he started having pain in his feet, and at one point, he even needed a wheelchair because his body could not take all of that weight in. As a result of this dramatic transformation, he thinks, he can never return to the normal physical condition. Ever.
Movie Damaged in: Philadelphia (1993) & Cast Away (2000)
Tom Hanks is known for the role of the traveler-savior in his movies. And, unlike most of his peers, he is not known for intense transformation—all of his movies except Philadelphia and Cast Away include the same Tom Hanks. As for these exceptions, he went a little too far and it took a toll on his body.
In these two movies, Hanks had to undergo a massive body transformation to fit rather contradictory roles: In Philadelphia, he is a fat lawyer who contracts AIDs; in Cast Away, he makes himself too lean to fit the role of a man stranded in a desert. This abrupt gaining and losing of the weight significantly contributed to the diagnosis of the Diabetes which he suffers from these days.
Next is someone who even considered taking their own life because of sheer damage and pain.
Movie Damaged in: Syriana
We have an idea that while shooting, things may go wrong even in the presence of all those equipment, safety measures and gears. This is what happened with George Clooney who got himself permanently damaged while shooting a stunt. In the 2005 movie viz. Syriana, George Clooney can be seen as a ruthless person who never hesitates to torture.
While shooting for the scene in which he tortures someone, Clooney had his head cracked and suffered a nasty blow to his spine. Though he might have recovered from the head injury, the same cannot be said for his back. This was so painful for him that Clooney, at a point, considered taking his own life to ease the pain. According to an interview with TheHollywoodReporter, Clooney says that his sense of feeling has changed as well due to that injury.
Movie Damaged in: Armour of God II : Operation Condor (1991)
Where there is stunt, there is Jackie Chan. This biggest Hong Kong action hero movie star never sees danger as an impediment, rather as a part of his work. In nearly all of his movies, he has suffered minor to major damages—broken fingers, broken ribs, dislocated shoulders, injured spine, you name it. Yet, there is a certain movie which stands out amongst all of them: Armour of God II.
In an interview with Parade, Chan said that while shooting for the movie, he suffered a major injury. As he tried to perform a simple stunt, he fell and had hit his head severely—so terribly that he had to undergo a brain surgery. The metal plate is still there, and he says that he can still feel it there. Notwithstanding all these injuries, he doesn’t seem to stop. He is currently filming for Journey to China and has released two more movies as of late. Phew!
Movie Damaged in: The Expendables 3 (2014)
Sly is one of the hardest actor in Hollywood and this man is known for his actions and stunts in all of his movies—and he likes doing it. He once said himself that he judges the goodness of the movie by number of the injuries he bears while shooting. For him, getting injured is an adventurous task which he looks forward to. But, this is not the case with The Expendables 3.
While shooting for the movie, Stallone suffered a real blow on his back. Performing an adrenaline-rushing stunt turned into a hospitalizing maneuver. As he fell, the metal splinters on the floor went into his back—rest of the pain, you can imagine. On the same set, Jason Statham was also pulled out of the dead as he was saved from drowning into Black Sea when the brakes of his truck failed.
Movie Damaged in: Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)
Next up: Sarah Connor, the badass character of Terminator. This unprecedented performance of Hamilton led many other female actors to follow the suit; it was a clear statement that females are no less badass than males. And she pulled off the performance impeccably—with a catch.
Just like Opportunity Cost in Economics, Linda paid a hefty price for her role in the 1991 movie. While on set, during the shoot of a scene, a shotgun blast went off just inches away from her ear. At that moment, she wasn’t wearing any earplugs which aggravated the effects of that blast. Result? A permanent loss of hearing for her!
Movie Damaged in: Die Hard (1988)
Mr. Willis met the same fate as that of Linda Hamilton. While shooting for the adrenaline-sque action-thriller, Bruce fired some rounds of shotgun without any earplugs or similar safety equipment. As a result of that deafening blast, Willis lost almost 2/3 of his hearing to which the left ear was affected the most and never fully healed from the shotgun blast. Because of that, he doesn’t talk much when going around the world for promoting his movies and doing press junkets.
Movie Damaged in: Thor: The Dark World (2013)
First thing first, Alexander did do a great job as Sif in Thor: The Dark World. Secondly, she did it at some cost: an excruciatingly painful injury at her back. While shooting for the fantasy movie, she lost her footing on an elevated platform and fell off. One of her shoulders was dislocated, a spinal disk was herniated, her right rhomboid was torn, along with eleven of her vertebrae being chipped and permanently damaged. That was the magnitude of injury which she suffered.
When she finally drove herself to the hospital, she experienced attacks of paralysis in the right side of her body as well. Thankfully for her, a lot of physical therapy helped her healed and eventually worked quite well to get her on her feet again.
Movie Damaged in: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
The movie had so much steps and stunts that it is no wonder she was injured. While performing those tricky acrobatic steps on the set, she landed in a wrong manner and that broke her knee. Talking to USAToday, she reminisced about that fateful event while saying that she was practicing a jump which she had done “thousands” of times yet still she landed wrong. She thought it was all right until she moved her leg left and it went swinging to the right. The therapy did its part, yet she doesn’t feel the way she used to be.
Movie Damaged in: Jack Reacher (2012)
Tom Cruise is more of an introvert when it comes to talking about injuries suffered while shooting. He never mentioned something in a rather clear tone about them—save one: Jack Reacher.
When he appeared on The Tonight Show, he told Jay Leno (during his 2nd tenor as Host of The Tonight Show) that this particular injury was the “worst” he has ever suffered. You might be wondering that might have happened due to a mishap landing, or a car driving over his leg. No, he suffered it while kicking a guy in his . . . balls. Wait, wait, wait! As a part of the movie, the guy was safe and his balls were not injured. It is just that the scene was shot so many times over that Cruise’s leg was swollen big time. And he kept on kicking until he gave in.
Movie Damaged in: SALT (2010)
The action—thriller movie introduces Angelina Jolie as a CIA agent. An agent who is considered by many a Russian mole. An agent who has to clear her name tainted by the alleged involvement.
Since Jolie is someone who looks forward to tedious tasks, to hone her fighting skills, she learnt many of the fighting techniques—Muay Thai, Krav Maga, etc. She had to perform stunts incorporating those techniques. However, she was not damaged in those hard-to-perform stunts; rather, she was injured while doing some ”ridiculously” easy task.
As she drove through the door in the later stage of the movie, shooting her gun, she mistakenly bumped into a piece on stage and got on her face a permanent scar. Well, the shot was successful.
Movie Damaged in: Spectre (2015)
Daniel Craig, the protagonist of James Bond, undoubtedly has had fair number of injuries on his body. From breaking his teeth to getting a plastic surgery, he has suffered minor to major injuries while shooting for the ever-green flick. Nevertheless, they were all ephemeral. It was Spectre which inflicted a permanent damage to his body.
While shooting a scene fighting with Mr. Hinx (the villain), he suffered a nasty injury on his knee. Craig, being Craig, insisted on continuing the shooting—even when the surgery was indispensable which would cease the production for six to eight months. Yet, it only stopped for two weeks—thanks to Craig’s determination.
Movie Damaged in: The Maze Runner: The Death Cure (2018)
The production of the final part of the movie was in full swing until Dylan got into an accident. A horrific accident which halted the production process “indefinitely”.
While filming a scene and performing a stunt on bike, O’Brien lost the control and he got the “right side” of his face broken. This was further exacerbated by the trauma he suffered. Even to this day, there are “four plates” there inside him.
Movie Damaged in: Black Swan (2010)
Natalie Portman, while shooting for the Black Swan¸ had to adapt to the ballerina character. She started her body transformation and lost more or less “20 pounds”. But she was not the only one doing it: the co-actress Mila Kunis was doing it as well—with more extremity.
Talking to ET, Kunis said that since she was a smoker, she smoked more than required amounts of cigarettes a day and ate to little. Her weight came down, but it was all “skin and bones”. When she got back into normal dietary habits, her body changed and all of which she ate did not return her to the prior figure.
Movie Damaged in: The Rhythm Section (2020)
Blake Lively certainly deliver more than she was asked for in The Shallows (2016). That landed her a front-line role in another action-thriller The Rhythm Section. But she might not be aware of what was to come.
When she set foot on the set and started shooting for the movie, it was at first going smoothly. One day, as she tried to pull off a stunt, her hand got damaged. The injury did not look that bad at first. As she went through the surgery, the injury could not be fixed. The production halted for a whole year as there were series of surgeries which tried to solve the issue for both Lively and the production company. Luckily for her, after some consistent efforts, she was given a green light and the production resumed.
Movie Damaged in: Kill Bill: Volume 1 (2003)
Uma wouldn’t call this experience a joyful one: she was harassed by on of the producer, and the director (Tarantino) made her perform a frightening stunt which permanently damaged her body.
She was asked to drive at 40mph to get the right amount of wind on her hair, the road was “sandy, and the seats were not “screwed properly”—according to her. As she tried to shoot the scene, the car went out of her control and went off the road and hit a tree. She suffered serious injuries and she thought that she might “never walk again”. In the process, her neck and knee were damaged permanently.
Terry Madden (Assistant Director)
Movie Damaged in: Spectre (2015)
It was not only Daniel Craig who suffered permanent damage whilst shooting for Spectre. The assistant director of the movie also dealt a major blow which he terms as ‘career-ending’.
While shooting for scenes under the shadows of scenic Alps, Madden got into a “horrendous” accident. He was shooting with his camera on a Range Rover. The truck went out of control, and Madden got into an accident. His legs were crushed, and there were severe nerve damages and fractures. He had to undergo a number of surgeries to stand back on his feet. After coming back into senses, he sued the company US$3.5 million for the accident which took away his career “within a few seconds.”