When actors play characters in movies, there can be some pretty intense scenes that are asked of them. In order for it to look as real as it can be onscreen, we assume that all of it comes from movie effect magic, and that none of the actors have actually been injured in real life. While many actors and actresses are willing to transform themselves for roles, from gaining and losing weight, to getting prosthetics and etc., some individuals have taken it to the extreme. There’s awards for performances on screen, but there isn’t awards for ‘most pain endured in the performance’, but if there were, these are the performers who would win. These are actors that have permanently hurt their bodies all in the name of art.
Movie: Chapter 27.
It’s no secret that Jared Leto is a method actor, and he especially doesn’t hold back when it comes to transforming his body. He’s lost weight to do famous films such as Requiem for a Dream and Dallas Buyers Club, but it was when the actor gained weight for indie movie Chapter 27, that really did a number on the actor. Leto said of playing Mark Chapman, “The script didn’t say, ‘Page 1: You gain 67 pounds, and you’re miserable for two months.’ But as I started to research, I realized that the physical representation of this guy had so much to do with who he was.” In fact, the weight gain hurt the actor’d body so much that towards the end of filming, he could barely walk. “Towards the end of the shoot, one of the glaring issues was the pain I had with my feet. I couldn’t walk for long distances. 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.”
Movie: Philadephia and Cast Away.
Though Tom Hanks has gone to some extremes throughout his career, he isn’t known to be one of those actors who completely loses himself in roles. In his 1993 movie, Philadelphia, he plays lawyer diagnosed with AIDS, and the 2000 movie Cast Away, he plays a man stranded on a desert island for four years, a role Hanks had to lose a lot of weight for. Hanks believes that losing and gaining the weight back at a fast pace, along with being “genetically inclined”, may have been contributing factors to being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. In 2013, he announced that he won’t be taking on any more roles that require him to drastically change his weight. At the 2013 London Film Festival he said, “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. 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.”
Clooney has a horror story about his art that doesn’t involve the losing or gaining of any weight. While filming a torture scene for the 2005 Syriana, he hit his head and severely injured his spine. He stated that the injury was so painstaking, he even considered ending his own life. He said, “I was at a point where I thought, ‘I can’t exist like this. I can’t actually live.’ I was lying in a hospital bed with an IV in my arm, unable to move, having these headaches where it feels like you’re having a stroke, and for a short three-week period, I started to think, ‘I may have to do something drastic about this.” After speculating where Clooney’s injury was, they finally found a fluid leaking from his spine, and they realized the condition was more serious than anyone had thought. He turned to therapy to deal with the injury, and eventually won an Oscar for the role.
Movie: Almost every one.
Jackie Chan sees any injury he sustains while filming just a part of the gig. It’s one of the reasons he’s a legend within the martial arts genre of film. He’s had countless injuries including broken fingers, noses, ankles, tailbones, hip, dislocated his shoulders, concussions and spinal injuries. Yet, there’s one injury that made a lasting impression on his body. The actor admitted, “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.”
Movies: Expendables 3.
As a veteran in the action film industry, Sylvester Stallone knows a thing or two about cuts, bruises, broken bones and the lot. He once joked, I grade the quality of a film by the intensity of the injuries. 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.” While reprising his role as mercenary Barney Ross, he permanently injured his back.
Movie: Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
Linda Hamilton’s turn as Sarah Connor in 1991, set a precedent for female action stars. She became immersed in training for the role. While shooting the scene where Sarah is attempting to escape from the psych ward, the actress forgot to put earplugs back in after the first take. When Scwarzenegger let off a round of gunshots in the elevator, the amplified sound caused Hamilton to suffer from permanent hearing loss.
Movie: Die Hard.
Much like Linda Hamilton, Bruce Willis suffered the same injury while filming thriller, Die Hard. After firing off a round, he suffered, “two-thirds partial hearing loss” in his left ear. He added that during the promotion of the movie, he wasn’t talkative because he had trouble hearing the questions.
Movie: Thor: The Dark World.
While making 2013’s Thor: The Dark World, Jaimie Alexander described a painful-sounding injury while filming. She explained that she slipped and fell from something “very high” and did some serious damage to her body. “I herniated a disk in my thoracic spine, dislocated my left shoulder, tore my right rhomboid, and chipped 11 vertebrae.” Although the actress thought she going to be fine, the actress said the pain only got worse as time went on. She said of the injury, “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.”
Movie: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
With all the stunt choreography involved, it’s not surprising that there were some injuries in the midst of it all. Yeoh landed the wrong way during filming and her knee gave out. She recalls, “The first action sequence was very intensive. I was doing a forward jump kick that I’ve done thousands of times but I had a mishap landing… I thought, ‘I’m fine, I can keep going.’ You have to give it your all because celluloid is forever. But I knew it was bad when I turned left and my leg kept swinging right.” The actress tore her ACL in her knew, and she had to have surgery and months of physical therapy in order to recover.
Since Cruise does a lot of stunts, you would think he would have a list of injuries longer than his resume. In 2012, Cruise told Jimmy Fallon, “There’s a scene where I’m kicking a guy in the balls, the testicles… It was a human being, no testicles were injured in the making of the film! We had to do the take over and over again, and the first 10 times it was like ‘Yeah!'” he joked. “After about 50 times in, my foot was swelling… I kept having to loosen my shoe.
Angelina Jolie is another star who does most of her stunts, especially in her action thriller Salt. To prep for her fight scenes, Jolie had to learn a combination of Muay Thai and Krav Maga, which she had two hour sessions for four times a week for. The director of the film told Us Weekly, “During her final fight with Liev … 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.” Jolie suffered a scar on her face from the scene.
As the films became more elaborate in each film, Craig’s time playing Bond left him with a fair share of injuries. In Casino Royale, two of his teeth were accidentally knocked out while filming his first stunt. In Spectre, while filming a scene with Mr. Hinx, he injured his knee that required surgery and almost halted filming for six months. Craig decided to work through the pain, saying, “This has been a two-year process since we began talking about the script. It gets to this point and you say: ‘We can shut down for six months and you can go have surgery and come back then.’ 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.”
Movie: Maze Runner: The Death Cure.
The 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.” The actor went on to thank his “brilliant doctor” for the miracles he claimed were performed on his face, and said he has four plates in his face that will be a part of him forever.
Movie: Black Swan.
The movie was met with nominations for several Oscars in 2011, and it was said that it was actress Natalie Portman who stole the show. She put herself on a strict diet and lost 20 pounds to play ballerina, Nina. However, although Mila Kunis didn’t get much attention for her transformation, she also took method approach to reach her character. The actress admitted that she went back to an old habit to help her keep the weight off. “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,” said the actress. She revealed that her body hasn’t been the same since filming the movie.
Movie: The Rhythm Section.
When Lively suffered a hand injury in December on the film’s Dublin set, many people thought it wasn’t serious at first.However, production had to be shut down while further surgeries had to be planned for the injury. There’s still no word on whether the surgery will proceed, and Lively’s hand remains damaged, and she’s been declared unfit for work as a result.
Movie: Kill Bill: Volume 1.
In an interview with The New York Times, Thurman had some revelations about director Quentin Tarantino, who apparently put her in a dangerous scene that left her with lasting damage. Thurman says of the scene, “Quentin came in my trailer and didn’t like to hear no, like any director,” she said. “He was furious because I’d cost them a lot of time. But I was scared. 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.” She lost control and veered off the road, crashing into a tree, leaving her in so much pain, she didn’t think she would ever walk again. She was left with a permanently damaged neck, and screwed-up knees.