Stuntmen and actors who do their own stunts are badass, there’s no doubt about that. But at what cost? As many safety precautions as can be made on a film set, there are always unknown elements; human error, faulty equipment and more can contribute to horrific injuries. Here are some of the most grisly injuries ever to occur with the stunt person or actor somehow still surviving it.
On the set of ‘The Avengers’
Stuntman Jeremy Fitzgerald was performing a ballsy 30-foot fall from a building, but on the way down he caught his foot and slammed his head into a brick wall. The sheer impact of this collision tore off a chunk of his scalp. He was bandaged up and then worked on a few more takes.
On the set of ‘The Expendables’
During the fight with Stone Cold Steve Austin, Sylvester Stallone broke his neck, getting a hairline fracture that necessitated a serious operation and the installation of a metal plate. Brutal. Stallone was quoted as saying, “Man, it was seven guys, kicking each other’s ass, one guy tougher than the next. No joke, our stunt guys were begging for mercy.”
On the set of ‘Police Story’
Jackie Chan’s famous pole-slide netted him a broken spine, a dislocated pelvis and third-degree burns on his hands. Plus, a viciously cool stunt that remains one of the most impressive ever caught on film.
On the set of ‘Rocky IV’
Because ol’ Sly Stallone demanded the Rocky/Drago fight have a profound sense of realism, he and Dolph Lundgren had a real sparring session with each other. This resulted in a punch to Stallone’s chest that was so hard it caused his heart to swell, pumping his blood pressure past 200. He was airlifted from Canada to a hospital in California and placed in the ICU for 8 days.
On the set of ‘Cyborg’
During a fight sequence, Jean-Claude Van Damme accidentally stabbed actor Jackson “Rock” Pinckney in the eye with a prop knife, causing him to lose vision in it permanently. He sued JCVD and was awarded $487,500.
On the set of ‘The Last Samurai’
While filming the final battle, a horse kicked an extra in the groin. The incident can be seen in the movie including the extra’s amazing composure as he continued standing to complete the shot.
On the set of ‘The Passion of the Christ’
Actor Jim Cavaziel (Jesus Christ) sustained a great deal of injuries, mirroring the brutality of the film. He got hypothermia, separated his shoulder from carrying the giant cross, and sported gnarly gashes to his back from the staged whippings. Unbelievably, he was also struck by lightning on set.
On the set of ‘Troy’
While performing a jumping strike aimed at Eric Bana (Hector), Brad Pitt landed badly and tore his Achilles tendon. That’s right, while playing the character of Achilles – known as an incredible warrior whose only weakness was the Achilles tendon – he injured that very tendon.
On the set of ‘Live Free or Die Hard’
Bruce Willis’ stunt double, Larry Rippenkroeger suffered a 25-foot fall from a fire escape onto cold, hard pavement. He was knocked unconscious and woke up some time later with broken ribs, a punctured lung, wrist fractures and broken bones in his face. Willis reportedly paid hotel bills for the stuntman’s parents and visited him in the hospital multiple times.
On the set of ‘The Eagle’
While filming a scene in a freezing cold river, actors stayed warm by having a blend of boiling hot and soul-gripping cold river water poured into their suits to stay warm. A particularly irresponsible crew member forgot to add river water to the blend and poured boiling hot water on Channing Tatum’s crotch, scalding him and burning skin off the tip of his penis. Ouch.