20 Times Movie Stunts Went Wrong But Still Made The Final Cut

You might expect that when an actor injures themselves during filming, the offending scene is removed from the final edit. However, whether it’s due to time constraints, a lack of additional footage or the actor’s insistence that the show must go on, on-set accidents do occasionally make it onto the big screen. Here’s a look at 20 performers who saw their “ouch” moment immortalized on film.

20. Channing Tatum (Foxcatcher)

Channing Tatum headbutted the mirror so strongly during his character’s hotel room meltdown in Foxcatcher that he dented the drywall behind it. Director Bennett Miller once revealed that despite covering the mirror with a plastic sleeve, Tatum still managed to cause damage to both the film set and himself. Indeed, the blood that you can see dripping during the scene in question isn’t makeup, it’s the real thing.

19. Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler)

An on-set mirror also proved problematic for Jake Gyllenhaal during the filming of a particularly intense scene in Nightcrawler. In fact, the actor had to go to hospital after cutting his hand on a broken bathroom mirror that his uptight character punches in frustration. Eagle-eyed viewers will spot several scenes in the movie where Gyllenhaal’s injured hand is hidden behind his back as a result of the mishap.

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18. Brad Pitt (Se7en)

Brad Pitt didn’t have the option of hiding his injury which occurred on the set of classic ’90s murder-mystery Se7en. The star severed a tendon when his arm went straight through a window during the filming of a rain-soaked chase scene. The injury was so serious that it had to be incorporated into the film, so Pitt’s detective has his arm in a sling.

17. Viggo Mortensen (Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers)

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Renowned for his breathtaking fight scenes in the likes of A History of Violence and Eastern Promises, Viggo Mortensen suffered his biggest on-set injury simply kicking a helmet. The actor ended up breaking not one but two toes on the fifth take of a shot in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. However, in keeping with his hardman reputation, Mortensen refused to shout “cut” or call for medical attention.

16. Leonardo DiCaprio (Django Unchained)

Leonardo DiCaprio became yet another thirtysomething A-lister who suffered for his art due to broken glass. During one particularly intense outburst in Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, DiCaprio, playing against type as a villain, accidentally smashed his hand into a crystal glass. Yet despite DiCaprio later needing stitches, producer Stacey Sher claims the star remained in character. Look closely and you can actually see the actor picking shards from his hand in a surprisingly nonchalant manner.

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15. Diane Kruger (Inglorious Basterds)

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Several years before Leo’s accident, Diane Kruger reportedly passed out during the filming of another Tarantino movie, Inglorious Basterds. And the director was entirely responsible. Taking over from Christoph Waltz, Tarantino began choking Kruger’s character just a little too hard during her death scene. In something of an understatement, the actress later said, “You feel it when someone is choking you. It was very strange being strangled by the director.”

14. Daryl Hannah (Blade Runner)

Thankfully Daryl Hannah managed to avoid any injury during her Tarantino experience on the Kill Bill films. Instead she suffered her on-screen accident in the classic 1980s sci-fi neo-noir Blade Runner. The actress chipped her elbow in multiple places after slamming into a van as her replicant character Pris attempts to flee from scientist J.F. Sebastian. Several decades on from its release and Hannah still has the scar to prove it.

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13. Margaret Hamilton (The Wizard of Oz)

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Poor Margaret Hamilton was forced to take six weeks off from the set of The Wizard of Oz following a special effects disaster. The actress, playing the Wicked Witch of the West in the MGM classic, endured second-degree burns to her hand and face thanks to a malfunctioning trap door designed to protect her from the scene’s pyrotechnics. But at least one person was happy. According to Hamilton, the film’s director Victor Fleming was raving about the quality of the shot.

12. James Franco (Pineapple Express)

Stoner comedy Pineapple Express certainly put two of its main stars through the wringer. Danny McBride was almost left concussed after being slammed through some wallboard and also injured the back of his head due to a smashed bong. Meanwhile, James Franco needed three stitches after running so hard into a tree that his head was split open. But the actor was so in the moment that he continued filming before being taken to the hospital.

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11. Sylvester Stallone (Rambo: First Blood)

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The scene in which the titular hero takes a tumble off a clifftop and into some trees could never be described as inauthentic. Indeed, the screams you hear from star Sly Stallone as his character attempts to shake off a chasing helicopter came from a place of real pain. The Hollywood hardman ended up cracking a rib after insisting on performing part of this stunt.

10. Ellen Burstyn (The Exorcist)

Ellen Burstyn was just one of many cast members from The Exorcist to be terrorized by director William Friedkin. The actress suffered a serious injury to her lower back when the harness she was attached to was jerked too hard. Burstyn had previously expressed concerns that she was being pulled with too much force. However, rather than taking her worries into account, Friedkin instructed the crew to wrench the harness even harder in order to make the scene appear more realistic. Burstyn’s misery was compounded when the shot appeared in the final edit.

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9. Malcolm McDowell (A Clockwork Orange)

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It’s one of the most famous moments from Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange. But the scene in which Alex’s eyes are clamped open is one that Malcolm McDowell would rather forget. Despite the presence of a real-life doctor, who can be seen administering eye drops in the movie, the actor’s corneas were scratched during its filming. Even worse, he also lost his sight for a short while.

8. Jackie Chan (Rumble in the Bronx)

Jackie Chan’s career is littered with stories of serious injuries and broken bones. But Rumble in the Bronx is one of the few films where one of his many accidents is actually shown on screen. In his Hollywood breakthrough, the martial arts hero broke his ankle while leaping onto a moving hovercraft from a nearby bridge. With the star unable to refilm the scene, his agonizing jump was left in for all to see.

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7. Buster Keaton (Sherlock Jr.)

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Of course, Buster Keaton was once the man dubbed the most fearless in Hollywood. The silent movie star repeatedly risked life and limb to perform his own stunts in an era where health and safety standards were non-existent. In Sherlock Jr. he leaps from a train and grabs hold of a water outlet tube, intending to lower himself to the ground. However, his actions discharge a deluge of water which sends him crashing earthwards. Keaton soon picked himself up, but after battling migraines for years, eventually found out that his neck had been fractured.

6. Halle Berry (Gothika)

“It was a freak accident but we’re good friends.” That was the forgiving response from Halle Berry after Robert Downey Jr. broke her arm on the set of psychological thriller Gothika. The actress suffered the injury when her co-star restrained her too forcefully, only stopping when he heard Berry’s arm making an unusual sound. The film’s shooting was postponed for eight weeks to allow Berry to fully recover.

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5. Cary Elwes (The Princess Bride)

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Cary Elwes found himself out cold during the filming of family-friendly classic The Princess Bride. But it could have been a lot worse. With no dummy swords readily available on set, the actor playing Count Rugen had to use the handle of a real one to hit the hero firmly on his head. Luckily that was the only sword-related injury Elwes suffered and his concussion was kept in the film.

4. Cheryl Wheeler (Back to the Future Part II)

Of course, it’s not just Hollywood actors whose real-life injuries sometimes appear in the finished film. In Back to the Future Part II stuntwoman Cheryl Wheeler hit a clock tower pillar instead of a glass window after her rig failed to work properly. To make matters worse a trigger-happy technician then sent her hurtling 25 feet to the ground – but not to the cushioning safety of some airbags, rather to an area of rock-hard concrete. Wheeler sued the studio responsible for making the time-travel sequel, but her dramatic crash and fall still appeared in the final movie.

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3. Scott McLean (The Hangover Part II)

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In The Hangover Part II Aussie stuntman Scott McLean stood in for Ed Helms as the nerdy character hangs out of a car window. However, the stunt driver misjudged one particular maneuver and McLean ended up bashing his head against a truck. He subsequently spent several weeks in a coma and suffered a brain injury, which in all likelihood put paid to his stunt career. Incredibly, the scene was left in both the film and its trailer.

2. Jim Caviezel (The Passion of the Christ)

Jim Caviezel may well rue the day he ever signed on to star as Jesus in Mel Gibson’s highly controversial The Passion of the Christ. The leading man injured his shoulder, developed hypothermia and was even hit by lightning during the filming of the religious tale. He also suffered a whopping 14-inch cut when his character was brutally lashed by a real whip which wasn’t supposed to make contact with him.

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1. George Clooney (Syriana)

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George Clooney almost lost his life while starring as a veteran CIA operative in political thriller Syriana. The actor spent two weeks in the hospital following a scene where his character is knocked to the floor. Clooney had hit his head during the stunt, and friend Lisa Kudrow’s neurologist brother then determined that this had caused Clooney’s spinal fluid to leak. Clooney has never fully recovered from the injury and once admitted he thought about suicide because of the constant pain.

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