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Movies That Permanently Damaged Actors' Bodies

The characters actors play can go through some pretty intense stuff at the movies, but as real as it can seem onscreen, we know it's all pretend — and we assume none of those stunts have permanently damaged the actors' bodies after the cameras roll. After all, when it comes to starring in a major Hollywood film, there are tricks that can transform ordinary actors into something amazing. They don't call it "movie magic" for nothing. But while many performers are willing to transform themselves for roles, from gaining and losing weight, to prosthetics, and more, some actors take it to the extreme.  

While there are Oscars, Emmys, and Golden Globes for outstanding acting work, there aren't any awards we can give out for "most pain endured in the performance of a role." But if there were, these actors — who all permanently hurt their bodies in the name of acting — would win.

Jared Leto in Chapter 27

Jared Leto has lost weight for films such as "Requiem for a Dream" and "Dallas Buyers Club," but it was gaining weight for the 2007 indie "Chapter 27" that really did a number on the actor.

Playing Mark Chapman, the man who shot and killed John Lennon, Leto admitted he gained so much weight so abruptly that he suffered gout. "Towards the end of the shoot, one of the glaring issues was the pain I had with my feet," he told the Los Angeles Times. "I had a wheelchair because it was so painful. My body was in shock from the amount of weight I gained. It took about a year to get back to a place that felt semi-normal. I don't know if I'll ever be back to the place I was physically."

Well, at least dying his hair green and donning metal teeth to play the Joker in "Suicide Squad" left no indelible marks.

Tom Hanks in Philadelphia and Cast Away

Tom Hanks isn't necessarily one of those actors who loses himself in roles, but he's gone to a few extremes. Both in 1993's "Philadelphia," in which he plays a lawyer diagnosed with AIDS, and 2000's "Cast Away," in which he's stranded on a desert island for four years, Hanks lost a lot of weight.

Hanks thinks losing and gaining the weight back, along with possibly being "genetically inclined," may have contributed to his Type 2 diabetes diagnosis. "The gaining and the losing of weight may have had something to do with it because you eat so much bad food and you don't take any exercise when you're heavy," he said at the 2013 London Film Festival (via The Daily Mail). "I've talked to a number of actors who have gained weight for roles and just out of the sheer physical toll on one's knees and shoulders, no one wants to do it again. I think that's more or less a young man's game."

George Clooney in Syriana

While filming a torture scene for the 2005 film "Syriana," George Clooney cracked his head open during a stunt and severely injured his spine — a mishap that's had severe lasting effects on the acclaimed leading man's sense of physical well-being.

He told Rolling Stone at the time that the injury was so bad, he considered taking his own life. Doctors couldn't quite pinpoint where the injury was at first, but finally noticed fluid leaking from Clooney's spine, and realized that the condition was more serious than anyone had thought. The actor later revealed to The Hollywood Reporter that he was forced to take strong pain medication as part of a long process that turned a positive corner when he finally turned to therapy, explaining, "I went to a pain-management guy whose idea was, 'You can't mourn for how you used to feel, because you're never going to feel that way again.'"

Jackie Chan in basically all of his movies

Jackie Chan has never held back—he views any injury he sustains while filming a stunt as just part of the gig. He has broken fingers, noses, ankles, tailbones, even his hip; he's dislocated his shoulders more than few times; he's suffered multiple concussions and spinal injuries. However, there's one particularly serious incident that made a lasting impression on his banged-up body. Chan told Parade, "The most serious injury I had was during the shooting of 'Armour of God II.' It was actually just a simple stunt, jumping from a slope. But I was seriously injured and had a surgery to my brain. I still have a metal plate in my head and can feel the indentation from the impact."

Still, Chan shows no signs of taking a break — he's appeared in more than 150 films, earning over $5 billion at the global box office, and has movies booked into 2024 and beyond.

Sylvester Stallone in The Expendables 3

Sylvester Stallone knows a thing or two about on-set battle wounds. "I grade the quality of a film by the intensity of the injuries," he once joked. "When I shot 'Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot,' I never got hurt. Through 'Rambo' and 'The Expendables,' I break my neck and my spine and I dislocate both shoulders." In 2014's "The Expendables 3," in which he reprised his role as mercenary Barney Ross, Stallone admitted he suffered his worst on-set fall, permanently injuring his back. "I ... had some metal put in there," he noted, "so if you hear any squeaking, it's not my shoes but my back. But I'm getting better."

The third "Expendables" also almost killed co-star Jason Statham. While driving a truck on a loading dock, the brakes failed and it plunged 60 feet into the Black Sea. Thankfully, Statham — who once competed as an Olympic diver — was able to get free and swim to safety.

Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Linda Hamilton's badass turn as Sarah Connor in 1991's "Terminator 2" set a precedent for female action stars to follow. She took the role very seriously, training her butt off to play the hardcore mother of the leader of the future world. But for all the fight sequences and stunt work, it's hard to bounce back when a shotgun blast goes off near your ear. 

While shooting the scene in which Sarah is trying to escape the psych ward and has to reluctantly accept help from Arnold Schwarzenegger's new and improved Terminator, the actress forgot to put her earplugs back in after a take. When Schwarzenegger let off a round in the elevator, trying to stop the liquid Terminator T-1000 (Robert Patrick), the amplified sound caused Hamilton permanent hearing loss. Those suckers are really loud.

Bruce Willis in Die Hard

The same type of injury also befell Bruce Willis while he was making his action thriller breakthrough "Die Hard." According to the actor, after firing off a fateful round, he suffered "two-thirds partial hearing loss" in his left ear. He added that now has the "tendency to say, 'Whaaa?'" 

Rumer Willis, his oldest daughter with ex-wife Demi Moore, concurred, explaining (via ContactMusic) that the reason her dad isn't as talkative while promoting a movie is because he sometimes struggles to hear the questions. "I think part of the problem is sometimes he can't hear ... because he shot a gun off next to his ear when he was doing 'Die Hard' a long time ago, so he has partial hearing loss in his ears. If me and my sisters get together and he's at a dinner table and we start talking about fashion and things, the poor guy..." Indeed.

Jaimie Alexander in Thor: The Dark World

While making 2013's "Thor: The Dark World," Jaimie Alexander — who plays the warrior Sif, part of Thor's (Chris Hemsworth) team — described a painful-sounding injury. Speaking with MTV News, Alexander explained she slipped and fell from something "very high" and "herniated a disk in my thoracic spine, dislocated my left shoulder, tore my right rhomboid, and chipped 11 vertebrae."

She thought maybe she was going to be okay, the next morning, it was still pretty bad — and then it got worse: "I got in a car to go to the hospital, and I sat in the car and compressed my spine a little bit, and went paralyzed in my right leg and my right hand." With a month of physical therapy, Alexander was back on set swinging a sword, but you have to believe those spinal injuries linger. Playing an Asgardian isn't always everything it's cracked up to be.

Angelina Jolie in Salt

In her 2010 action thriller "Salt," Angelina Jolie plays a CIA officer accused of being a Russian spy who must prove her innocence while on the run. To prep for fight scenes, Jolie had to learn a combination of Muay Thai and Krav Maga, and some of her stunts included walking on a narrow ledge atop a 12-story building and jumping off a highway underpass onto a moving truck. But it was a "ridiculously" easy scene, she said, that caused her to permanently scar her face. 

Speaking at Comic-Con, she said it happened during a scene that involved her rolling onto the floor. Her stunt trainer Simon Crane told Us Weekly, "During her final fight with Liev [Schrieber] ... She had to dive through an opening door firing a gun ... as she carried the sequence on, she rushed into a corner piece of a set and bumped her head." At least they got the shot.

Daniel Craig in Spectre

Daniel Craig's time playing James Bond has left him with his fair share of wounds, but it was 2015's "Spectre" that left him permanently injured. While filming a fight scene with the hulking villain Mr. Hinx (Dave Bautista), Craig hurt his knee. It required surgery and threatened to halt filming for six months, but Craig didn't want to wait and worked through the pain. He told Empire (via Daily Mail), "I was like: 'F*** that. I don't give a f***. Stick two planks of wood on it and I'll f***ing crack on.'" Crack on he did; in the end, production was stopped for only two weeks.

Craig wasn't the only person on the set of "Spectre" to suffer permanent damage. The production maimed veteran assistant director Terry Madden, who sued for $3.5 million after sustaining an injury he described as career-ending.

According to a report by Deadline, Madden was filming in the Austrian Alps, picking up shots with a camera mounted on a Range Rover. The Rover spun out of control and struck Madden, crushing his legs and forcing him off the production with multiple fractures and nerve damage that ultimately required several surgeries. Between Craig's injury and Madden's, one has to wonder just how much of the film's budget ended up getting diverted to pay out for their multiple surgeries. It's a good thing the U.K. has universal health care, but these Bond movies are kind of abusing it.

Dylan O'Brien in Maze Runner: The Death Cure

Production on the final chapter in the "Maze Runner" series was suspended for a full year due to a horrific on-set accident involving Dylan O'Brien. The franchise's young star suffered severe brain trauma when a stunt involving a motorcycle went wrong and he "broke most of the right side of [his] face," as he put it to The Salt Lake Tribune.

"[I have] four plates that will be a part of me forever," he said. "I feel really lucky to have come away from it — in terms of coming away from it at all on the day, and really how my face has healed." He went on to thank his "brilliant doctor," adding, "He salvaged a lot of what I used to look like. To anybody who saw me after it happened, I think it's really astonishing how well everything healed and how my doctors fixed me up."

Mila Kunis in Black Swan

"Black Swan" star Natalie Portman put herself on a strict diet and lost 20 pounds to play the part of fragile ballerina Nina. She wasn't the only one to take a method approach to her character, though her co-star Mila Kunis didn't get nearly as much attention for her transformation.

"I had to look skinny in order to look like a ballerina," Kunis told Howard Stern (via ET). "I used to be a smoker, and so I smoked a lot of cigarettes and I ate a limited amount of calories. Twelve hundred calories, and I smoked. I don't advocate this at all. It was awful."

Kunis later revealed that her body has "never been the same" since "Black Swan," telling Harper's Bazaar, "My shape is different. When I got down to 95 pounds, I was muscles, like a little brick house, but skin and bones. When I gained it back, it went to completely different areas."

Blake Lively in The Rhythm Section

Her 2016 hit "The Shallows" proved Blake Lively had some genuine action chops, and she was duly rewarded with a part fronting her own spy thriller, "The Rhythm Section."

Sadly, things went south for Lively, as an on-set injury she sustained while filming an action sequence in late 2017 caused the film to halt production. Sources informed The Hollywood Reporter that Lively's hand injury wasn't thought to be all that serious at first, though the surgery she underwent after sustaining it apparently failed to fix the issue.

Further surgeries followed, with both Paramount and Lively awaiting instruction from surgeons on how best to proceed. They had to take a more patient approach than they'd planned, but it paid off in the long run: in early 2018, she was cleared to return to the set, and filming resumed later in the year.

Uma Thurman in Kill Bill: Volume 1

In a candid interview with The New York Times, Uma Thurman revealed she'd been harassed by producer Harvey Weinstein — and shared some revelations about director Quentin Tarantino, who reportedly forced her to perform a dangerous driving scene for "Kill Bill" that left her with lasting damage.

"I was scared," she admitted. "He said: 'I promise you the car is fine. It's a straight piece of road. Hit 40 miles per hour or your hair won't blow the right way and I'll make you do it again.' 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 lost control of the Karmann Ghia and it veered off the road, crashing into a tree and leaving her in so much pain that she believed she'd "never walk again." While it wasn't as bad as she initially feared, she was left with a "permanently damaged neck" and "screwed-up knees."

Hugh Jackman in Wolverine

Wolverine, the adamantium-claw wielding member of the super-heroically mutated X-Men, is one of the most pronounced and famous grumps in all of popular culture. Every iteration of the character, in print, on the small screen, and in a series of feature films spanning two decades, has depicted him as a scowling, grumbling tough guy who alternately mutters dialogue in a raspy mutter or angry shout. No one has played Wolverine (and Logan) more often than Hugh Jackman, who has strapped on the claws and taken on that distinctive voice in nine "X-Men" universe movies between 2000 and 2017.

Six years after last playing the role — to which he'll return in 2024's "Deadpool 3" — Jackman revealed that his voice and vocal cords still suffer. "My teacher at drama school would have been horrified by some of the things I did in 'Wolverine,'" he told BBC Radio 4's "Front Row" in 2023. "I've done some damage to my voice, through playing Wolverine." Specifically, Jackman says, when he performs in musicals he can't reach the high notes the way he once did. "I put that down directly to some of the growling and yelling I did."

Jason Momoa in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

This star of the DC Universe may look like an unbeatable, impossible-to-hurt superhero because he often plays one, but Jason Momoa is only human. After his breakthrough lead in the first "Aquaman" movie in 2018 became a global box office blockbuster, Warner Bros. quickly ordered a sequel, "Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom." Throughout the filming of the physically demanding and stunt-heavy action movie, Momoa suffered for his art, chalking up his vulnerability to his advancing age.

"I'm getting old," the then-42-year-old actor said on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" (via People) in 2021. "I messed up my eyes. I just got something in it that kinda cut it up, and then I've gotta get surgery, I have a hernia, I've got ribs out. I'm just getting beat up." 

In addition to what he confirmed was a scratched cornea and hernia, Momoa revealed to Yahoo! that he wound up with a facial scar after a fight scene in the 2018 movie "Braven" went wrong. "I got knocked out," he said. "A stunt guy hit me. He blindsided me. We didn't make eye contact, and he hit me before I could grab for him, and everything went black." Momoa required hospitalization for the incident and shooting on "Braven" was put on hold for a day.

Jessica Chastain in The Eyes of Tammy Faye

One of the most acclaimed actors of her generation, Jessica Chastain won an Academy Award on her third nomination for the 2022 biopic "The Eyes of Tammy Faye." Chastain portrayed Tammy Faye Messner, formerly Bakker, a disgraced televangelist who famously and frequently wore heavy amounts of makeup during her many TV appearances. 

As such, a lot of face paint was necessary to transform Chastain into that well-known cultural figure. According to the Los Angeles Times, it took anywhere from four to seven and a half hours for makeup artists to get Chastain ready each day of filming.

The actor doesn't think it was particularly healthy for her delicate facial skin. "I think for sure I've done some permanent damage to my skin on this," Chastain admitted. "I take very good care of my skin and I stay out of the sun and all that stuff. But it's heavy. And when you're wearing it all day every day — the weight of it on your body, it stretches your skin out."

Burt Reynolds in Deliverance

Burt Reynolds was among the most bankable movie stars in America in the 1970s. He made a name for himself in comedy-laced action spectaculars like "Hooper," "The Longest Yard," and "Smokey and the Bandit," but his first major role in a movie was in the hit dark drama "Deliverance." Reynolds led an ensemble cast in the film about a river rafting trip that goes dangerously awry, as when his character's occupied small boat violently goes over a waterfall. After watching the crew shoot the scene with a dummy, Reynolds volunteered to film it for real, seeing little danger in doing so because the production had control of the falls via a dam farther up the river.

"Then they let the water go and I heard this sound — I dream sometimes of the water coming — I looked around and there was a tidal wave coming at me," Reynolds told The Hollywood Reporter of his memories of shooting that scene. "I went over the falls and the first thing that happened, I hit a rock and cracked my tailbone." More than 45 years later, the actor still felt pain from the injury.

Zazie Beetz in Deadpool 2

After breaking through with her role as Van on FX's award-winning dramedy "Atlanta," Zazie Beetz suddenly got offered work in movies much bigger than the shorts and indies in which she was used to performing. In 2018, she co-starred in the big-budget superhero comedy "Deadpool 2" as Domino, a member of the titular hero's X-Force of powerful rogue heroes. Domino's special power? She had unbelievably good — if not miraculous — luck.

Life did not imitate art on the set of "Deadpool 2," however. According to USA Today, the film was a physically grueling experience for the actors, with Beetz training for four hours a day for months before filming began, and then shooting her scenes in a leather bodysuit which she called "wildly impractical." During one action sequence that involved a high-speed truck chase, she fainted. During a gunplay scene, a casing from a fired shell hit Beetz hard in the chest, leaving a permanent scar.

Steve Martin in Three Amigos!

A lot can go wrong on a movie set, even on a relatively low-tech comedy. In 1986, Steve Martin (and Martin Short and Chevy Chase) starred in "Three Amigos!," an action-tinged comedy about three silent-era Western film stars who get stuck in a terrorized Mexican village and have to save its residents who think they are the brave heroes they play in the movies — not spoiled and cowardly actors.

Martin's character, Lucky Day, deals with a number of uncomfortable situations to which he's unsuited, including plenty of shootouts. That may have led to a case of tinnitus — a persistent, high-pitched, and grating ringing of the ears. The actor and comedian has suffered from the condition ever since the production of "Three Amigos!" but he thinks something else could have triggered it. 

"I blamed it on gunfire at the time but since then I realized it was just my destiny after listening to music too loud my whole life," he told Pitchfork. Prior to his move into acting, Martin was a popular stand-up who played giant, and very loud, arenas: "It was like being in a football stadium." Martin says he's learned to deal with the tinnitus. "It becomes your natural background noise."

Alfre Woodard in Star Trek: First Contact

Alfre Woodard agreed to take on the role of 21st-century spacecraft builder Lily Sloane in the 1996 film "Star Trek: First Contact" because she was friendly with several members of the cast, including Brent Spiner, LeVar Burton, and Jonathan Frakes, also the movie's director and Woodard's godson, she told Collider.

A pivotal scene called for a massive explosion when the enemy Borg runs into a ship in deep space, which sends many of the good guys flying. Woodard recalls practicing the sequence for many hours, in which she, Frakes, and about 200 stunt performers were to jump in the air as if they'd been knocked into the air, spin around, and then land so the cameras would capture their reactions. "Then when it happened the explosion was so intense it just knocked us off our butts," Woodward said. "We just fell any way we could." 

At that point, Woodward realized she'd torn up her costume and her arms were covered in blood. Frakes got his shot, but Woodard still bears scars on both of her arms from the stunt.

Buddy Ebsen and Ray Bolger in The Wizard of Oz

In "The Wizard of Oz," the 1939 film adaptation of L. Frank Baum's fantasy novel, Jack Haley played the Tin Man, the friendly metal woodsman on his way to see the Wizard to acquire a heart. However, Haley wasn't MGM's first choice for the role or even the first actor cast. 

Buddy Ebsen (best known for his later leading gigs on "The Beverly Hillbillies" and "Barnaby Jones") was hired first. When rehearsing in makeup and under studio lights, the crew repeatedly dusted Ebsen's face with aluminum dust to keep his white grease paint from running. One night during the rehearsal period, Ebsen awoke with painful cramps in his limbs, his face had turned blue, and he couldn't breathe. The actor spent two weeks of hospitalization in an oxygen tent — his body had to divest itself of the large amount of toxic aluminum sitting in his lungs. With his recovery taking longer than they liked, the studio fired Ebsen and installed Haley.

Another cast member of "The Wizard of Oz" also experienced a severe medical reaction. Ray Bolger portrayed the Scarecrow, and on the final day of shooting, he took off his rubber-and burlap-based prosthetic mask for the last time, the one that made his face look like it was made of burlap. He discovered that he had burlap-like scars all over his chin and mouth.

Taylor Hickson in Incident in a Ghostland

Taylor Hickson made international headlines after filing a lawsuit against the producers of the horror film "Incident in a Ghostland." While filming a shot that required her to press her face up against the glass window of a door while pounding on it, the glass broke and sliced her face and neck. "The crafts services lady held my face together with napkins in her hands," Hickson, who was 19 at the time, told Deadline. "She went through so many napkins, there was so much blood." The injury required 70 stitches and multiple medical procedures, but she was left permanently disfigured.

Hickson played a supporting role in the film, and the incident occurred on her last day on set. The film was directed by Pascal Laugier, best known for his work in the New French Extremity movement. While filming the shot, Laugier kept telling Hickson to hit the glass harder and harder until it eventually shattered. Hickson actually stopped the shoot at one point to ask the director and producers if it was safe to keep hitting the door harder, and they assured her that it was. The Winnipeg-based production company behind the film was fined $40,000 after it pleaded guilty to charges that it did not do everything possible to guarantee Hickson's safety.

Donnie Yen in Once Upon a Time in China II

Years ago, the sets of Hong Kong martial arts movies were known as dangerous places to work, with the stars routinely doing their own stunts and large portions of films even improvised on the spot. One such film was 1992's "Once Upon a Time in China II," in which Donnie Yen played the film's main villain opposite Jet Li as folk hero Wong Fei-hung.

The big final fight between Yen and Li is the film's highlight, but came at the cost of Yen sustaining a serious injury. "The way we worked in Hong Kong for many, many, many years is that we change the choreography as we go along," Yen explained to GQ. "Freestyle basically, it's like a rapping contest." As Yen and Li changed up the fight choreography, they kept challenging each other to be faster until Li eventually slipped up after doing dozens of takes and whacked Yen in the eyebrow with a very real, very heavy bamboo pole. Yen was millimeters away from being blinded, but got away with a scar.

When Yen and Li fought each other on screen again a decade later in "Hero," a similar slip-up happened. Li caught Yen on the opposite side of the face with his pointy prop sword, nearly blinding him in his other eye. Like the first injury, this one required half a dozen stitches. "He whacked me on one side, and 10 years later he whacked me on the other side," Yen joked.

Shia LaBeouf in Fury

After starting out as a child star, Shia LaBeouf has gained a reputation as a Method actor who frequently takes things way too far in adulthood. Before LaBeouf got his entire chest tattooed for real for David Ayer's "The Tax Collector," he had already gone even further for the director's 2014 film "Fury." For his role as a World War II tank gunner, LaBeouf took extreme measures to violently alter his physical appearance in real life rather than using makeup or special effects.

The biggest alteration he insisted on was having a tooth pulled from his mouth. After all of the dentists he visited in LA refused to yank a healthy tooth, he instead had the tooth pulled by a random guy he met in a parking lot. Just like the missing tooth, the wounds on his face in the film were also 100% real. LaBeouf cut his face with a knife right in front of co-star Logan Lerman and continuously re-opened the wounds throughout the shoot to create real scars. 

Ayer did not instruct LaBeouf to take these extreme measures, but he was appreciative of the lengths LaBeouf went to for the film. Ayer called LaBeouf, "One of the best actors I've worked with, and he's the most committed to body and soul ... I've never known anyone that committed."

Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible -- Fallout

The modern era of the long-running "Mission: Impossible" franchise has become synonymous with star Tom Cruise pushing himself to pull off the wildest stunts possible. Cruise has managed to execute all of these huge stunts safely and in spectacular fashion. The one stunt that significantly injured him in the series was actually an extremely simple one by his standards. A leap from one rooftop to another sandwiched in the middle of an extended chase scene in "Mission: Impossible — Fallout" left Cruise with a broken ankle that halted production. The take that caused the injury was used in the final edit of the film, and Cruise can even be seen limping away as he finishes the shot. In order to get the film moving again as quickly as possible, Cruise put himself through weeks of intense rehab to get back in fighting shape.

Director and co-writer Christopher McQuarrie ended up using Cruise's recovery time to make the finished film even better. He told CinemaBlend, "What the ankle did was allow us to figure out the holes in the script that we were still struggling with. And so, we didn't rewrite the script to accommodate the ankle, but we finished the script because the ankle gave us the time." Cruise's ankle injury ended up being a blessing in disguise and didn't slow down Cruise's ambitions to keep pushing the envelope with each installment of the series.

Olivia Jackson in Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

Olivia Jackson is an actress, martial artist, and stunt performer whose career sadly ended with the grievous injury she sustained on the set of "Resident Evil: The Final Chapter" in 2015. Originally brought on board for a fight scene, Jackson was also asked to serve as star Milla Jovovich's stunt double in a high-speed motorcycle sequence. According to the lawsuit (via The Hollywood Reporter), director Paul W.S. Anderson personally changed the conditions of the stunt moments before shooting without informing Jackson. Disregarding the safety precautions in place, Anderson reduced the space between the motorcycle and the camera, which was mounted on a crane and meant to raise over Jackson's head as she rode straight at it.

The crane did not move out of the way in time, resulting in a near-fatal collision that left Jackson comatose for several days. Her numerous injuries included several lacerations, a torn-open cheek, broken ribs, punctured lungs, and partial paralysis. Her left arm was also amputated. She has not worked on another film since.

Although the film's producers initially promised to pay Jackson's medical bills and cover her rehab costs, they reneged and later blamed the accident on her in court. After Jackson's first lawsuit was dismissed in the U.S., she sued again in South Africa (where the film was shot) and won against the production company on the second attempt.

Martin Sheen in Apocalypse Now

Given that "Apocalypse Now" was one of the only movie shoots plagued by enough production troubles to warrant an entire documentary, it should come as no surprise that there were lasting injuries on set. Multiple wounds were incurred by the film's star, Martin Sheen, and one happened right in the opening scene.

Audiences are introduced to Captain Willard while he is in the middle of a drunken freakout in a hotel room. The scene was filmed on Sheen's 36th birthday while he was trashed for real and also working out some internal issues. One of Sheen's improvised impulses was to demonstrate Willard's lethal hand-to-hand combat skills by punching a real mirror that happened to be in the room, which broke and cut open his hand. The blood in the scene was all real, and Sheen insisted to director Francis Ford Coppola that they keep shooting instead of breaking to get him the necessary medical treatment. He still has the scar on his hand to this day. As serious the hand wound was, it was eclipsed by Sheen's near-fatal heart attack that arrived later on during production.

Michelle Yeoh in The Stunt Woman

As one of the world's top martial arts stars, Michelle Yeoh has sustained a multitude of injuries throughout her prolific career. She had already been the star of over a dozen Hong Kong action films by the time she appeared in 1995's "The Stunt Woman" and incurred the worst injury of her career. Yeoh described the unsafe conditions of the Hong Kong action film industry to The Independent: "Back then, the fights were insane. No CGI. It was dangerous and risky."

"The Stunt Woman" lived up to its title by showcasing Yeoh pulling off multiple death-defying stunts, but one went wrong. The fateful stunt required Yeoh to leap from an overpass onto the top of a truck as it drove far beneath her. Yeoh nailed the first take but was required to do it again from a different angle. On the second attempt, Yeoh fell face-first and landed with her head caught between the mattresses that were meant to cushion her fall, causing the rest of her body to flip over and hyperextend backward. 

The fall saddled her with multiple broken ribs and a fractured vertebrae in her spine, requiring her to be immobilized in a back and neck brace for an extended period of time. While hospitalized and unable to move, Yeoh nearly gave up her film career in favor of a safer life. Oddly enough, it was Quentin Tarantino of all people who visited Yeoh in the hospital and inspired her to keep acting.

Bruce Campbell in The Evil Dead

The original "The Evil Dead" took a minuscule budget and a boatload of unbridled creativity and turned it into a beloved horror franchise that remains ongoing to this day. The budgets for the first two films in the series were so dangerously small that many corners needed to be cut in order to get the projects finished and out into the world.

The shoot was rife with injuries both small and large. "The Evil Dead" producer Rob Tapert even declared, "I like it when an actor bleeds ... It makes me feel like I got my money's worth." The entire cast was subjected to grueling conditions, but none were harmed more than star Bruce Campbell. Partway through the shoot, Campbell broke his ankle in the middle of a take, and he got absolutely no sympathy from Tapert or writer-director Sam Raimi. Campbell explained, "We had to keep shooting the rest of the night, with Sam and Rob Tapert cornering me in a room, poking my ankle with sticks because they thought it was funny." He added that he's had to favor that ankle ever since, which always reminds him of the shoot and of Raimi.

John Hawkes in The Sessions

"The Sessions," originally titled "The Surrogate," is based on the true story of Mark O'Brien (John Hawkes), a man who depends on an iron lung to survive but wants to lose his virginity via a sex surrogate (Helen Hunt). Since Hawkes was playing a real person, he wanted his performance to be as authentic as possible, and that meant embodying the role physically. The real Mark was unable to move from the neck down and suffered from a severely distorted spine. To force a similar result out of his own anatomy, Hawkes took to lying on top of a weirdly shaped piece of foam.

What was at first mildly uncomfortable began to do permanent damage to Hawkes' body after weeks of production, with him lying motionless in the contorted position for hours every day. Hawkes took measures to try to counteract the lasting effect, such as doing yoga on set, but his doctor eventually told him that his internal organs had begun to migrate and that the damage to his spine could likely never be fully undone. 

Hawkes told Vulture, "My spine doesn't have enough movement in one direction and the opposite direction has way too much movement." Hawkes didn't seem to have any regrets about choosing to commit so thoroughly to the role, since he considers it his job as an actor to try to embody just a small part of the physical trauma many people are born with and suffer through every day.

Harold Lloyd in the old silent comedies

Back in the early days of cinema, in the 1910s and 1920s, the stars of silent comedies were already pushing the envelope in terms of the stunts they pulled off on camera. Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton are the two most famous names of this type during that era, but Harold Lloyd comes in at a close third. He was most famous for his daring clock tower stunt from "Safety Last," which later inspired Jackie Chan's death-defying clock tower drop in "Project A."

As impressive as Lloyd's clock stunt already is, it becomes even more astounding when you learn that he pulled off this feat while wearing a prosthetic after losing part of his hand. The injury actually occurred while Lloyd was promoting his latest collection of silent comedy shorts back in 1919. For some reason that has never been properly explained, a real bomb was present on set, and Lloyd played around with it during a photo shoot under the assumption that it was a prop. He realized it was real moments too late and lost part of his right hand in the blast. His face was also damaged and he lost his ability to see temporarily, but his sight luckily returned. Lloyd kept making movies for many years while disguising his injury with various gloves and prosthetics, which undoubtedly made each of his stunts more challenging. 

Winona Ryder in Mr. Deeds

Best known these days for her role on "Stranger Things," Winona Ryder got her start in the '80s in films that would go on to become classics like "Heathers" and "Beetlejuice." In 2002, Ryder paired up with Adam Sandler for "Mr. Deeds," the lowbrow remake of the 1936 classic "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town." The movie stuck Ryder with not just her worst on-set injury but the worst injury of her life, full stop. She told W magazine, "I never broke a bone until the movie, until I did 'Deeds'."

While filming the sequence where she and Sandler ride bikes down the Central Park staircase, Ryder got her heel caught in the bike pedal, which led to a gnarly crash down the steps. She described continuing to shoot that night and not realizing how much pain her arm was in until she woke up the next morning, recalling, "I'm an actress — I'm trained to hide my pain. But eventually, I went to the doctor, and it was broken in three places!" She considered it lucky that the breaks happened on her joints, which meant that her arm wasn't placed in a cast, and filming could continue as normal without needing to hide the injury on camera. 

In a terrible bit of bad luck, Ryder re-broke the same arm later that year when a news camera rammed into her as she was swarmed by the press on her way into a courthouse for a hearing related to her shoplifting arrest.

Robin Shou in Mortal Kombat

Before all the injuries he was accused of causing on the sets of the "Resident Evil" series, director Paul W.S. Anderson was responsible for a serious injury on the set of his first video game movie adaptation. Anderson's second film — and his first big-budget blockbuster — was 1995's "Mortal Kombat," a big-screen take on the popular fighting game series.

Early on, it was decided to have the actors do as much of the action themselves as possible, only relying on stunt doubles when it was completely unavoidable. This led to many minor injuries amongst the cast members, some of whom had never performed action before. Robin Shou, who starred as Liu Kang, had a background in the Hong Kong action film industry, so he was used to performing his own stunts and fight scenes. However, even Shou was pushed to the point of sustaining a debilitating injury during the shoot.

During his fight scene against the character Reptile (Keith Cooke), Shou was launched through the air, slammed his back against a narrow pillar, and crashed to the ground. Even though Shou nailed the stunt on the first take, Anderson made him do it over and over again and only stopped when Shou fractured a couple of ribs on the last impact. Shou recounted the injury to The Hollywood Reporter, saying, "I did it one time, and it was fantastic. And Paul Anderson said, 'Well, can you do it again?' because he's such a perfectionist ... So we did it 10 times."

Sammo Hung in Ip Man 2

Legendary martial artist Sammo Hung, also known as Sammo Kam-Bo Hung, has been injured countless times throughout his lengthy tenure as a Hong Kong action star. While he was able to power through the pain for the bulk of his career, Hung's numerous injuries eventually caught up to him as he aged. In 2017, he wound up being remanded into a wheelchair by his doctor. He would remain wheelchair-bound for the next two years until walking with the aid of a cane in 2019 and finally being able to walk on his own in time to receive a lifetime achievement award.

One of Hung's most physically demanding films was "Ip Man 2," which pushed him to his limits as he neared his 60s. In the middle of the intense shoot, Hung required heart surgery. Compounding his delicate state after the surgery, Hung was punched for real in his fight scene against The Twister (Darren Shahlavi), which opened a gash on his face that required four stitches. Proving his mettle, Hung spent an additional five hours filming with the open gash in his face before seeking medical treatment.

Hung's most prominent wound — the deep, curved scar around his nose and upper lip that can be seen in almost all of his films — did not happen on a film set. While defending a friend in a brawl with real-life gangsters, Hung was stabbed in the face with a broken bottle, leaving him with the distinctive scar for the rest of his life.

Bob Hoskins in Super Mario Bros.

Long before the animated, Chris Pratt-led "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" took the world and the box office by storm, the first attempt to bring the iconic video game character to the big screen arrived all the way back in 1993. "Super Mario Bros." starred Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo as the plumber duo. Rather than taking a straightforward approach to adapting the colorful platformer, the movie instead converted the characters and setting into a gritty dystopian action movie with little logic, consistency, or care paid to the source material.

With the bizarre adaptation choices came a multitude of dangerous stunts, which led to Hoskins sustaining a wild number of injuries. Hoskins agreed to do his own stunts early on, much to his detriment. Co-directors Annabel Jankel and Rocky Morton really put him through the wringer during the chaotic shoot. Hoskins explained the scope of his injuries to Entertainment Tonight: "I got stabbed four times. Electrocuted. Broke a finger. Nearly got drowned." 

The broken finger was co-star John Leguizamo's doing. While drunk on set, Leguizamo crushed Hoskins' finger with the sliding door of a van. Leguizamo said he felt terrible for Hoskins throughout the shoot every time he had his stunt double take his place while Hoskins stayed and got injured. He even considered faking his own injury in solidarity with Hoskins but didn't follow through.

Mads Mikkelsen in The Salvation

After breaking through to English-speaking audiences with his villainous role in "Casino Royale," Mads Mikkelsen has spent the rest of his career bouncing back and forth between English and Danish productions. One film that bridged the gap between the two was 2014's "The Salvation," a Danish spin on the American Western genre. Mikkelsen stars as a man who gets caught up in a violent two-fold revenge plot after his wife and son are murdered.

The injury Mikkelsen sustained on set was his own doing and didn't even occur for the sake of a shot. While fooling around on set with a heavy knife he bought locally, Mikkelsen dropped it and nearly sliced his finger clean off. Since he couldn't wear a bandage on camera, the deep wound was left open while they continued shooting. 

The film is set in the American West but was filmed out on the plains of South Africa, and the remote location made getting proper medical treatment a bit of a challenge. Shooting outdoors in the dirt and dust quickly led to Mikkelsen's wound getting infected. Local doctors were ready to amputate his finger, but Mikkelsen convinced them to hold off. Luckily, after a couple of days of him taking antibiotics, the infection went away, leaving Mikkelsen with just the deep gash to worry about.

Al Pacino in Scarface

"Scarface" changed Al Pacino's career in more ways than one. The role of Tony Montana seemed to permanently alter the timbre of his acting moving forward, and the film was a surprise critical disaster after Pacino had starred in pretty much nothing but big winners throughout the '70s. The tide eventually turned on "Scarface" and it was re-evaluated as a classic, but the experience had already done permanent damage to Pacino both internally and externally.

With his character frequently snorting cocaine throughout the film, Pacino ended up doing lasting harm to his nasal passages. He wasn't snorting real cocaine on set, of course, but the powdery stand-in substance still did damage, since snorting large quantities of pretty much any powder is harmful to one degree or another. 

This wasn't the only injury he sustained while making "Scarface." During the big final shootout, Pacino severely burned his hand on the barrel of the prop gun he called his "little friend." The burn was so bad that his hand became temporarily fused to the gun, and he was unable to work for weeks afterward. Before shooting even started, Pacino had already been injured in pre-production. Co-star Michelle Pfeiffer went wild, throwing and smashing dishes as part of her audition, which led to a bloody gash on Pacino's hand.

John Rhys-Davies in La Femme Musketeer

John Rhys-Davies is best known for playing Gimli the dwarf in the "Lord of the Rings" series. One of his first roles after that trilogy concluded was the two-part Hallmark TV movie "La Femme Musketeer." As the title implies, the project is a sequel to the classic "The Three Musketeers." But instead of following the original characters, it follows the next generation of musketeers led by D'Artagnan's daughter Valentine (Susie Amy). Rhys-Davies plays Porthos, one of the original Musketeers, a role that he had previously played on the unrelated television show "The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne" a few years prior.

Rhys-Davies was injured during the shoot and ended up suing the producers before "La Femme Musketeer" was released. While filming, a shoddily constructed set wall collapsed on top of him, which he blamed on the negligence of the producers. In the lawsuit, he described his injuries as "severe and permanent," via The Globe and Mail. The project was filmed in Croatia, and Rhys-Davies was rushed to a local emergency room where he was treated for a fractured arm and a bloody head injury.

H.B. Halicki in Gone in 60 Seconds

H.B. Halicki wrote, directed, and starred in the original "Gone in 60 Seconds," but the film's messy plot is just an excuse for a car chase that lasts for over 40 straight minutes. Halicki did all of the stunt driving himself, without acquiring permits, shutting down roads, or even informing the public. With unsuspecting cars and pedestrians all around and without much of a plan, the chase sequence was full of very real danger and on-the-spot improvisation, which you pretty much never find in a movie car chase outside of Halicki's body of work and perhaps "The French Connection."

Halicki's first major injury in the chase scene came when he was rear-ended on the highway while going 90 mph by a random car whose driver had no idea they were part of a movie chase scene. Halicki's car was sent spinning into a lamppost, injuring him and almost totaling the car. The crash was incorporated into the story.

His worst injury arrived in the film's big climactic stunt. Halicki jumped his car 130 feet and crashed it nose-first straight into the road with no padding or anything to soften the blow. He was left with a compressed spine from the force of the impact that permanently altered the way he walked. 15 years later, Halicki died while filming the sequel. A stunt involving a collapsing water tower went wrong when a support cable snapped and knocked a telephone pole onto him.

Paz de la Huerta in Nurse

Paz de la Huerta had been in acclaimed films like "The Cider House Rules" and "Enter the Void," and was fresh off her stint on HBO's "Boardwalk Empire," when "Nurse" (aka "Nurse 3D") came along and derailed her career. While filming a simple shot of her crossing the street, de la Huerta was struck by a stunt ambulance when the driver turned sharply and collided with her. In the collision and her subsequent fall to the street, de la Huerta broke her tailbone and fractured her spine. The injuries required over 20 different surgeries and led to her receiving $73,000 in worker's comp.

Not ready to settle for just the 73K, de la Huerta sued the production company, Lionsgate, for the massive sum of $55 million. The lawsuit was partially about the major injuries she sustained but also partially about the impact the whole ordeal had on her life afterward. She said that the film — which was a huge financial and critical failure — completely destroyed her career and left her with lasting physical and emotional trauma. She also took issue with the filmmakers' decision to dub over her voice with a different actress for portions of the film without her consent, which she says had a significant negative impact on the perception of her performance and her reputation. De la Huerta was unsuccessful in the lawsuit, and her case was eventually dismissed.

Herzl Tobey in Damascus Cover

Herzl Tobey is an Israeli character actor best known for his work on the show "Split" but also recognizable from small roles in projects like "The Shield," "Homeland," and "You Don't Mess with the Zohan." In 2015, he was injured while filming the spy thriller "Damascus Cover," which was released in 2017 as the final film of Sir John Hurt but was an otherwise wholly disposable piece of work released straight to video and streaming in many territories.

While filming a fight scene, Tobey claimed that he sustained a serious blow to the head from an unnamed co-star. He sued the production company, Cover Films Ltd., for $200,000, alleging that the injury left him with permanent brain damage that hurt his career over the following years. Tobey claimed to be plagued by dizziness, tinnitus, motion sickness, balance troubles, and difficulty with sudden motion ever since, making his work as an actor considerably more difficult. In response to the lawsuit, the film's producers called Tobey a liar and claimed that he was faking his injuries. They contended that he was never knocked unconscious and that the film didn't affect his health in any way. The outcome of the lawsuit is not publicly available at this time, but it would be far from the first time producers attempted to bend the truth to try to dodge accountability — as seen in pretty much every film injury lawsuit.